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Derby day: Football's super weekend

Posted: Oct 21, 2021

Hold on ladies and gentlemen! It is Derby day in world football. Read that again - world football. Not solely in England, Italy, France or Spain. But in England and Italy, and France, and Spain. Glamour, glitter, gold and shine everywhere you look. Surf through your television channels and wherever you go, football's finest dancers will gloriously tip toe their way into your heart. And convince you to forever keep watching this beautiful game.

Manchester United vs Liverpool. Inter Milan vs Juventus. Marseille vs PSG. And, of course, the El Clasico - Barcelona vs Real Madrid. If ever 'spoiled for choice' had a real life incarnation, 24th October 2021 would be its perfect representation. One single day of football simply cannot get any tastier, feistier or any more personal than these games! Each second is a moment that must be won and each moment an incident that must not be conceded. Each inch matters and no ground is ever ceded.

There are certain games and days on a footballing calendar that mean more. To the fans, players and everyone else involved. These are those matches. And all of them on one Sunday.

Derby day: Manchester United vs Liverpool 

Derby day Manchester United vs LiverpoolThere is no bigger game in England than Manchester United vs Liverpool. No matter what happens, this will never change. These two are the undoubted and indisputable kings of the land. 39 Premier League titles, 9 Champions Leagues and unquantifiable global fandom. These two teams are extremely aligned in ambition, richness in history and want for success. However, in matters of the heart, very far apart. And in recent form too.

Liverpool are flying at the moment. Manchester United, meanwhile, have crash landed after the early take off piloted by Cristiano Ronaldo's arrival. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is under pressure - a situation that has become an all too familiar recurrence. And he often comes out all guns blazing in these circumstances. Klopp will know that and look to unleash a Mo Salah named weapon on the wobbly United defence in the absence of World Cup winner Raphael Varane.

Funnily enough, though, the team in form does not have any selection headaches. Meanwhile, United are so top heavy that they will need to take a tough call up front. Does Ronaldo start? Can Luke Shaw and Aaron Wan Bissaka deal with Salah and Mane? Whatever your questions are, when the whistle blows on Sunday, form goes out of the window. Only the fittest survive!

Prediction: Draw

Derby day: Inter Milan vs Juventus

Inter vs juve Derby dayWe head over to Italy next. Defending champions versus serial champions of the last decade. This is a genuine grudge match in these parts. The fans of these battling teams simply do not like each other. Remember Jose Mourinho's antics after beating Juventus with Manchester United in Turin? He was verbally annihilated the entire game and responded by pointing a dismissive finger to his ears. This was nearly a decade since his successful managerial spell at Inter. After all those years, the fans still held crushing grudge. Such is the heat of this game.

In such games, the fire often spills over to the field. However, Sunday's encounter may see both teams take a cautious approach. While Juventus are placed seventh with 14 points, Inter are on 17 points and four places above their rivals. The trailers however will head into Derby day as the more confident bunch. Juventus are unbeaten in their last five league games, winning four. Inter, meanwhile, are fresh off a reversal against Lazio in the league. The hosts will also hope for Lautaro Martinez to hit some form.

The visitors will be aware of the importance of a victory as pace setters Napoli are yet to drop a point from eight games.

Prediction: Juventus

Derby day: Marseille vs PSG

Marseille vs PSGLionel Messi is hitting his stride now. And that spells danger for Marseille at the Stade Velodrome. Football's magnum opus himself seems to have warmed up to life in France. Marseille, thus, have their work cut out. There are also Kylian Mbappe and Neymar to deal with. PSG are indeed the Avengers cast in world football. They boast of riches in every department. And it has shown in the league table. The Paris based team are nine points clear after only ten games in the season. Mauricio Pochettino's side has only dropped three points. That came against Rennes ahead of the international break.

For all their strengths, however, there is a glaring weakness in PSG's rank. None of their famed front three are good at working off the ball. This was well exposed and exploited by Club Brugge in the Champions League. The Belgian side played on the front foot and managed to very easily bypass the forward line of PSG. Marseille will aim to work a similar gameplan, after returning to winning ways following two consecutive defeats.

Both teams possess enough attacking threat to light up this contest. In fact, Marseille and PSG will head into Derby day as the two top scoring teams in the league. French duo Mbappe and Dimitri Payet, with 5 goals each, lead the scoring charts for PSG and Marseille, respectively.

Prediction: PSG

Derby day: Barcelona vs Real Madrid

Derby day Barca vs RealIrrespective of setting, situation or reality, Barcelona vs Real Madrid will always be a big match. An absolute feast of personal and community pride. These two teams, much like Liverpool and Manchester United in England, are not just football clubs, but each represent a way of life. Both very very fiercely personal; very sudden and quick in mutual quarrel.

Heading into Sunday thus, there is lots to gain and plenty more to lose. It is unthinkable in those parts of the world to even entertain thoughts of reversal. But if you are Barcelona, would you not be apprehensive? It has hardly been an ideal season for the Blaugrana, who are still coming to terms in a world without Messi. Memphis Depay has stepped up but the shoes of the little man are deceptively large to fill - even for a team of Barcelona's repute. There is severe crisis amidst which the club is limbering on. And if any one game can ever provide solace, it is undoubtedly the El Clasico.

Real Madrid, meanwhile, aided by a more astute management has fared better without their former talisman, Ronaldo. This has largely been an outcome of Karim Benzema's excellence. The Frenchman has elevated his prowess to such an extent that there are legitimate Ballon d'Or shouts for the striker. The defence, however, remains a problem with new signing David Alaba yet to find stride. The fact that the serial winning duo of Sergio Ramos and Varane have departed means that Madrid can be hurt if Barcelona manage to string together a coherent display.

Prediction: Real Madrid

And so, Sunday promises much. It truly is a gala dinner for the watching world with the vision of a stage where the finest ever artists of our time are booked to weave their magic wands. Buckle up then!