European Football: Surprise leaders Gladbach will be ready for Bayern
There's midweek action in Ligue 1 but Germany and Italy's stars will need the whole week ahead to prepare for some titanic face-offs, writes Andy Brassell
Gladbach can prove they're the real deal
If you were labouring under the misapprehension that Borussia Mönchengladbach aren't the most entertaining team in the Bundesliga, then Sunday's defeat of Freiburg should have fixed that. The 4-2 win that took them back to the top of the table touched on all the aspects that make them absolutely must-watch this season, from Marcus Thuram's early strike through to fellow forward Breel Embolo's virtuoso performance which took in two goals that count, a disallowed one, a missed penalty and an assist.
Marco Rose's side have so many different ways to get at opponents (so much so that the veteran Raffael, marginalised through injury, has barely been missed), and their next are champions Bayern Munich. After Robert Lewandowski and company went down to a shock home defeat to Bayer Leverkusen, they arrive at Borussia-Park trailing the leaders by four points.
Bayern remain dangerous, though. They have improved a lot under interim coach Hansi Flick and will be still wondering how they didn't win at the weekend, with a stunning display by Leverkusen goalkeeper Lukas Hradecky having a lot to do with it. Hradecky's counterpart at Gladbach, Yann Sommer, voiced his concern at his side leaving the sort of gaps in wide areas against Freiburg that Serge Gnabry and Kingsley Coman could make hay in, so there could be goals in this one.
Back Gladbach and Bayern to draw at4.80
How far can Inter's perfect pair take them?
There aren't as many front twos as there used to be, so perhaps that's why the Inter pair of Lautaro Martinez and Romelu Lukaku stand out as possibly even the best out there in European football at present. The click between the pair has been pretty much instant, with the former's sharpness and industry meshing well with the latter's strength and pace.
Having taken Inter to the brink of qualification for the Champions League last 16 last week, they were at it again at the weekend to see their team past SPAL and back to the Serie A summit, with Juventus failing to win. They are riding the crest of a wave, and consigning the loaned-out Mauro Icardi to Nerazzurri history.
Like any key part of a successful team, though, the suspicion that their side might be becoming over-reliant on them has started to ferment. Alexis Sánchez is still recovering from a serious ankle injury and teenager Esposito's blooding into action underlines that Antonio Conte is short of striker cover. Lautaro and Lukaku might account for a tough-to-beat Roma on Friday but could the burden on them become intolerable during a busy programme?
Back Inter and Roma to draw at 4.20
PSG rest bad news for Nantes
The red alert for rain and floods issued in the south of France on Sunday may well have been received philosophically by Monaco and Leonardo Jardim. In fairly ordinary form and lacking the banned Islam Slimani ahead of the game against Paris Saint-Germain, the 2017 champions can't have been too disappointed to see the game postponed.
That feeling won't have been shared in the Paris dressing room, even after a tough Champions League week. Thomas Tuchel and his players would have liked the opportunity to work out a few issues after a below-par display at Real Madrid, from which they were lucky to salvage a draw. On top of that the likes of Neymar and Edinson Cavani - with the Uruguayan an unused sub at the Bernabéu - would have been, and still will be, eager to get back into the action.
It's not great news for Nantes, this midweek's visitors to the Parc des Princes. They arrive on the back of Sunday's win over Toulouse, having stemmed a run of four straight Ligue 1 defeats in last week's draw with Brest. Their perennial problem of scoring goals is still there - only the intervention of the late, great Emiliano Sala broke that cycle during their current run in the top flight - though they are tough to score against, having conceded just 14 in 15 matches thus far.