A rivalry weekend in England and Spain — plus the final of the African Cup of Nations — headline this edition of the Weekend Watch.
Tottenham Hotspur vs. Arsenal, English Premier League, Saturday at 4:45 a.m.
Just two points separate the Gunners in fifth place from Spurs in sixth in the EPL table. Both are hot on the heels of Southampton for the league’s final UEFA Champions League berth, and both are painfully aware that this rivalry match could prove the ultimate difference come May.
Atletico Madrid vs. Real Madrid, Spanish Primera, Saturday at 7 a.m.
Anybody who expected Atleti to badly fall off following its stunning La Liga title last season has been disappointed so far. It’s comfortably in the top three and beat its crosstown rivals in the Round of 16 of the Copa del Rey. But Atletico trails Real by seven points in the league standings, making this all but a must-win if it wants to defend its title.
Everton vs. Liverpool, English Premier League, Saturday at 9:30 a.m.
The Blues and Reds are both in better shape than they were when they met in the first leg of the badly-underperforming-expections derby back in September. Liverpool is skulking around the edges of the Champions League hunt, while Everton has at least avoided the relegation scrum.
Juventus vs. AC Milan, Italian Serie A, Saturday at 11:45 a.m.
This fixture might have lost some of its luster since AC Milan got bogged down in its recent quagmire of annual mediocrity, but these are still two of the biggest names in international soccer. Well outside the title hunt itself, Milan might have to content itself by tripping up its old foe.
Ivory Coast vs. Ghana, African Cup of Nations final, Sunday at 11 a.m.
The USMNT takes on Panama early Sunday afternoon, but it’s getting bumped for the final Watch spot by an international game with far bigger stakes. Despite being perhaps the two most successful nations on the continent over the past decade, the Elephants and Black Stars haven’t met in an AFCON final since 1992. That was the Ivory Coast’s last title. This is its golden generation’s last, best chance to win one of its own.