Don’t flinch now: fresh off their most recent round of World Cup qualifying matches, players return to their clubs and straight into some significant matches (assuming they’ve thawed out enough to effectively play over the weekend). Unfortunately, the only match on Friday features Konrad de la Fuente’s Olympique Marseille, but Konrad hasn’t been included in the squad so we will start our guide with Saturday’s action.
Chelsea v Plymouth Argyle - 7:30a on ESPN+
Get your weekend started early Saturday morning when Christian Pulisic and Chelsea FC face League One side Plymouth Argyle in FA Cup action. Starting on Saturday morning would be a very quick turnaround for Pulisic, who came off the bench to pick up a goal in his 30 minutes Wednesday evening for the USMNT. However, Pulisic did get the start in Chelsea’s first FA Cup match against fifth tier side Chesterfield in early January, so Tuchel apparently doesn’t feel the need to go full rotation against these lower sides. Chelsea’s upcoming schedule has some irregularities, as they will play in the Club World Cup midweek and their next EPL match isn’t until mid-February, almost a month after their last league match. Pulisic has had a bit of a dry season with three goals and three assists across all competitions, but perhaps the USMNT goal and a couple matches against lower sides will be the kickstart he needs.
- Matt Miazga and Deportivo Alavés visit Elche at 8a on ESPN+. Miazga has been in and out of the lineup this season, sitting the most recent match after having started the previous two.
- Chris Richards has avoided serious injury, but will be unavailable to play when Hoffenheim face Mainz at 9:30a on ESPN+.
- Ricardo Pepi has quickly moved into the starting lineup and will look to open his scoresheet as Augsburg face Union Berlin at 9:30a on ESPN+.
- George Bello has been welcomed to Arminia Bielefeld and his club will face fellow American Joe Scally and his Borussia Mönchengladbach side at 9:30a on ESPN+.
- A back injury kept Zack Steffen from participating with the USMNT over the international window, but he has reportedly returned to training and is expected to start Manchester City’s FA Cup match against Fulham FC and their duo of Tim Ream and Antonee Robinson. The match will be aired at 10a on ESPN+.
- Josh Sargent and Norwich City will face Wolverhampton Wanderers at 10a on ESPN+ in FA Cup action.
- Matthew Hoppe has just three league appearances for Mallorca this season. The club faces Cadiz at 10:15a on ESPN+ in a relegation battle. Mallorca currently sit two points ahead of Cadiz, who occupy the final relegation spot.
- RB Leipzig face Bayern Munich this weekend in a match Leipzig was probably hoping would have title implications at the beginning of the season. However, at this point they’ve fallen well behind Bayern and instead need to focus on achieving a top four position, which they currently trail by three points. Tyler Adams will be unavailable for Leipzig this weekend as their match kicks off at 12:30p on ESPN+.
Borussia Dortmund v Bayer Leverkusen - 9:30a on ESPN+
Giovanni Reyna has finally returned from an injury layoff that definitely wasn’t extended by a couple of weeks to ensure he wouldn’t have to travel internationally and risk injury in freezing temperatures. Borussia Dortmund are dealing with some other injuries in the club and it sounds like Marco Rose is looking for Reyna to step right back in and help keep things on track in a matchup between the second and third place teams in the Bundesliga. Dortmund currently sit six points behind Bayern Munich which means they have no margin for error, even against the third place side.
Reyna has been off since being injured during the September international break so he has not seen the field in a competitive match since August when he started the clubs first three matches and scored in two of his three appearances. An extended appearance would be a fantastic first step back for a player who hasn’t played in five months.
- Yunus Musah had started three straight league matches heading into the international window and now his club face Real Sociedad at 8a on ESPN+.
- Gianluca Busio missed the international window due to COVID, and Tanner Tessmann was not called in either. Their Venezia side face Napoli at 9a on Paramount+, and any result against the second place side would be massive for avoiding relegation.
- Sergiño Dest and FC Barcelona face Atletico Madrid at 10:15a on ESPN+ in a matchup of two sides underperforming but scrapping to get back into the chase for Champions League qualification. Currently, Atletico are in fourth place, one point ahead of Barcelona.
- Coming off his stellar performance for the USMNT, Luca de la Torre will look to have a similar impact as his Heracles side face Ajax at 10:45a on ESPN+.
- John Brooks and Wolfsburg face Greuther Fürth at 11:30a on ESPN+. If Florian Kohfeldt’s side continue their scoring woes against the porous Fürth defense, they’ll have some serious questions to ask. Kevin Paredes has recently joined Wolfsburg from DC United, but seems unlikely to appear soon.
- Timothy Weah and Lille face league leading Paris Saint-Germain at 2:45p on beIN Sports. Weah continues to be a key contributor for club and country.
- Weston McKennie and Juventus close out the weekend at 2:45p on Paramount+ as they face Hellas Verona. The top five spots in the table are pretty tight and Juventus have work to do in order to crack the top four.
Let us know in the comments which matches you will be watching this weekend!