The football season is now in full swing and, despite the halting of domestic fixtures due to the international break and the small matter of the World Cup Qualifiers, there’s still set to be plenty of big matches coming up this month to feast your eyes on- with the results of these fixtures having a big effect on the course of the season.
This month we’ll hit the ten-match mark for the domestic leagues, as well as the half-way point in the Champions League group stages, which starts to give us a picture on how things will pan out for the remainder of the season. We’ll know who’s a contender for the titles, who’s vying for Europe and who’s in trouble down at the bottom and, although there’s still plenty to play for, it gives us our first real idea of what lies ahead.
It’s also the time of year in Europe where the weather starts taking a turn for the worse, so stick these dates in your diary and avoid the showers outside as we bring you the eleven games you can’t afford to miss this month!
Chelsea v Leicester City: Saturday 15th October (12:30 BST)
After a historic season last term, it was always going to be difficult for Leicester to defend their Premier League crown but, to be fair to the Foxes, they’re doing pretty well for themselves- especially in the Champions League. Chelsea, meanwhile, have shown there is still a long way to go under Antonio Conte and defeats against Liverpool and Arsenal in recent weeks have raised question marks about the Blues once again.
Victory for Chelsea in this one would certainly help their aims, whilst Leicester themselves need to start picking up more points as they enter the international break in the bottom half of the table with just two league victories to their name.
Napoli v Roma: Saturday 15th October (14:00 BST)
It’s fair to assume that Juventus will storm to the Serie A title once again this term but if the Turin giants do slip up, it will be Napoli and Roma that will look to take advantage. Sat second and third in the standings respectively, each side will be looking for a victory to give them an advantage over their domestic rivals and avoiding a slip-up is a must as there is just four points seperating fourth and 11th in the standings.
Athletic Bilbao v Real Sociedad: Sunday 16th October (15:15 BST)
One of the biggest derbies in Spanish football, the Basque derby on the weekend after the international break sees Athletic Bilbao host Real Sociedad. Athletic’s defeat to Malaga at the weekend cost them the chance to move joint-top of the La Liga standings, with Barcelona and Real Madrid slipping-up, but their main objective will be fighting for a spot in the top-four and victory here will go a long way to helping them achieve that goal.
Real Sociedad have similar objectives and a victory at the San Mames would move them above Athletic in the table and into the European spots, depending on other results on the same weekend.
Liverpool v Manchester United: Monday 17th October (20:00 BST)
Arguably the biggest game in English football, Liverpool and Manchester United both need victories. Jurgen Klopp’s side have been in fine form this season and can be seen as contenders for the Premier League title, whilst Jose Mourinho’s United side continue to look a little short despite splashing the cash over the course of the summer.
The results over the course of the weekend will decide where each side could move up to with a victory but the key for Manchester United is that a win will move them level on points with the Reds.
Barcelona v Manchester City: Wednesday 19th October (19:45 BST)
When the Champions League draw came about, you just knew Barcelona and Manchester City would be drawn together to set-up a reunion for Pep Guardiola and his former club. It’s set to be a huge occasion but Guardiola’s Citizens side need something remarkable to overcome the Catalan giants, who have enjoyed a perfect start to their Champions League campaign- scoring nine goals and conceding just one.
Victory for Barcelona would all but guarantee their place in the knock-out stages of the tournament, whilst leaving City to battle-it-out with Borussia Monchengladbach and Celtic, whilst a win for Guardiola’s side would leave the group wide open for any of the four sides to take advantage.
AC Milan v Juventus: Saturday 22rd October (19:45 BST)
Ten years ago this fixture would have been a title-decider but AC Milan’s fall from grace has snatched that drama off us. However, AC Milan’s hosting of Juventus still catches the eye as there is a wealth of talent available. Juventus will want to avoid a slip-up as they eye a march to another Serie A crown, whilst Milan want to return to the Champions League- and a victory over their Turin counterparts would be a massive statement of intent.
Lokomotiv Moscow v CSKA Moscow: Sunday 23rd October (14:30 BST)
The Russian league probably isn’t your first point of call for stand-out matches but on this late Sunday in October it should certainly be watched. Lokomotiv host city rivals CSKA in what should be a brilliant encounter between two sides with a rich history. CSKA will want a victory to aid their title ambitions, whilst Lokomotiv are battling at the other end of the table and need all the points they can get.
Chelsea v Manchester United: Sunday 23rd October (16:00 BST)
Jose Mourinho’s return to Stamford Bridge was always going to catch the eye and, depending on the result of the previous match against Liverpool, the pressure could be mounting on the Portuguese boss. The same can be said for Antonio Conte and Chelsea, who play Leicester City in the weeks before this clash, and at this point it doesn’t look like both sides will finish in the top-four; which makes this fixture even more interesting.
Paris Saint-Germain v Marseille: Sunday 23rd October (19:45 BST)
Not quite Le Classique but Paris Saint-Germain against Marseille is still an important fixture in French football, particularly in recent years. PSG have struggled to adapt to life with Zlatan Ibrahimovic and a new venture under Unai Emery, whilst Marseille continue to face huge problems. Heading into the international break, PSG sit four points behind OGC Nice whilst Marseille are only four points off the foot of the Ligue 1 table.
Borussia Dortmund v Schalke: Saturday 29th October (17:30 BST)
The Revierderby this month has added importance, with Dortmund still looking short of fighting Bayern Munich for the Bundesliga title despite their vast investment over the course of the summer, whilst the campaign for Schalke has been a disaster thus far. Schalke managed to get their first win of the campaign before the international break, a 4-0 victory over Borussia Monchengladbach, whilst Dortmund lost to Bayer Leverkusen.
There is a few fixtures to take place in the weeks before this huge derby but either way a victory for both sides will be relished by the fans.
Juventus v Napoli: Saturday 29th October (19:45 BST)
A potential title decider is reason enough to watch but when you throw Gonzalo Higuain’s first match against his former side into the mix, it certainly heats up a notch. Napoli’s title chances will have been effected by their clash against Roma in the weeks before this match but if they, or anyone for that matter, has a chance of beating Juventus to the Serie A crown, then sides need to start taking points off the Turin giants.