Reschedule everything you have planned for this weekend; it has some of the best matches of this season so far. Germany, Italy, England and Portugal, all of those countries are giving us the perfect reason to sit back on our couches and enjoy some titanic clashes amongst great footballing rivals. But which teams are we talking about exactly? To answer that, let me take you on a quick tour around Europe.
Let’s make our first stop at the Signal Iduna Park, in Dortmund. Well, when the league leaders go up against second place, it has all the makings of a match to remembered for a long time to come. When the clubs involved are Dortmund and Bayern Munich, all eyes will be on those decisive 90 minutes, where a top-form Borussia will clash against a solid leader in Bayern. The current champions are still trying to understand how they managed to lose at home in their last fixture against a much inferior 1. FSV Mainz 05. The two teams are separated by a very thin margin of 5 points, which can be decisive for Dortmund: if they win, the title is still in their grasp; if they lose, or even draw, they are practically giving the Bayern players their championship medals. The Signal Iduna Park will be full of supporters awaiting to see if Thomas Tuchel’s pupils can defeat the fierce and well-organized Die Roten. It’s truly the one rivalry that will ultimately decide everything.
Next stop takes us to the Italian capital and former center of the world, Rome. Although it isn’t a match with the same level of decisiveness as Dortmund vs. Bayern, the AS Roma vs. Fiorentina may be the match that throws one of those teams off track from conquering the Scudetto. Although Roma are in third place, Fiorentina are hot in their pursuit, shadowing their every move – both teams have 53 points. The winner will almost guarantee their place on the podium along with a chance of keeping their title dreams alive and access to the Champions League playoffs. For the losing team, the Scudetto becomes almost impossible. You have my promise of a very intense game, in a word… Italian. What else?
On what should make our Saturday a lot more enjoyable, we now move on to what should be a thrilling North-London derby. In my opinion, the real clash will happen on the bench: two world-class managers, Mauricio Pochettino and Arsène Wenger, will be face to face in one of the most nerve-racking games of the season. Spurs are only 3 points ahead of The Gunners, and Wenger will surely encourage his team to play offensive and quick football, with the certainty that it will be different from the last fixture against Swansea, which ended up with a disappointing defeat. But with the match being played at White Hart Lane, Tottenham will have the advantage. A win is the one result that matters for both teams, and the hope that Watford surprise Leicester is the only thing both teams have in common. Two great and ambitious sides collide: who will be able to catch Leicester at the top of the league?
Last, but not least, there’s the oldest and most famous Portuguese derby of all time: Sporting Lisbon vs. SL Benfica. Being Portuguese myself, it’s easy to say that this will be the match that I’ll watch more closely, for a simple reason: this clash between the two eternal rivals is the one that will decide the 2015/2016 Portuguese champions. A single point divides the two teams, and Sporting will fight with all of their strength to increase that gap to 4 points. On the other side, we have a motivated SL Benfica, anxious to get their revenge for the 3 defeats they have suffered so far in derbies and jump ahead of their rivals at the top of the league. A tough match, for all teams (including the referees), and the answer is really in who will want it more.
Four of the most interesting derbies mark this weekend, and all of them are crucial. This weekend may determine champions and runner-ups, and we, as football lovers from all around the world, must be sure to not miss a bit of them. What a weekend it will be so let’s sit back and enjoy.
About the author – Luis Costa
Luis has a great passion for football and has been playing Soccer Manager for 5 years. He played semi-professional for 13 years and is currently a regional referee in Madeira’s football association.