Editors' Picks: Football takes centre stage on massive weekend for clubs and countries

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Editors' Picks: Football takes centre stage on massive weekend for clubs and countries
Simeone and Xavi will do battle again this weekend
Simeone and Xavi will do battle again this weekend
Profimedia, Flashscore
The tennis and Formula 1 seasons may be over but there's still more than enough going on to keep you entertained this weekend thanks to a feast of footballing action.

Here's what you can look forward to in the coming days. 

Saturday, December 2nd

Euro 2024 group stage draw - 18:00 CET

The final month of 2023 kicks off by setting the stage for one of the biggest events of 2024, the European Championships

Watching tournament draws these days can be a tedious experience, with it usually taking a painfully long time for the build-up to end and the draw itself to actually start but we can promise that it'll be worth the wait.  

That's because, taking place in Hamburg, it's a draw that is certain to pit heavyweight nations against each other, with most in Pot 1 but the Netherlands and Croatia in Pot 3 and Italy in Pot 4. As a result, we can expect quite the Group of Death, something that the Euros always tends to deliver. 

Which sides will head to Germany next summer as the favourites? Which sides will be in serious danger of falling at the first hurdle? We'll find out on Saturday night!

Read more about the draw here.

Newcastle vs Manchester United - 21:00 CET

Shortly after watching the draw for one UEFA competition, you can switch over to watch two teams that will be having sleepless nights about one another. 

Both Newcastle and Manchester United will be keen to bounce back after having their hopes of escaping the Champions League group stages dealt a huge blow in mid-week, with the former conceding a stoppage-time equaliser to PSG and the latter throwing away a 3-1 lead against Galatasaray. 

There's precious little to choose between them in the league, with Erik ten Hag's side sitting in sixth and Eddie Howe's side one point and one place behind - if either side wins, they're likely to move into the top five given Tottenham are facing Manchester City.

It's a particularly important match for Ten Hag, who is coming under increasing pressure after United's collapse in Istanbul which all but knocked them out of the Champions League. With a gruelling run-in featuring clashes with Chelsea, Bayern Munich and Liverpool on the horizon, he can't really afford another slip-up.

Newcastle will fancy their chances of adding to the Dutchman's problems having beaten their opponents 3-0 in the EFL Cup at the start of the month, and a repeat result would leave many of the Old Trafford faithful wondering whether a change is needed in their dugout.

Sunday, December 2nd

Bayer Leverkusen vs Borussia Dortmund - 17:30 CET

Alonso has Leverkusen flying
Reuters

The first of many big matches to take place on Sunday evening is in Germany, where last season's Bundesliga runners-up will face this season's leaders. 

Xabi Alonso's side have taken the league by storm thus far this campaign, winning 11 and drawing one of their 12 matches to sit two points clear of Bayern Munich at the top of the table, only dropping points to the reigning champions. 

This weekend's match will be their biggest test since that clash though, with Borussia Dortmund coming into it with a spring in their step following their mid-week win over AC Milan that secured their place in the Champions League knockout rounds.

They've been inconsistent domestically, but have shown just how good they can be in the UCL Group of Death, picking up two wins against Newcastle before their victory at the San Siro. 

With the gap between them and Leverkusen currently at 10 points, they'll have to finally bring that form to the Bundesliga if they want to remain with an outside chance of finally winning the title again. A defeat would very much establish the hosts as Bayern Munich's new biggest challengers.

Taking place at the same as this is the Premier League clash between Manchester City and Spurs, but given the injury problems that the latter have, we think the match in Germany could well be the more enticing of the two. 

Napoli vs Inter Milan - 20:45 CET

Mazzarri is facing his former club
Reuters

Watch the clash between the German giants, make yourself some dinner, and then turn your attention to Italy, where the reigning Serie A champions will play host to the league leaders. 

Napoli are struggling to defend their long-awaited title thus far this season, currently sitting down in fourth, eight points behind Inter Milan and six behind Juventus. Their slow start to the campaign cost Rudi Garcia his job, and replacement Walter Mazzarri is now looking to get their title bid back on track.

He made a strong start to his second spell at the club, beating Atalanta away from home before suffering a respectable defeat to Real Madrid, and a win against another of his former employers would well and truly restore belief in Naples that the title could yet stay in the south for another year. 

Getting such a win will be a tough task though, with Inter failing to win just three of their first 13 league matches this season and boasting an unbeaten Champions League record thanks to their stunning comeback from 3-0 down against Benfica in mid-week. 

The match will provide the biggest insight yet into just how good this Napoli side is under Mazzarri and whether they can still challenge Inter and Juventus for the title or will give it up without much of a fight.

Barcelona vs Atletico Madrid - 21:00 CET

Napoli aren't the only reigning champions struggling this season, with Barcelona currently fourth in La Liga. They can leapfrog their next opponents and go third on Sunday, though, with them and Atletico Madrid heading into this clash level on points.

Atleti have played a game less, however, and would thus probably settle for a draw, meaning that Xavi will be faced with one of the biggest challenges in football: breaking down a Diego Simeone defence.

If he fails to do so, he'll have won just three of his last six matches - that's not quite crisis territory, but by Barcelona standards, it's not a million miles away, especially given the wins have been far from convincing. 

Given the threat that Atleti pose on the break, with one former Barca forward playing better than ever in Antoine Griezmann and another returning from injury in Memphis Depay, Xavi will have to be careful not to get too desperate in his search for victory - striking a balance won't be easy.

The vast contrast in style between the two sides - attack vs defence, style vs substance, brains vs brawn - always produces fascinating affairs that can get more than a little fiery.

If you only watch one match this weekend, make it this one!

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