Scouting for Fixtures: Mar 20 – Mar 26

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.

As I stare across the barren landscape, amiss of Premier League, La Liga or any other big name league, the terrifying realisation finally sinks in. It’s international week. If you too are experiencing withdrawal symptoms, let these games tide you over. But don’t get your hopes up. Think of it as filler; and when you look back on this week it’ll just feel like a bad, forgotten dream.

Millonarios vs Santa Fe ( Mon 20 00:30 )

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Last week we had the Medellin derby and now we travel 419km to the capital derby. Unlike their European counterparts, the South American leagues from what I can see, are indifferent to the international week. It makes less sense considering it’s the same week they are participating in the World Cup Qualifiers, but who cares when you have a derby on the cards. Located in Bogota, football acts as an adhesive in an otherwise divided city. Derbies like this are a great opportunity to experience football outside our bubble. Often a jump off point for superstars; former players that perfected their craft in Bogota includes René Higuita (also known as the scorpion-kick keeper), Carlos Valderrama and the great Alfredo di Stéphano. Both sides have come to represent the rich modern Colombia while Santa Fe sees themselves as a grounded and rougher side of the Capital. A rivalry like this undoubtedly has players going for the oppositions shins as much as they go for the ball. If all else fails you might get a 2-for-1. Football with a chance of WWE.

Germany vs England ( Wed 22 19:45 )

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It’s true that this is more of a rivalry in an Englishman’s eyes than that of a German’s. The champions league fixture between Arsenal vs Bayern Munich (2-10) is a microcosm of the relationship between the English football team and the German one.

In fact the managers are also a microcosm:

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England manager Gareth Southgate (left) visibly distressed by the ferocity of German manager Joachim Lowe’s (right) finger, and the orifice of which it is currently excavating.

x1 League Cup (Aston Villa)

x1 DFB-Pokal (VfB Stuttgart)

x1 League Cup (Middlesborough)

x1 Austrian Football Bundesliga (Tirol Innsbruck)

x1 Championship (Crystal Palace)

x1 Austrian Supercup (Austria Wein)

x1 FIFA World Cup Winner (2014)

x1 Sport Bild German Sports Manager of the Year

x2 German Football Manager of the Year

x1 FIFA World Coach of the Year

x1 IFFHS World’s Best National Coach

x1 L’Équipe Sports Manager of the Year

x3 Finger up the nose

x1 (at least that we know of) cheeky bum sniff

With England’s ever growing injury list, it gives the likes of Defoe, Antonio, Livermore, Ward-Prowse, Keane and Forster the chance to flex their muscles. Though whether it amounts to anything largely depends on if Germany chose to, or not, even bother.

Uruguay vs Brazil ( Thu 23 23:00 )

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The CONMEBOL, otherwise known as the CONfederación SudaMEricana de FútBOL – because that’s how acronyms work – is into its 13th round of fixtures out of 18. How it works is that the top 4 will get a spot in the 2018 World Cup, while the 5th place team will go into an inter-continental play-off between Asia, North  & Central Americas and the Caribbean and Oceania teams.

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Uruaguay winning would be the perogative for a spectator with no stake in the game, as Brazil’s lead would dissipate to 1 point. With potentially Suarez, Neymar, Godin and a number of elite players fielded on Thursday, hopefully, this and a few games listed below could tide you over to the next week.

If your withdrawal symptoms are acting up again:

Argentina vs Chile ( Thu 23 23:00 )

Ireland vs Wales ( Fri 24 19:45 )

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Scouting for Fixtures: Nov 7 – Nov 13

Scouting for fixtures is a weekly blog for people who love the beautiful game. They come out every Sunday and hand picks upcoming matches worldwide that week, which looks set for 90 minutes of non-stop action.

All times are GMT.

International week is one of the few times that football becomes more a chore than fun to watch. I’ve scraped the very bottom of the barrel to do something, anything. In fairness, the cards dealt could have been a lot worse, but chances are some of the matches may be sub-par. If your country is playing and by sheer dumb luck it happens to be a cracker. If you can sit through one week of this, please come back next Monday for a rundown of Prem, La Liga, Serie A, Ligue 1 and many more leagues. If not, go watch Game of Thrones or something till Monday.

Brazil vs Argentina ( Fri 11 00:45 )

 

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Courtesy of FourFourTwo

 

They’ll play their 103rd game, celebrating 102 years of the fixture tipped by ESPN FC, The Guardian and The Telegraph as the greatest international football rivalry of all time. This fixture is soaked in history, too much to wring in one paragraph, so here are the most memorable games. Looking at the home side first, Brazil is on the road to redemption from their infamous 7-1 loss after the football team picked up their first ever Olympic gold medals. They started strong in their qualification as well, ‘doing a Germany’ beating Haiti* 7-1, before losing 4 days later to Peru in what was described by Sky Sports as: ‘The defeat left Brazil struggling to digest their worst performance in the Copa America since 1987, the last occasion the five-time world champions failed to make it past the group stage.’ 

One step forward, 29 steps back (one for each year).

Obviously, that last statement was hyperbole, as since that game they’ve won their last five games in their world cup qualifiers. Looking at the current standing they seem to be doing alright for themselves.

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Looking further down the table, you’ll spot an underperforming Argentina in 6th place. With 8 games left there is plenty of time to salvage some points and climb back up the table, but worrying nonetheless that they are 10 games in and still outside the qualifying places (top 5).

More recently the Argentines are still looking for form as the start studded team have only won 1 of their last 5 games.

In response, new coach Bauza believes “The criticism doesn’t bother me at all. It’s normal. What irks me is the lack of respect for me, but also for my players. Some journalists think that’s the way to get a bigger audience.”

Fair Point.

*Granted, Haiti is not the same as Germany but a 7-1 is still as 7-1

England vs Scotland ( Fri 11 19:45 )

 

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Courtesy of The Telegraph

 

I think it’s safe to say that England is the king of mediocrity when it comes to football. Scotland is just doing their thing, be it failing to qualify for Euro 2016, losing 3-0 to Slovakia, or probably fail to qualify for the world cup in Russia 2 years from now. However, unlike England, you can justify giving the Scotland team this ‘at least you tried’ cake.

The difference can be explained using this simple comparison:

Scotland’s current manager Gordan ‘wee Chesney’ Strachan has a 23-year playing career including 5 at Manchester United, 10 years of managing teams like Celtic and Southampton. He’s famously short-tempered, no-nonsense, yet continually mugs off various media outlets:

Reporter: Gordon, you must be delighted with that result?
Strachan: You’re spot on! You can read me like a book.

Reporter: This might sound like a daft question, but you’ll be happy to get your first win under your belt, won’t you?
Strachan: You’re right. It is a daft question. I’m not even going to bother answering that one. It is a daft question, you’re spot on there.

Reporter: Bang, there goes your unbeaten run. Can you take it?
Strachan: No, I’m just going to crumble like a wreck. I’ll go home, become an alcoholic and maybe jump off a bridge. Umm, I think I can take it, yeah.

Reporter: “Gordon, can we have a quick word please?”
Strachan: “Velocity” [walks off]

Reporter: Gordon, if you were English, what formation would you play?
Strachan: If I was English I’d kill myself!

England’s current manager is Gareth Southgate. His playing career is not bad with 18 years, his management career is interesting. His first job was at Middlesborough, getting off to a shaky start as the didn’t have the required coaching qualifications (the UEFA Pro License). A UEFA Pro Licence is a mandatory qualification for managing in the FA Premier League and UEFA competitions. A course to obtain a UEFA Pro Licence is by invitation only.

After that, he’s gone on to manage England under 20 and 21.

I shouldn’t be blaming Gareth Southgate for all of England’s problems, he’s simply a placeholder for the FA who continue to pass off a mediocre team as acceptable.

Scouting for Fixtures: Oct 3 – Oct 9

Scouting for fixtures is a weekly blog for people who love the beautiful game. They come out every Sunday and hand picks upcoming matches worldwide that week, which looks set for 90 minutes of non-stop action.

All times are GMT.

International week is one of the few times that football becomes a chore more than fun to watch. I’ve scraped the very bottom of the barrel to do something; anything . Some of the matches are sub-par, but there are a few potentially good watches if your country/team is playing and by sheer dumb luck it happens to be a cracker. If you can sit through one week of this, please come back next Monday for a rundown of Prem, La Liga, Serie A, Ligue 1 and many more leagues. If not, go watch Stranger Things or something till Monday.

Vancouver Whitecaps vs Seattle Sounders FC ( Mon 03 01:00 )

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Courtesy of Jennifer Buchanan-USA TODAY Sports

The Cascadia cup isn’t a familiar topic for anyone who doesn’t follow MLS, so let me break it down.

Q: What’s Cascadia?

A: It’s a region located in the western area of North America, and is the name of a movement which seeks independence from US and Canada to form its own country. It has even got its own flag: picture a Siera Leone flag turned upside down with a Fir tree in the middle. The flag goes by many names: The Cascadian flag, Cascadia Doug Flag, Old Doug (love it) or simply, the Doug.

Q: Why is this a tournament?

A: Beats me. In 2004, teams in the region, Vancouver Whitecaps, Seattle Sounders FC and Portland Timbers just decided to make the Cascadia cup. This was done mainly because of fans sponsoring the cup. The rivalry goes further back than 2004 but after that year, it became an official cup in the MLS because apparently, that’s something you can do.

Q: How does it work?

A: The aforementioned 3 teams play each other in the MLS and there is a separate table measuring how the 3 teams play against each other, a mini table. Whichever team tops the table at the end of the season wins the trophy.

Current Standings:

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After this game, there will only be one left to play in 2016, Vancouver vs Portland.

It’s a good match to watch if you’re looking for something out of the ordinary.

Italy vs Spain ( Thu 06 19:45 )

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Courtesy of EPA

The world cup qualifiers are back again and this is the only ‘high profile’ game coming from Europe. Both teams are in group G with Albania, Macedonia, Israel and Liechtenstein. Italy won their first game against Israel 3-1, but will be without veteran Giorgio Chiellini as he received his first ever red card in his international career; Spain ended their first match against Liechtenstein 8-0. Chances are it will only be Spain and Italy fighting for the top spot, so this game and the Spain vs Italy game will be pivotal as to who tops the group.

Paraguay vs Colombia ( Fri 07 01:30 )

Courtesy of FCF

While qualifiers are just kicking off in Europe, there are only two rounds left for the South American countries. With 5 places for CONMEBOL teams, there’s a five-point gap between the top 7 countries to exploit with 6 points left.

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With pressure mounting, the games are less comparable to a pre-season friendly and more to the competitive international fixtures that you’d expect. Both Paraguay and Colombia are on shaky ground with 12 and 13 points respectively, as a win for either side would secure a place in the 2018 World Cup. An alternate to that fixture is Chile’s attempt to climb back into the top 5 as they play a strong Ecuador side.

Western Sydney vs Sydney FC ( Sat 08 09:50 )

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Courtesy of Getty Images

The Sydney derby will probably be the best game on this list. While it might lack in technical quality at points, the tempo of the game is Sunday league level (in a good way) and while I haven’t looked it up, I’m pretty sure the matches average about 500 shots per game, or at least that’s what it feels like. The first Sydney derby I saw was one year ago and the game had me hooked.

Scouting for Fixtures: Sept 5 -Sept 11

Scouting for fixtures is a weekly blog for people who love the beautiful game. They come out every Sunday and hand picks upcoming matches worldwide that week, which looks set for 90 minutes of non-stop action.

All times are GMT.

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International fixtures:

Brazil vs Colombia ( Wed 07 01:45 )

The Brazilian team comes into the fixture with Olympic gold medals; beating Germany in the finals, a step in their recovery from the 7-1 battering two years ago. Colombia remains a solid side with star men Rodriguez, Cuadrado, Bacca and Ospina. The relentless rivalry and inability to take defeat usually end with a few fights and fair few cards. When these two played in the Copa America the match ended with both Neymar and Bacca receiving red cards. Go back to 2014 and you’ll remember Rodriguez was fouled 6 times and Neymar’s injury against Colombia ended his tournament. That game ended up with the most fouls in the WC (54). With 2 games left, Colombia has 13 points at 3rd place, Brazil is perilously low at 5th with 12 points. The top 4 qualify for the world cup and 5th place goes into intercontinental playoffs. The top 6 are separated by only 2 points and the next two games are make or break.

South American WC Preliminary Qualifiers Table 

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Schalke 04 vs Bayern München ( Fri 09 19:30 )

RasenBallsport Leipzig vs Borussia Dortmund ( Sat 10 17:30 )

After game week one FC Bayern is 1st, Lewandowski scored another trick, and Carlo Ancelotti ended his first home game with a  6-0 win against Werder Bremen. So business as usual. Schalke too had Deja Vu with another mediocre performance despite the manager change, losing to Frankfurt, who were 10 men down for the last 10 minutes. Kingsley Coman is now available after recovering from his ankle injury. Even if he doesn’t start, it looks like Bayern could net a couple past Schalke if they don’t get their act together quick.

Newly promoted Leipzig face Dortmund in their first ever Bundesliga home game. Borussia Dortmund has had a very busy transfer window, with Gotze, Dembele, Batra and many more players. The newly promoted side expects to be more than ready with Leipzig captain Dominik Kaiser anticipating ‘We’ll be in great shape and will look to be compact and aggressive against BVB, just as we were at Hoffenheim.’ 

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Manchester United vs Manchester City ( Sat 10 12:30 )

Liverpool vs Leicester ( Sat 10 17:30 )

Both teams will be without key players ahead of the Manchester derby. The red devils are without their South American players as they’ll be helping their sides qualify for the world cup. Henrikh Mkhitaryan is also doubtful after his thigh injury against the Cech Republic. Man City have their own issues; Aguero will serve his 3 match ban after elbowing Winston Ried in the face, Kompany will miss due to his never-ending thigh injury. Despite the blow to the squads, it’s still Mourinho vs Guardiola, the two best managers in the world with the two richest clubs in the Premier League.

Liverpool and Leicester both come into the game with a draw, loss and a win to their name. Both teams thrive on their aggressive counter attack and that could stretch the game out.

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Juventus vs Sassuolo ( Sat 10 17:00 )

AC Milan vs Udinese ( Sun 11 19:00 )

Pescara vs Inter ( Sun 11 19:45 )

Current champions Juve play a shaky Sassuolo side after their 2-1 win against Pescara was reversed to 0-3, after the illegal signing Antonio Ragusa substituted on after 64 minutes. Sassuolo looks unsure of themselves against newly promoted Pescara and if it wasn’t for their exceptional keeper Consigli, it could’ve ended 2-2 easily. Juve has the firepower to finish the game if they get in front of goal as much as Pescara did.

AC Milan matches this season averaged 5.5 goals per game, that goes to 3 for Udinese. Both teams look devoid of defence with Roma comfortably net 4 times against Udinese and Milan have conceded 6 times in 2 games. So two leaky defences against two good attacking sides suggest another high scoring game.

Newly promoted Pescara have surprised everyone by drawing with Napoli and then holding their own against Sassuolo. Surprises everywhere as Inter too shocked everyone after losing to Chievo, then drawing with Palermo, both mid/low table sides. So will Pescara continue this underdog story and will Inter continue to underperform?

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Ligue 1:

Lyon vs Bordeaux ( Sat 10 14:00 )

Lyon comes into the game with two confident wins and then get smashed 4-2 by newly-promoted Dijon FCO of all teams. Bordeaux also has two wins, accompanied by a shock 4-1 shock defeat to Toulouse who finished 17th last season. This game is as much as about which team can hold their nerve as well as the quality of player.

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Sevilla vs Las Palmas ( Sat 10 17:15 ) 

Barcelona vs Alaves ( Sat 10 19:30 )

New boys, Las Palmas are reminiscent of Leicester city as they end are top of the table. Their style of play is heavily counter-attacking, most of the time sitting in their own half until they spring into attack much like a Leicester or Liverpool press. Despite having the least amount of time in the opposition third (21% or 18.9 minutes per match) of any team in the league, their clinical shot conversion rate of 43% explains how they can score 9 goals in 2 games. Sevilla has shown what they’re capable of in their 6-4 win against Espanol. Las Palmas’ only evident weakness is defending set pieces. They’ve conceded 2/3 of goals from corners, Sevilla has scored 1/3 of all their goals from set pieces. It will be the underdogs biggest test yet.

Another newly promoted club Alaves will play champions Barcelona. While Alaves haven’t made headlines like Las Palmas, they are yet to lose and held their own against Atletico Madrid, drawing 1-1. Their defences will face the ultimate test with Neymar, Suarez and potentially Messi, though his injury against Uruguay could rule him out. With or without Messi, Alaves could easily lose by a heavy margin. 

Sources:

http://www.fifa.com/worldcup/preliminaries/southamerica/index.html

https://www.whoscored.com/

http://www.bundesliga.com/en/news/Bundesliga/blmd2v-rb-leipzig-captain-dominik-kaiser-targets-borussia-dortmund-upset-bundesliga-matchday-2.jsp

http://www.transfermarkt.co.uk/borussia-dortmund/alletransfers/verein/16

Scouting for Fixtures: Mar 21 – Mar 27

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.

 

 

1. Chile vs Argentina ( Thu 24 23:30 )

Argentina v Chile - FIFA Qualifiers

The foreboding international week returns, and while it usually delivers on drab football and has a sense of pointlessness about it all, this time there’s reason to be exited. While the world cup is still two years away, the qualifications are well underway. A quick run down on how it all works: The 10 highest ranking CONMEBOL teams go into a league where all teams play each other (home and away legs); the top 4 automatically qualify for the world cup while 5th place goes into inter-confederation play offs to decide their fate. As it currently stands 7 games in, both teams are in a precarious situation. Chile are 5th while Argentina sit 6th (where they fail to qualify). Both teams need to pull their act together because if they don’t we’ll be seeing the likes of Ecuador and Paraguay taking centre stage come 2018. A world cup without Messi, Higuain, Di Maria, Aguero, Tevez, Sanchez, Vidal and a personal superstar of mine, Sergio Romero, would be as disappointing as it could get. The heat is on for both teams to win, as nations with so much experience failing to qualify for a major international competition is humiliating; *cough* Netherlands *cough*.

 

 

2. Netherlands vs France ( Fri 25 19:45 )

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Didier Deschamps men host a crumbling Netherlands side without captain Arjen Robben and main striker Robin Van Persie. France too are without their star striker Karim Benzema, potentially leaving Real Madrid on a free to jail, what a steal. That opens up the striker spot for the endless talent of young french strikers to prove themselves internationally. The same applies to the young Dutchmen, as the aforementioned attempt to qualify for Euro 2016 was summed up by the flying dutchman’s precision header, placing the ball right into the corner, just a shame it was an own goal and 0-3 down to Czech Republic. Since then Danny Blind is looking to blood in the youth players, Memphis Depay and Luciano Narsingh the bright spots. We could see the potent French front 3 of Coman, Griezmann and Martial starting for the first time ever; with enough talent between them to put a few past this Netherlands side in a dire shortage of confidence.

 

 

3. Brazil vs Uruguay ( Sat 26 00:45 )

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We head back to South America and the world cup qualifiers as the two heavyweights face off in Recife. Both teams posses a wealth of talent between them and have the two highest goal tallies at a combined total of 16 in 8 matches. Both sets of fans look forward to this long rivalry littered with it’s fair share of controversial moments; celebrating its 100 year anniversary this Saturday. While Uruguay is the more rounded side and it’s evident to see the 7-1 still has a lasting affect on Dunga’s men, don’t discount the home side as Willian and Costa have been pulling the strings from the wings. The standout player in Uruguay is the centre back in the form of his life, Diego Godin, with 3 goals and clean sheets in 4 games. It’ll be a good measure of how both teams fare in the Copa America tournament as both are favourites to win the cup in the summer.

 

 

4. Germany vs England ( Sat 26 19:45 )

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While historically this is supposed to be a rivalry, the Germans aren’t going to be too bothered by this fixture and may start some of their youth players while England play a full strength team, and still lose. While the German’s couldn’t care less about this rivalry between England, as Holland are the ‘true enemy’, England desperately hold onto one of the few fixtures that hold anything close to historical significance to the fans. Its had its moments with the world cup final (1966) the main highlight where England did a smash and grab, since then Germany have only lost twice against the Lions in all competitions. Nevertheless expect a big turnout in Berlin as the world cup winners take on an up and coming England team ahead of Euro 2016.

 

 

 

Other Mentions:

Wales vs N.Ireland ( Thu 24 19:45 )

Melbourne Victory vs Western Sydney Wanderers FC ( Fri 25 08:40 )

Santos FC vs Sao Paulo ( Sun 27 22:30 )

 

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