Scouting for Fixtures: Sep 25 – Oct 01

Scouting for fixtures is a weekly blog for people who love the beautiful game. As well as seeking out the most entertaining games, each preview weaves the clubs into a greater football narrative. Each article is a selection of handpicked upcoming matches worldwide that week, which looks set for 90 minutes of non-stop action. 

A guy chatting absolutely anything in a desperate attempt to keep the reader’s attention in this football-esque blog… who also writes football previews, kinda… 

All times are GMT.

Borussia Dortmund vs Real Madrid ( Tue 26 19:45 )

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I can confidently say that I have little to no idea who will come away with the points. In the last 6 games against each other, Dortmund and Madrid have won twice each, with the other two ending as draws.

I imagine being a Dortmund fan is not without its low points; they continually develop world class players (too many to list) only to lose them to rivals as they reach maturity. But Dortmund is a club grounded in their obligation to their fans without compromising their business objectives. A balance that is harder to find than you’d think. Young talents like Wiegl (22), Pulisic (19), M.Phillip (23) and Zagadou (18) are already playing first-team football for one of the best-attacking sides in Germany, with years of improvement of ahead of them.

The view on scouting really strikes a chord, showing the passion instilled in BVB:

The club does not just evaluate natural ability, its executives said, but also seeks references about a player’s willingness to learn. Scouts take particular interest in what makes each player unique — they talk in terms of individual “weapons” — but just as crucial is whether a prospective signing might be able to identify with Dortmund’s ethos.

– Rory Smith, New York Times

This partially explains how – any team – but Dortmund especially develop such great ‘chemistry’. But as youth is usually inversely related to experience, the team could be characterised as mercurial. They are dominating the Bundesliga but in their one true test to date (against Tottenham), they failed miserably. Despite 68% possession, they could only make 2 shots on target. They were prone to errors when counter-attacked and conceded thrice.

Then you look at Real Madrid, with arguably the greatest counter-attacking asset in the world right now, in Gareth Bale.

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Just last week he clocked in at 35kmph during his counter-attacking sprint against Real Sociedad. So far this season, Real Madrid haven’t faced a team as good as Dortmund yet, but just looking at Real Madrid’s trophy cabinet below should indicate how difficult this will be for the home side:

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Real Madrid is also known as a team of ‘Galacticos’, a term referencing an expensive and world-class player. They are the closest antithesis to Dortmund ideologically as you can find, though the Madrid manager Zidane is slowing turning that around. Both teams may have different approaches, but both play some of the most exciting attacking football in the world, now they face each other.

Paris Saint Germain vs Bayern Munich ( Wed 27 19:45 )

 

McGregor vs Mayweather? No, no, this is a much, much more idiotic matchup. Instead of a boxing match between an MMA fighter and a world class boxer, it’s between two football players of the same team (PSG), Neymar and Cavani.

Wherever there has been money in football there have been egos, and wherever there are egos there is conflict. PSG is the latest to find this out.

Johnathon Wilson, Sports Illustrated

For those interested in the incident feel free to click the link above, as Johnathon Wilson explains it much more insightfully than I could. Long story short it escalated to the point after the most recent match against Lyon, things ‘threatened to get violent before a teammate intervened’Now, the consequences in the long term look bleak but less certain is the effect on this game. Coming into this game, personal differences aside, it has been the perfect start for the Parisians. 6 games in, PSG have won every single match, averaging 3.5 goals a game. Is it that surprising with a strike force with an estimated value just shy of half a billion euros (€451.4 – €487.6 million)*. To make matters worse for the Bavarian visitors is that they will be without their first choice goalkeeper and captain Manuel Neuer, currently injured. His replacement Ulriech has only made 14 competitive appearances and his potential is yet to properly be charted. Bayern will also miss heavy hitters Arjen Robben and potentially Lewandowski.

*Cavani: €55.6 million, Neymar: €222 million, Mbappe (if PSG buy at end of the season): €155 – €190 million

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Scouting for Fixtures: Sep 18 – Sep 24

Scouting for fixtures is a weekly blog for people who love the beautiful game. As well as seeking out the most entertaining games, each preview weaves the clubs into a greater football narrative. Each article is a selection of hand picked upcoming matches worldwide that week, which looks set for 90 minutes of non-stop action. 

A guy chatting absolutely anything in a desperate attempt to keep the reader’s attention in this football-esque blog. I also do football previews, kinda… 

All times are GMT.

Lazio vs Napoli ( Wed 20 19:45 )

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In response to Lazio’s 4-1 win against AC Milan 8 days ago; ‘We have to be like Fantomas,’ Lotito told Corriere della Sera.

Right who is this Lotito guy?

President of Lazio.

But who or what is Fantomas?

So when I googled Fantomas the first image that popped up raised far more questions than I expected:

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OK… cool.

If this first generation blue man group member wasn’t strange enough (I promise this will come back to football) things take another unexpected turn, opening up a new can of worms.

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Hmmmm. Ok, Lazio needs to embody the ways of a French serial killer who dresses like a Bond villain with a blue face.

Lotito continues: ‘We stay hidden and then appear at the right time. In Serie A Lazio dress as a schoolboy from a humble background: he’s in the second row compared to the rich ones, but if his head is screwed on and he’s intelligent will he emerge or not?’

If you look past the rather dark imagery of a serial killer disguised as a schoolboy, I think what Lotito is implying is that Lazio needs to keep their profile low, as a serial killer like Fantomas* would. As the papers focus mainly of the traditional headliners like Juventus or Napoli, Lazio is progressively building up to a noticeable stride. After drawing to newly promoted SPAL they beat Chievo and AC Milan in some style. They are a fun team to watch. The counter-attack and high pressure commit half of the outfield players into the opposition box, leading to goals like this:

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The 3-4-2-1 can be used effectively as a counter-attacking unit but with so many players going forward the defence is more vulnerable to a quick switch in possession. The Lazio defence will be tested to the max against this Napoli attack. The same attack that was highest scorers in Serie A (94 goals) and took 17.7 shots per game last season. Napoli is indebted to their manager Sarri who elevated them 19 points above their last season finish in 2016. In his 3rd season in charge, he has settled into his role. His switch from a 4-2-3-1 to 4-3-3 allowed for a short and quick passing game that allowed his team to cut through their opposition as smooth as butter. As Lazio show signs of increasing progress, Napoli may be the side to stop Juventus from winning their 7th Serie A title in a row. This game will give an insight into how these two exiting teams fair against a formidable attack.

*Fantômas is the Lord of Terror, the Genius of Evil, the arch-criminal anti-hero of a series of 32 pre-WWI French thrillers written by Pierre Souvestre and Marcel Allain. He carries out the most appalling crimes: substituting sulfuric acid in the perfume dispensers at a Parisian department store, releasing plague-infested rats on an ocean liner, or forcing a victim to witness his own execution by placing him face-up in a guillotine.

Rangers vs Celtic ( Sat 23 12:00 )

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Well every time I research the Old Firm derby, it always starts with my search on Scottish football, this time I tried Bing instead of Google search:

Screen Shot 2017-09-16 at 13.12.58.pngWell, the wide spectrum of pessimism seen on the right only reaffirms the importance of this game in particular.

Last time I looked at this game I summed up the tensions between the two clubs like this:

Without turning into a full essay on the Irish revolution, there is a deep hate between Rangers and Celtic fans involving the IRA and division between Catholicism and Protestantism. Now I hate to quote myself but, ‘often what we see off-field is reflected on-field’. Not literally (though Rangers did only sign their first Catholic player in 1989),

I’d like to point out the majority of the supporters don’t take their religious or political ideologies with them into the stadium. They try not to cross the line; the line which has been crossed so many times over the years there’s a list of ‘shame games’. The 100+ years of a complex rivalry has brewed an atmosphere like no other in the world. Imagine 50,000 drunk, uninhibited supporters cheering you on or ridiculing you in the most creative and cruel ways possible. The unique atmosphere in the stadium creates a unique atmosphere in your mind. There have actually been scientific studies done regarding behavioural changes either correlating to or as a direct result of this game.

With that said I would have to agree with former Celtic manager Jock Stien on the game prediction:

Only a fool would try to predict the score in an Old Firm game!

Other games you should check out:

Leicester vs Liverpool ( Tue 19 19:45 )

Athletic Bilbao vs Atletico Madrid ( Wed 20 19:00 )

Atletico Madrid vs Sevilla ( Sat 23 12:00 )

Fenerbahce vs Besiktas ( Sat 23 17:30 )

Juventus vs Torino ( Sat 23 19:45 )

AEK Athens vs Olympiacos ( Sun 24 18:30 )

 

 

 

 

 

Scouting for Fixtures: Sep 04 – Sep 10

Scouting for fixtures is a weekly blog for people who love the beautiful game. As well as seeking out the most entertaining games, each preview weaves the clubs into a greater football narrative. Each article is a selection of hand picked upcoming matches worldwide that week, which looks set for 90 minutes of non-stop action. 

Guy chatting absolutely anything in a desperate attempt to keep the reader’s attention in this football-esque blog. I also do football previews, kinda… 

All times are GMT.

Columbia vs Brazil ( Tue 05 21:30 )

The WC qualifications seem to fly in the face of anything fun or happy or exciting or worthwhile in football or anything, ever. I truly despise what it stands for. So with my clearly unbiased critique, I have to say this is the best of a bad bunch. From the table below, you see that Brazil have their WC spot almost secure. Columbia, however, teeters on the edge of a 4, or potentially 6 place drop with only 4 games left.

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Unlike most WC qualifications, this game has some semblance to what is missing from these types of games – apart from the aforementioned fun, happiness, excitement or worthwhile time – and that is pressure. With 4 qualifying spots and a 5th place knockout round, Colombia is just 2 points away from not making it to Russia 2018. Rich footballing nations like Colombia and Brazil wear their pride on their sleeve, and previous encounters suggest the furthest thing from your average WC qualification game.

Manchester City vs Liverpool ( Sat 09 12:30 )

With Liverpool residing in 2nd place and Manchester City in 4th, both seem to be exactly where they should be according to recent history. But look a bit closer, you’ll find Huddersfield in 3rd place, West Brom in 5th, Tottenham 9th and Arsenal 16th. So clearly the standings are the furthest thing from a reliable barometer, with only 3 games played.

 

 

 

Temporary halt, Brb.

 Due to foreseen circumstances, bad planning and a pinch of bad luck, there was no Scouting For Fixtures this week.

For my tens of followers, the Series is likely to not continue for the next few weeks as I have a load of exams. Yaaaaaaaay.

Check out the tag Miscellaneous in the meantime where I might pop in from time to time. 

hi.


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Scouting for Fixtures: May 08 – May 14

Scouting for fixtures is a weekly blog for people who love the beautiful game. As well as seeking out the most entertaining games, each preview weaves the clubs into a greater football narrative. Each article is a selection of hand picked upcoming matches worldwide that week, which looks set for 90 minutes of non-stop action. 

Guy chatting absolutely anything in a desperate attempt to keep the reader’s attention in this football-esque blog. I also do football previews, kinda… 

All times are GMT.

Juventus vs Monaco ( Tue 09 19:45 )

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The end is near for Monaco, as hopes dwindle for the chance for the Champions League. Hats off to Monaco, as they’re the first French team in the semi-finals in 7 years, but winning the trophy has not been accomplished by France since 1993. The first leg ended 0-2 to Juve so Monaco has to score at least three times at San Siro. Might as well pack your bags and call it a night as the last time that happened was the 3rd of November 2012 against a legendary Inter Milan side. But yet again, I reiterate, Monaco is the best-attacking side in the world as of now.  Expect a do-or-die attitude from the away side on Tuesday, with a good chance of ending up a high scoring game.

Boca Juniors vs River Plate ( Sat 13 22:00 )

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There is only a handful of times where 22 men kicking a ball around for an hour and a half can bring a city to a grinding halt. Milan, Glasgow, Rome, Cairo and Buenos Aires. To some football is a religion but in this case, Scientology is a more accurate description, because they are as crazy and hardcore as fans come (in a good way).

Derby day in Buenos Aires makes the Old Firm game look like a primary school kick-about

– The Guardian

Usually when your dishing out nicknames, its creative, like the Red Devils or the Gunners. These guys don’t hold back. River Plate is known as Las Gallinas for choking throughout the years. Pretty tame to be honest. In an act of vengeance, Boca Juniors are known as Los Bosteros, which roughly translates to livestock faeces or crap dwellers. Literally shits and giggles with these guys. There have been some truly blockbuster level games over the years, with 5 players sent off in the game last year. Buenos Aires has been an incubator for great talent over the years, needless to say, it’s worth staying up late for this one.

Tottenham vs Manchester United ( Sun 14 16:30 )

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Oh, how the tables have turned, literally. Five years ago you would’ve seen Manchester United chasing for the title and Tottenham hoping to get into the champions league. The sad thing for Tottenham fans is that even though they’re playing the best football I’ve seen in my lifetime; there is no silverware – probably – to show for it. Their opponents are in the semi-finals of the Europa league. Even their rivals Arsenal, as bad as their season has been, is in an FA cup final. The psychological value of physically holding that trophy is one which is invaluable for a player, justifying the hard work they put in. More of a long term consideration for Spurs players. The current situation at Old Trafford could be the plot points of the next A Series of Unfortunate Events novel. Rashford and Young limped off the field on Thursday, joining Ibrahimovic, Shaw, Rojo and Mensah on the sidelines, as Bailly and Smalling continue recovery. This late in the season, games like this make or break it.

Side note: This was written before Arsenal played Manchester United.

Real Madrid vs Sevilla ( Sun 14 19:00 )

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Real Madrid is one of the best teams in the world. According to the UEFA coefficient, they are THE best team, followed by Bayern Munich, Barcelona, Atletico Madrid and Juventus (in that order). However the last time Los Blancos won La Liga was 5 years ago, while the others won their leagues 1, 1, 3 and 1 year ago respectively. If Real Madrid wins their two games in hand they will win the league. Real Madrid has Sevilla, Celta Vigo and Malaga left to play. Sevilla is undoubtedly the toughest opponents, as Los Blancos have won, drawn and lost with Sevilla this year already. Madrid can’t afford a loss, and neither can Sevilla. The away side is chasing their own hopes of champions league, holding onto the last qualifiers spot. Losing this game could shrink the gap to 3 point cliff with a game to go. If past visits are anything to go by, this is going to be an eventful game. And one Sergio Ramos will be at the centre of it, probably.

Games I would have written about but was too lazy:

Atletico Madrid vs Real Madrid ( Wed 10 19:54 )

Manchester United vs Celta Vigo ( Thu 11 20:05 )

Lyon vs Ajax ( Thu 11 20:05 )

RasenBallsport Leipzig vs Bayern Munich ( Sat 13 14:30 )

Atalanta vs AC Milan ( Sat 13 19:45 )

Crystal Palace vs Hull ( Sun 14 12:00 )

Roma vs Juventus ( Sun 14 19:45 )

Scouting for Fixtures: May 01 – May 07

Scouting for fixtures is a weekly blog for people who love the beautiful game. As well as seeking out the most entertaining games, each preview weaves the clubs into a greater football narrative. Each article is a selection of hand picked upcoming matches worldwide that week, which looks set for 90 minutes of non-stop action. 

Guy chatting absolutely anything in a desperate attempt to keep the reader’s attention in this football-esque blog. I also do football previews, kinda… 

All times are GMT.

Real Madrid vs Atletico Madrid ( Tue 02 19:45 )

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To sum up the state of affairs in a chant only described as poetic:

Chant:                                                                                                                                      Atleti decime qué se siente, haber perdido la final , te juro, que aunque pasen los años, nunca lo vamos a olvidar… Al 93′ llegó el gol, Sergio Ramos lo metió, el sueño se les murió. Como siempre terminaste segundón

English Translation:                                                                                                             Atleti tell me how it feels, to have lost the final, I swear that even with the years passing, we will never forget, in the 93rd the goal came, Sergio Ramos put it in, and your dream died, as always you ended up second.

To add to the Kafkaesque nature of Atleti in the situation, Luis Aragones famously summed up his frustration in the iconic line: If you don’t win today, I’ll stick a f**king family-sized bottle of Coke up my arse. The literal misplacement of anger is indicative of a side always second place; no more evident than in the champions league. Real Madrid is fighting on 2 fronts, killing it all-around, while Atleti can’t break the duopoly of Real-Barca in La Liga. Can’t really say much in terms of improvement of either side, but Sergio Ramos could make or break any game with the spectrum of brutal tackles to brutal last minute goals (own or otherwise). Though Los RojoBlancos have been transformed by the endearing yet terrifying character of Diego ‘El Cholo’ Simeone they’re yet to truly break the stigma of Real dominance. But what better place to do it than in Los Blancos’ signature competition.

Monaco vs Juventus ( Wed 03 19:45 )

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If Messi, Neymar and Suarez couldn’t score against Juventus in 180 minutes, what hope does anyone have against – in my opinion – the best team in the world. Statistically speaking Monaco have the best attack in the world, 142 goals in all competitions. But after their most recent 5-0 thrashing by PSG, maybe the defence needs a bit of tightening. In all honesty, it looks like Monaco will get their backside handed to them. Juventus look impenetrable at the moment, but if any team can undo that defence it will be Monaco.

Juventus vs Torino ( Sat 06 19:45 )

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Exactly 3 days – to the millisecond – after Juventus play their pivotal Champions league tie that could make or break their season, they play their biggest rivals in what could, also… make or break their season. With 4 games left in the season, Juventus are 9 points ahead of second place Napoli and are almost at the finish line, though they have played 1 more game than Napoli. Torino is chilling in 9th place, so they’ve really got no skin in the game. Apart from the fact this one of the biggest rivalries on the planet. To sum up the rivalry, I pull up a very convenient anecdote in my failed linguistic attempts:

Did you know I tried learning Italian a few years ago? Failed miserably. What little I still remember was that there are differences between the English alphabet and the Italian. One big difference is that the letter ‘J’ is not present in their alphabet. So, Juventus? What’s going on there? Turns out Juventus derives from Latin, a language only used by the authoritative church at the time (1897) made by aristocratic high-school students, meaning ‘the age of youth’. Torino was made within a division of Juve 9 years later, as people felt it did not represent the city from which it was born: ‘the team of the working class, migrant workers from the provinces or neighbouring countries, the lower middle-class and the poor’. That is the dichotomy of these Turin clubs in a nutshell.

– me about two months ago I don’t know here’s a link

Even though Torino won’t benefit from Juventus winning, their’s always that reasoning of just beating them out of spite, just so they don’t win (a feeling we all wish we didn’t have, but it’s true). The atmosphere of this kind of rivalry is rare, yet universal in rivalries across the world. These are often the games you wish you didn’t miss.

Arsenal vs Manchester United ( Sun 07 16:00 )

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A picture sums up 1000 words. This gif below sums up all of my words and more when it comes to this game, even though I flex at a weak 150 words or less per paragraph.

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The rivalry is there, both these sides HATE each other, picture the relationship between Roy Keane and Patrick Viera, but without any of the footballing ability or charisma, then multiply that by 1,000,000.

Next up, you gotta look at the table:

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This would be the end of an era if Arsenal stays in the position they are; the last time they finished outside of a European spot was 21 years ago. The content on ArsenalFanTV would be nothing like we’ve seen before. Pandemonium. If Man Utd finish 5th they will also be the but of a multitude of jokes, but 6th is something an MUFC fan keeps in the recesses of their mind. Both sides are notoriously inconsistent and have no semblance of form coming into this game. The outcome of this game will play a huge part in the final standings. You can feel the tension and the vibrations of the oncoming tsunami of memes.

Games I was too lazy to write about:

Ajax vs Lyon ( Wed 03 17:45 )

Celta Vigo vs Manchester United ( Thu 04 20:05 )

Sevilla vs Real Sociedad ( Fri 05 20:00 )

Borussia Dortmund vs Hoffenheim ( Sat 06 14:30 )

Hertha Berlin vs RasenBallsport Leipzig ( Sat 06 17:30 )

Besiktas vs Fenerbahce ( Sun 07 17:00 )

AC Milan vs Roma ( Sun 07 19:45 )

 

 

Scouting for Fixtures: Apr 24 – Apr 30

Scouting for fixtures is a weekly blog for people who love the beautiful game. As well as seeking out the most entertaining games, each preview weaves the clubs into a greater football narrative. Each article is a selection of hand picked upcoming matches worldwide that week, which looks set for 90 minutes of non-stop action. 

Guy chatting absolutely anything in a desperate attempt to keep the reader’s attention in this football-esque blog. I also do football previews, kinda… 

All times are GMT.

Bayern Munich vs Borussia Dortmund ( Wed 26 19:45 )

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#1 Reliable source

Andreas Möller’s kinda-but-not-really mullet and the oversized shirts time stamps the picture above to the late 1990’s. But 20 years on some Dortmund player may once again have to wipe away the FC Bayern tears after refereeing decisions put the game to bed against Real Madrid. Now reliable sources have surfaced, claiming the referee Viktor Kassai was actually Real Madrid fan, Part of a mafia so we can expect some foul play. So with the semi-finals of DFB Pokal rolling around the BVB fans will have no sympathy to Bayern’s recent misadventures in Europe, as they themselves fell prey to a ruthless defeat, 4-1, just 3 weeks ago. But no team encapsulates the song ‘You’re only second rate’ more than BVB do; they reach the finals 3 times in the last 3 years and lost every single time. Strong emotions have been brewing for both sides, and the game on Wednesday may be a much-needed release, in a sure to be classic cup game.

Paris Saint-Germain vs Monaco ( Wed 26 20:05 )

When it comes to goal records, many thought in an age of modern football the risk required to break records like that were far gone, along with the disappearance of the 4-2-4 and progressive importance of defending. At the current rate, Monaco expects to hit 107 league goals this season, just shy of the Ligue 1 record set by RC Paris in 1960, but being 2nd highest goal scorers of all time is nothing to be ashamed of. That goal scoring record propelled them into 1st place in Ligue 1 and the semi-finals of the Champions league and Coupe de France, where they face PSG. While Monaco is potentially aiming for a supreme treble, PSG waits another year for European success. While they dominated domestically, PSG looked like the team to put french football on the European radar, but never quite reached the heights that were expected. As time passed, even one of the most dominating performances in the 2015/16 season was met with memes on the state of french football. The last time – until now – a french side reached the UCL semi-finals were 7 years ago, and you have to go back to 1993 to find a French name on the trophy. Now it’s the coupe de France semi-finals and chances are the winner of this game will have their hands on the trophy. If that’s PSG, it’s their first step in taking back their domestic dominance. If it’s Monaco, it’s their first step to achieving the greatest and most difficult accomplishment a domestic side could do, a league, domestic cup and European treble.

Manchester City vs Manchester United ( Thu 27 20:00 )

You’ve got the best manager in the world, funded by endless amounts of money, and you’re season hopes are getting a champions league place for next season. Both teams fit the description and are the but end of a multitude of jokes that collectively could even rival the likes of Arsenal. Now, theirs a chance of one of them not even getting a champions league spot. As things stand, Man City have a game in hand with a 4 point gap, which could easily disappear to a 1 point gap with a game in hand if MUFC embarrasses the home side like they did to Chelsea last week. Though with Ibrahimovic out and resorting to playing the CB combination of Eric Bailly and a coke bottle isn’t ideal. The top quality attack and tin pot defence combo is a one that both sides are well versed in and can lead to some high scoring games; just look at the last time that happened which ended 6-6 on aggregate.

Rangers vs Celtic ( Sat 29 12:00 )

More of a rivalry in spirit, than in the most real sense of the word, as Celtic has a cool 33 point lead – and 3 place lead – on their rivals. Scottish football doesn’t have much going for it, in fact, a 44,000-word essay was written on this very topic (yes, riveting). But if there is one – and I’m yet to find another – reason for watching Scottish football, this would be it. If you want my summary on why you should watch the old firm it’s right here:

The games are end-to-end in a very literal way, with the last match ending 0-1 but had a shot on goal every 2.1 minutes (a scathing stat on the state of Scottish football if there was any). That 0-1 was an outlier in another wise goal-fest of a game, averaging 3.5 goals per game in the last 6

I made the most egregious sin of not including this fixture a few weeks ago, but thankfully we’ve been blessed to re-witness one of the greatest games a football fan can watch. If you don’t agree I suggest having a look at this.

Tottenham vs Arsenal ( Sun 30 16:30 )

To those Tottenham supporters who are currently in the 3rd year of uni life, who will complete their entire school career and 21 years of life experience without ever witnessing a season where Tottenham finished above Arsenal. But that’s about to change this season, surely? That’s what we thought last season and then this happens:

Tottenham blew their chance to finish above Arsenal for the first time since 1995 with a miserable collapse at Newcastle.

Mauricio Pochettino’s side failed to gain the point they needed to secured second spot, even though they were playing against 10 men for 23 minutes, and Arsenal trounced bottom-club Aston Villa to ensure another St Totteringham’s Day in North London.

Mirror

Though ArsenalFanTV is a place of many wonderful characters with a study into the many forms of anger and it’s manifestations, you can find an almost perfect negative correlation with their view count and Arsenal performances. And they’re growing at an exponential rate. For the young Arsenal fans out there, next season may be your first ever outside of European football, if you’re under 23. The hate is very much alive and kicking, literally. Arsenal won’t give up North London superiority without a fight.

Roma vs Lazio ( Sun 30 11:30 )

This would be the 3rd Roman derby in the last 2 months, and with 5 games left, Lazio is holding onto their European spot for dear life.

For a player, that atmosphere is the equivalent of shooting a bucket of adrenaline into your blood stream. Plus, it’s not going to just be a shin-kicking contest out there, as Roma and Lazio have the quality to put on a real show, with 54 and 44 goals scored in Serie A respectively.                                                                                                              

– me

Quoting myself on this one, and the goal tally increased to 70 and 60 respectively now. The stakes are higher for Lazio as they are the top card in a house of cards, one loss can see them tumbling down the table.

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Scouting for Fixtures: Apr 17 – Apr 23

Scouting for fixtures is a weekly blog for people who love the beautiful game. As well as seeking out the most entertaining games, each preview weaves the clubs into a greater football narrative. Each article is a selection of hand picked upcoming matches worldwide that week, which looks set for 90 minutes of non-stop action. 

All times are GMT.

There are so many good fixtures this week. It’s like Christmas, new years, Halloween, Hannukah, Diwali and Chinese new years wrapped into one week of non-stop, top quality, football. 

Real Madrid vs Bayern Munich ( Tue 18 19:54 )

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Cristiano has chromosomes bussing about his body that belongs in a Bengal tiger – Ray Hudson on Cristiano Ronaldo

As the old adage goes I suppose… and with those inspiring words by Ray Hudson – football commentator/scouser/poet/philosopher – I horrifically segway into the Ronaldo’s goal against Bayern that only strengthens the point made above.

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That was one of 3 turning points. The 2nd and 3rd, which came 11 and 14 minutes later, were Javi Martinez’s 1st and 2nd yellow card, leaving Bayern 10 men down. That lead to their first loss in the Allianz Arena (in a competitive game) since March the 3rd, of 2016. If it wasn’t for Manuel Neuer the having one of the best games in recent memory, the tie could already be over. But it finished 1-2, holding the tie up nicely into the second leg; now Bayern needs to score at least 2 goals at the Bernabeu which could leave them exposed at the back.

Barcelona vs Juventus ( Wed 19 19:45 )

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This isn’t just Barcelona’s own doing. Juventus are – in my humble opinion – the best team in the world right now, with not only individual quality, but a consistently strong tactical awareness as a group, that I can only say is replicated at a similar rate by, Bayern Munich. They hit Barca like a train. The problems at the back are a well known long term issue for the Catalonians, but that’s not what happened here. Paolo Dyzbala’s what happened here, not to take away from a rare brilliant team performance, with Buffon and Chiellini making world class blocks. Now Barca has to pay another set of referees all over again. Oh no, wait! No, sorry I meant: They have to do one of the greatest comebacks in football history, all over again, to progress to the next round.

Monaco vs Dortmund ( Wed 19 19:45 )

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I can’t talk about this fixture without addressing the extraordinary circumstances of the last leg. There are many arguments for and against holding the game just a day after the attempted bombing of the Dortmund bus, but the decision was made and now we have a vert different game. Who knows? Who knows if Dortmund would have played differently if the game was delayed? As a player, well, for any human being, the idea of an attempt to kill you surely must have an impact on your mind and psyche? Then you’re expected to go out and focus for 90 minutes against one of the best sides in Europe requires tremendous mental fortitude. But nonetheless, we had a game not out of place with the quality you’d expect, ending 2-3. A similar dilemma to Bayern Munich rests on their other German side, as BVB needs to beat Monaco by 2 goals in the next leg. After the first goal goes in, the floodgates will open.

Chelsea vs Tottenham ( Sat 22 17:15 )

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It looks like the magic of the cup is all but been extinguished with the sides left in the competition, exactly what you’d expect. Chelsea, Tottenham, Arsenal and Manchester City. Though at least now we have a more even fixture. We can’t complain too much considering the quality on display in this fixture, Conte’s side already has one hand on the Premier League trophy and only cement their place as one of the most hated clubs in England. But if anyone can stop them, it is Tottenham. They have Guardiola’s backing:

Tottenham are the best team in the league when you let them play. I enjoy watching them play.

They’re the 2 best sides in England and if previous encounters are something to go by, the cards could be flying out like confetti. Though Spurs are hopelessly behind in the league, they have one last chance to trip them up.

Real Madrid vs Barcelona ( Sun 23 19:45 )

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We’re well into the third act of a well versed, but nonetheless captivating story. And this is the climax before the final resolution. The words El Classico is synonymous with the beautiful game, attracting crowds of up to 400 million people, roughly 1/18 people in the world. Touted as one of the greatest games of football one can play, the circumstances surrounding the fixture makes this game even more important. Both sides are in the middle of a tough fixture list. Barca played Sevilla, Malaga, Juventus, Real Sociedad and then Juventus again while Real Madrid had to face Atletico Madrid, FC Bayern, Sporting Gijon and FC Bayern again in the build up to this pivotal tie. The Catalonians are 3 points behind Los Blancos who have a game in hand. After this, they’re only 5 games to decide the league winner. The only realistic way of Barca winning the league, is to win this game. The winner of La Liga rests on the outcome of this game.

It’s also worth mentioning …

Messi is 29 years old, Ronaldo, 32. This is as good as it gets for two of the greatest players of all time, a once in a generation type player. Not to say they suddenly lose all motor functions in the coming years, or there won’t be any more moments of brilliance, but this is usually near the drop off point. This may be one of the last chances to see the 2 in their prime. Enjoy this game for what it is, a competition between two of the best teams – and players – in the world.

Games you should also watch but I was too lazy to write about:

Leicester vs Atletico Madrid ( Tue 18 19:54 )

America de Cali vs Deportivo Cali ( Thu 20 01:55 )

Schalke 04 vs Ajax ( Thu 20 20:05 )

Dynamo Kyiv vs Shakhtar Donetsk ( Fri 21 18:00 )

FC Cologne vs Hoffenheim ( Fri 21 19:30 )

Sporting CP vs Benfica ( Sat 22 20:30 )

Portland Timbers vs Vancouver Whitecaps ( Sat 22 21:00 )

Celtic vs Rangers ( Sun 23 12:00 )

Arsenal vs Manchester City ( Sun 23 15:00 )

PSV Eindhoven vs Ajax ( Sun 23 15:45 )

Lyon vs Monaco ( Sun 23 20:15 )

Scouting for Fixtures: Apr 10 – Apr 16

Scouting for fixtures is a weekly blog for people who love the beautiful game. As well as seeking out the most entertaining games, each preview weaves the clubs into a greater football narrative. Each article is a selection of hand picked upcoming matches worldwide that week, which looks set for 90 minutes of non-stop action. 

All times are GMT.

Borrusia Dortmund vs Monaco ( Tue 11 19:45 )

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You may feel underwhelmed by this game, after looking further down this list. If I were a

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The Ferrari 308 GT4 is known as one of the ugliest Ferrari’s ever, but a Ferrari nonetheless.

car salesman, this would be an interesting sell. It’s a Ferrari 308 GT4. Looking at the picture, it’s basically a piece of cardboard come to life. Like a 4-year-olds drawing of a car, and they just went with that. But that’s still a Ferrari engine with the same engine that made the car what it is. And that’s this game. Yes, it isn’t All Star XI or Super-Legends Ultimate United FC. But it’s still Ferrari and still worth watching.

Yes well, bu-bu- the, Dortmund aren’t as good as Bayern and no- they’ve lost all the good players.

Yes, BVB has played the role of the kid who gets their lunch money stolen over the years. But Dortmund has one of the strongest records in the UCL this season, holding their own against Real Madrid and only losing only one game, 1-0 to Benfica before dismantling them in the 2nd leg.

Fine, Monaco’s top of Ligue 1 right now, but PSG are still the best team in France.

  1. I don’t care how good the team is, PSG dropped a 4-0 lead; first time ever in UCL history (what d’you mean 1-4?).
  2. Monaco is the top scorer in the world right now, 135 goals in all competition.

*Mic drop*

Juventus vs Barcelona ( Tue 11 19:45 )

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Imagine the look on the Juventus player’s faces when that final whistle blew and the scoreline read 6-1. In an inexplicable turn of events – or maybe it was explicable  – the Catalonian giants managed to reach the final 16. The Italian side has been hard done by vis a vis their fixture list. Coming into the game, the home side will have played 3 games in the last 8 games, 2 against Napoli who’s attack worked Juve into the ground. Now they have to face one of the best attacks teams in the world. Anlackee.

Bayern Munich vs Real Madrid ( Wed 12 19:45 )

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Sometimes you have games so good that you don’t know how to convey why you should watch it. Did that even make sense? It just is*. If you’ve even scraped the very top layer of football the names Bayern Munich and Real Madrid are supposed to be the best. Just like how when you think basketball your imaginary mind map has Golden State Troopers or the Boston Limericks attached to it. I’m sorry but this is a literal no-brainer.

*Great Journalism rate 10/10

Inter vs AC Milan ( Sat 15 11:30 )

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The identities of these two clubs and what they represent are more resonant than ever in philosophies of football, also echoing the differing ideologies in our political climate. The whole reason this rivalry even exists is because Internazionale was born out of AC Milan not allowing foreign players to join. Thus a rivalry was born, currently in its 109th year. That number itself is indicative of why this game is lauded the way it is. When you have an event that occurs every year, for generations, it becomes part of your life. It becomes more than a game but a celebration or a ritual that’s woven into your culture. It’s almost religious in nature which explains why it is the most famous Italian derby. The name itself, derby Della Madonnina has religious ties; Madonnina takes its name from the golden Virgin Mary statue which overlooks the Duomo in the city centre. Though it doesn’t hold the anticipation it once did, once the crucible that is the San Siro is lit, enjoy the spectacle.

Games I was too lazy to write about:

Atletico Madrid vs Leicester ( Wed 12 19:45 )

Vancouver Whitecaps vs Seattle Sounders FC ( Sat 15 03:00 )

Colorado Rapids vs Real Salt Lake ( Sun 16 02:00 )

Manchester United vs Chelsea ( Sun 16 16:00 )

Spartak Moscow vs Zenit St. Petersburg ( Sun 16 18:00 )

Marseille vs Saint-Etienne ( Sun 16 20:00 )

 

Scouting for Fixtures: Apr 03 – Apr 09

Scouting for fixtures is a weekly blog for people who love the beautiful game. As well as seeking out the most entertaining games, each preview weaves the clubs into a greater football narrative. Each article is a selection of hand picked upcoming matches worldwide that week, which looks set for 90 minutes of non-stop action. 

All times are GMT.

Coppa Italia Semi-Finals:

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Roma vs Lazio ( Tue 04 19:45 ) Napoli vs Juventus ( Wed 05 19:45 )

The commentary alone paints a picture. Breaking the mic with screams of joy; hearing a real life Italian man, with genuine angst in his voice shoutMama Mia!’ is one of the best compliments one could receive, and the Roman derby deserves it. Lazio came into this game, yet to beat their rivals since 2013. Roma is also playing their best football in recent years, currently 2nd place and with a mountain [63] of goals. So when Lazio won 2-0 it was time to crack out the beers, and the bald eagle, of course. Take a leaf out of Quentin’s book, there were many, many, many, many, many, many, many, many, many, shots. There should be no reason to expect any different in the 2nd leg.

The Nazzuri may felt the same way Lampard felt when his goal was disallowed, Ireland failed to qualify for the world cup or lamenting the fact you got a C for the fifth time even though you spent hours revising before hand. Underserved is what I’m saying, going the long and scornful way around it. So Juventus scored 3 goals. The first one was a penalty that well, it’s tenuous calling it a foul. The second goal you can have no complaints, no one else is to blame but the goalkeeper who ran towards the ball like a moth to a flame. The third goal (2nd penalty) was unquestionably wrong, as Reina made contact with the ball before the player. So a game that ended 3-1 could’ve ended 1-1 will all to play for. But if any team could turn it around it would be the top goal scorers in Italy.

Barcelona vs Sevilla ( Wed 05 18:30 )

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Maybe Sampaoli saw a litter of black cats, or the team were possessed by the spirit of Goofy the klutz. The players have their part to play, but the quick succession and nature of defeats is a tad cruel. After 25 games were played, Sevilla had 55 points, only 2 behind 2nd place Barcelona. Following that game was a draw to Alaves – who they should be beating – and a draw to Osasuna – who were on a 7 game losing streak. Following that they lost to Atletico, reducing the gap between Sevilla and 4th place to 2 points. As La Liga only has 3 champions league places, Sevilla’s prerogative went from challenging Barca to see out 3rd place*. The gap between Barcelona extended to 6 points, as they look to win a La Liga trophy. To compound the misery, Sevilla exited the champions league is extraordinary circumstances. Barca returns to the Nou Camp with a very well rested Messi, not only banned internationally but domestically too, due to a build up of yellow cards so missed last weeks game.

*3rd place is an achievement. But, no one remembers Tottenham’s last season as a team who won a champions league place for the first time in 4 seasons, they remember them as the side who finished 3rd in a 2-horse race. Granted those were more extreme circumstances, but they were both let downs unless Sevilla can prove me wrong with the 10 games they have left.

Chelsea vs Manchester City ( Wed 05 20:00 )

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We can’t fault him. Guardiola, the man who came with high, if not impossible expectations will probably run out the last quarter of the season seeing out a champions league place. He tried everything. Various systems, formations, players changing position, even banning wifi during training and instigating communal meals. Drawing with Liverpool at home and then calling it ‘one of the proudest days of my coaching career’ is a tad bit pathetic, but bless him, his heart is in the right place. Now he’s left with a roided up attack with a flimsy base. That flimsy base has to face Chelsea. Oh and we all saw what happened the last time. A WWE approach was adopted towards the end of the last match as Fernandinho attempted (but failed) the Undertakers chokeslam, resulting in 2 red cards. Can’t expect anything less than another end-to-end game here.

Real Madrid vs Atletico Madrid ( Sat 08 15:15 )

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If you don’t win today, I’ll stick a f**king family-sized bottle of Coke up my arse.
Forget tactics, it’s Real Madrid. Get out there and stick it up their arses!
– Luis Aragones, former Atleti manager

You may think the man above it crazy, but it’s a build up of frustration and misplaced (literally) rage that comes with following a club defined by their losses for the longest time. That was the before Simeone era. Now we are into the after Simeone era filled with world class defenders, trophies ( well only 2) and new hope. Still, Los Blancos have an air of superiority over their rivals, and Simeone’s men will require a tremendous amount of restraint not to kick the lights out of their opposition players.

Games I would’ve written about but was too lazy:

Hoffenheim vs Bayern Munich ( Tue 04 19:00 )

FC Cologne vs Eintracht Frankfurt ( Tue 04 19:00 )

Villarreal vs Athletic Club ( Fri 07 19:45 )

Universidad de Chile vs Colo Colo ( Sat 08 16:00 )

Bayern Munich vs Borussia Dortmund ( Sat 08 17:30 )

Lazio vs Napoli ( Sun 09 19:45 )