Five Games to Watch

Five Games to Watch: Two Serie A specials, including the Derby della Capitale

Plus Barcelona are in action after narrowly avoiding the cup upset of all cup upsets.

 
8:00am on Friday 24th January 2020
By
Martin Macdonald

From Serie A to La Liga...

ROMA v LAZIO, SUNDAY 26th JAN, 1700 GMT

One of the biggest derbies in the world takes place in this round of fixtures as Roma host Lazio at the Stadio Olimpico for the Derby della Capitale.

There is perhaps an added element of drama in this particular edition of the game as the rivals are beside each other in the table in third and fourth, with Lazio seven points clear of Roma and six points adrift of leaders, Juventus, with a game in hand.

The Biancocelesti are on a remarkable run of 11 straight Serie A wins, but were knocked out of the Coppa Italia during the week, as were Roma. In the reverse fixture in September of the Rome derby, it finished 1-1 after Luis Alberto cancelled out Aleksandar Kolarov's opener.

PLAYER TO WATCH

29 yrs - ST (C) - Lazio
96
Defending
Creative
Passing
Attacking
Shooting
Decisive
Aerials
Physical
JavaScript chart by amChartsLDefendingCreativePassingAttackingShootingDecisiveAerialsPhysical10-10-5051015100%
1562
Played matches
19
23
5
Shots P90
4.55
Shots On target P90
2.30
Successful passing %
77%
Final third passes P90
15.04

Ciro Immobile is one of the most in-form strikers in the world at the moment and has scored a brilliant 23 goals in 19 Serie A games. His performances have generated the highest rating on FootballCritic of any Lazio player this season, with 96.

NAPOLI v JUVENTUS, SUNDAY 26th JAN, 1945 GMT

Over the past couple of seasons Napoli have represented the biggest challengers to Juventus' monopoly over Italian football. They ended up finishing second in both 2018 and 2019, however, and have significantly regressed this campaign, as they sit down in 11th after winning just six of their 20 Serie A games so far.

They may have progressed in the Italian Cup midweek, but they are on a run of three straight league defeats after losses to Inter, Lazio, and Fiorentina. Juventus, meanwhile, are starting to hit their stride, as is Cristiano Ronaldo, who recently scored his first hat-trick in Italian football.

The Bianconeri have won five in a row, and with Inter dropping points in their last two games, they now hold a four-point lead at the top. It is usually a cracking fixture when these two face off, and this was no more evident than in the last game which ended 4-3 at the Allianz Stadium. Napoli fought back from three goals down to make it 3-3, only for their hearts to be broken by an injury time own goal from Kalidou Koulibaly.

PLAYER TO WATCH

34 yrs - F (CL) - Juventus
99
Defending
Creative
Passing
Attacking
Shooting
Decisive
Aerials
Physical
JavaScript chart by amChartsLDefendingCreativePassingAttackingShootingDecisiveAerialsPhysical10-10-5051015100%
1495
Played matches
17
16
2
Shots P90
5.90
Shots On target P90
2.59
Successful passing %
83%
Final third passes P90
19.81

Ronaldo may not be at his blistering Real Madrid best, but his recent numbers have been superb. Seven goals in his last four Serie A games have helped Juve open up that potentially vital gap at the top.

LILLE v PSG, SUNDAY 26th JAN, 2000 GMT

PSG's dominance over the league this season means that a team who they are currently 18 points clear of, Lille, represent one of their tougher tasks of the campaign. As well as being eight points clear in the championship race, they have just been relentlessly scoring goals.

Their goal difference is currently at +36 which dwarfs the +9 of Marseille, +7 of Rennes, and the +1 of Nantes from the rest of the top four. With the noise surrounding a potential Neymar departure quieting down, and with Kylian Mbappe firing on all cylinders after starting the season with an injury, the Parisiens really do look unstoppable.

Lille may be in fifth, but they have lost their last two games, which included a 5-1 drubbing by Monaco a couple of weeks ago. PSG won the last game between the pair, but last season Lille actually destroyed the champions with a 5-1 win at the Pierre Mauroy.

PLAYER TO WATCH

21 yrs - S (C) - Lille
78
Defending
Creative
Passing
Attacking
Shooting
Decisive
Aerials
Physical
JavaScript chart by amChartsLDefendingCreativePassingAttackingShootingDecisiveAerialsPhysical10-10-5051015100%
1579
Played matches
19
10
3
Shots P90
3.42
Shots On target P90
1.43
Successful passing %
64%
Final third passes P90
8.66

With 10 goals so far, Victor Osimhen is in the top 5 scorers in the league, and can certainly pose a threat to the PSG defence with his immense pace running in behind. He is predicted to be one of the next expensive exports from French football this summer.

BAYERN v SCHALKE, SATURDAY 25th JANUARY, 1730 GMT

Bayern came back from the winter break with a bang, defeating Hertha 4-0 in Berlin to continue their run of three straight victories before Christmas under new head coach Hans-Dieter Flick.

The Bavarians are still paying for some of their early-season form, though, and remain four points behind RB Leipzig at the top of the Bundesliga.

Schalke won four games in a row from the end of August to the end of September, but have been consistently inconsistent since then and have won just two out of their last five

They also enjoyed a winning return from the break though, and it was a key one as well as they defeated third-placed Gladbach 2-0 to close the gap from fifth. In all competitions, Bayern are undefeated against Schalke in 20, and put six past them in the two league games last season.

PLAYER TO WATCH

30 yrs - AM, W (L) - Bayern
86
Defending
Creative
Passing
Attacking
Shooting
Decisive
Aerials
Physical
JavaScript chart by amChartsLDefendingCreativePassingAttackingShootingDecisiveAerialsPhysical10-10-5051015100%
790
Played matches
13
4
3
Shots P90
3.30
Shots On target P90
1.02
Successful passing %
78%
Final third passes P90
18.66

Ivan Perisic enjoyed what was one of his best performances for Bayern in the win over Hertha, earning a goal and an assist for a FootballCritic rating of 9.8. Robert Lewandowski and Serge Gnabry will be happy for someone else to shoulder some of the pressure in attack.

VALENCIA v BARCELONA, SATURDAY 25th JANUARY, 1500 GMT

For 72 minutes on Wednesday, Barcelona were on the cusp of suffering one of the most shocking defeats in the history of Spanish football as they went a goal down to Ibiza in the Copa del Rey. Luckily for the Blaugrana, they turned the scoreline around to win 2-1, but that performance, coupled with the scrappy 1-0 win over Granada, shows they are far from their best at the moment.

New head coach Quique Setien hasn't had enough time to get his ideas firmly across yet, but admitted to being alarmed at the level of performance against Ibiza in particular.

Prior to the dismal 4-1 loss away to Mallorca, Los Che had went five unbeaten. They are currently four points away from the Champions League places.

Barca may have won the reverse fixture 5-2 in September, but they haven't always had it their own way against their opponents this weekend recently, as last season they drew twice, while Valencia knocked them out of the Copa del Rey.

32 yrs - F (RC) - Barcelona
99
Defending
Creative
Passing
Attacking
Shooting
Decisive
Aerials
Physical
JavaScript chart by amChartsLDefendingCreativePassingAttackingShootingDecisiveAerialsPhysical10-10-5051015100%
1260
Played matches
15
14
6
Shots P90
4.29
Shots On target P90
2.21
Successful passing %
82%
Final third passes P90
34.29

When it looked like Barcelona would drop points in the title race against Granada last week, it was Lionel Messi who stepped up to clinch the winning goal after some superb build up play involving Antoine Griezmann and Arturo Vidal.

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