Four football matches to watch this weekend

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Club football returns this weekend across the world with juicy clashes on the cards. From Uyo to Catalonia, three points, prestige and the title race are all there.

Akwa United v Rivers United @Godswill Akpabio Stadium at 4pm on April 2

The reigning Nigerian Professional Football League champion against eventual champion kicks off the NPFL second round in Uyo on Saturday. In the Matchday 19 match before the break, Rivers United spanked Akwa United 4-1 to hold on to their one-point lead over Plateau United.

The team managed by Stanley Eguma suffered a final loss on February 6 away to second-placed Plateau United. In their next eight game streak, they won six and drew two. After Kennedy Boboye’s resignation, Akwa United have yet to find a firm footing as they have won as many as they have lost-won three, lost three and a draw.

The two sides are 14 points apart at the halfway mark, but there are still enough games left to close that gap for Akwa United, but that has to start with a win on Saturday.

Current form: Akwa United [L-L-W-L-D]; united rivers [W-D-W-W-W]

Face-to-face

20/03/22 NPF Rivers United 4 – 1 Akwa United

18/07/21 NPF Rivers United 1 – 1 Akwa United

28/02/21 NPF Akwa United 3 – 0 Rivers United

18/12/19 NPF Akwa United 2 – 1 Rivers United

12/04/18 NPF Rivers United 2 – 0 Akwa United

Prediction: Akwa United 2-1 Rivers United

Rangers v Celtic @Ibrox Stadium at noon on April 3

Sunday’s Glasgow derby is the 342nd episode and the ramifications are huge. Rangers need a win to eclipse their rivals, who sit first on the SPL table with 76 points from 31 games with Rangers close behind with 73 points from the same number of games.

Prior to their last meeting on February 2, Rangers had gone eight games unbeaten against their bitterest rivals since December 8, 2019. Two goals from Reo Hatate and one from Liel Ababa condemned Rangers to their second league defeat in the league. season.

Alfredo Morelos’ injury will dampen Rangers’ attacking advantage but Kemar Roofe and Fashion Sakala will look to rise to the challenge. Meanwhile, Celtic captain Callum McGregor believes staying calm will be key to securing a positive outcome. “I think when you get to these big games it’s just important to stay calm and remember your principles about how you want to work and how the team works,” McGregor told Celtic TV.

Current Form: Rangers [W-L-W-W-W]; Celtic [W-W-W-W-D]

Face-to-face

02/02/22 PRE Celtic 3 – 0 Rangers

29/08/21 PRE Rangers 1 – 0 Celtic

05/02/21 PRE Rangers 4 – 1 Celtic

18/04/21 FAC Rangers 2 – 0 Celtic

21/03/21 PRE Celtic 1 – 1 Rangers

Prediction: Rangers 2-1 Celtic

Juventus vs Inter Milan

It’s an important game of the season with Juventus and Inter Milan needing a win to stay relevant in the Scudetto race. The last Derby in Italy ended in a 1-1 draw because of an 89th-minute penalty scored by Paulo Dybala who could miss on Sunday.

The Old Lady showed exceptional determination to close the gap on the top three and on Sunday they can overtake defending champions Inter Milan with a victory.

Simone Inzaghi has a fully fit squad to choose from and he will be particularly delighted to bring back Marcelo Brozovic, whose stability they have lacked in their last two matches. Max Allegri has shown he knows what he is doing by taking Juventus to within seven points of the top of Serie A with eight games remaining in the season.

At this point, no one can rule out that the record-breaking league winners, who have bolstered their attacking ranks with Dusan Vlahovic Inzaghi, will be hoping his team won’t settle for another draw.

Current form: Juventus [W-L-W-W-W]; InterMilan [D-D-W-W-D]

Face-to-face

01/12/22 SUC Inter Milan 2 – 1 Juventus

24/10/21 SEA Inter Milan 1 – 1 Juventus

15/05/21 SEA Juventus 3 – 2 Inter Milan

09/02/21 COI Juventus 0 – 0 Inter Milan

02/02/21 COI Inter Milan 1 – 2 Juventus

Prediction: Juventus 2-1 Inter Milan

Barcelona v Sevilla @Camp Nou @8pm on April 3

The majority of Catalan voices after Real Madrid’s 4-0 bashing was ‘we’re back’. The style may not be the same, but the result was similar to the last time Barcelona were the dominant force in Spain.

Sunday’s visitors to Seville were second place all season but with a string of draws and failed forwards, their lead over third-placed Barcelona has shrunk to three points. A defeat on Sunday means a downward move with Atletico Madrid also breathing down your neck.

Xavi’s men have been near perfect at the Camp Nou with nine wins, two draws and two losses and claim a five-game winning streak, during which they scored 18-four on four occasions. Meanwhile, Sevilla have drawn four of their last five and scored a measly four goals. Barcelona haven’t lost to Sevilla in 12 straight matches, making Sunday’s game a Herculean task for Julen Lopetegui’s men.

Current form: Barcelona [W-W-W-D-W]; Seville [D-L-D-W-D]

Face-to-face

21/12/21 LAL Sevilla 1 – 1 Barcelona

03/03/21 CDR Barcelona 3 – 0 Sevilla

27/02/21 LAL Sevilla 0 – 2 Barcelona

10/02/21 CDR Sevilla 2 – 0 Barcelona

04/10/20 LAL Barcelona 1 – 1 Sevilla

Prediction: Barcelona 4-1 Sevilla


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