Milan derby and two cup finals: 10 must-watch fixtures in Europe and beyond this weekend

Classic rivalries, major finals and Champions League spots are all at stake as domestic football returns

Karl Matchett
Friday 04 February 2022 12:03
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The FA Cup takes centre stage this weekend in England, with just one Premier League fixture in place - but there is plenty of overseas action to enjoy too, if your team’s cup run is over or simply not chosen for broadcast.

Here we’ve picked out 10 matches from all over Europe - and a couple from even further beyond - which range from the must-watch to the intriguing for all manner of reasons. Pick your favourites, settle in to watch those and keep an eye on the rest!

Inter Milan vs AC Milan

Saturday, KO 5pm GMT, BT Sport 2

The biggest of the lot in terms of prestige and name, but also with regards to what they’re fighting for this season - the Serie A title. Milan’s derby hasn’t always had this magnitude of importance over recent campaigns, but both are firmly back on an upward trajectory and Inter are the reigning champions of Italy.

AC are just four points behind Inter, who are league leaders again, but it was the Nerazzurri who made a couple of smart squad additions in the transfer window - the Rossoneri have to make do with the squad they started the season with.

Barcelona vs Atletico Madrid

Sunday, 3:15pm GMT, LaLiga TV

Almost a polar opposite to the Italian sides’ re-rise to prominence, Barcelona and Atletico Madrid have severely stumbled over in Spain this year. Atleti are title holders, Barca the club with the greatest revenue in the football world, yet both are in a real scrap just to seal a top-four spot this term and have fallen woefully off the pace at the top.

It’s fourth vs fifth, one point between them and the Catalan side with the better recent form, as well as the greater expenditure in the January transfer window - they can field a totally new-look attack soon if they wish, with Ferran Torres, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Adama Traore all signing. With the Andalucian sides Betis and Sevilla looking strong, it could well be one from two between Barca and Atleti to make up the top four this season.

Monaco vs Lyon

Saturday, 8pm GMT, BT Sport ESPN

Definitely less at stake here, but a bit of a classic match-up all the same in Ligue 1. These two are just about in the top half after an inconsistent first half of the campaign, but both have the squad and the attacking talent to make a push for European spots at least - especially with the concertina-like nature of France’s top flight.

Strasbourg in fourth to Lille in 11th is a gap of just three points, ridiculously; consistency is everything and especially in games between the sides in that group.

PSV vs AZ

Saturday, 7pm GMT, Mola TV

The quickest fixture of the season to write out. Also a battle of two teams fighting for which European competition they’ll be playing in next month; PSV are still hoping for the title, but a damaging defeat to Ajax before the international break has them in second now. AZ are fifth, but only a handful of points off challenging Feyenoord in third.

In the Eredivisie fourth through to seventh heads into an end-of-season play-off for a Europa Conference League play-off, while second is only good enough for a Champions League qualifier rather than an automatic group-stage berth, so there’s everything left to fight for.

Trabzonspor vs Kasimpasa

Saturday, 1pm GMT, not on UK TV

Gone are the days in Turkey when the big three of Fenerbahce, Besiktas and Galatasaray would pretty much occupy positions one to three at the end of the season. Well, this season anyway - that’s exactly what they did last term again. That trio are currently fifth, sixth and 15th respectively in the SuperLig, however.

Trabzonspor, meanwhile, are runaway leaders and at home on Saturday; dead-certain winners, then, you may think? Perhaps, but not definitely - they are up against the most in-form side in Turkey, Kasimpasa. Indeed, they are one of only 14 teams in all of Europe currently enjoying a five-game win-streak or better, making this a niche clash of the league’s best against the league’s most-confident.

Rangers vs Hearts

Sunday, 4pm GMT, Sky Sports Main Event/Football

Closer to home and north of the border, Rangers were hammered the Old Firm derby in midweek - making a return to winning ways of paramount importance if they want to retain the title.

It hasn’t been smooth sailing for Gio van Bronkhorst since taking over as Ibrox boss, and it doesn’t get easier either - they face third-place Hearts on Sunday and have little margin for error after being usurped at the top by their great rivals. Just one win in four for the Gers, who are now officially playing catch-up.

Borussia Dortmund vs Bayer Leverkusen

Sunday, 2:30pm GMT, Sky Sports Mix

One final big clash from the European scene and in the Bundesliga, BVB vs B04 might be the pick of the lot. Sunday early afternoon sees second vs third, quite a gap between them in points terms but a win equally vital for both.

Dortmund are of course trying to keep pace with Bayern at the top, while just four points separate third from seventh in the fight for Champions League spots. Recent games between the two should provide another reason to tune in: seven goals, four, three, seven, four, five, six and four.

Al Ahly vs Monterrey

Saturday, 4:30pm GMT, not on UK TV

The Club World Cup gets underway this weekend - Chelsea are of course the European representatives after claiming the Champions League last season.

Before they get involved though, Africa’s finest meets Mexican outfit Monterrey, who will be strong favourites. That’s not just due to the quality they have and their status as Concacaf Champions League winners, but also because several of the Al Ahly squad are away with Egypt at the Afcon. With the Pharaohs through to the final, that contingent won’t be back in time to feature and the club are not impressed with Fifa for failing to help them move the game.

Melbourne Victory vs Central Coast Mariners

Saturday, 9am GMT, BT Sport 1

Over to the silverware at stake now and if you’re an early riser at the weekend, here’s the perfect start. A-League Men giants Melbourne Victory face play-off hopefuls Central Coast Mariners in the FFA Cup final - that’s the Australian national domestic cup competition, their FA Cup or Copa del Rey.

Adelaide United are the reigning champions from the last final played in October 2019 - last year’s one was cancelled due to Covid and this season’s games have been continually pushed back due to restrictions from the same, but AAMI Park will now finally see a new side crowned champions on Saturday morning.

Senegal vs Egypt

Sunday, 7pm GMT, BBC Three, Sky Sports Main Event/Football/Premier League/Mix

The Africa Cup of Nations final! A continental winner will be crowned on Sunday evening, with plenty of Premier League interest among the players set to be involved - not least of all Liverpool’s two forwards going head-to-head, Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah.

Mohamed Elneny, Trezeguet, Edouard Mendy, Ismaila Sarr and more could also be involved, the culmination of close to a month of action in Africa which has seen some crazy results and a fair few surprises along the way. Egypt want their eighth Afcon title - Senegal are seeking their first.

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