Things to look out for in European Football: February 21-23

A heated derby in Istanbul and title races in Italy and Spain are among the things to look out for this weekend. Bet on European football here.

Marseille to continue their comeback

Although this Ligue 1 campaign has been another procession toward the title for PSG, the main talking point has been the resurgence of a sleeping giant. Marseille are by far France’s second strongest side, a claim backed by a 14-game unbeaten run that stretches back to October. Eleven of those matches have ended in victory, meaning that Andre-Villas Boas’ side are three wins away from equalling their points total for last season (61) with 13 games remaining. The first of those comes against Nantes, with the visitors winless in five games. Marseille have not won any of their last four league games against La Maison Jaune; however, this squad seem set on erasing the recent past.

Juventus face unfamiliar title race

Lazio’s win over Inter last week was the latest twist in what is becoming the most exciting Scudetto race in years. Simone Inzaghi’s side have not lost since defeat to the Nerazzurri in September, winning 15 out of 19 games since. Such form in Italy is normally associated with Juventus but, while the reigning champions still sit top, their dominance is not so convincing this time. The Old Lady can extend their lead to four points on Saturday when they travel to bottom side SPAL. Anything but a win is unimaginable and would open the door for either Lazio or Inter to climb above them on Sunday. Will the pressure get to them?

Istanbul’s football institutions do battle

All eyes in Istanbul will be on the Şükrü Saracoğlu Stadium this Sunday as Fenerbahce host fierce rivals Galatasaray. The hosts are winless in their last three games in the Super Lig and defeat would leave their title hopes all but dashed. On the other hand, a win would move them to within a point of Galatasaray, who are third in the table following six straight wins. The visitors have not tasted victory in a league derby, with the last five ending in draws (three with a 0-0 score line). It’s hard to imagine either set of fiery fans being pleased with the same outcome this time around.

Five-way fight in the Bundesliga

Six points separate leaders (and perennial champions) Bayern and fifth-placed Bayer Leverkusen at the Bundesliga summit. However, RB Leipzig were top of the table as recently as three weeks ago, while Monchengladbach (now fourth) have spent eight matchweeks on the throne. And then there’s Dortmund. Lucien Favre’s side start Matchweek 23 as the leading scorers in Germany’s top flight, with no small help from January signing Erling Haaland. The 19-year-old has scored 11 goals in seven games for Dortmund since his arrival and, on current form, could fire his new side to their first title since 2012. In recent seasons Bayern have suffered a brief scare from one rival, who inevitably slip away. This season they have more to contend with.

Contenders to stake claim for top four spot in La Liga

Despite talk of Barcelona’s struggles and Real’s continuing search for goals in Cristiano Ronaldo’s absence, the two giants of Spanish football have nonetheless built up a ten-point lead over third place in La Liga. It would now be a shock if neither Sergio Ramos nor Lionel Messi lifts the trophy in May.

The fight for the remaining places in next season’s Champions League, however, is far more exciting. Getafe are third, proving that last season’s fifth-placed finish was no fluke. However, they face Sevilla this Sunday knowing that defeat would see the visitors move above them in the table. What’s more, fourth-placed Atletico welcome Villarreal, currently in sixth, to the capital. Any of these four teams could be in the Champions League places come Sunday night. Who will it be?