This weekend sees the fourth weekend of action since seasons across Europe kicked off, and we’ve got some cracking games to take a look at, and with the league campaign getting underway in the Italian Serie A we finally have a full program of action.
In France, Ligue 1 gets underway on Friday evening when Marseille take on Nice, with several games taking place on Saturday and three fixtures on Sunday. Bordeaux will be looking to continue their 100% start to the season when they host Bastia on Sunday, and with striker Diego Rolan already on 45 points thanks to two goals so far he will be looking to add to that tally, but Bastia are still looking for a sign of which way their season is going with a win, a loss and a draw thus far. Elsewhere in the league, champions Paris Saint-Germain will want to improve on their single win and two draws when they take on St Etienne at Parc des Princes in Ligue 1’s last game of the weekend on Sunday evening. Keeper Salvatore Sirigu has managed 70 points so far, with PSG defenders David Luiz and Serge Aurier on 60 each, so the defensive record of the home side is great so far – top scorer Zlatan Ibrahimovic will be hoping to add to his tally of two goals and 30 fantasy points as well.
In the Premier League next, we see a particularly juicy fixture on Saturday afternoon as title favourites Chelsea travel to Merseyside to take on Everton. Aside from the fact that these two sides are among the top few in the land, the Toffees recently signed Cameroon striker – and former Chelsea star – Samuel Eto’o, who could be up for making his debut against his old club here. Eto’o arrived at Goodison Park despite reported interest from several other Premier League outlets, as well as some parties from across Europe, following a successful season at Stamford Bridge last year. He is valued at only €7.50m in our fantasy competition, so perhaps get him into your side and hope he can hit the back of the net against his former employers on Saturday. Chelsea’s defence, however, has been fantastic, with Branislav Ivanovic and goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois (50 points and 40 points respectively) particularly impressing, so it is likely to be a tough afternoon for Eto’o and co.
Moving towards the Bundesliga, the German top flight kicks off its second round of games following last weekend’s curtain raiser, with a particularly interesting game coming in the form of Bayer 04 Leverkusen against Hertha BSC on Saturday afternoon. Hosts Leverkusen have, much like the aforementioned Chelsea, done well defensively so far, keeping a clean sheet in their first outing – one of only five sides to manage it in the league – and that puts their defensive players right up there already as far as fantasy points go, but arguably the most interest and attention to be paid here would be on the pair of Karim Bellarabi (midfielder, 40 points) and Stefan Kießling (striker, 20 points). If these two can link up they can give Hertha’s defence some worries by the end of the match. Hertha’s strikers, however, were their prized assets last time around, with Julian Schieber on 40 points and Roy Beerens on 10, so the game could really go either way.
In La Liga, the match between Villarreal and Barcelona will be the focus owing to both sides having won their opening games, and both are clubs with Champions League experience. Much like both Chelsea and Leverkusen previously, Villareal’s strength in their opening game was easily at the back, but Barcelona’s front line are notoriously difficult to keep out, and so one must surely fancy the visitors in this one. Villareal have the quality to make it difficult though, with midfielder Denis Cheryshev (30 points) able to both provide and score goals of his own, but Barca surely have enough quality to do enough to grab the points. The Catalans are also in something of a unique position fantasy football-wise (at least in the contexts of this preview) as they have two players at the top of their points charts – one a goalkeeper, and one a striker. Claudio Bravo’s clean sheet from his one start last weekend gives him his total, while the incomparable Lionel Messi shares that total thanks to bagging a brace on opening day. Looking at Barcelona’s top pointsmen from then on, however, it was a starring performance on opening day from the defence – so expect last year’s runners-up to go all out to build on last week’s win over Elche and continue making it difficult for title rivals Atletico Madrid and Real Madrid.
Moving towards other Mediterranean shores now, the Italian Serie A also gets going with only two Saturday fixtures, as the rest of the games take place on Sunday. There are two fixtures in particular that would offer some intrigue, with Roma welcoming Fiorentina to Stadio Olimpico on Saturday whereas Milan play hosts to Roma’s rivals Lazio on Sunday. Roma ended last season as runners-up to champions Juventus, who travel to Chievo on Saturday, finishing some way behind their title rivals. Fiorentina ended up fourth, so this is another game that would come under a top match banner, but the hosts will be hoping that they can keep the goal threats of Giuseppe Rossi and Mario Gomez at bay. They only conceded two goals more than Juve last season, though, so Roma’s defence is among the finest – it’s an early test for both sides that could reasonably end in a draw, but could also go to a big win for either side – it’s tough to call.
That’s it folks – we now have a full lineup of football across Europe once again. Best of luck to all fantasy managers out there!