Football Forensic: Barcelona, PSG & Liverpool feature in top five games to watch this weekend

Lukaku

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With the Champions League returning and whetting our collective appetite for football across the continent, anyone eager to keep on top of European action this weekend is in for a treat.

Indeed, big games in England, Germany, Spain, Italy and France are on the agenda over the next few days as the most frantically congested footballing calendar in living memory shows no mercy to many of Europe's heavyweights. 

Considering there is so much action to look forward to, keeping up to date with the latest statistics from FotMob will help you really focus on some of the key narratives in the days to come. 

So, what are some of the biggest games to look out for this weekend? 

Liverpool vs Everton 

Klopp Ancelotti

Competition: Premier League

Kickoff time: Saturday, 17.30 GMT 

To say the last meeting of the two city rivals was controversial would be an understatement of gargantuan proportion.

With Liverpool's trip to Goodison Park in October seeing Virgil van Dijk ruled out long-term following his clash with Jordan Pickford before having a late winner ruled out through VAR, the reverse fixture at Anfield on Saturday evening is a mouth-watering prospect. 

The form book may not exactly hint at the most thrilling encounter as Jurgen Klopp's side are on a miserable run of form, including a set of three consecutive losses. Everton, meanwhile, are also without a win in three and have a truly awful record at Anfield, having last won there back in 1999. 

Still, this is a test of Carlo Ancelotti's side's credentials. Enjoying a strong campaign so far, they have the chance to put their bitter rivals to the sword and overcome a major mental hurdle away from home. Indeed, Liverpool do appear to be on the ropes somewhat, even despite their impressive result against RB Leipzig in the Champions League earlier this week. 

The key man here has to be Dominic Calvert-Lewin.

Expected to be fit again after the loss at home to Manchester City, no Everton player has matched the England international for goals scored (13) or shots per game (2.7) this season. So, if the Toffees are going to try and exploit Liverpool's recent defensive problems, it'll surely be down to the 23-year-old target man. 

If he can have an impact, he'll write himself into Everton folklore. 

Schalke vs Borussia Dortmund 

Haaland Schalke

Competition: Bundesliga 

Kickoff time: Saturday, 17:30 GMT

Another big derby involving two teams woefully out of form could have the makings of a dramatically gripping tie on Saturday evening. 

Over in Germany, Borussia Dortmund travel to arch-rival Schalke to contest the 122nd league edition of the Revierderby. A meeting of two sides that requires little added spice as it is given the fierce history between the giants in the Ruhr valley, the fact both teams desperately need a win could lead to an exciting and open game. 

Winless in seven, Schalke look rudderless at the bottom of the Bundesliga and are five points off second-bottom Mainz and nine off safety altogether. While things are better for Dortmund, they have only won one of their last six league games and trail the Champions League spots by six points. 

Considering reports of a potential firesale should they not qualify for Europe next season, they will surely look to compound Schakle's misery in order to try and save their season. Having won the last two meetings by an aggregate scoreline of 7-0, they go into the tie as heavy favourites. 

Once again, Dortmund will be looking to Erling Haaland. He's already scored two goals in as many games against Schalke and Saturday's opponents have conceded by far and away the most in the Bundesliga this season (52). 

Coming off a two-goal outing away at Sevilla on Wednesday night, the Norway international's imminent arrival in Gelsenkirchen must scare the life out of Schalke. 

Barcelona vs Cadiz 

Lionel Messi

Competition: La Liga 

Kickoff time: Sunday, 1300 GMT 

While it's hard to ignore Barcelona's demolition at the hands of Paris Saint-Germain on Tuesday evening, Ronald Koeman's side are in scintillating form when it comes to La Liga duties. 

After winning six straight games, the Blaugrana can move ahead of Real Madrid in what is looking increasingly likely to be a battle for second-place given Atletico Madrid's nine-point lead on Barcelona having played the same number of games. 

Still, Real are only three points ahead as things stand and Barca's visit of Cadiz does offer them the chance to pile the pressure on Zinedine Zidane. 

Luckily for them, Cadiz aren't exactly pulling up trees at the moment. They haven't won since beating Alavas at home on January 10th, conceding fifteen goals in their last five games alone. 

Anyone thinking Barcelona are in for an easy ride here, however, might be wrong. Cadiz have already beaten both them and Real Madrid this season and publically praised by Diego Simeone as a result, so do certainly have it in them to spring a surprise. 

Any realistic hope of doing so again surely relies on the veteran striker Alvaro Negredo. Though in the twilight of his career, the 2012 European Championship winner is Cadiz's top scorer so far with six goals and the physical presence he offers could be a major test for the only recently returned Gerard Pique, who was given the runaround against PSG. 

AC Milan vs Inter 

Lukaku Ibrahimovic

Competition: Serie A 

Kickoff time:  Sunday, 1400 GMT

Like something out of the mid-2000s, the Milan Derby is once again a top-of-the-table clash. 

Indeed, just weeks after the dramatic Coppa Italia clash that saw Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Romelu Lukaku embroiled in a heated confrontation, AC Milan will look to regain the initiative in the Serie A race on Sunday afternoon. 

Trailing Antonio Conte's men by one point at the top of the table, one of the most iconic fixtures in world football will likely have a major say in who can wrestle the title off of the previously dominant Juventus. 

Stefano Pioli's side lost ground on Inter following a surprising loss to Spezia last time out, though have recovered well from slip-ups. Despite being a largely young team, Milan have not gone two league games without winning all season and won the reverse fixture at San Siro back in October thanks to a brace from the evergreen Ibrahimovic. 

With a win, however, Inter can pull away. Should they prevail - as they have done in four of the last five Serie A derbies - a daunting four-point gap will have opened up. Given Conte's record of winning league titles, that would seem almost insurmountable, particularly given they have won their last six league games. 

Though Lukaku has little left to prove after taking to life in Italy well since joining in the summer of 2019, this could be a career-defining game for him. If he can outshine Ibrahimovic less than a month after their on-field argument, he'll have had a profound say in the title race and put himself on course to finally win his first major honour. 

Considering the Belgian's form, it'd take a brave observer to bet against him doing exactly that. 

Paris Saint-Germain vs Monaco

Mbappe

Competition: Ligue 1

Kickoff time: Sunday, 2000 GMT 

Though not quite the title-decider we may have come to expect from games involving Paris Saint-Germain and AS Monaco, the Sunday night meeting of the two at the Parc des Princes promises to be a cracker. 

The two top scorers in the league, both have realistic aspirations of winning the title with PSG one point off the top and Monaco only six points with thirteen games to play. 

Again, both are in good form with Mauricio Pochettino's side winning five of the last six league games, though the shock loss away at Lorient was undoubtedly a blemish on his otherwise wonderful start to life in the French capital.

Indeed, seeing how Kylian Mbappe and company ripped Barcelona apart with ease on Tuesday evening should have sent shockwaves around those hoping to snatch the league title away from PSG's grasp. 

Monaco are in good form, however.  Unbeaten in the last six games, Niko Kovac has done wonders for his reputation after being sacked by Bayern Munich and could close the gap on their big rivals to just three points with an away win. 

That will undoubtedly be a tall order considering they haven't won in the capital since the 2015/16 campaign. If they are to turn that miserable record around, the strike partnership of Kevin Volland and Wissam Ben Yedder will be crucial.

With PSG having conceded the joint-fewest amount of goals in the league (15), the duo look as if they'll have to feed off scraps and conjure something out of nothing if they are to trouble the French champions. 

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