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From 'Three Points Lane' to Mark van Bommel: John Brewin picks this weekend's unmissable games

A London derby, Milan’s trip to Turin and high-flying Wolfsburg are on the agenda in this week’s 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. 

Below, John previews matches from England, Italy, Spain, France and Germany following a midweek of European action. 

Tottenham v Chelsea, Premier League – 4.30pm Sunday 

chelsea-v-tottenham-hotspur-the-mind-series-stamford-bridge Spurs manager Nuno Espirito Santo. Source: PA

Last week’s 3-0 loss at Crystal Palace was something of a shock, particularly when Spurs had not previously conceded a league goal, but it was also the type of performance that some fans feared when Nuno was handed the vacant manager’s position.

A midfield trio of Harry Winks, Pierre-Emile Hojberg and Oliver Skipp betrayed one of Tottenham’s great weaknesses, a lack of creativity behind Harry Kane, and with Heung-Min Son also missing, a lack of attacking support for the captain. That inability to seize the initiative granted an energetic Palace team a foothold, one augmented by Japhet Tanganga’s loss of control for his red card, and the struggles of debutant Emerson Royal at full-back.

It is hoped Son may be able to return on Sunday; he did not fly to France for the Europa Conference League encounter with Rennes, but Nuno is already becoming acquainted with something his predecessor, Jose Mourinho, also complained of, the lack of quality personnel in the squad. That exposes the likes of Emerson, on whom reports at Barcelona were not positive, and whose fire-sale departure was not lamented in Catalonia.

Much the opposite goes for Thomas Tuchel at Chelsea, who commands an embarrassment of riches, though in beating Zenit St Petersburg 1-0 on Tuesday, it did look as if Mason Mount was finally showing the signs of fatigue after his long summer’s work with England. No matter, resting Mount grants Tuchel the chance to attempt a different configuration in attack with Timo Werner’s speed perhaps given a try down the flanks.

britain-soccer-champions-league Romelu Lukaku has begun his second spell at Chelsea like a house on fire. Source: Kirsty Wigglesworth

Romelu Lukaku’s sparkling form in front of goal makes him undroppable barring an injury. He has scored four times from just six attempts so far in four matches since his return. On such reliability will Chelsea’s title challenge be sustained.

Chelsea have not lost in any of the last five Premier League encounters with their London rivals, and won last season at “Three Points Lane”, as their fans gleefully call it, via a Jorginho penalty in one of Tuchel’s early matches in charge.

The swift development since then under the German coach, and with Spurs struggling for goals – they have scored three in four Premier League matches – can only suggest another victory for the west Londoners.

John’s bet: Romelu Lukaku to score a header @ 11/2

Juventus v AC Milan,  Serie A – 7.45pm Sunday

britain-soccer-champions-league Milan pair Olivier Giroud and Ante Rebic at Anfield on Wednesday night. Source: Rui Vieira

The glory days are in the past for Milan, and probably Juventus, who started the season poorly but there were promising signs in the Champions League this week for both clubs. Juve made relatively short work of Malmo in Sweden while Milan, though they lost at Anfield, gave Liverpool an almighty scare.

It was only in May that Milan handed out a 3-0 win in Turin, a defeat that all but did for Andrea Pirlo’s managerial reign, and the Rossoneri look to further their sequence of three wins from three so far in Serie A. Olivier Giroud, recovering from Covid, may make his return to lead the line for Milan though Ante Rebic looked dangerous as a converted winger at Liverpool.

Juve, after defeats to Empoli and Napoli, do look ripe for another Milan raid.

John’s bet: Milan to win at Juventus @ 12/5

Barcelona v Granada, La Liga – 8pm Monday 

esp-fc-barcelona-bayern-munich-uefa-champions-league A deflated Gerard Pique in Barca's defeat to Bayern Munich. Source: SIPA USA/PA Images

Tuesday’s 3-0 defeat to Bayern Munich was an indicator of just how bad things might get for Barcelona, and it generated a public apology from club president Joan Laporta. It was not a vintage week for La Liga in the Champions League and without Rodrygo’s late goal for Real Madrid at Inter Milan, Spanish clubs would have been winless.

Granada were poor in losing 2-1 at home to Betis and yet worse in losing 4-0 to Rayo Vallecano but much depends on the esprit de corps in the Barca ranks. With the home fans keeping their white handkerchiefs handy, another wobble could be in the offing.

John’s bet: Granada to score the first goal @ 27/10

Paris Saint-Germain v Lyon, Ligue 1 – 7.45pm Sunday

imago-20210915 Lionel Messi and Ander Herrera celebrate a goal against Club Brugge. Source: Imago/PA Images

At long last, and with Cristiano Ronaldo having beaten him to the punch in holding his home debut gala event, Lionel Messi will make his first bow at the Parc des Princes. The cheapest tickets available retail at a mere €90, and the great man already has something to prove.

At Club Brugge on Wednesday, PSG were not at all impressive, their all-star forward line leaving the rest of the team rather exposed when the Belgian team attacked.

Can Lyon, coming off two wins, take advantage? They may be disadvantaged by having to play in the Europa League on Thursday.

John’s bet: PSG and Lyon to draw @ 9/2

Wolfsburg v Eintracht Frankfurt, Bundesliga – 6.30pm Sunday

imago-20210914 Wolfsburg boss Mark van Bommel. Source: Imago/PA Images

A 0-0 draw with Lille, admittedly the French champions, put a slight brake on what has been a runaway season of success so far for Mark van Bommel’s Wolfsburg, who have won each of their four Bundesliga matches. They have conceded just one goal thus far.

Last time out at Greuter Furth, the attacking pair of the inspirational Wout Weghorst and the youngster and former Manchester City, Preston and Middlesbrough player Lukas Nmecha shared the goals in a 2-0 win. Eintracht are winless so far, and have kept just one Bundesliga clean sheet under their new manager Oliver Glasner.

John’s bet: Wolfsburg to win and Wout Weghorst to score anytime @ 6/4

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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