Fixture Forecast: Misery for Mourinho against Man United, and will Messi score 700th Barca goal?
Predicting the beautiful game can be a breeze, but luck favors the brave. As this exceptional football season continues, Yahoo Soccer has compiled the statistics and analyzed the shape books for its biggest games this weekend.
Tottenham v Manchester United
Friday, 3.15 p.m. ET, NBCSN
Tottenham's form before the Premier League closed was unsettling. A short exit from the Champions League by RB Leipzig brought Jose Mourinho a win of five losses in six losses.
The return is against a Manchester United team whose form was quite positive before the break. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's men have won five of their last six games and conceded only one goal.
However, since there are no fans in North London and no competition for both teams in over 100 days, the form here can disappear from the window. This is a tempting reintroduction to England's top league between two teams fighting to qualify for the Champions League.
With a win over his former employer, Mourinho can move fifth within one point ahead of United (which may be good enough to enter Europe's top competition if the Manchester City ban is upheld).
Both teams will benefit from reintroducing attack options that were not available in the final round of games: Harry Kane and Son Heung-min can return for Spurs, while Paul Pogba and England's Prime Minister Marcus Rashford are waiting for the game to be available to visitors.
United won the match at Old Trafford in December thanks to a double pack from Rashford, and they won their last trip away to Tottenham, with Rashford again being the winner. However, United has never won at Spurs in any of its last five league visits.
Given the availability of attack options and the propensity for defensive rounds that the return of the Bundesliga has shown us, this game should have goals. (The game has only ended goalless once since January 2011).
The visitors are the favorites at +140 at BetMGM, and a close win for Solskjaer's team seems like a reasonable barge.
Prediction: Tottenham 1-2 Manchester United
Best bet: Rashford scores the first goal (+350 at BetMGM). The English star scored the first goal between these teams in the last two games and United's first goal in the last two starts.
Jose Mourinho meets his old team (or one of them) as Spurs host Manchester United. (Photo by John Peters / Manchester United via Getty Images)
Everton versus Liverpool
Sunday, 2 p.m. ET, NBC
Liverpool only needs six points to guarantee its first championship title in 30 years, and they can do half of their work by crossing Stanley Park this Sunday to take on Everton's neighbors.
Can the toffees prevent their red rivals from getting their hands on the cutlery for a while?
Jürgen Klopp's team is the overwhelming favorite (at -176 at BetMGM) and is strengthened by their 5-2 win in the Merseyside derby in December. Everton have not only set a sad record in this game - they haven't beaten Liverpool in 22 games from 2010 - but also potential injury problems with Andre Gomes, Fabian Delph and Theo Walcott.
Merseyside derbies are often closely related (four of their last five editions have scored a total or less) and Liverpool were in a disappointing form before the break (losing to Watford in the league and leaving the Champions League).
But an emphatic victory for the Reds seems to be on the plan, which is preparing a championship game against Crystal Palace next Wednesday in Anfield.
Prediction: Everton 0-3 Liverpool
Best bet: Gigi Wijnaldum goalscorer at all times (+650 at BetMGM). The Dutchman may not be a goalkeeper, but he has scored the first goal in two of his last three games on Merseyside. He also scored in the second leg against Everton this season.
RB Leipzig against Borussia Dortmund
Saturday, 9:30 a.m.ET, FS1
After the Bundesliga title (again) was decided in favor of FC Bayern Munich, the focus in Germany this weekend will be on the fight between second-placed Borussia Dortmund and third-placed RB Leipzig.
After two remaining games, BVB have booked their spot in the Champions League next season, but in the middle of the week there was a 0-2 home defeat against the relegation candidate Mainz. RB Leipzig also stumbled during the week and gave up the 2-0 lead of another team threatened with relegation, Fortuna Düsseldorf, to score only one point.
Lucien Favre's team won on their last visit to the Red Bull Arena, but the smart money could be a draw in this game. Leipzig have drawn their last five home games in the league, and the return leg at the Westfalenstadion earlier this season was a wild affair with the points evenly distributed.
Prediction: RB Leipzig 1-1 Borussia Dortmund
Best bet: Both teams score and the game ends in a draw (+330 with BetMGM). The last five home games in Leipzig have been a draw and both teams have scored in four of the last five matches between these teams.
Seville versus Barcelona
Friday, 4 p.m. ET, beIN Sports
Lionel Messi has a major milestone in sight in Barcelona. (Photo by Marc Gonzalez Aloma / AFP7 / Europa Press Sports via Getty Images)
After a routine win against Leganes on Tuesday, Barcelona faces a bigger challenge on Friday when it comes to third place in Seville in Andalusia.
Julen Lopetegui's team are in an unbeaten eight-game streak and have a perfect record as the restart was only denied by a late equalizer in Levante on Monday.
However, the Blaugrana looked impressive since the restart (arguably more impressive than their title rival Real Madrid) and appeared to be coherent between their two games despite significant player rotation.
The leaders of the table also have an excellent record against Sevilla: they have won the last three matches and scored exactly four goals each. They have only lost to Sevilla once in the past 13 years, a 1-2 loss at the start of the 2015/16 season in which Lionel Messi was absent.
The Argentine will be available for this game and now has 699 career goals for Barca. He has scored in each of the last two games in Barcelona - would you bet against him who reaches number 700 here?
Prediction: Seville 1-3 Barcelona
Best bet: Barcelona wins and both teams hit (+210 with BetMGM). Sevilla have scored in each of their last 21 league games and have found the net against Barca in 13 of their last 15 matches.
Inter Milan against Sampdoria
Sunday, 3.45 p.m. ET, ESPN +
The staggered return of Serie A starts this weekend, but reigning champions Juventus and his closest challenger Lazio won't start until next week. The Calcio highlight of the weekend comes from Antonio Contes Inter Milan, who will host Sampdoria on Sunday.
Inter has had the advantage of a competitive game since the restart after Napoli drew last weekend in the second leg of Coppa Italia in Naples.
The Milanese also have a significant advantage in a duel after winning their last four encounters with Samp. The bookmakers also employ the visitors as significant outsiders, with steep chances of winning +775 for the win at Bet MGM.
Sampdoria have only had one win at San Siro against Inter in the past 15 years. This was a 2-1 comeback win in 2017 thanks to a winner in the 85th minute. On this occasion, do not expect such a turn from an away side with questionable defense.
Prediction: Inter Milan 4-1
Best bet: A direct Inter win doesn't offer much value. So take into account over 4.5 total goals at +333 at BetMGM. Inter have scored 14 goals in the last five matches against Sampdoria, and visitors have conceded four or more goals in four of their last seven games.
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