Atletico Madrid’s bid for a first La Liga title since 2014 hits a pivotal point with Sunday’s Madrid derby as Bayern Munich face off with old rivals Borussia Dortmund and Inter Milan aim to further stretch their lead in Serie A.
AFP Sport selects some of the standout football action in Europe this weekend:
Atleti host huge Madrid derby
Atletico Madrid v Real Madrid, Sunday 4:15pm
La Liga leaders Atletico Madrid have an opportunity to deal a hammer blow to their city rivals’ attempts to retain their league title as they host Real Madrid in a potentially decisive Madrid derby.
Zinedine Zidane’s Madrid are in third, level with Barcelona but five points behind Atletico thanks to their 1-1 draw with Real Sociedad on Monday, and defeat on Sunday would leave them eight behind having played a game more.
Barca will be waiting in the wings to consolidate second place with their trip to Osasuna on Sunday, one day after presidential elections which will beckon in a new era for a team in turmoil off the pitch but showing signs of life on it.
Atletico meanwhile look unsure of themselves, with the 2-0 scoreline in last weekend’s win at Villarreal not telling the whole story of a match in which the hosts could easly have scored at least two goals of their own.
Defeat at the Wanda Metropolitano for Atletico would likely leave them with not just Madrid but also Barca breathing down their necks as the season moves towards its final straight.
Dortmund aim to stall Bayern
Bayern Munich v Borussia Dortmund, Saturday 6:30pm
Dortmund may effectively be out of this year’s Bundesliga title race but they could help remove champions Bayern from top spot if they continue their upturn in form under caretaker coach Edin Terzic.
Four wins on the bounce in all competitions has boosted morale at Dortmund, who are trying to work their way back in the Champions League qualifying spots.
That form will give them hope of a result at the Allianz Arena, where Bayern are yet to lose this season.
Hansi Flick’s champions are two points ahead of second-placed RB Leipzig, who face Freiburg earlier on Saturday.
The match will also feature possibly the world’s two best strikers in Bayern’s Robert Lewandowski and young gun Erland Braut Haaland, who both come into the match in sparkling form.
Atalanta to test Inter’s title credentials
Inter Milan v Atalanta, Monday 8:45pm
Inter have stolen a march on their rivals as they chase a first Serie A title since 2010, extending their lead at the top as AC Milan and Juventus wobble.
Thursday’s 2-1 win for Antonio Conte’s league leaders at Parma put them six points clear of second-placed Milan and kept reigning champions Juve 10 points back as they stretched their winning streak to six games
The last time Atalanta visited the San Siro in January they ran out 3-0 winners against AC Milan, who were then league leaders but now lag behind their local rivals after only drawing with Udinese at home on Wednesday.
Atalanta have been inconsistent this season but looked in fine fettle on Wednesday, with star attackers Luis Muriel and Josip Ilicic both on the scoresheet in a 5-1 cruise against Crotone, their fourth straight league win.
Monaco look to bounce back in Cup
Nice v Monaco, Monday, 9pm.
Niko Kovac’s side had their unbeatean run ended at 12 games by Strasbourg on Wednesday but the Principality club will be looking to bounce back in a last-32 French Cup visit to local rivals Nice on Monday.
Monaco have not won the French Cup in 30 years and a trophy would be a great way to mark their return to the top table of French football after two seasons in the doldrums.
Croat Kovac has himself bounced back from his sacking at Bayern Munich to lead Monaco to within seven points of Ligue 1 leaders Lille, who they host in their next league match in 10 days’ time.