This weekend in European soccer: Previews, predictions for 5 must-see games
Every week, theScore will pick standout matches to watch across Europe. This weekend's slate is highlighted by a bumper Sunday schedule featuring a classic Italian rivalry and a heated London skirmish.
Juventus vs. AC Milan
When: Sunday, Sept. 19 (2:45 p.m. ET)
Where to watch: CBS Sports Network (U.S.), FuboTV (Canada)
After a miserable start to the campaign, Juventus finally got on track midweek, putting together an assured Champions League display against Malmo to pick up their first win of the new season. That 3-0 triumph will count for little if the Bianconeri don't back it up with three points Sunday. Juve, sitting on one measly point from three Serie A matches, risk falling 11 points behind Sunday's opposition with a loss.
It's a long season, yes, but that's a potentially whopping gap to try and close.
Meanwhile, AC Milan head into the enticing clash on the back of a defeat to Liverpool, but the nature of that game may actually give the Rossoneri a spring in their step. Making their long-awaited return to the Champions League, Milan recovered after a rocky start at Anfield, even stunning a raucous crowd and taking a shocking lead before ultimately succumbing to a frantic 3-2 defeat. A victory would've been great, of course, but the resiliency and ability to hang with one of the continent's best sides was extremely encouraging, particularly without Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who remains doubtful heading into the weekend due to an Achilles issue.
After many false dawns over the past decade, Milan now have a proper plan in place and appear well on their way to regaining lofty status.
Sunday's game will push the proverbial narrative into overdrive. Either Juventus are truly "back" after a groggy start to Massimiliano Allegri's second stint, or Milan have usurped the Old Lady as one of the title favorites in a season with no clear front-runner in Italy.
Prediction: An entertaining draw with some late penalty drama
West Ham United vs. Manchester United
When: Sunday, Sept. 19 (9 a.m. ET)
Where to watch: NBCSN (U.S.), DAZN (Canada)
Manchester United need to bounce back. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and his team have been lambasted on the back of a last-second defeat to Young Boys in the Champions League and will be looking for an immediate response.
"We know expectations are high, and we expect more of ourselves, the performance wasn't up to our standard," said the manager, after bemoaning what he deemed to be an overzealous response to the setback.
In a delicious twist, Jesse Lingard, whose brutal error gifted the Swiss club its famous victory Tuesday, will be desperate to atone against the team he starred on while on loan last season.
The schedule hasn't been particularly kind to United, though, as David Moyes' West Ham present a difficult challenge; the Hammers haven't tasted defeat this season, racking up 10 goals over four league matches.
However, the Red Devils catch a huge break going into the contest as West Ham will be without talisman Michail Antonio. The red-hot forward, who has five goals in as many games across all competitions this season, was sent off last week against Southampton and will miss Sunday's tilt due to suspension.
Prediction: Manchester United get back on track with slim win
Tottenham Hotspur vs. Chelsea
When: Sunday, Sept. 19 (11:30 a.m. ET)
Where to watch: Peacock (U.S.), DAZN (Canada)
The Premier League campaign is only four matches old, but Nuno Espirito Santo already faces his first conundrum: Does his Tottenham Hotspur side have the personnel to defend astutely and furnish chances for Harry Kane, Heung-Min Son, and their other attackers?
Kane worryingly ended last weekend's 3-0 defeat to Crystal Palace without a single shot or touch in the opposition's box.
Despite being on home turf, Nuno's gut instinct should be to protect his defense from Chelsea's rich array of attacking talent. Oliver Skipp has improved exponentially from a season-long loan with Norwich City. Either Skipp or Harry Winks could start alongside Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg, but that means there is only one spot left for someone to complement Kane and Son.
The safest option would be Dele Alli, who only played around 15 minutes Thursday against Rennes, as a shuttling box-to-box midfielder. But Nuno's side could be less predictable and more dangerous with the elusive dribbling and vision of Giovani Lo Celso or Tanguy Ndombele, or the raw pace and agility of Bryan Gil. Lucas Moura and Steven Bergwijn are both injured.
It'll be interesting to see if Nuno has the bravery to select one of his more inventive players for Chelsea's visit or whether they're simply called off the bench to respond to Spurs falling a goal or two behind to their London rivals.
Prediction: Chelsea win their third straight away match against Tottenham
Wolfsburg vs. Eintracht Frankfurt
When: Sunday, Sept. 19 (1:30 p.m. ET)
Where to watch: ESPN+ (U.S.), Sportsnet World (Canada)
It was supposed to be one step backward and two steps forward for Oliver Glasner. However, the Austrian tactician leaving fourth-place finishers Wolfsburg for Europa League-bound Eintracht Frankfurt in the summer hasn't panned out so far.
Mark van Bommel's Wolfsburg sit atop the Bundesliga table with a perfect record, while Glasner's Frankfurt are just above the relegation zone with three points from four outings.
Wolfsburg played a high-octane style under Glasner, aggressively pressing to win possession in the final third and relying on Wout Weghorst as a focal point when launching direct attacks. But Rafael Borre, who Frankfurt signed this summer to replace Andre Silva, can't provide the same aerial ability and brawn when he's 10 inches shorter than Weghorst, so Glasner mimicking his Wolfsburg success in Hesse could be difficult.
Meanwhile, Van Bommel has sensibly and successfully built on the defensive foundations that Glasner left behind.
Prediction: Wolfsburg make it five wins in five matches with a narrow victory
Paris Saint-Germain vs. Lyon
When: Sunday, Sept. 19 (2:45 p.m. ET)
Where to watch: beIN SPORTS (U.S. and Canada), FuboTV (Canada)
After blasting through the field and picking up maximum points from their opening five league matches, Paris Saint-Germain's roaring start hit a wall Wednesday as Club Brugge shut down Lionel Messi, Neymar, and Kylian Mbappe in a 1-1 draw. The acclaimed "MNM" trio, playing together for the first time since Messi's celebrated arrival, looked disjointed. Time on the training ground is needed before the three stars become a cohesive unit.
An ankle injury suffered by Mbappe may delay that chemistry a touch longer. His fitness going into the weekend remains in question.
Finding a balanced tactical structure that can accommodate all three in the same lineup will be Mauricio Pochettino's greatest challenge this season. In that sense, Mbappe's potential absence Sunday may make his life a little easier, at least in the immediate term.
Meanwhile, after a rocky start to the season, including a 3-3 draw with Clermont Foot that prompted jeers from the home fans and a very public dressing down from manager Peter Bosz, Lyon have steadied the ship, winning each of their last three matches in all competitions.
The talented Lyon midfield will be key if Bosz and Co. are to pull off an upset and keep their mini resurgence alive, especially after watching PSG get overrun in the middle of the pitch against Brugge.
Prediction: Messi leads PSG to win with his first goal for the club