Another huge weekend lies ahead in European football but what should you keep an eye on? Here are our Five for Friday
By Lewis Ambrose
The busy European week is over and a huge weekend of domestic fixtures are ahead of us but what storylines are out there to keep an eye on? Arsenal’s north London derby hopes are pinned on Mesut Özil, Benfica meet Porto in an enormous clash and Sevilla take on Barcelona without one of their key men. All that and more in our Five for Friday.
Özil can undo England’s best defence on derby day
After 10 games this season, Tottenham have conceded just five goals. Probably because they haven’t been up against Mesut Özil yet. The German is in the form of his life, combining six goals and three assists in his last eight appearances, capped by a stunning late winner in Sofia on Tuesday. Having already downed Chelsea this season, he can inspire Arsenal to more derby day joy.
No Nasri, no problem for Sevilla
When you are lacking quality in depth, having a top coach can come in handy. So far during his time at Sevilla, Jorge Sampaoli has set up the team to cover for any individual deficiencies they may have. Sevilla will be without star performer Samir Nasri when they face Barcelona on Sunday but, with Jorge Sampaoli in charge, that does not have to matter. Having already upset Atlético Madrid recently, they will fancy their chances of beating Barcelona and staying right in the middle of the La Liga title race.
Dortmund face a dreaded opponent at the worst possible time
Four Bundesliga matches without a win, Borussia Dortmund need some points before they take on Bayern Munich in their next Bundesliga match. Unfortunately for Thomas Tuchel, they have not won in their last four trips to Hamburg. Pierre-Michel Lasogga has scored in Hamburg’s last two wins against the black and yellows and, without a Bundesliga goal this season, is guaranteed to start on Saturday with Bobby Wood injured. This one is about as predictable as it gets, right?
Neapolitan Immobile goes home with much left to prove
Ciro Immobile has nine goals in 11 Serie A appearances so far this season but doubts around his ability remain. An 18-month excursion to the Bundesliga and La Liga saw him score five league goals in 32 appearances before he returned to Italy with his tail between his legs. Now firing them in for Lazio, he faces an emotional return to his home city, Naples, on Saturday. His career thus far has seen him collect more yellow cards than goals against Napoli but maybe he really has turned his luck around. We should find out this weekend.
Benfica must beat Porto or Vitoria’s reputation will suffer
Benfica have been close to unstoppable over the last 12 months. They won the Portuguese title last season and sit top of the table again this time around, losing just four of 43 games in the meantime. The issue? Half of those defeats have come against Porto. Coach Rui Vitoria has won just one of his 14 career meetings with Porto. Sure, Benfica look great and have won things but how far will his career ever progress until he proves he can beat the best? The pressure is on, Rui.