The start of the new year means most of Europe’s biggest football leagues have reached their midway point. While in some countries the title race looks to already have been decided, as Paris Saint-Germain and Bayern Munich pull away in France and Germany, respectively, across other borders it’s a more even affair. Add to this the plethora of cup competitions approaching the business end, and January promises to be an exciting encounter.
There are plenty of games that could well shock the online sports betting markets around the continent, all before the Champions League round of 16 restarts. So read on, as we look at some of the best games happening in the opening month of 2022.
Real Madrid vs Barcelona (12th January)
Kicking things of with an El Clásico in the Supercopa de España. Perhaps the biggest rivalry in all of Spain, both Real Madrid and Barcelona have flattered to deceive in the last couple of years, having both lost players and seen their glory overshadowed by Atlético Madrid. While Barça added a Copa del Rey to their trophy cabinet last season, Los Blancos went without silverware for the first time in a decade — something Carlo Ancelotti was brought in to change. Xavi will have his work cut out for him in this one, but is doing well to steady the ship after the damage inflicted by Ronald Koeman. The winner will face either Atléti or current holders Athletic Bilbao in the final.
Manchester City vs Chelsea (15th January)
The Premier League looked to have one of the most competitive title races in its history at the start of the season, with defending champions Manchester City set to compete against Liverpool, Chelsea and Manchester United to make it four titles in five years for Pep Guardiola. However, inconsistency has plagued all the Citizens challengers and if they can beat Chelsea at the Etihad, will stretch their gap at the top to an extent where they may not be caught. The Blues set up extremely negatively in their last encounter with City and suffered a 1-0 defeat as punishment. This time Thomas Tuchel will need all of his tactical nous, redolent of the Champions League final, to lord another one over the Spaniard and keep hopes of the title alive for another day.
Marseille vs Lille (16th January)
The two most in-form teams in Ligue 1 besides PSG, Marseille and current title holders Lille are purely playing for pride at this point, with Jorge Sampaoli’s side comfortably in the Champions League places and Lille struggling after a mass exodus of players over the summer, but gradually finding their feet after a frantic start. The reason this game is so hotly anticipated in France is the promise of goals and Marseille wanting revenge after former Leicester City man Cengiz Ünder was sent off as Lille ran out 2-0 winners courtesy of a late Jonathan David brace.
Hoffenheim vs Borussia Dortmund (22nd January)
Although the Bundesliga already looks a foregone conclusion, second place Borussia Dortmund still have an outside shot of clinching their first league title in a decade, but every point is valuable and coming up against this exciting Hoffenheim team at the Rhein-Neckar-Arena will be a massive test of their credentials. The winter break allowed Dortmund to recover from a difficult run of form which has seen them lose five times already in the league, whereas Sebastian Hoeneß is building a side capable of competing for the Champions League spaces having not lost since October. Expect plenty of goals and attacking flair in this one.