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What to expect in European football this weekend

The Global Game

What to expect in European football this weekend

By ‘Libero’

Plerumque uicerunt

Friday February 5, 2021

Uniquely among football columns, The Global Game is pan-European in scope. It brings you news only of the most clearly predictable fixtures across the continent (kick-off times all GMT). What you make of these tips is, of course, up to you! Starting with Column 2 (next week) it will also report the results, so you will be able to see how the predictions played out in reality.

Key: WNL = will not lose.

V = expect victory.

Friday February 5

1. Vojvodina 3.30 WNL – Third-placed team in Serbia will bank at least a point from visit of mid-table minnows Bačka Topola.

2. Hamburg 5.30 WNL – German sleeping giants have shored up weaknesses from last season and remain on course for promotion from second tier. Will not return empty-handed from journey to inconsistent Erzgebirge Aue.

3. Sporting Lisbon 7 WNL – Finally their season in Portugal’s Liga Nos? Could do with three points from the always-awkward trip to Madeira, but might have to settle for one.

4. Benfica 7 WNL – Up-and-down this season but surely too strong to succumb at home to Vitoria Guimaraes.

5. Bayern Munich 7.30 V – European Champions’ last Bundesliga fixture before jetting off to Qatar for FIFA World Club Cup: away to struggling Hertha Berlin, where they can be expected to plunder another win.

6. Lecce 8 WNL – Campaign to regain Italian top-level status at first attempt going nicely. Will not lose to Serie B stragglers Ascoli.

Saturday February 6

7. RB Leipzig 2.30 V – Straightforward-looking assignment for Germany’s second-placed side as they visit crisis club Schalke.

8. Brentford 3 WNL – Form team of England’s Championship should be too sharp for Middlesbrough, even at Riverside Stadium.

9. Pogon Szczecin 4.30 WNL – Polish league leaders take long unbeaten run into home fixture with lowly Cracovia Kraków.

10. Juventus 5 WNL – Tough test for perennial Italian champions as Roma come to town but very seldom lose on their own turf.

11. Brugge 5.30 V – Belgian champions and leaders, now almost as strong on the road as at home, should return triumphant from First Division A back-markers Waasland-Beveren.

12. Lyon 6 WNL – French Ligue 1 high-flyers should be too strong at home to Strasbourg.

13. Sevilla 8 WNL – Their Pizjuan stadium is one of Spain’s – and Europe’s – most formidable fortresses. Getafe look ill-equipped to storm it.

Sunday February 7

14. Ajax 11.15 V – Dutch Eredivisie defending champs will be in mood to celebrate surviving January transfer window with no further haemorrhage of talent to Europe’s major leagues. Utrecht look like suitable fall guys.

15. Rangers 12 V – Will not believe Scottish title is theirs till last nail is hammered into coffin of Auld Firm rivals Celtic’s chances. Another three points mandatory from trip to bottom club Hamilton Academical.

16. Red Star Belgrade 12 V – Gliding serenely to yet another Serbian championship, should not be detained for long by a mediocre Novi Pazar.

17. PAOK 1 V – Still near-impregnable at home, far too good for Apollon Smirnis in Greek Super League 1.

18. Milan 2 V – Italian Serie A leaders now back to winning ways after mid-season wobble, with basement club Crotone up next.

19. Monaco 2 WNL – Resurgent in pursuit of return to Champions League football next season: ambition that will surely not be dented too severely by Ligue 1 back-markers Nîmes, even with home advantage.

20. Young Boys 3 V – Swiss Super League front-runners will be super-confident when Lausanne Sport come to the Wankdorf Stadium.

21. Slavia Prague 3 V – Runaway Czech league leaders and defending champions can treat trip to lowly Pribram as minor inconvenience.

22. Olympiakos 3.15 V – Should brush aside latest cannon fodder in Greece, OFI, with minimal fuss.

23. Lille 4 WNL – Surprise package in French Ligue 1 to harvest at least a point from trip to Nantes.

24. Chelsea 7.15 WNL – New Thomas Tuchel regime would suffer conniptions with defeat at last-placed Sheffield United. But it won’t happen.

25. Barcelona 8 WNL – Rumours of demise greatly exaggerated. Will return triumphant (or at least not empty-handed) from Real Betis to keep up pressure in Spain’s Primera Division.

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