SPORTS: Weekend European Football Previews

Watford – Liverpool

Watford made another coaching change, their 14th in the last nine years since the Pozzo family took over the ownership of the club. Claudio Ranieri is back in England to take over his fourth Premier League team. He couldn’t have a tougher debut. The Reds are coming to Vicarage Road as huge favorites but Ranieri has performed miracles before, famously winning the Premier League title with Leicester City in 2016. Watford have more modest ambitions as they only want to stay in the top division. Liverpool is second in the table and is coming off two consecutive draws. This a must-win match for them.

Players to watch: Roberto Firmino. With Diego Jota, Thiago, Trent Alexander-Arnold (possible), and Curtis Jones doubtful or out, the Brazilian will need to pick up significant slack.

Odds: Watford (+700) | Draw (+425) | Liverpool (-275)

Newcastle United – Tottenham

In the first match after the ownership takeover by the Saudi fund, Newcastle United hosts Tottenham. The Magipes’ fans are excited as their club became the richest in the world. Of course, that doesn’t guarantee anything against the North London guests. Newcastle is still without a victory in the new Premier League season and have only three points. They will need to face reality. Spurs bounced back against Aston Villa in the last round after suffering a devastating loss to their biggest rival Arsenal. Last season both of the matches between these two teams ended up in a draw.

Players to watch: Harry Kane. The Talisman. He needs to start playing like one again or Spurs are in trouble.

Odds: Newcastle (+225) | Draw (+250) | Tottenham (+115)

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Barcelona – Valencia

Undoubtedly, the most interesting match of the ninth round of the Spanish La Liga is played at the Nou Camp, where Barcelona will meet Valencia. Despite Messi’s departure, few expected that Barcelona will be in ninth place after eight rounds looking like a totally different team. Ronald Koeman’s version of Barca has only three wins in seven matches and if the Dutchman wants to keep his job he will definitely need to win against Valencia. José Bordalás’ team has started well but hasn’t recorded a win in the last four matches. Last season, both games between these two have seen at least four goals.

Players to watch: Goncalo Guedes. A sputtering Barcelona team is ripe for the picking. The Valencia forward will need to be at the top of his game.

Odds: Barcelona (-200) | Draw (+333) | Valencia (+550)

Borussia Dortmund – Mainz

This match seems like an easy task for Dortmund but things might go very different than expected. The Millionaires are third in the standings only one point shy from the leading Bayern Munich and Bayer Leverkusen. Dortmund hasn’t defeated Mainz in their last two home encounters and this one will also be difficult since seven players are on the injury list and their top scorer Erling Haaland is questionable. On the other side, Mainz has started the season surprisingly well with three wins in the first four rounds. Unfortunately for them, they won only one point in the next three and are coming off two consecutive losses.

Players to watch: Marco Reus. Especially if Erling Haaland remains on the bench or shows signs of rust.

Odds: Dortmund (-223) | Draw (+375) | Mainz 05 (+550)

Bayer Leverkusen – Bayern Munich

Bayern Munich seemed unstoppable at the start of the season. After a draw at the start in Monchengladbach, the reigning champions recorded five consecutive victories in the Bundesliga and two in the Champions League. When it was least expected, the Bavarians suffered their first defeat of the season to Eintracht Frankfurt at Alliance Arena. Julian Nagelsmann’s squad will have a tough task against Leverkusen with whom they share the top spot in the standings with 16 points. Both teams are scoring around three goals per game this season and we can expect many more on Sunday. Last season Bayern won both matches against Leverkusen.

Players to watch: Mitchel Bakker, Jonathan Tah, Odilion Kossounou, Jeremie Frimpong. Leverkusen’s back line will have their hands full keeping Robert Lewandowski and Thomas Muller in check.

Odds: Leverkusen (+375) | Draw (+360) | Bayern Munich (-167)

IMAGE CREDIT: Mehdi Bolourian.

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