Barcelona v Valencia and RB Leipzig v Bayern Munich among top fixtures this weekend

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Club football returns in the top European leagues after a series of entertaining games in the 2020 Euro qualifiers and friendlies during the international break.

Top teams such as Barcelona, Real Madrid and Tottenham, who have endured disappointing starts to the season, will look to correct their course and build momentum across the next few games.

With the Champions League also kicking off next week, most teams face selection dilemmas amid injuries and fatigue concerns. We help you prioritise your football this weekend by listing the best match-ups from each of the top-five leagues.

BUNDESLIGA

Bayern

Fixture: RB Leipzig v Bayern Munich

Venue: Red Bull Arena

Date: September 14, Saturday

Time: 8:30pm GST

The top teams in the Bundesliga will battle it out in what promises to be an electrifying encounter at the Red Bull Arena. Leipzig have won all three of their games so far, scoring nine goals and conceding just two. The visitors started with a 2-2 draw against Hertha Berlin but followed up with massive wins over Schalke and Mainz.

The Red Bull-owned side have not flown in this fixture historically, winning just once in the last five encounters at home across all competitions. But the team that cruised past Union Berlin, Eintracht Frankfurt and Borussia Monchengladbach could provide a twist to these stats and bag all three points on Saturday.

There is no firm favourite for this one but Robert Lewandowski and Timo Werner will be eager to change it right from the word go.

LA LIGA

AntoineGriezmannBarcelona (1)

Fixture: Barcelona v Valencia

Venue: Camp Nou

Date: September 14, Saturday

Time: 11:00pm GST

Big teams with similar fortunes face off in a mid-table clash in Spain as defending champions Barca host the Copa Del Rey champions at the Camp Nou. Both teams have won, drawn and lost one game each this season and a win on Saturday could go a long way to building momentum after a poor start.

Only once in the last 12 games across all competitions has either team tasted a two-goal victory or higher, showing that we are in for a mouth-watering clash on Saturday. The Catalans have won three of the last five encounters at home and are likely to make it four as Valencia take the pitch for the first time after firing coach Marcelino.

Lionel Messi is likely to sit out of the fixture as he attempts to gain full match-fitness before the tantalising Champions League tie against Borussia Dortmund on Tuesday. Antoine Griezmann will hence spearhead Barcelona’s attack yet again ahead of the challenging task of grabbing all three points.

PREMIER LEAGUE

Marcus Rashford

Fixture: Manchester United v Leicester City

Venue: Old Trafford

Date: September 14, Saturday

Time: 6:00pm GST

Manchester United host a top-four side in Saturday’s early kick-off game in the Premier League. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men picked up from where they left off domestically last season and have won just one of the four games in 2019/20. The Foxes are unbeaten and sit third with eight points from their four games.

Despite the negativity surrounding the club, Untied should remain positive, given they have dominated Leicester consistently over the past few years. Their last defeat against the 2015/16 Premier League champions came in September 2014 when the Foxes emerged 5-3 victors in a thrilling contest at the King Power Stadium.

The past results point at a United victory but Jamie Vardy and James Maddison could tilt the tie in favour of the visitors.

LIGUE 1

Monaco

Fixture: Monaco v Marseille

Venue: Stade Louis II

Date: September 15, Sunday

Time: 11:00pm GST

Monaco are inching closer to being considered a top French club only based on reputation and history and not their football. Having barely survived relegation last term, Monaco have begun the new season with a four-game winless streak. A win against Marseille could change the mood in the camp and provide them with the motivation to move on with their rebuilding phase.

Marseille did not win any of their first two games but turned the tide around with narrow wins over Nice and Saint Etienne. However, Andre Villas-Boas’ team are not outright favourites in this tie since they have won just once in the last six attempts at the Stade Louis II.

Monaco have made some promising signings and star man Wissam Ben Yedder will need to step up as they look to snatch their first win of the season. The visitors will look at Dimitri Payet to extend their winning run.

SERIE A

zapata

Fixture: Genoa v Atalanta

Venue: Stadio Comunale Luigi Ferraris

Date: September 15, Sunday

Time: 2:30pm GST

Genoa hosting Atalanta has been chosen as our Serie A fixture of the week based on the sheer number of goals the games involving these teams have produced this season. Nine were scored in the two games Genoa featured in and Atalanta have played out two thrilling five-goal encounters.

Genoa opened their Serie A campaign with a thrilling 3-3 draw against Roma before edging Fiorentina 2-1 at home. Atalanta were on the right side of a 3-2 win against SPAL but lost to Torino by the same scoreline.

The hosts could not cope with the departure of Krzysztof Piatek last season but have started well this term, having scored five goals in two games. Duvan Zapata has already taken off at Atalanta, scoring twice in their defeat to Torino.

Will the visitors prioritise their Champions League fixture as they travel to Dinamo Zagreb on Wednesday, and restrain themselves from giving 100 per cent? Or will they go for the three points against Genoa? This could be an interesting tie.

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Raheem Sterling ‘performing at the highest level’, says Jordan Henderson

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Midfielder Jordan Henderson says Raheem Sterling is cashing in on his hard work after his England goal glut continued.

It seems remarkable to think that Sterling went over 1,000 days without scoring for his country after he bagged his eighth goal in eight games in the 5-3 Euro 2020 qualifying win over Kosovo on Tuesday.

The Manchester City forward also claimed three assists and has become one of the most productive players in Europe.

Henderson and Sterling are locked in a duel with their club sides, with Liverpool and City matching each other blow for blow in the Premier League.

Henderson knows Sterling’s form will be vital if England are to claim major silverware any time soon but hopes it will be restricted to international level.

“Raheem’s a fantastic player,” the Liverpool midfielder said. “He’s been playing like this for many years, he’s always been so good to play with.

“Now he’s getting his rewards, he’s getting goals and assists and you can see his confidence growing.

“He’s performing at the highest level and hopefully he can continue to do that.

“We just need him to keep doing it – more for England than City! He’s a great lad and a fantastic player.”

The gloss was taken off England’s win against Kosovo by some shoddy defending after the break which gifted their visitors two goals.

They also handed Kosovo a lead inside 34 seconds and the general consensus is that, although they can outscore lesser teams, Gareth Southgate’s men will be punished by stronger opposition.

“We’re disappointed, especially with their goals,” Henderson added. “At times we did some really good stuff with the ball, but we need to be defensively better at times and that’s something we need to improve on going forward.

“It’s important to keep clean sheets as well. That’s what we need to do as well.

“We can’t always rely on the front three to score. We need to defend properly as a team first and foremost.

“I thought attacking-wise we were really good, but defensively we can improve. We gave the ball away very sloppily at times.

“Lots of room for improvement but overall we got the job done with three points, which was very important.”

Provided by Press Association Sport

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Watch: Gareth Southgate praises 'unstoppable' Raheem Sterling after England's victory over Kosovo

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Gareth Southgate was concerned by some of England’s defensive mistakes but hailed Raheem Sterling for his ‘unstoppable’ display that saw off Kosovo 5-3 in a thrilling Euro 2020 clash.

While the Three Lions have room for improvement in defence, England were formidable in attack with Sterling scoring once, providing three assists and hitting a post.

“I mean Raheem’s two performances have been of the highest level,” said Southgate.

“I think he’s been almost unstoppable, his awareness of where defenders were, his ability to ride challenges, his vision and desire to get in on goal, and unselfish play as well, so I couldn’t speak highly enough of the way he played.”










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