The Bundesliga returns on a jam-packed weekend of major games. There’s a significant London derby with title implications, along with the battle of the Borussias in Germany. And, the US Women’s national team members take their bows in the New Year as they gear up for Olympic qualification. Grab a pizza and sit back and relax: these are the games to watch this weekend -- Jamie Trecker
Alexander Hassenstein (Bongarts)
Hamburg vs. Bayern (Friday, 2:30 p.m. ET, FS1)
The Bundesliga is back with a bang as Hamburg look to avenge their Matchday 1 thrashing at the hands of Bayern. After a 5-0 whipping to open the season, Hamburg have slumped to mid-table, and if Bayern are on song, the Bundesliga’s Dinosaur shouldn’t stand much chance. Outgoing manager Pep Guardiola looks to have the league already sewn up, leading to questions over Bayern’s focus and complacency: their target is to win the European Cup. But Hamburg have been awful at home – and that dire form is likely to continue Friday.
Stuart Franklin (Bongarts) & Ale
West Ham vs. Manchester City (Saturday, 12:30 p.m. ET, NBC)
An intriguing matchup between two intriguing teams. City lost the first meeting between to the two teams this season, but look a bit stronger heading into this match with injured Fernandinho set to return. But the Hammers, who can be magnetic one day and awful the next, are a tricky team. If Dmitri Payet is on song, they are difficult to contain; that allowed, the injury to big man Andy Carroll is a significant one. A City win might take them top; a loss would be very damaging.
Clive Rose & Shaun Botterill/Get
Monchengladbach vs. Dortmund (Saturday, 12:30 p.m. ET, FS1)
Gladbach have been reborn under manager Andre Schubert, and they will be desperate to avenge the 4-0 loss they suffered at BVB’s hands to open the season. American Fabian Johnson has emerged as one of the stars of the team, but he will have his hands full trying to contain the electric (and highly sought after) Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. Granit Xhaka is suspended for this match; still could be a wide-open tussle with goals galore.
Matthias Hangst (Bongarts) & Ale
USA vs. Ireland (Saturday, 5 p.m. ET, FS1)
The World Cup champions begin their preparation for Olympic qualifying with this one-off against Ireland in San Diego. Four World Cup winning players have retired; another two (Christie Rampone, Megan Rapinoe) are injured while Amy Rodriguez is on maternity leave, leaving coach Jill Ellis with some big roster holes to fill. World player of the year Carli Lloyd will be taking her bows, but keep an eye on young Mallory Pugh, the 17-year-old striker who is tapped to be the next big thing.
Brian Bahr & tacy Revere/Getty I
Arsenal vs. Chelsea (Sunday, 11 a.m. ET, NBCSN)
England’s game of the week features the Gunners attempting to shoot down a pesky rival, albeit one fallen on harder times. Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez are both expected to be fit for the Gunners against a Chelsea team that is trying to clamber out of the bottom of the table. A loss here for the Blues would be damaging; conversely, a win here could put Arsenal back in pole position for a league title.