With the last of the 32 spots in next summer’s World Cup having been handed out earlier this week during the last FIFA international break of 2017, the focus in international soccer this weekend returns to Europe’s five major leagues. Here are some matches worth checking out:
EPL: Manchester United, a winner just once in its last four league games, desperately needs some momentum if it hopes to keep pace with crosstown rival Manchester City, which leads the table by eight points after 11 matches. A win over mid-table Newcastle at the Theatre of Dreams on Saturday (NBC, Universo 9:30 a.m. PT) could provide just such a nudge.
La Liga: The Madrid Derby takes on some added early-season importance with Atletico and Real Madrid entering Saturday’s game (BeIN Sports 11:30 a.m. PT) tied for third, behind Barcelona and Valencia, with 23 points in La Liga play. Real may be shorthanded this weekend, though, with goalkeeper Keylor Navas doubtful. The Costa Rican’s last appearance was in a Champions League game Oct. 17.
Serie A: Italian soccer remains in mourning after the Azzurri failed to qualify for the World Cup for the first time since 1958. So it now falls to the country’s dominant club team, Juventus, winner of the last six Serie A titles, to raise spirits when it travels to Genoa to meet Sampdoria on Sunday (BeIN Sports, 6 a.m. PT). With one loss in 12 games, Juventus trails Napoli by a point in the league table and is one ahead of third-place Inter Milan.