Scouting for fixtures is a weekly blog for people who love the beautiful game. It comes out every Sunday and hand picks upcoming matches worldwide that week, which look set for 90 minutes of non-stop action.
All times are in GMT.
Arguably the two strongest teams left in the competition, even in the world, face each other this Wednesday night.
- Manchester City vs Real Madrid ( Tue 26 19:45 )
On their day, this pair are one of the few teams that can play football fun to watch. We’ve seen both sides conjure up some stupid score-lines this season: 5-1, 6-1, 6-0, 7-1, 8-0 and a 10-2. Now they play each other. Looking at the league; it’s a complete shambles for Man City, but their intent in the Champions League is clear. Most notable are the frontrunners Aguero and De Bruyne who are tearing up defences in the EPL and Champions League, where they levelled an in-form PSG. Real Madrid however are the be all end all when it comes to relentless, potent attacking players. Ronaldo, Benzema, Bale, do I even need to explain? What makes this game exiting, apart from it being a semi final, is that both teams are so inconsistent at the back. The natural lopsidedness of these teams lead to a defensive deficit whereby the plan A is to simply outscore the opposition, working 9/10 times. Chances are if one goes in, the floodgates open. Beautiful orchestrated movements from Barca and Arsenal can only take you so far before you get bored. On paper this game has goals written all over it.
2. Atletico Madrid vs Bayern Munich ( Wed 27 19:45 )
Arguably the two strongest teams left in the competition, even in the world, face each other this Wednesday night. Atleti have a stellar track record in the CL so far, conceding 0.5 goals a game while scoring upwards of 2 goals a game in the group stages. Atleti beating Barca and keeping a clean sheet is unheard of, the only other team to do that was Real Sociedad, yeah go figure. Even the first leg where Barca scored twice was remarkable given the fact Atleti were down to 10 men after 30 minutes. Like Barca, Bayern too have a world class attack, and midfield, but unlike Barca they also have a world class defence, and goalkeeper, and manager, and coa-. Point being they’re a formidable opposition. The worry for Atletico is that they’ve never faced a team this complete in quality, understanding and ability in all departments. The worry for Bayern though, is they’ve never faced a defence as good as what we’re seeing now. Bear in mind last year even Bayern couldn’t keep out MSN, conceding 5 over both legs.
3. Real Betis vs Barcelona ( Sat 30 19:30 )
Now, with the gap between La Liga’s top 3 reduced to a single point, all eyes will be on Barcelona, Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid. Therefore we move forward to Saturday where mid-table side Betis welcome a hungry Barcelona side who need all 3 if they want to remain in this title race. The fact is Real Betis are 9 points clear from the drop zone, and with each passing week, relegation becomes less of a worry. They’re no world beaters but have a squad with enough experience to see out a successful first season in the top flight after promotion. For the Catalonian side, they’ve got to dig themselves out the hole they’ve created for themselves or could be their own downfall. We saw the statement Barca sent out last week with an 8-0 thrashing of D. L. Coruna. While it’s unlikely the scoreline will reach those figures, there’s no reason why they can’t replicate that performance this weekend.
4. Bayern Munich vs Borussia M.Gladbach ( Sat 30 14:30 )
3 days after Bayern take on Atleti in the champions league; the Bavarians have another critical match, this time against Gladbach. Minimal recovery time is a big concern for Bayern as there is no way the same 11 starting on Tuesday is going to play to their full capacity if started on Saturday. The injuries don’t help their case either: Robben, Badstuber, Lahm, Boateng, Roda and Bernat are all injured for the upcoming game. Despite even all those injuries Bayern are still pegged favourites, but there is a case to be made for André Schubert’s men. Currently caught in a 3 way tie between Mainz and Schalke for the 5th and 6th European spots, all on 45 points and 3 games remain. Nothing but 3 wins for Borussia will ensure the safety net of Europa League, as one point will make all the difference. Bayern may have a steady 7 point gap, but we’ve seen a 9 point gap from Barcelona sanded down over 3 weeks to a 0 point gap. All it takes is one loss or draw to set the ball rolling. The glaring stat is that Borussia have the worst away form in the league, losing 5 and drawing one in their last 6 on the road. On the flip side, Borussia M.Gladbach are also 1 of 2 teams to beat Bayern in the league this season, where they netted 3 times in quick succession. A point that will definitely be playing on the minds of the ‘makeshift’ Bayern backline as they hope to see out a 4th consecutive Bundesliga trophy.
5. Manchester United vs Leicester ( Sun 01 14:05 )
With a maximum of 9 points up for grabs, only 3 weeks remain. Leicester are touching distance from the finishing line and with Spurs breathing down their neck, these next three matches against Man Utd, Everton and Chelsea will make or break them. Manchester United may have had a fall from grace post Sir Alex, but expect an extremely tight contest between these two. Within two points of Champions league, Man City sits tightly in third and MUFC are desperate to stay in, meaning the last 3 games have to be a WWW and fingers crossed the citizens slip up. The FA cup win will be a big boost to the boys in red, as they look to end the 12 year run of not lifting the trophy. Usually I’d put my money on Leicester to see out a win, but as the season comes to a close, the pressure builds, the lines blur and moments of magic unfold; “They’ve got love bites and everything!”.
Roma vs Napoli ( Mon 25 14:00 )
Villareal vs Liverpool ( Thu 28 20:05 )
Borussia Dortmund vs Wolfsburg ( Sat 30 14:30 )
Real Sociedad vs Real Madrid ( Sat 30 15:00 )
Arsenal vs Norwich ( Sat 30 17:30 )
Athletic Club vs Celta Vigo ( Sun 01 11:00 )
Feel like I missed out any matches or wanna give me any feedback? Comment Below.