A weekly insight into local, national, and international soccer, “Anything but Quakes” previews the best matches of the week ahead.
Game of the Week:
FC Barcelona vs. Atletico Madrid: Sun. Dec. 16, 12 p.m. PST
This past weekend’s Manchester derby fell nothing short of the drama it promised. Robin van Persie’s 92nd minute free-kick, deflecting past a cheating Joe Hart, gave the Red Devils a 3-2 victory and a six point lead in the Premier League.
Meanwhile across the Celtic Sea, FC Barcelona and Atletico Madrid strolled to another comfortable three points. Iconic strikers Lionel Messi and Radamel Falcao led their clubs, FC Barcelona and Atletico Madrid respectively, to victory and maintained the first and second spots in La Liga.
The two South American strikers have been nothing short of sensational in the past calendar year. Messi’s brace on Sunday gave him 86 goals and cemented his position as the highest all-time scorer in a calendar year, one more than Gerd Muller’s 85. The 25-year-old Argentine has already netted 23 La Liga goals through 15 games and still has three games remaining to improve upon his record. The Colombian Falcao, named after the legendary AS Roma and Brazilian midfielder, has embraced his namesack's industriousness and netted a cool five goals against Deportivo La Coruna last weekend. He currently has 40 La Liga goals in 48 games.
FC Barcelona’s Camp Nou will play host to Sunday’s 12 p.m. PST matchup. Although Messi had an injury scare ahead of last week’s game, the Argentine and company look to be fully fit for the crucial matchup against Atletico. To many of their competitors’ envy, FC Barcelona sits on 43 points through 15 matches. Atletico trails with 37 points.
With Messi and Falcao firing on all cylinders, fans may be treated to an offensive exhibition.
Bayern Munich vs. Borussia Monchengladbach: Fri. Dec. 14, 11:30 a.m. PST
Bayern Munich’s Allianz Arena will host this Bundesliga battle between top spot Bayern and eighth spot Monchengladbach. After 16 matches, Bayern is in the driver’s seat with 41 points. Croatian and Euro 2012 phenom Mario Mandzukic paces Bayern with nine goals.
Fulham vs. Queens Park Rangers: Sat. Dec. 15, 7: 00 a.m. PST
Queens Park Rangers are still in search of their first win of the season. Fulham earned a hard-fought 2-1 victory at the expense of a struggling Newcastle side on Monday. This London derby will either help propel Fulham back into their UEFA Cup ambition or start QPR’s ascension out of relegation
Paris Saint-Germain vs. Lyon: Sun. Dec. 16, 12:00 p.m. PST
A battle between the number one and two teams in Ligue 1, Lyon vs. PSG should provide fireworks. Enigmatic striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic will once again try to lead the nation’s capitol to three points all the while attempting to secure the career of his under-fire manager Carlo Ancelotti. Ibrahimovic has an astounding 14 goals in 13 games played for second-place PSG while the athletic Bafetimbi Gomis leads Lyon with 10 strikes.