Football Forensic: Previewing Europe's top 5 matches to watch this weekend

Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Robert Lewanddowski and Kylian Mbappe

GiveMeSport has partnered with FotMob to launch a brand new feature. Each week, we’ll be bringing you statistical previews of the top five matches taking place over the coming weekend.

With the festive fixtures in full swing, clubs across Europe are currently trying to navigate a taxing schedule, which sees most playing every three days.

In among all the madness, there are some eye-catching fixtures taking place this weekend, and here at GiveMeSport, we’ve picked out five of the best for you to sink your teeth into.

To help us provide an in-depth preview of each match, we’ve teamed up with live score app FotMob to delve into the stats behind each side.

Bayer Leverkusen vs Bayern Munich

Bayer Leverkusen vs Bayern Munich preview

Competition: Bundesliga
Kick Off: Saturday, 5:30pm GMT

Saturday evening brings about a top of the table clash in Germany, as leader Bayer Leverkusen host reigning champions Bayern Munich. A single point separates first from second as Peter Bosz’s side aim to continue their hugely impressive undefeated start to the campaign.

Indeed, Leverkusen have won their last five matches in all competitions, scoring a staggering 18 goals in the process. A huge part of their early-season success is down to Argentine striker Lucas Alario, whose eight goals have fired Die Werkself to the Bundesliga’s summit.

Bayern, on the other hand, will be keen on ending Leverkusen’s run and leapfrogging them in the table. History favours the Bavarians, too, with a record of 13 wins over their opponents compared to the five Leverkusen hold over them. In the last two meetings, Bayern won by a scoreline of four goals to two, both away from home, so will be aiming to repeat that this weekend.

Bayern are also the league’s leading goalscorers, having found the net a startling 37 times in just 12 games. Unsurprisingly, Robert Lewandowski is the club’s chief bagsman, contributing 15 of that tally. Expect goals in this one and, if you want a prediction, FotMob users have Leverkusen down as narrow favourites, with 41% of fans going for a home win.

Sassuolo vs AC Milan

Sassuolo vs AC Milan preview

Competition: Serie A
Kick Off: Sunday, 2:00pm GMT

Sassuolo came flying out the blocks in Serie A, winning five and drawing three of their opening eight matches. The Emilia-Romagna outfit were arguably Italy’s surprise package of the season, setting the pace early doors and putting the rest of the league on notice.

Sassuolo have dropped off slightly since then, and now sit in fifth as they prepare to face current table toppers AC Milan on Sunday. Since taking charge of the Rossoneri in October 2019, manager Stefano Pioli has taken Milan to new heights — so much so that the club even decided against bringing in football guru Ralph Rangnick last summer.

Of course, it’s impossible to mention Milan’s form without discussing the ageless talent of Zlatan Ibrahimović. The Swede, now 39, is Milan’s top scorer this season, with 10 goals to his name so far. His average match rating of 8.68/10 also makes him, statistically, the club’s most influential player.

Both clubs are relatively stringent defensively, but it’s Milan who will fancy their chances in this one, seeing as they’re unbeaten in their last seven meetings with Sassuolo. Both sides also tend to perform better on the road, with Milan picking up 16 points on their travels thus far, a stat which again plays firmly into their favour.

Chelsea vs Tottenham Hotspur

Chelsea Women vs Spurs Women preview

Competition: Women’s Super League
Kick Off: Sunday, 2:00pm GMT

The WSL is heating up and this Sunday could see it reach boiling point, as Chelsea host London rivals Spurs. The away side desperately struggled for form in the early stages of the season, but since Rehanne Skinner took to the dugout, replacing the previous managerial duo of Karen Hills and Juan Amoros, results have been on the up.

Two wins in as many games in charge has seen Skinner’s side climb up to eighth in the table. U.S. superstar and two-time World Cup winner Alex Morgan found the net from the penalty spot in both fixtures, and will be hoping to continue her good form as she builds her fitness back up after giving birth.

Morgan won’t be the only world class striker in action, though, as she squares off against Australia’s finest in Sam Kerr. Kerr got off to a slow start in England after signing from Chicago Red Stars last year, but has since hit her stride, scoring all four of Chelsea’s latest league goals, including a scintillating hat-trick versus West Ham.

Should Manchester United miraculously lose to Bristol City in the early kick off, Emma Hayes’ Blues could go top of the WSL with three points against Spurs, making this a mouthwatering encounter. Despite Spurs’ upturn in form, FotMob users are still backing Chelsea in this one, with 60% of them predicting a home win.

Manchester United vs Leeds United

Manchester United vs Leeds United preview

Competition: Premier League
Kick Off: Sunday, 4:30pm GMT

Contrary to popular belief, Manchester United have actually been in decent form of late — in the Premier League, at least. The Red Devils have won five and drawn one of their last six league matches and come into this one off the back off shutting out Manchester City in the derby and putting three past Sheffield United on Thursday.

Boss Ole Gunnar Solskjær will, however, be looking to address his side’s woeful home record. While United have accumulated 20 points so far this season, they’ve only managed to pick up five of those from games at Old Trafford — an issue that won’t be aided by the news Edinson Cavani has been changed by the FA for misconduct.

In the away corner, Leeds will be buoyed by their five star performance against Newcastle in midweek, where they ruthlessly dispatched the Geordies 5-2. Winger Jack Harrison played a big role in the win, picking up a goal and assist to earn an 8.6/10 man of the match rating.

This may well become a frantic affair, which will undoubtedly suit Leeds more out of the two sides, playing into the hands of their ultra-pressing tactics. Expect to see a huge clash in midfield between Bruno Fernandes and Kalvin Phillips — whoever ends up getting the rub of the green may well help earn their team the three points.

Lille OSC vs Paris Saint-Germain

Lille vs PSG preview

Competition: Ligue 1
Kick Off: Sunday, 8:00pm GMT

Uncertainty looms large over Ligue 1 at the moment, following the collapse of French football’s television deal. It remains to be seen who will secure the league’s television rights after Mediapro were forced to hand them back to the Ligue de Football Professionnel, but the financial unease created by the situation seems to be affecting Lille far more than PSG.

While the Parisians have wealthy Qatari backers and a plethora of commercial deals, Lille’s owner Gérard Lopez has already admitted he may need to sell the club in order to secure its long-term future. However, with all that said, it’s Lille who currently top the league with PSG trailing them in second.

Les Dogues have won three on the bounce in Ligue 1 and will look towards vetran striker Burak Yılmaz to deliver the goods come Sunday. Following the sale of Victor Osimhen to Napoli in the summer, club-record signing Jonathan David was meant to fill the void up front but, so far, it’s been Yılmaz who’s stepped up to the plate instead.

PSG have a headache of their own up front, with Neymar picking up an ankle injury in the loss to Lyon following Thiago Mendes’ challenge. That may well force Thomas Tuchel into a change of formation, who opted to field a 3-5-2 in Wednesday’s 2-0 win over Lorient. Everton loanee Moise Kean partnered Kylian Mbappe in attack that night, with both scoring to seal the three points.

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