Around the Leagues: Derbies for Days
The weekend kicks off with the Derby della Capitale in Italy on Friday while Sunday showcases England's most heated and historic rivalry
The standings in each of the major European tables are starting to shift a bit and clubs are beginning to believe that a title-push is very much a possibility.
But all the rivalry-riddled weekend action begins as early as Friday when the two biggest clubs in Rome meet for another chapter of the Derby della Capitale - The Rome Derby - when Lazio host AS Roma. Lazio can climb back into the race for a top four spot with a win, but it'll have to do so against a third-place Roma-side that hasn't been beaten in four straight fixtures.
The clash between Roman clubs is one of Europe's fiercest rivalries and the it only adds to the animosity that both fan bases and clubs share the same venue - the famous Stadio Olimpico.
When these two teams meet, more than just bragging rights are on the line, as the intense and passionate rivalry dates back to 1927 when Roma was first formed. The two have battled for supremacy of the Italian capital ever since.
Italy's Serie A showcases another scintillating rivalry when Inter Milan in second-place host fourth-place Juventus for another chapter of the Derby d'Italia - the Derby of Italy. Cristiano Ronaldo's Juve-side can climb to within one point of Inter in the table on Sunday and jump to third in Roma fails to claim all three points in the days prior.
Colossal Clashes in Portugal, Holland and Turkey
On Friday in Portugal's topflight, O Classico - The Classic - will take place for the first time in 2021 when FC Porto host Benfica. Both rivals sit on 31 points and a win for either club would bring them within one point of league-leaders Sporting Lisbon.
Of all the mouthwatering matchups fans of the global game are looking forward to over the next few days, one that absolutely should not be overlooked is the most famous fixture in the Netherlands - De Klassieker - between Ajax Amsterdam and Feyenoord Rotterdam on Sunday. The hatred both fanbases have for the other stems from the history between the two cities long before the existence of the football clubs, as Amsterdam is the cultural and artistic capital of Holland while Rotterdam is more blue-collar port city and driven by a deep pride in its citizens' work ethic.
When the two most successful teams in Turkish soccer history - Galatasaray and Besiktas - clash on Sunday, it's typically a fiery affair between the two teams that call Istanbul home. Besiktas is currently in first but a win for Galatasaray would leapfrog the club to the top of the standings from third.
Battles in the Barclay's Premier League
Saturday's slate in England's topflight includes a pair of regional rivalries when the day begins with Wolverhampton Wanderers playing host to West Bromich Albion in the Black Country Derby before a west London derby kicks off when USMNT star Christian Pulisic's Chelsea visit Fulham.
But the very next day is the game the entire world will be watching when last season's titleholders - Liverpool - who are currently second in the standings host first-place Manchester United. Historically, this is arguably the most anticipated derby in England and with first place in the league on the line, Sunday's heavyweight bout has all the makings of a classic.
Silverware in Spain
In the midst of all the derbies, there's silverware to play for on Sunday in Spain when Barcelona meet Athletic Bilbao in the Spanish Supercopa. Barca beat Sociedad on penalties to advance to the Final and will take on a Bilbao-side that stunned Real Madrid on Thursday - 2-1 - with two first half strikes from Raul Garcia. USMNT player Serginio Dest has 20 appearances with Barcelona across all competitions this season.
USWNT and NWSL
All the exciting weekend action will spill over into Monday evening when the U.S. Women's National Team taking the pitch for the first time in 2021 when the squad clashes with Colombia in an international friendly. The USWNT's last match was a 2-0 win over the Netherlands in late November to close out an unpredictable 2020.
Domestically in women's soccer, the ninth annual NWSL College Draft took place on Wednesday with Racing Louisville FC selecting UNC defender Emily Fox with the first overall pick. Washington Spirit took Trinity Rodman - a forward from Washington State - with the second pick and UNC midfielder Brianna Pinto went to Sky Blue FC with the third selection during the draft that was broadcast live on Twitch.
Speaking of drafts, next week on January 21 will be the MLS SuperDraft 2021 with expansion club Austin FC lined up to make the first selection during the virtual event. Austin will kick off each round with the first pick while other teams will make selections in reverse order of last season's final standings taking into account how each club performed in the postseason.
A few of the top collegiate players that Austin could land include Wake Forest forward Calvin Harris, Clemson midfielder Philip Mayaka or Virginia Tech midfielder Daniel Pereira.
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United Soccer League Championship Stories from January 15, 2021
- Republic FC Bolsters Technical Staff with Addition of Matt Glaeser - Sacramento Republic FC
- Rowdies Re-Sign Midfielder Zach Steinberger for 2021 - Tampa Bay Rowdies
- Around the Leagues: Derbies for Days - Sacramento Republic FC
- Miami FC Acquires Midfielder Bolu Akinyode from Birmingham - Miami FC
- New Zealand International Deklan Wynne Joins Rising FC - Phoenix Rising FC
- Miami FC Add Dangerous Attacking Duo Ahead of 2021 Season - Miami FC
- San Antonio FC Signs Forward Justin Dhillon - San Antonio FC
- Defender Matt Bahner Returns to El Paso Locomotive for 2021 USL Championship Season - El Paso Locomotive FC
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