WITH the international break coming up and the rest of the European competitions mapped out, we're afforded one last weekend of games before we officially enter “squeaky bum time”.
Full cards for every top league makes it difficult to narrow down worthy punts but we'll try to focus on some in-form big ‘uns who should do us a turn.
Atletico Madrid v Real Madrid
Karim Benzema proved me right against Lyon on Wednesday as he continued his hot goalscoring streak. The Frenchman finally looks comfortable in a white shirt and he's picked up the pieces from the injured Gonzalo Higuain with barely a stutter.
He struggled to justify his massive £30million price tag last season but has netted 20 goals in all competitions this time around. I expect him to add to that tally against city rivals Atletico tonight as Jose Mourinho's men look to narrow the gap on leaders Barcelona.
While Madrid chase silverware on three different fronts, their little neighbour's main goal now is just to secure European football next season. The Rojiblancos were Europa League winners and Copa del Rey finalists last term but Quique Flores' men have been early casualties in both cup competitions and off the pace in La Liga.
They're unbeaten in five but Atleti haven't won in a Madrid Derby since 1999. I can't see that changing here.
Real Madrid (4-6, Stan James, William Hill) and Benzema to score (11-8, Boylseports) are my picks.
Freiburg v Bayern Munich
A horror few weeks have left Bayern Munich's season in tatters as they crashed out of the German Cup, lost ground in the Bundesliga and were edged out the Champions League in midweek by Inter Milan. The poor run of form has cost Louis van Gaal his job beyond the summer but I'd be surprised if he actually sticks around until then. Maybe as a thank you to the fans.
That said, they were desperately unlucky against the Italians, performing well, and but for the woodwork could have been lining up against countrymen Schalke in the next round. They'll need to show that same level of determination for the rest of the campaign if they want to stay in the top five as a lack of European football has already been hinted as reasons why Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery could request summer transfers.
Palermo v AC Milan
Palermo are in a bit of a mess right now. They've lost their last five games and haven't even found the net in four – the strain is showing with fallouts and bust-ups forming a dark cloud over the entire squad as new boss Serse Cosmi tries to turn the situation around.
The Sicilians are also struggling with injury and their much-maligned three at the back set-up will see another change as the injured Cesare Bovo is replaced by Sinisa Andelkovic. They look shaky and I'm convinced they'll ship goals against Milan.
The San Siro outfit will be missing Zlatan Ibrahimovic after his sending off last weekend but, oddly, it could pave the way for a more dynamic attacking line in Antonio Cassano and Alexandre Pato.
Milan to win (6-5, Bluesquare, William Hill) and Cassano to net (8-5, Sportingbet) are my picks.
Udinese v Catania
This should be an Udinese win – Catania have lost five out of their last six away games and look terribly out of sorts. The Bianconeri are chasing a Champions League place and I can't see them denting those chances with a poor result against a team destined for Serie B.
They're brimming with confidence and in Alexis Sanchez and Antonio Di Natale, they have two men in deadly form in front of goal.
Udinese to win (1-2, William Hill) and either Sanchez (23-20, Victor Chandler) or Di Natale (a poor 8-13, Hills) but Hills are also offering a better 21-20 on either of those players to score first or the same odds on both players scoring.