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Football: Saturday's European Preview

30 September 2022 12:09:36 EST
Barcelona travel southeast in search of a win over Mallorca

Saturday sees Europe's major leagues back in action following the international break, with PSG looking to stretch their winning run to five matches in France, while in Serie A, Napoli look to pull clear of Atalanta.

La Liga may have a change of leader - overnight at least - as Xavi's Barcelona travel southeast in search of a win over Mallorca, with Real Madrid waiting until Sunday to take to the field at the Bernabeu against Osasuna.

PSG pressing ahead as unbeaten streak wears on

WhatPSG v Nice
WhereParc des Princes, Paris, France
When8pm, Saturday 1st October
How to watchBT Sport 2
OddsPSG 1.22, Draw 7.00, Nice 11.00

Having come through a tough test last time out against Lyon, winning by one away goal to nil, Christophe Galtier’s Paris Saint-Germain are in imperious form again across the channel.

After surviving a scare against Maccabi Haifa on Champions League matchday two, in which goals from the holy trinity of Messi, Mbappé and Neymar cancelled out a surprise Tjarron Chery opener for the Israeli side, the Parisians again exhibited their credentials as a major threat in seeing out a Messi-crafted lead for 85 minutes at Parc OL.

All three big-hitters are in the squad for the hosting of Nice on Saturday at 8pm, with the 35-year-old Messi showing no signs of aging with impressive goal figures of 6 in four matches for club and country.

The capital club have not lost a competitive match since going down 3-0 at Monaco in March.

Napoli reluctant to be caught napping

WhatNapoli v Torino
Where

Stadio Diego Armando Maradona, Naples, Italy

When2pm, Saturday 1st October
How to watchBT Sport App
OddsNapoli 1.61, Draw 3.80, Torino 6.00

The top of Serie A is a real concertina, with the top five separated by just three points. Napoli, leading the way with five wins and two draws from seven matches, know Atalanta - level on points with them, with a matching record - are waiting in the wings to pounce on any slip-up from Stadio Diego Armando Maradona.

The Bergamo side must wait until Sunday to get back into the swing of things, with Fiorentina their visitors, meaning Saturday’s early fixture presents an opportunity for the Neapolitans to exert scoreboard pressure on those below them.

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On the menu for Luciano Spalletti’s men is the visit of Torino at 2pm, where they must contend with the absence of Matteo Politano, expected to miss three weeks due to an ankle injury. The issue, picked up in the win over AC Milan last time out, means the 29-year-old will not be present to make it three goals in three games.

With Victor Osimhen also out, the responsibility may fall on the shoulders of young Georgian wizard Khvicha Kvaratskhelia, whose two goals and an assist on the international break earned his country wins over North Macedonia and Gibraltar.

But while Il Toro sit a respectable ninth, they have suffered at the hands of the top clubs and in particular on the road, going down 1-0 at Inter and 3-1 against Atalanta in recent weeks. With only six league goals under their belts from seven rounds, they face a tough task in avoiding defeat.

Barca poised to bounce back in the Balearics

What

Mallorca v Barcelona

Where

Son Moix, Mallorca, Spain

When8pm, Saturday 1st October
How to watchPremier Sports 2
OddsMallorca 9.00, Draw 5.00, Barcelona 1.36

A jaunt to a Mediterranean island hardly sounds an unpleasant way to reconvene after the international break, but Saturday night’s 8pm clash with mid-table Mallorca will be no holiday for Barcelona.

At stake is the chance to leapfrog Real Madrid on their off day, as Los Blancos gear up for a tough test against surprise package Osasuna, lying in fifth.

Neither Barca nor their arch rivals have lost a game in the league this season, though two dropped points on opening day at home to Rayo Vallecano have left the Catalan club chasing their capital foes ever since.

The 2-0 defeat at Bayern Munich in the Champions League may still be fresh in the memory for Xavi and his charges, though they did see off Elche on their return to La Liga with three unanswered goals to usher in the international week.

Mallorca were beaten 1-2 by Real Betis in late August - their last veritable test against an elite-level opponent - and while their chances of avoiding the drop have been handed a huge boost by their eight-point stand from six games, questions remain over their ability to rise much higher than their current tenth.

No La Liga manager has ever begun his career with an 18-game unbeaten streak away from home - and with Mallorca another side struggling to find the net with just six strikes all campaign, victory to nil is a strong possibility at 2.20.

Robert Lewandowski grabbed an assist in Poland’s win over Wales in the Nations League; 3.00 says he will be the man to round off the scoring on Saturday evening.

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