This weekend's biggest games in world football

Sports Mole rounds up this weekend's biggest, best and most important games from all corners of the globe.

Clubs around the world will be looking to give their fans some Christmas cheer in the final round of fixtures before the holiday.

The upcoming weekend contains plenty of festive treats, including arguably the biggest match in club football when Real Madrid take on Barcelona in El Clasico.

There are also derbies and top-of-the-table tussles in Italy, Australia and Albania, in addition to some mouth-watering fixtures closer to home.

Here, Sports Mole rounds up this weekend's biggest, best and most important matches from across the globe.

Real Madrid vs. Barcelona (Saturday, 12pm)

La Liga table top

The first El Clasico of the La Liga season takes place at midday on Saturday, and it is one which could prove to be make-or-break for Real Madrid's title hopes.

The champions go into the match sitting fourth in the table and with 11 points separating them from leaders Barcelona, a gap which could stretch to a surely-unassailable 14 should they fall to a home defeat at the hands of their fiercest rivals.

Real Madrid do have a game in hand over Barca courtesy of their Club World Cup exploits, where they became the first team to win the trophy in back-to-back years, adding the world crown to their Spanish and European titles from earlier in the year.

Barcelona are well placed to take over at least one of those titles in 2018, though. Ernesto Valverde's side are unbeaten in their last 24 matches across all competitions - including all 16 of their La Liga outings to help them into a six-point lead at the top of the table.

However, Madrid are the only team to have beaten Barcelona so far this season, doing so home and away in the Spanish Super Cup back in August.

Barcelona have won on their last two La Liga trips to the Bernabeu, though, including a memorable 3-2 triumph in April when Lionel Messi scored a stoppage-time winner with his 500th Barca goal.

Arsenal vs. Liverpool (Friday, 7.45pm)

Premier League table

Initially scheduled for Christmas Eve, this showdown between Arsenal and Liverpool will instead take place on Friday evening as the two top-four hopefuls look to head into Christmas in the Champions League places.

Just one place and one point separates the two teams as things stand, but crucially they sit either side of the all-important dotted line, with Liverpool in fourth and Arsenal in fifth.

The hosts go into the game unbeaten in their last five matches across all competitions, conceding just one during that time, although their only Premier League win in four attempts throughout December came against a Newcastle United side in freefall last weekend.

Liverpool are certainly not a team in freefall, having gone 12 games unbeaten across all competitions, while their 4-0 triumph over Bournemouth last weekend saw them become the first team in Premier League history to win four consecutive away games by at least a three-goal margin.

The Reds have netted 16 goals in that time and are coming up against the only defensive record as bad as their own in the top seven of the table, although Arsenal have kept six clean sheets in their last eight Premier League home games.

The Gunners will also be desperate for revenge on Liverpool for their 4-0 defeat in August, but Friday's visitors are unbeaten in their last five meetings with Arsenal and have scored 14 times in the last four.

Juventus vs. Roma (Saturday, 7.45pm)

Serie A table

The Serie A title race is shaping up to be comfortably the most exciting in Europe's top five leagues, with just four points separating the top four approaching the halfway point of the season.

Two of those top four teams will meet on Saturday when Juventus host Roma, with the defending champions knowing that victory could be enough to leave them in a familiar position at the top of the table at Christmas.

Napoli are currently in the driving seat after Inter Milan fell to their first defeat of the season, but Juventus are hitting top form at the right time with seven consecutive clean sheets heading into this weekend.

Roma are unbeaten in their last nine Serie A games, though, and have not lost an away game in the top flight since January - a run of 14 games unbeaten which includes 12 wins and two draws.

Roma also have a game in hand over the three teams above them in the table, meaning that victory this weekend could leave them in control of the title race.

However, Roma have never won at the Allianz Stadium, last picking up a league victory away to Juventus in January 2010.

Celta Vigo vs. Deportivo La Coruna (Saturday, 5.30pm)

La Liga table bottom

El Clasico is not the only derby taking place in La Liga this weekend, with Celta Vigo also hosting Deportivo La Coruna in the Galician derby.

Saturday evening's match will not have implications at the top of the table like El Clasico, but rather at the bottom with both clubs looking to steer clear of the relegation zone.

Celta currently enjoy a six-point lead over the bottom three and could even move into the top half with victory, but for their Galician rivals the need for victory is even greater.

Deportivo are only three points clear of the relegation zone having won just one of their last six La Liga outings - including a 4-0 defeat at the hands of Barcelona last weekend.

Celta are not in much better form themselves, though, winning just one of their last five games, and another defeat this weekend would make it three losses on the bounce for the first time this season.

Deportivo have won just one of their last six meetings with Celta, though, including a 1-0 defeat in the corresponding fixture last season.

Other matches to look out for

Melbourne City vs. Melbourne Victory: The second Melbourne derby of the A-League season takes place on Saturday, with hosts Melbourne City sitting third and visitors Victory six points further back in fifth.

Glentoran vs. Linfield: The traditional Boxing Day clash between Northern Ireland's two most successful clubs takes place on Tuesday when fierce Belfast rivals Glentoran host Linfield with both struggling in mid-table so far this season.

Crusaders vs. Cliftonville: Belfast's 'other' derby will also enter its latest chapter on Boxing Day when second-place Crusaders host third-place Cliftonville with both sides in fine form.

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A general shot of the new Main Stand at Anfield ahead of Liverpool's Premier League clash with Watford on November 6, 2016
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