Football Forensic: Spurs, Ajax & Dortmund feature in top five games to watch this weekend

Erling Haaland - Borussia Dortmund

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.

Put away the decorations, bin those belly-swelling chocolates and slap yourself back into reality.

It's time to get real, folks: the holidays are over, there's a new year underway and as much as a certain global health catastrophise might try to stop you, you need to carpe annum (that's seize the year for those who were mucking about in Latin class). 

And what better way to do that than plunge yourself as deep as possible into the world of football? The beautiful game is exactly that and in these trying times, it's a welcome release for everybody. 

But you're also trying to train for a marathon and learn how to play guitar amid all the other New Year's Resolutions you hopefully will but probably won't accomplish over the next twelve months, so your time is inevitably of the essence. 

To make sure you're using it as effectively as possible while still enjoying the absolute best European football has to offer, GIVEMESPORT has picked out the best five games taking place this weekend and teamed up with live score app Fotmob to take a deeper look at some of the statistics behind them.

Sevilla vs Real Sociedad

David Silva - Real Sociedad

Competition: LaLiga
Kickoff: Saturday, 1pm GMT

Galvanised by the summer addition of the ever-majestic David Silva in midfield, Real Sociedad's explosive start to the season saw them lose just one and win seven of their first ten games, at one point even topping the table. 

A much tougher run of just one victory in their last six LaLiga outings has brought Imanol Alguacil's side back down to earth, but they're still fourth and after bouncing back from three straight defeats with a win over Athletic Bilbao and a draw with Osasuna, they'll fancy their chances of retaining that spot come the end of the season. 

To do that, however, they'll need to get some kind of result against Sevilla, the team that joined Real Madrid, Barcelona and Atletico in the Champions League spots last term and remain well in the hunt this season. In fact, a win would seem go level on points with Real Sociedad, with three games in hand on them. 

Atletico are the only team to concede less goals than Sevilla and the Basque outfit this season so Saturday's early kickoff looks set to be a tight one, although it's the home side who've come out on top in their last six league encounters, winning three to the visitors' none. 

RB Leipzig vs Borussia Dortmund

Erling Haaland - Borussia Dortmund

Competition: Bundesliga
Kickoff: Saturday, 5:30pm GMT

Dortmund featured in last week's preview and managed to beat Wolfsburg 2-0 in a game that had significant say on their top four chances, so they'll be hoping another inclusion works as a good luck charm as they look to slingshot themselves back into title contention with a win over RB Leipzig. 

That would take some going based on recent form. While Dortmund have lost five games already and accordingly administered a change in management, Leipzig have only suffered defeat once all season in the Bundesliga, in no small part due to them having the meanest defensive record in the league - just nine goals have been conceded from 14 games. 

Offensively, meanwhile, few teams in Europe right now share duties as well as Julian Nagelsmann's side. 12 different players have already scored for them in the Bundesliga and while Dortmund aren't far behind in that respect on eleven, 10 of their 28 overall goals have been scored by a single player - a certain Erling Haaland, who is unsurprisingly the second-top scorer in the competition this season after Robert Lewandowski. 

Leipzig have failed to beat Dortmund in their last five attempts but maybe the confidence of an extra six points in the table will see them overcome that historic stumbling block this time out. 

Roma vs Inter

Romelu Lukaku - Inter Milan

Competition: Serie A
Kickoff: Sunday, 11:30am GMT

Will this finally be the season somebody beats Juventus to the Serie A title? If anyone's going to do it other than current table-toppers AC Milan, it'll surely be second-place Inter or third-place Roma - who now have a great chance to gain ground on Rossoneri after their Wednesday night defeat to the reigning champions. 

Indeed, both sides have enjoyed strong starts to the new season and while Inter may have just suffered a defeat to mid-table Sampdoria, before that they'd enjoyed a run of eight consecutive wins in Serie A, with their only prior loss of the campaign coming against their San Siro rivals. Roma, meanwhile, have won five of their last six.

But there's no doubt which side boasts the better firepower: Inter have scored the most goals of any team in the division this season, with their top scorer Romelu Lukaku (twelve goals, three assists) only bested by Cristiano Ronaldo. 

An Inter win then? Well, probably not. The last five Serie A meetings between both sides have ended in draws, and with so much to lose as they look to narrow the gap on AC Milan, don't be surprised if this ends up being another stalemate. 

Ajax vs PSV

Donyell Malen - PSV

Competition: Eredivisie
Kickoff: Sunday, 3:45pm GMT

A top-of-the-table clash which could have a massive say on the Eredivisie title come the end of the season. With 14 games played, first-place Ajax are ahead of PSV by a single point, and thus this term's crown looks most likely to go to one of the two sides that have won it during eight of the last nine campaigns. 

But the initial signs point to an Ajax victory. From the last four meetings, they've beaten PSV thrice alongside one draw, while their point advantage in the table is actually more like two because the Amsterdam outfit's goal difference stands at a ridiculous +42. 

That in large part owes to Ajax wiping the floor with Venlo earlier this season to win 13-0 but seven of their last eight league victories have come with at least four goals scored. Having also conceded the least goals of any Eredivisie side, PSV have their work cut out. 

But top-scorer Donyell Malen is in strong form right now having failed to net in just two of his last nine games (all competitions), and if there's one positive for PSV in Ajax's recent results, it's that they've failed to win two of the last four. The Eindhoven side, meanwhile, have won their last three on the bounce in the Eredivisie. 

Marine vs Tottenham

Jose Mourinho - Tottenham

Competition: FA Cup
Kickoff: Sunday, 5pm GMT

Nobody can resist the magic of the FA Cup's fabled Third Round, English football's ultimate lottery where any lower-league underdog can have its day as Premier League millionaires struggle to overcome the attritional levellers of run-down changing rooms, waterlogged pitches and hoof-ball fanaticism. 

While the absence of baying local crowds may make astonishing giant-killings seem less likely this year, that's counteracted by the fact every major Premier League club is battling the most hectic of fixture schedules right now - the last thing they need is an encounter with a nothing-to-lose-XI feeling invincible from breathing in all those wispy FA Cup fumes. 

No fixture this weekend encapsulates the Third Round ethos better than Tottenham's trip to non-league Marine. Members of the eighth tier of English football, the clash is said to involve the biggest gap between two teams in FA Cup history, which in itself makes it an automatic footballing spectacle even if the quality of play looks set to be on the modest side. 

Statistical analysis feels a little pointless here considering the chasm separating both sides but the result will likely come down to whether lady-luck favoures Marine, and how seriously Jose Mourinho intends to take the competition this year.

He played pretty much Tottenham's strongest possible lineup in the Carabao Cup semi-final with Brentford, so whether that obliges rotation five days later or means the Spurs boss will go all-in again in search of more silverware remains to be seen.

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