thumbnail Hello,

With Manchester City set to host Fulham at the Etihad Stadium and AC Milan facing Napoli, there is plenty to keep an eye out for over ESPN's free-to-air weekend

Manchester City's meeting with Fulham on Saturday will become the first ever Premier League match to be shown live on Freeview as part of ESPN's free-to-air weekend.

In association with Nokia Lumia, ESPN will also be available for free to Sky, TopUpTV and BT Vision subscribers, with top flight fixtures from Italy and Germany scheduled.

Two Serie A fixtures will be broadcast, with Genoa hosting Lazio late on Sunday morning, and AC Milan locking horns with Napoli after that.

The action kicks off on Friday evening, as Nurnberg host defending German champions Borussia Dortmund.

Away from football, the New York Knicks take on the Boston Celtics in the NBA on Friday night before UFC 143 is aired live from Las Vegas late on Saturday. The ATP World Tour 250 tennis tournament will also run across the weekend.


BUNDESLIGA

Nurnberg vs Dortmund, Friday 19:30 GMT

With just one point separating Bayern Munich in first place and Borussia Monchengladbach in fourth spot, every second counts in the Bundesliga title race. Borussia Dortmund are one of the clubs who sit level on points with the league leaders, and will be aware that any slip up could have catastrophic implications on their title defence. The bad news for the champions is that the name on everybody’s lips, Mario Gotze, is currently in the midst of a two-month spell on the sidelines.

However, Jakub ‘Kuba’ Blaszczykowski has erupted back into form in the German’s stead, scoring twice in the 5-1 demolition of Hamburg a fortnight ago. At the back, Mats Hummels is quickly establishing himself as one of Europe’s finest young defenders and Robert Lewandowski has ousted Lucas Barrios from the pinnacle of the attack thanks to his fine form. For Nurnberg it is a different story. Crippled by the loss of the likes of Ilkay Gundogan (to Dortmund), they have found it hard to follow up their sixth place finish last season, and they currently find themselves just three points clear of the drop zone.

Philipp Wollscheid has emerged as the Bavarians’ new star, earning himself a move up to Bayer Leverkusen at the end of the season.

Kaiserslautern vs Koln, Sunday 4:30 GMT


The Bundesliga relegation battle is every bit as tight as the title race - just six points separate Kaiserslautern, in 16th place, from Stuttgart, in 10th. Last weekend die Roten Teufel managed a 2-2 draw with fellow strugglers Augsburg, prolonging their winless streak to eight league matches.

Given Koln’s poor away form, Sunday’s clash represents a chance for Marco Kurz’ team to get their season back on track. For the visitors, the question that emerged in the first half of the season is how Stale Solbakken’s side would cope without Lukas Podolski. The German international has bagged 15 goals this season, but soon after netting his most recent strike last weekend, the 26-year-old sustained a foot injury which will leave him on the sidelines for a month.

Podolski’s absence could prove to be a huge opportunity for his attacking colleagues to shine. A lot will be resting on Milivoje Novakovic to fill the star man’s shoes, while two successful seasons in the second tier earned North Korea international Jong Tae-Se a move to the RheinEnergieStadion from Bochum.

A win for the hosts would prevent them from slipping away in the relegation scrap, while the visitors would be able to open up a gap between themselves and the drop.

PREMIER LEAGUE

Manchester City vs Fulham, Saturday 5:30 GMT

January has not been a perfect month for Manchester City. In addition to finding themselves dumped out of both of the FA and League Cup by Manchester United and Liverpool, defeats to Sunderland and Everton in the Premier League allowed title rivals United to eliminate the points gap at the top of the table. Roberto Mancini's side now lead the league only on goal difference and host Fulham in the first of three matches they will hope to win in the month of February.

Captain Vincent Kompany, having served a four-match suspension, could not prevent his team from falling to a 1-0 loss at Goodison Park upon his return to action but nevertheless provides a welcome boost in defence. Following the sale of Bobby Zamora to Queens Park Rangers, Fulham found themselves lacking options in attack against West Bromwich Albion in midweek, drawing 1-1, but deadline day signing Pavel Pogrebnyak could make his debut on Saturday and Martin Jol will hope Moussa Dembele, Andy Johnson and Orlando Sa can recover from injury. Loan addition David Pizarro is unlikely to go straight into City's starting XI, having made only seven appearances for Roma this season, so Mancini will continue to rely upon James Milner in midfield in the absence of Yaya Toure.

He will be tasked with keeping a lid on Clint Dempsey, who has scored 11 goals in his last 13 matches in all competitions for the Cottagers.

SERIE A


Genoa v Lazio, Sunday 11:30 GMT

Lazio head into this game looking to build on a very strong midweek performance, having defeated AC Milan 2-0 at home, a result which allowed them to increase the distance between themselves and Inter, who were held to a 4-4 draw by Palermo.

The Rome-based club have been in impressive form on the road this season, with six victories, two draws and two defeats – the exact same record that Genoa hold at home. In fact, the Stadio Luigi Ferraris has been Genoa’s safe haven, the club having picked up just seven points from 10 away games. Lazio are in need of the three points to keep pressure on Udinese, but also to prevent Inter from closing the gap on them.

After Wednesday’s match at Atalanta was postponed, Genoa head into this game in a must-win situation, as any other outcome will put their chances of reaching the European places in jeopardy. All eyes will be on the attacking fronts, where Miroslav Klose and Rodrigo Palacio have both picked up 11 Serie A goals to date.

AC Milan v Napoli, Sunday 2:00 GMT

The Serie A champions host Napoli looking to bounce back from a disappointing 2-0 defeat at Lazio in midweek. Coach Massimiliano Allegri believes that the result is a valuable lesson to his players, but the fact is that Milan could find themselves four points behind Juventus when the Bianconeri play the match they have in hand.

Napoli have been hot and cold this season and head into this game in desperate need of a victory after Wednesday’s goalless draw against Cesena extended their winless run to four matches. In the event of another negative result, Napoli will most likely have to bid farewell to their dream of playing in the Champions League two seasons in a row, while a place in the Europa League remains far from being safe.

The game could mark Sulley Muntari’s debut for Milan after the Rossoneri signed the Ghanaian midfielder from Inter on loan on deadline day. With 18 goals in all competitions, Edinson Cavani is without a doubt Napoli’s main attacking reference and he will pose the biggest threat to Milan’s goal in Sunday’s match.

Related

From the web