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All eyes on Anfield and more misery for Barca: John Brewin's standout matches this weekend

Our football expert picks out the games worth watching from across the continent in European Eye.

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THE 2021/22 SEASON is up and running, and with it we are delighted to bring you a brand new weekly series.

Every Friday, football writer John Brewin – who has clocked up countless air miles covering the European game over the past decade – looks ahead to five key fixtures from the Premier League, the Championship and around the continent. 

As well as explaining why you need to know about these matches, he’ll also pick out a tip for each one along with the latest William Hill prices. 

Today, he previews a meeting of the two most recent Premier League winners — currently occupying first and second in the table — before running the rule over Barcelona’s visit to the Wanda Metropolitano and the Turin derby.  

Liverpool v Manchester City, Premier League – 4.30pm Sunday

liverpool-v-manchester-city-premier-league-anfield Ruben Dias and Mohamed Salah back in February. Source: PA

Having won so well at Chelsea, and been on the end of some Lionel Messi magic in Paris, Anfield will determine the success of a key eight days in early season for Manchester City. It feels a tad premature for these two teams, the best in the country for the last few years, to be meeting.

And that may mean that not too much is risked, since both are sat well at the top of the Premier League. There could be little point in going fully gung-ho. Liverpool look back to their best of two seasons ago, even if last week against Brentford and a 3-3 draw showed their defence may not be back to their previous imperious heights.

Brentford are a team of movement, and Pep Guardiola must fancy his interlinking forwards can cause even more problems with their striker-less free-jazz formation.

Last season, City won 4-1 at Liverpool, a match probably best remembered for a couple of errors from Alisson, though it will be a very different team that the defending champions travel to. And an Anfield packed with fans.

Back then, it was Jordan Henderson and Fabinho who manned central defence, while that pair would be expected to play in midfield this time. Curtis Jones, star of that thumping midweek win in Porto, struggled in the February meeting but may well be given his head once again at Anfield.

His energy can be important within the midfield battle, and with Trent Alexander-Arnold perhaps missing with injury, Jones can offer something different for City’s defence to cope with. Mohamed Salah, meanwhile, continues to be a goal machine, the type of player City continue to lack despite Guardiola’s sidestepping of that issue.

portugal-soccer-champions-league Liverpool's Curtis Jones (right) during the 5-1 demolition of Porto. Source: Luis Vieira

It could be tight, but then again Liverpool, with fans roaring them on, may still choose to go for the throat. Where Guardiola composes complicated stratagems for his teams, Jurgen Klopp sticks roughly to the same plan, and will attempt to swarm his players all over their opponents if they can.

Should City be off their game, then there may be a glass jaw to be exposed. Ruben Dias has not looked quite as comfortable as he did last season in the centre of defence, and the speed of Liverpool’s attack can cause similar trouble to that wreaked by the likes of Messi and Kylian Mbappe on Wednesday.

John’s bet: Liverpool to come from behind and draw @ 11/2

Atletico Madrid v Barcelona, La Liga – 8pm Saturday

esp-atletico-de-madrid-fc-porto-uefa-champions-league Atleti's Barcelona old boys Antoine Griezmann and Luis Suarez. Source: SIPA USA/PA Images

Barcelona have wobbled this season, notoriously so. Atletico’s start to the season has also been underwhelming. Where a year ago they quickly took control of La Liga, they are back in fourth, with last week’s defeat at Alaves the latest exhibition of their problems in scoring goals.

Victory at AC Milan in the Champions League this week saw goals for Barca old boys Luis Suarez and Antoine Griezmann, but improvement only came once Franck Kessie had been sent off for the Italians.

That all said, Barcelona have plunged into severe disarray, and that 3-0 defeat to Benfica on Wednesday looked like a circling of the drain for Ronald Koeman. Atleti won this fixture last season 1-0, and have to fancy going better than that.

John’s bet: Atletico to win to nil @ 2/1

Torino v Juventus, Serie A – 5pm Saturday

imago-20210929 Federico Chiesa bagged the winner against Chelsea. Source: Imago/PA Images

Talk of Juventus flirting with relegation is at end, and after beating Chelsea in midweek, spirits are up at the Bianconeri. The Derby della Mole can further repair damaged pride and suggest that Count Max Allegri can revive the club after those failed experiments with Maurizio Sarri and Andrea Pirlo.

Torino begin the weekend a place above the serial champions having escaped Venezia last week with a 1-1 draw despite being reduced to ten men. They began the season with two wins, two draws and two defeats, only scoring more than once in a 4-0 win over Salernitana. They have won the derby once in the last 26 years and the return to form of their eternal rivals does not bode well. Two weeks ago, Torino really would have fancied winning this one.

John’s bet: Federico Chiesa to score anytime and Juventus to win @ 5/2

Tottenham v Aston Villa, Premier League – 2pm Sunday

britain-soccer-premier-league Nuno Espirito Santo needs to turn things around fast at Tottenham. Source: Frank Augstein

Last week’s North London derby transferred the status of crisis club from Arsenal to Tottenham and now the pressure is severely on Nuno Espirito Santo.

Meanwhile, Dean Smith’s Aston Villa now look to have a decent shout of the top six territory that Spurs would usually count as their own. Despite all that last-minute nonsense with Bruno Fernandes’ penalty, Villa were good for three points at Old Trafford.

Villa may be without Leon Bailey, who has shown some exciting flashes, but Ollie Watkins and Danny Ings have the movement and speed to cause Tottenham’s statuesque defence all sorts of problems.

John’s bet: Villa to win and both teams to score @ 11/2

Borussia Dortmund v Augsburg, Bundesliga – 2.30pm Saturday 

soccer-champions-league-borussia-dortmund-sporting-lisbon Dortmund boss Marco Rose with Tuesday's match-winner Donyell Malen. Source: DPA/PA Images

Last week was not much fun for Dortmund coach Marco Rose on his return to Monchengladbach, though in mitigation there was no Erling Haaland or Marco Reus available. Midweek saw a hard-won Dortmund defeat of Sporting in the Champions League, with Donyell Malen scoring the sole goal.

Relegation-threatened Augsburg have a significant injury list, though they got the better of Gladbach two weeks ago, scoring one of the mere two goals they have scored all season in doing so. With Haaland back in the saddle, they still look ideal prey in Dortmund’s push for the top four and to be the best of the rest behind Bayern.

John’s bet: Dortmund to win and Erling Haaland to score anytime @ 4/9

William Hill odds above correct at the time of writing. New online customers get €30 in free bets when they bet €10 with William Hill. Just use the promo code H30. For all the latest prices, visit williamhill.com. 18+, always gamble responsibly. For more information, see gamblingtherapy.org  

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