Aguero, Costa and Zlatan battle for goal supremacy while Bundesliga kicks off: The Big Weekend Preview
The Bundesliga is the last major European league to kick off when Bayern Munich host Werder Bremen on Friday. Meanwhile, Barcelona and Real Madrid already look as though they are running away with things in Spain. Let’s break down the best of this weekend’s action.
Napoli need a victory over Milan
Last season, Napoli’s 82 points would have been enough to win the Premier League, but they came second again to a dominant Juventus side. They know that they can barely afford to drop a point if the Serie A champions play as well as last season, but they already have – a 2-2 draw at Pescara on opening day.
So the home game against AC Milan on Saturday takes on extra significance, even at this early stage of the season.
Three-way fight for top scorer in England?
Manchester City’s Sergio Aguero, Chelsea’s Diego Costa and Zlatan Ibrahimovic in his first two games for new club Manchester United have all scored in both their side’s respective opening two Premier League games of the season.
This could be the narrative of the season. Aguero will score 20 no problem if he avoids injury, Ibrahimovic has already become the focal attacking point for United and is also taking penalties while Costa is playing like a man possessed as he aims to impress manager Antonio Conte. All three could quite easily find the net again this week.
Can RB Liepzig do a Leicester?
RB Leipzig are a controversial team in Germany, having risen to the Bundesliga from the fifth division in the space of seven years thanks to the backing of Dietrich Mateschitz, the owner of Red Bull. He changed the club’s name to RasenBallsport Leipzig (Lawn ball sport) to get around strict advertising laws in German football and has alienated a lot of the fans.
Opposition supporters hate them, as shown when Dynamo Dresden’s fans threw a severed bulls head from the stands during a recent cup tie.
But RB have the financial backing to make an impact at the top of the Bundesliga and even Bayern Munich will be keeping an eye on their progress
Players to watch
Ousama Dembele (Borussia Dortmund)
There is a reason that Dortmund can keep selling their best players while maintaining their spot as the second-best team in Germany - because their recruitment policy is so good.
Gone are Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Mats Hummels, in come Marc Bartra, Raphael Guerreiro, Andre Schurrle and, best of all, Dembele.
The 19-year-old Frenchman scored 12 goals for Rennes last season, was wanted by half of Europe’s best teams and already looks like a good addition for Dortmund.
Christian Benteke (Crystal Palace)
A couple of seasons ago, Benteke would have been coveted by every top club in the Premier League. His move to Liverpool did not work out but the big Belgian has now joined a club where he could score a hatful of goals. He is lethal in the air but he never played in a formation that suited him at Anfield. Palace should give him plenty of crosses and Benteke has the quality to deliver.
Ciro Immobile (Lazio)
The Italian striker, 26, is only three seasons removed from being Serie A’s top scorer, when he netted 22 goals in 33 games for Torino. A big-money move to Dortmund did not work out and neither did a switch to Sevilla.
Now Lazio have spent €8.5 million (Dh35.2m) on Immobile and this is his big chance to rebuild his reputation. Immobile has already scored - the first in a 4-3 win at Atlanta. Now he will lead the line against Juventus in Turin on Saturday night
Games to watch
Bayern Munich v Werder Bremen, 10.30pm, Friday
Bayern strolled to the German title last season and they have improved their squad as expected, with the additions of German international Mats Hummels in defence and highly-rated Portuguese midfielder Renato Sanches - the 19 year old who was part of his side’s Euro 2016-winning squad.
The main difference is the managers. Pep Guardiola has been replaced by Carlo Ancelotti. Guardiola’s main failing at Bayern was not winning the Uefa Champions League. Can Ancelotti succeed in his place? The veteran Italian certainly has the experience - he has won five Champions League titles to Guardiola’s two.
Tottenham Hotspur v Liverpool, 3.30pm, Saturday
Liverpool’s last trip to London resulted in a 4-3 thriller when they won at Arsenal on the opening weekend of the season. Tottenham should be sturdier in defence than their north London rivals but this represents a fascinating scenario to evaluate both teams.
Can Tottenham produce as many good results against title rivals as last season? And which Liverpool side will turn up? The one that won at Arsenal or lost at Burnley?
Athletic Bilbao v Barcelona, 10.15pm, Sunday
Real Madrid travelled to Real Sociedad last week in what could have been a tricky fixture and ran out 3-0 winners. Spanish football is full of games like that. Away trips that can be banana skins for the big two and this week it is Barcelona who face a perilous away trip to the Basque Country. The fans at the San Mames stadium can lift their side to impressive performances and Bilbao have upset Barca on many occasions in the past.
Plan your weekend
The pick of the live TV games
(All matches on BeIN Sports)
• Bundesliga - Bayern Munich v Werden Bremen, 10.30pm
• Premier League - Tottenham Hotspur v Liverpool, 3.30pm
• Bundesliga - Borussia Dortmund v Mainz, 5.30pm
• Premier League - Chelsea v Burnley, 6pm
• Premier League - Watford v Arsenal, 6pm
• Scottish Premier League - Celtic v Aberdeen, 6pm
• Serie A - Lazio v Juventus, 8pm
• Primera Liga - Real Madrid v Celta Vigo, 10.15pm
• Premier League - Hull City v Manchester United, 8.30pm
• Serie A - Napoli v AC Milan, 10.45pm
• Premier League - West Brom v Middlesbrough, 4.30pm
• Premier League - Manchester City West Ham, 7pm
• Ligue 1 - Monaco v Paris Saint-Germain, 7.45pm
• Primeira Liga - Sporting v Porto, 9pm
• Primera Liga - Athletic Bilbao v Barcelona, 10.15pm
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Published: August 24, 2016 04:00 AM