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 )

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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.

A derby celebrated worldwide and part of most fans lifelong bucket-list.

  1. Real Madrid vs Wolfsburg ( Tue 12 19:45 )

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What we’ve seen from Real Madrid over the last week encapsulates most of the problems facing the club over the years. On April 2nd we see them beating Barcelona in their own backyard, a feat no other club in the world managed this season. Fast forward 4 days later and they lose a key champions league fixture against the worst side left in the competition (on paper, i’ll take my chances on the impending backlash). The sudden change is so drastic and frustrating, continuing for years and parallel’s the mismanagement by Florentino Pérez, ensuring a managerial change per annum. Looking forward to the game, the onus is on Wolfsburg to see out a win, or carry it through to extra time. Attacking wise the german side aren’t reliable but they don’t need to be with a 2 goal cushion. Madrid on the other hand will, and expect to come out in an all out attack mindset if they want a chance of winning their 11th European cup. With the likes of Ronaldo, Benzema, Bale, Madrid are anything but finished.

 

 

2. West Ham vs Manchester United ( Wed 13 19:00 )

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The second leg of the FA cup continues at Upton Park as Anthony Martial’s unquestionably legal goal canceled out Dimitri Payet’s sublime, perfect free kick from distance, but to be fair, ‘I think he should get across and save it’-Scholesy. The only reason West Ham aren’t already through to the next round isn’t due to Man United trying to play dazzling, fast, intricate football but more along the lines of a series of unfortunate events. This second leg leaves very little hope left of Man Utd going through and facing Everton in the next round. For the Hammers though, they look the strongest team left in the competition and have a good chance of winning it for the first time in 36 years. West ham will dominate the match, but the question is, is that enough to secure a win? The Red Devils motivation and desire to win games, to even be want to play games; is nothing short of disgraceful to watch. Where’s the heart, thunder, passion, sweat. Gone, gone out the door with Sir Alex. Despite all of it, somehow they’ve got this far, and ‘the magic of the cup’ and all that malarkey… having said that you’d have to be deranged to bet anything other a West Ham win.

 

 

3. Liverpool vs Borussia Dortmund ( Thu 14 20:05 )

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A pivotal tie in the Europa league takes place this Thursday evening as Liverpool are given a lifeline for Europe, drawing 1-1 against firm favourites Dortmund at the Westfalenstadion. The 2nd leg takes place at Anfield where the men in red will face an even tougher task containing the Dortmund 11, as goals are the only option if they want to remain in the competition. With nothing to play for in the league, all the attention from Klopp and Liverpool is on this match. Dortmund however have to balance the Europa league with their Bundesliga endeavours. With Champions League more or less secured, the question is; win the Europa league or Bundesliga title? Both doors are open for them but which will lead them to silverware? Europa league, while has easier opponents, is fundamentally a tournament. By it’s very nature, luck plays a much larger role here, where you only have to have a string of good games to win. On the other hand, Bayern Munich are dominating the german league, establishing a winning routine in recent years. If any team were to break that, it would be Dortmund. While the chances of winning the league are faint, it’s not dead yet. Of course there’s always the option of winning both.

 

 

4. Rangers vs Celtic ( Sun 17 12:00 )

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The Old Firm. A derby celebrated worldwide and part of most fans lifelong bucket-list. Aptly named, as the first Old Firm game was played before the existence of the Scottish Football League in 1888. Since 2012 when Rangers were dissolved and sent to the third tier it’s easy to come to the conclusion that the intensity and importance of the fixture dissolved with it. But like all great rivalries, for better or worse, things never seem to change. The passion and pride never faded, in fact it may have even heightened the significance of the game due to it being less common now. The quality of the football stayed the same despite the new players. The Derby however is littered with a dark history. Again, unfortunately the very nature of the two clubs creations resulted in a bitter hatred of one another and lead to various riots and tragedy before, during and after the Old Firm over the years. More recently it’s improved but the danger remains. As for the game itself, well it’s Scotland. What d’you think? Averaging 3.4 goals a game (last 5 games) expect a few ‘liberal’ challenges, the extreme pressure producing moments of magic.  

 

 

5. Leicester vs West Ham ( Sun 17 13:30 )

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The odds on favourite to win the league, Leicester City, are almost at the finish line, facing a resolute West Ham. The foxes are playing the football we love to watch. The neat intricate passing from Arsenal and Pellegrini’s complex system can produce choreographed spells of amazing football. But there’s something different, to see a relentless attack at the turn of a dime at a frightening pace and with such potency. That’s what the Hammers have to contend with at the King Power. When you think West Ham right now, it’s all about Dimitri Payet. Arguably the signing of the season, they’ve unearthed a gem and Bilić is putting him to good use. While the Hammers are a tough opposition without the frenchman, there’s a good case to be made that without him, the chances of West Ham reaching Europe would be something of a pipe dream than a real possibility. The only problem for the London club is the absence of Kouyate in the midfield, protecting the backline from that Leicester attack. With a hand full of match winners playing, it’s near impossible to call and as the season comes to a close; the stakes have just got higher.

 

 

Other Mentions:

Manchester City vs Paris Saint Germain ( Tue 12 19:45 )

Galatasaray vs Fenerbahce ( Wed 13 17:30 )

Atletico Madrid vs Barcelona ( Wed 13 19:45 )

Benfica vs Bayern Munich ( Wed 13 19:45 )

Inter vs Napoli ( Sat 16 19:45 )

 

 

Feel like I missed out any matches or wanna give me any feedback? Comment Below.