Five Games to Watch

Five Games to Watch: Two Serie A belters and Spurs host Liverpool

Inter face Atalanta and Roma take on Juventus.

 
8:00am on Friday 10th January 2020
By
Martin Macdonald

INTER v ATALANTA

Inter host Atalanta at San Siro on Saturday as the joint leaders of Serie A look to maintain pace alongside Juventus. Both sides have started 2020 superbly, with Inter winning 3-1 away at Napoli and Atalanta demolishing Parma 5-0 earlier in the week to move within a point of the top four. As well as the potential title and European qualification permutations, this fixture is also intriguing as the league's top scorers in Atalanta take on the league's best defence in Inter. Something has to give, so will it be a high-scoring showstopper or a low-scoring damp squib? The last match between the sides was certainly the latter, as the Nerazzurri were held to a 0-0 stalemate at home in April. Keep an eye out for two of Serie A's most in-form players in the form of Romelu Lukaku and Josip Ilicic, who both have the potential to be match winners.

PLAYER TO WATCH

31 yrs - S, AM (C) - Atalanta
92
Defending
Creative
Passing
Attacking
Shooting
Decisive
Aerials
Physical
JavaScript chart by amChartsLDefendingCreativePassingAttackingShootingDecisiveAerialsPhysical10-10-5051015100%
919
Played matches
14
9
3
Shots P90
5.29
Shots On target P90
2.55
Successful passing %
81%
Final third passes P90
27.16

Ilicic was in absolutely supreme form in the aforementioned victory over Parma, scoring two including a spectacular, ferocious volley slammed into the top corner. He has netted four times in the last two matches.

ROMA v JUVENTUS

Just a couple of years ago this would represent one of the most important matches of the Serie A season, with both sides fighting for the title. Now, although a definite semblance of prestige remains, Roma's deterioration has led to Juventus emerging as even bigger favourites. The Giallorossi are fighting to return to the Champions League, but their grasp of fourth took a hit in their first game of the year as they were defeated 2-0 at home by Torino. Juve, meanwhile, won thanks to a first Serie A hat-trick from Cristiano Ronaldo, who will have his tail up this Sunday at the Stadio Olimpico. Roma did win the last match between the pair at the end of May last year, but Juventus had already been crowned champions by that point.

PLAYER TO WATCH

34 yrs - F (CL) - Juventus
96
Defending
Creative
Passing
Attacking
Shooting
Decisive
Aerials
Physical
JavaScript chart by amChartsLDefendingCreativePassingAttackingShootingDecisiveAerialsPhysical10-10-5051015100%
1315
Played matches
15
13
2
Shots P90
5.95
Shots On target P90
2.53
Successful passing %
82%
Final third passes P90
20.33

Unfortunately for Roma, Ronaldo scoring the first hat-trick of his Serie A career does not bode well.

CARDIFF v SWANSEA

Although this Championship clash between the two Welsh rivals does not have the glamour of the other matches in this list, it certainly won't be left wanting in terms of passion. Swansea are currently fairing better of the two as they sit just inside the play-off positions, but need to quickly bounce back after being taken apart by QPR in a 5-1 defeat last week in the FA Cup. However, as fate would have it, Cardiff's last league match was against QPR as they actually suffered an even worse defeat, losing 6-1! Fair play to the Rs for getting everyone as riled up as possible for this Welsh derby!

PLAYER TO WATCH

30 yrs - AM (RL) - Swansea
76
Defending
Creative
Passing
Attacking
Shooting
Decisive
Aerials
Physical
JavaScript chart by amChartsLDefendingCreativePassingAttackingShootingDecisiveAerialsPhysical10-10-5051015100%
2117
Played matches
24
9
4
Shots P90
2.85
Shots On target P90
1.19
Successful passing %
78%
Final third passes P90
14.11

Andre Ayew scored five goals in December but hasn't scored in his last two. Swansea will need him to get firing again if they are to remain in a playoff spot or have aspirations of moving higher up in the table.

PSG v MONACO

After action in the two domestic cup competitions, the first Ligue 1 fixtures of 2020 takes place this weekend, with a cracker between PSG and Monaco taking centre stage. Since the last league action in France, Monaco have changed head coach, replacing Leonardo Jardim with Robert Moreno in an attempt to kickstart some kind of positive end to the campaign. After a decent run of three wins in four matches at the end of 2019, they are up to seventh, but face a PSG side who have been nothing short of breathtaking recently. In their two cup fixtures since the turn of the year alone, they have scored 12 goals, with Kylian Mbappe, Neymar, Mauro Icardi et al all looking scintillating. PSG have won the last nine matches against Monaco, scoring a barrelful of goals in the process.]

PLAYER TO WATCH

21 yrs - F (CL) - PSG
99
Defending
Creative
Passing
Attacking
Shooting
Decisive
Aerials
Physical
JavaScript chart by amChartsLDefendingCreativePassingAttackingShootingDecisiveAerialsPhysical10-10-5051015100%
817
Played matches
12
11
4
Shots P90
5.18
Shots On target P90
2.97
Successful passing %
80%
Final third passes P90
21.37

After missing the first part of the season due to injury, Kylian Mbappe will be raring to go in 2020. He has been linked with a move to Liverpool in the summer this week, but says he wants to focus on his football. The next focus? Monaco.

TOTTENHAM v LIVERPOOL

There really is no stopping Liverpool at the moment, as not only are they flying high at the top of the table, but progressed in the FA Cup after basically playing a youth team versus Everton. It seems Jurgen Klopp can do no wrong currently, which will no doubt ire the ego of Jose Mourinho who was at one point as untouchable as the German is now. The battle of styles should certainly be interesting between the two managers, but does Mourinho really have the prowess, or indeed the personnel, to keep the swashbuckling Liverpool attack at bay? Spurs' recent form would suggest not, as they drew with Norwich, lost against Southampton, and then only just managed to stay in the FA Cup after a 1-1 draw away at Middlesbrough.

PLAYER TO WATCH

27 yrs - W, AM (L) - Liverpool
94
Defending
Creative
Passing
Attacking
Shooting
Decisive
Aerials
Physical
JavaScript chart by amChartsLDefendingCreativePassingAttackingShootingDecisiveAerialsPhysical10-10-5051015100%
1587
Played matches
19
11
6
Shots P90
2.67
Shots On target P90
1.36
Successful passing %
81%
Final third passes P90
18.66

After going on a run of five games without a goal, Sadio Mane has scored in his last two against Wolves and Sheffield Utd. If this is a signal to a return to goalscoring form, then beware, Spurs.

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