Andy Brassell on European Football: Bayern take top spot ahead of big clash
Betfair's Andy Brassell expects an intriguing top-of-the-table clash between Bayern and Leipzig and looks ahead to some key games in Italy and Spain...
Bayern ready for table-top clash
The Bundesliga lead changed hands at the weekend - ominously so, one might argue, for the neutrals and for RB Leipzig, with Bayern Munich taking over at the summit with a win at Mainz after Julian Nagelsmann's side failed to beat Borussia Mönchengladbach. Getting a draw might have eventually felt like a victory of sorts for Leipzig, given that they were 2-0 down at the break (it could have been worse) and that Christopher Nkunku's sensational shot from range in the final minute of normal time got them back level.
It did, however, suggest to us that Leipzig are feeling the pressure a bit, something that Nagelsmann himself sensed from his players in recent weeks. They have struggled to impose themselves for a full 90 minutes since returning from the winter break, and his challenge to make themselves winners in the immediate aftermath of last week's loss at Eintracht Frankfurt hasn't had the desired effect straight away.
Bayern's results would suggest that Hansi Flick has everything back on an even keel at the Allianz Arena, but that's only partially true. The coach was disappointed with their display at Mainz after a strong opening half-hour, and will expect a more consistent effort when Leipzig visit on Sunday. Just how Flick approaches the game will be interesting; he has been credited with making them more like the old Bayern, but if they attempt to swarm the visitors like a Bayern of old might have done, they could leave themselves open to the counter-attacking qualities of Timo Werner, Patrick Schick (also a scorer on Saturday) and Nkunku.
Back Bayern and Leipzig to draw at 5.80
Can Inter stay in control on derby day?
Romelu rode to the rescue again for Inter at the weekend, moving his team back to within three points of the top of Serie A behind Juventus after three successive draws with a brace at Udinese. Lukaku has been outstanding this season and now has extra help following the arrivals of Christian Eriksen and Victor Moses, plus the recovery from injury of Alexis Sanchez, who won the penalty from which the Belgian scored his second at the Friuli.
Antonio Conte's men will face another examination of their ability to deal with expectation on Sunday, though, when they face Milan. The Rossoneri have had an excellent 2020 to date and while we are right to underline The Zlatan Effect, the revitalisation of players around him like Hakan Çalhanoglu - who netted Sunday's equaliser against Verona hot on the heels of a Coppa Italia double against Torino - shows that Stefan Pioli is authoring a collective improvement.
Milan may have revived their hopes of European football, but there is no doubt which team have greater need here. Conte's team are not only fighting Juve; they are fighting recent history, with post-Christmas torpor under Roberto Mancini and Luciano Spalletti still fresh in the mind. Inter are going to have to pull out a big performance here but their coach will feel they are ready to do so.
Back Inter to beat Milan at 2.06
Are Getafe going to get lucky this time?
While Spain pondered Atlético's latest difficulties as they lost the Madrid derby this weekend, it might have escaped the notice that Diego Simeone's team are not even the capital's second-best in La Liga at present. Getafe's Sunday afternoon win at Athletic took them up into the giddy heights of third place.
It was a familiar and a surprising performance at the same time. José Bordalás' team defended as comprehensively as one expects, but they also played some really good football. Damián Suarez's opening goal, neatly smacked in after a flowing move, underlined that Geta are no mere functional plodders.
Bordalás is an outstanding coach and was desperately unlucky to miss out on a Champions League place to Valencia last season. If his team managed it this time around it would really be something, with them no longer surprise packages and having lost key players as recently as in the winter window, with standout defender Leandro Cabrera upping sticks for struggling Espanyol. Yet with Atlético struggling for goals, Getafe have a real opportunity to stake a claim for Europe's top table in the palm of their hands, with none other than Valencia the visitors to the Coliseum Alfonso Pérez this weekend.
Back Getafe to beat Valencia at [2.15]
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