Some of Europe’s biggest clubs will face off this weekend in what promises to be an exciting carnival of football on the continent.
From local rivalries to historic meetings, CNN looks at the three biggest games of the next few days; one featuring arguably the greatest musical artist on the planet.
First to Spain, where bitter rivals Real Madrid and Barcelona play on Sunday at the Bernabeu.
It’s been a return to normality as both teams in the league battle for supremacy again.
Financial problems led to a difficult season for Barcelona last year, but it looks like they are returning to good form at home under Xavi’s watch at the big club. They are currently top of the table, although only goal difference separates them from champions Real.
Madrid, who won the title in a hat-trick last season, may have a mental edge going into this season’s first Clasico.
Madrid progressed to the knockout stages of the Champions League thanks to a last-minute draw against Shakhtar Donetsk on Wednesday, while Barcelona’s last-16 hopes hang on it after a dramatic draw against Inter Milan.
With qualification for the Champions League knockout stages now looking difficult, Xavi wants his side to use that frustration for Sunday’s game against arch-rivals Barcelona.
“What remains for us is to focus quickly on Sunday’s Clasico, bounce back and focus on the League because the Champions League has become very difficult and complicated for us,” Xavi told Movistar Plus on Wednesday.
One positive for Barcelona is the form of Robert Lewandowski, with the Polish forward scoring twice against Inter Milan in midweek.
He currently leads the league scoring charts with nine goals in eight games this season.
On the other hand, Real Madrid remains winless in all competitions this season and will have home advantage against Barcelona.
But the hosts have not been without problems, with star player Karim Benzema and goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois likely to be injury doubts for the match.
And Madrid has also found it difficult to keep a clean sheet in the league this season, having conceded seven to one of Barcelona, but Vinicius Jr. He has relied on his fitness to score goals when needed.
With both teams still unbeaten in the league this season, you feel something has to give.
But wait, the game will also feature rap superstar Drake, who has left his OVO logo on Barcelona’s home kit.
The Canadian artist became the first person to reach 50 billion streams on Spotify and his iconic owl symbol will replace the streaming service’s logo on the front of the shirt for Sunday’s game.
Spotify began sponsoring Barcelona this season and the initiative with Drake is part of the pair’s mission to “connect football and music to new audiences around the world,” the club said.
“This doesn’t feel real, but it is,” Drake added on Instagram while holding up a Barcelona shirt.
It may not be a historic clash, but these sides have been two of the most impressive teams in Europe in recent years.
Both clubs have pushed each other to ridiculous levels of consistency, breaking numerous records along the way.
While previous encounters have been billed as possible title deciders, there is something slightly different about Sunday’s tie.
Liverpool have had a very difficult time in their league this season and have been a shadow of their former self.
The loss of Sadio Mane to Bayern Munich appears to have fixed a previously lethal front line and the form of key defenders such as Virgil van Dijk and Trent Alexander-Arnold has led to exceptional results.
According to sports data company Gracenote, Liverpool have conceded in six of their last eight league games. Also, in any Premier League game in which a goal has been conceded, the opponent has always scored first.
Liverpool currently sit 10th in the league and are already 14 points adrift of second-placed Manchester City, with Arsenal one point behind leaders.
Wednesday’s cathartic 7-1 win over Rangers in the Champions League will add momentum to the game, with Mohamed Salah also returning with a superb hat-trick.
“Yes, it changed the mood completely, but we all know who we’re going to host on Sunday and it’s going to be a different game, but it’s better to start with the feeling we have tonight than any other,” manager Jurgen Klopp said afterwards. Wednesday’s victory.
Liverpool will face a City side who have blown away teams this season, scoring 33 goals in nine games.
A concern for the Reds is that City manager Pep Guardiola was able to rest key players in Tuesday’s 0-0 draw against FC Copenhagen, and they will be fresh for the trip to Anfield.
One of those players is Erling Haaland, who has been nothing short of a revelation this season.
He appears to be the missing piece in City’s chance of winning their first Champions League title. The 22-year-old is on an unprecedented scoring streak, having scored 15 times in nine league games.
According to Gracenote, Manchester City are creating three big chances per game this season, a frightening statistic combined with the scoring style of attackers Haaland and Phil Foden.
However, if any defender can stop City, it is likely to be Van Dijk. The Dutchman hasn’t been at his best this season, but the fight against Haaland could prove to be just the motivation he needs.
With Anfield set to bounce back on Sunday, this City side may face their toughest test yet.
Finally to France, where PSG hosts a historic clash against reigning champions Marseille, in a game called Le Classique.
Only three points separate the two sides (PSG are top and Marseille third), but it might not be a bad time for the visitors to travel to the French capital.
PSG have been rocked by swirling speculation over Kylian Mbappé’s future and the league leaders could be without some of their biggest names for Sunday’s clash.
Although PSG have dismissed the rumors surrounding Mbappé, many senior journalists have claimed that the star forward is unhappy with the club’s hierarchy and wants him away from the team.
Meanwhile, PSG will be without suspended defender Sergio Ramos and possibly Lionel Messi, who has missed the previous two games with a calf injury.
However, PSG coach Christophe Galtier gave fans hope that the Argentine would be fit again when speaking to reporters in midweek.
“We’ll see how it goes during the week, and it’s very likely he’ll be available for Marseille,” he said.
Marseille, on the other hand, is a superior side and can make life difficult for the hosts.
Such is the enmity between France’s two biggest teams that Marseille fans were banned from attending this match last year for crowd safety reasons.
Since 2018, Marseille supporters have not been allowed into the Parc des Princes to watch Le Classique.