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 )

 

 

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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 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 )

Scouting for Fixtures: Mar 06 – Mar 12

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.

Napoli vs Real Madrid ( Tue 07 19:45 )

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The last leg left us re-aligning our jaws after they collectively dropped at the 53′ mark. Yes, the game ended 3-1 in favour of Los Blancos. That 1 away goal is what Napoli is holding onto coming into the 2nd leg. In order to progress to the next round of the competition, the Naples have to either win 2-0 or if Los Blancos score, by a 3 goal deficit. If we go further, I wouldn’t bet my house on the idea of Naples keeping a clean sheet. So chances are, it’s going to play out where once Real Madrid score, it’s going to be an all-out attack. The last time we saw that we witnessed one of the best Champions League games ever. If these two could tap into that, we could witness another game akin to the 8 goal thriller we saw just 2 weeks ago.

Genoa vs Sampdoria ( Sat 11 19:45 )

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The blood runs just a bit hotter and the ball is booted with more weight behind it*, literally and figuratively. I may be romanticising the idea of Italian passion when it comes to football, I mean their country is the shape of an actual boot. But, in all the time I’ve been writing on this blog, one thing has been made apparent. The Italians have set the benchmark when it comes to a proper derby. And this is the oldest of them all. Named after the landmark lighthouse, Derby Della Lanterna is not the game for you if you’re more accustomed to intricate passing or superstars. Instead, it is a breath of fresh air, as put eloquently by TheseFootballTimes:

While other games are characterised by violence and animosity, the Derby della Lanterna is all about divided families fighting it out for 90 minutes in the hope that their beloved side will give them something to shout about. It’s what a rivalry should be in football: passionate, loyal and largely friendly.

*Is that a fat joke? No.

Real Sociedad vs Athletic Club ( Sun 12 11:00 )

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A derby by its very nature poses the ideal conditions for aggression and violence. The last paragraph was dedicated to a derby – one of the few – exempt from that stigma. This basque derby so happens to be exempt from that stigma as well. It’s easy to overlook this derby as it falls under the huge shadow of the El Clasico, but these two sides have their own story worth reading. Sociedad is the stronger side on paper, sitting higher on the table and scoring more goals. In fact, Bilbao’s form is the definition of inconsistent: LWLWLW. What makes these 2 sides special is the unwavering approach to every game. The intensity and fast paced style are trademarked by these 2.

Games I wanted to talk about but was too lazy:

Arsenal vs Bayern Munich ( Tue 07 19:45 )

Barcelona vs Paris Saint-Germain ( Wed 08 19:45 )

Bayern Munich vs Eintracht Frankfurt ( Sat 11 14:30 )

Hertha Berlin vs Borussia Dortmund ( Sat 11 14:30 )

Celtic vs Rangers ( Sun 12 12:00 )

Scouting for Fixtures: Dec 12 – Dec 18

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.

Melbourne City FC vs Melbourne Victory ( Sat 17 08:50 )

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If you plan on skipping this paragraph watch this video and find out why the Melbourne derby is unmissable! I know that the last sentence looks like one of those click bait adverts: Dermatologists Hate Her. She is 23675234567 but looks 24. Or: I got ripped in 2 weeks using this one weird trick. If you did watch that video you too realise, this is not a scam. It may not hold a candle to the premier league in terms of quality, but is entertaining in its own right. From watching one, and only one Melbourne derby (which ended 4-1); I say it has the sensibilities of a primary school lunchtime football match. It’s where most if not all (somehow) the game was played in either 18-yard box, bypassing the midfield and just punt it forward. It’s where you’re not afraid to lob the keeper from stupid range because he’s only 4’10 or where you can run through 4 defenders and hit the back of the net. An ideal game for anyone looking for something new*.

*If you watch the A-League then it’s not new, and chances are you are Australian. What are you doing here? Bear in mind I’ve only ever had 2 Aussies visit the site ever.

RasenBallsport Leipzig vs Hertha Berlin ( Sat 17 14:30 )

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The Bundesliga, with its fan engagement, 50 + 1 rule and cheap ticket prices create the ideal conditions in a petri dish of German football culture to expand. What does any of this have to do with the game? So if we look at RB Leipzig now, they are top of the league and in an 8 game winning streak. The significance of RB Leipzig being they represent everything Bundesliga tries not to be. While there are reasons to be worried, the story behind their name encapsulates why people are up in arms about the rise of Leipzig. The first part: Leipzig. Nothing wrong with that. RasenBallsport? The translation into English reveals ‘Lawn Ball Sports’ which looks more in place if it was the name of a professional Bowl’s club. Originally it was supposed to be Red Bulls Leipzig but Bundesliga does not allow corporate names so a substitute with the same initials RB would have to do. They also go against the 50 + 1 rule which underpins cheap ticket prices and prevents commercial objectives to come before football objectives. This explains in part how Germany are so strong internationally, due to clubs like Hertha Berlin fostering and developing a lot of young talent. It will be interesting to see how these two teams play against each other, and for the rest of the season. While Leipzig takes the headlines, Berlin is quietly climbing the table, now 3rd. If they beat Leipzig the gap between 1st and 3rd will be closed to only 3 points. To outcompete Bayern Munich and Dortmund requires goals, and both teams have scored their fair share of every type, shown here, here, here and also this beauty.

Juventus vs Roma ( Sat 17 19:45 )

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Monday night’s disappointing 1-1 draw with Bologna was a massive blow to Roma’s hopes for snatching second place in Serie A and automatic qualification for the Champions League from Scudetto hopefuls Napoli.‘ That was last Roma last season with 5 games to go. Much like a seasoned professional diver, Roma ended the season with perfect form: WWWWW. After Roma finished 2nd, 2nd and 3rd in the last 3 seasons, frustrations continue to mount much like Juventus’ number of Scudetto’s. After the old Lady added 2015/16 season Capocannoniere Gonzalo Higuain and Roma’s start midfielder Pjanic, it looked like Juventus were forming a full-fledged monopoly of the Calcio A. If any team were to break that monopoly power, a good candidate would be Roma. They currently house the top goal scorer in Calcio A, Edin Dzeko. It’s no mean feat turning a striker who misses an open net to scoring screamers. A major contribution to Dzeko’s success are wingers Salah and Perrotti who have a combined 8 assists, with inexhaustible stamina paying dividends. Now Roma outscores Juventus and everyone else in the league with 35 in 15 games, but Juve is just behind with 32. The roles are reversed when looking at the points tally, with Roma in touching distance only 4 points from Juventus in 1st. If they succeed in closing the gap they have to break Juve’s 6 game winning streak at home.

Manchester City vs Arsenal ( Sun 18 16:00 )

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Sometimes I really pity Arsenal fans. Not in a condescending way, but genuine pity on what they have to go through every season over and over again. Though there is overwhelming evidence to continue the abuse indefinitely, the effect on the psyche of long time fans is summed up quite well by JOE: ‘Their cup isn’t half empty, it was smashed against the wall the day Eduardo broke his leg’. You can see it happening all over again. As we inch closer to the new year Arsenal continues to rise up the table, even the most optimistic Arsenal fans will have their doubts. Is this the real deal? From what we’ve seen it looks positive, undefeated since the first game, 3 points off league leaders Chelsea and smashing teams left, right and centre. Imagine the pandemonium if Arsenal beat Manchester City. The citizens are already on the backfoot after Aguero’s high tackle and Fernandinho throttling Fabregas, both rightfully sent off. Fernandinho has the most minutes (1260) of any Man City player this season, leaving Gundogan/Toure/Delph to fill the vacant midfield role. Ihenacho too has big boots to fill as he may be expected to start now the only other striker has a 3 game ban. The 1-3 loss to Chelsea sounds worse that it actually was, Man City was in the game for a long time, with a chance to turn the game when De Bruyne had a clear goalscoring opportunity at 1-0, hitting the bar. But as things stand they’re 4th place and swamped in fixtures. The game against Arsenal will see the end of a demanding run of fixtures, 5 games in 15 days. If Manchester City beat Arsenal it will be ArsenalFanTV and chill.

Other Mentions: 

Roma vs AC Milan ( Mon 12 20:00 )

Bournemouth vs Leicester ( Tue 13 19:45 )

Hoffenheim vs Borussia Dortmund ( Fri 16 19:30 )

Crystal Palace vs Chelsea ( Sat 17 12:30 )

Darmstadt vs Bayern Munich ( Sun 18 14:30 )

Ajax vs PSV Eindhoven ( Sun 18 15:45 )

Barcelona vs Espanol ( Sun 18 19:45 )

Feel like I missed out any matches or want to give any feedback? Comment Below!

Scouting for Fixtures: Nov 28 – Dec 04

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.

The stars have aligned to make up for last weeks debacle.

Usually, when making these articles, I sort out the fixtures in my head into 3 main types. Good games (it would be worth your while if you invested in either team), great games (you would watch just because of its build up) and the unmissable games. This week we have an unprecedented 3 (arguably 4) games that fall into the last category.

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And if we zoom out even further…

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But seriously, this is one of the best lists of fixtures I’ve seen in months.

Atletico Nacional vs Millonarios ( Mon 28 00:05 [ 1st leg ] ) (Wed 30 19:00 [ 2nd leg ] )

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Courtesy of Mundonets

Behind the obscurity of Colombian football and overwhelming links to organised crime, lies a truly worthwhile watch. The rivalry between the two clubs is doused in corruption and violence, as Bogota council secretary Guillermo Alfonso Jaramillo laments: “We cannot celebrate goals while our children are being killed over the colour of a football shirt”. This Colombian rivalry fuelled by corruption and violence sets alight the passion and authenticity which earned the name: Super Clasico of Colombian football. The most famous moment was during the 1989 Copa Libertadores quarter-finals; both teams were looking to win Colombia’s first ever Copa Libertadores trophy. The games themselves were filled with short tempers, even shorter shorts and a questionable refereeing decision after Millonarios striker was taken out by Nacional goalkeeper Higuita in the penalty box. Thanks to that obviously honest mistake by the referee, Nacional won the game on aggregate and went on to be Colombia’s first ever Copa Libertadores champions. The fixtures are just as fierce now as they were in 1989, with 4 red cards in their last 6 games. Here we are again 27 years later. Atletico Nacional vs Millonarios, this time in the quarter-finals of the Primera A playoffs.

Manchester City vs Chelsea ( Sat 03 12:30 )

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Courtesy of Getty Images Europe

Let’s forget about winning, losing or drawing for a second. After the final whistle blows one of two things will happen. One, Manchester City will end their season-long unbeaten run at home. Two, Chelsea will end their 6 game winning streak without conceding, 1 game off breaking their current record. If you’re literally anyone but a Chelsea fan, it’s universally accepted that one would choose scenario two over one, as Chelsea remain the most hated club in the league. That doesn’t look like it’s changing anytime soon, as aforementioned thrashing is likely to continue, in part because Antonio Conte is a genius. And Italian. Previously managing the current greatest three back defence in the world (Barzagli, Chiellini and Bonucci) means Conte knows his 3-4-3 formation inside out. Add that to 10 years of managing Italian sides, where three at the back is bread and butter. Pep Guardiola would also join Conte in that small category of football geniuses. However, Manchester City is yet to regain that dominance that saw them surge into a noticeable lead till game week 6. The seventh game finished with Tottenham taking all 3 points from Man City, remaining the only side to do so in a league fixture. Bear in mind Tottenham is equivalent to a team of Jack Russel terriers on Red Bull with the amount of ground they cover per game. However, in that same vein, Chelsea possess N’Golo Kante who was nicknamed ‘The Rash’ by his teammates. Simply put, these are the two most polished sides in the league. If there was any way to undercut the tension of the game it would be through their nicknames. So let’s get ready for the spectacle that will be the Citizens vs the Pensioners!

Barcelona vs Real Madrid ( Sat 03 15:15 )

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Courtesy of Flickr

There are no amount of superlatives or hyperboles that I can use to justify the enormity of this game. Instead, I’ll let the stats do the talking for me. 500 million viewers. Imagine the population if Mexico and the USA joined together and formed a country* and all of them watched El Clasico, the viewership figures would still be short by the whole population of Italy. Of course, you have Messi vs Ronaldo, the incredible amount of money, history and success to marvel at. Back to the game itself, injuries leave Iniesta, Umtiti, Bale, Kroos, Mathieu and Casemiro unable to start for either team come Saturday. If you’re a football or sports fan you will end up watching this game regardless of anything I’ve stated because El Clasico is what football is all about.

*After re-reading I realise how much you’d have to suspend your disbelief, but just go with the analogy please and thank you.

Lazio vs Roma ( Sun 04 14:00 )

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Courtesy of Corriere Della Sera

It might not seem obvious from the picture above but Francesco Totti is in fear for his life. The men surrounding him are some angry Roma Ultra’s and off-frame is a thick sweeping red mist from the flares being set off and fights breaking out at various parts of the stadium, all during the 49’th minute. As soon as he could, the Roma captain told Fabio Capello ‘If we play on now, they’ll kill us’. The ominous security also hints at the importance of the occasion. This all adds more reason to believe that the Derby Della Capitale is the fiercest derby in Italy. There are reams of work dedicated to how a rivalry as visceral as this develops, which can be found here. As things stand, Roma has bragging rights in the capital as Lazio fail to win a game in their last 6 encounters. This may be Lazio’s chance to end the unbeaten streak as Roma are missing Totti, Florenzi and El Sharaaway all injured. Roma also comes into the derby after losing to Atalanta, shortening the point gap to 1. Though the point gap is unlikely to matter to the Roma and Lazio supporters as Paulo Di Canio states ‘Roma and Lazio fans care more about winning the derby than where they finish in the league.’ 

Scouting For Fixtures: Nov 14 – Nov 20

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.

Manchester United vs Arsenal ( Sat 19 12:30 )

There are a lot of reasons Man Utd hates Arsenal and Arsenal hates Man Utd. A lot. The interpersonal rivalries only fan the well-lit flames. Roy Keane and Patrick Viera the most obvious, as they would often kick off before kick off (hilarious!) such as when Keane comes to Garry Neville’s rescue after being threatened by Patrick Viera*. Ruud Van Nistelrooy was Arsenal’s punching bag for much of his tenure and the newest rivalry (sort of), Arsene Wenger vs Jose Mourinho. This season, Arsenal are playing on a level above Manchester United, but seeds of doubt still grow in the minds of Arsenal fans whenever they see this:

 

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Courtesy of Sky Sports, only competitive games listed.

 

Looking at the 11 games played by Manchester United, 6 of them have been against a current top 10 side. If you isolate that form, it is 3 losses, 2 draws and 1 win; that one win was against 10th place Southampton in week 2. Even more distressing for an MUFC fan is that Jose is supposed to have an excellent record when facing big clubs. With Zlatan receiving his disciplinary ban, this is Wenger’s chance to finally take those three points.

*Watch Gary Neville’s masterclass in establishing dominance, as he squeezes Viera’s hand  and dishes out a steely glare during the pre-game handshake.

Atletico Madrid vs Real Madrid ( Sat 19 19:45 )

Real Madrid continues their march to the trophy as they top the table after 11 games, thwarting their oppositions 1-6, 2-1, 1-4 and 3-0 without breaking stride. Their trademark all out attack still remains plan A, with the most shots (20.3) and shots on target (7.7) per game, plus 31 goals already. Diego Simeone isn’t having as easy a time as Zidane, with their trademark defending coming into question as they’ve been turning what would have been wins into draws, what would have been draws into losses. By their own insanely high standards, Atleti is slipping. Conceding 8 at this stage is much higher than usual at this point, considering they only conceded 18 last season. If they continue at this rate they would concede 28 goals by the end of this season, which would have still made them the best defensive side in La Liga last season, second best is Barcelona conceding 29 goals. Real’s defence could also be called into question as the injuries keep piling up: Ramos, Kroos, Pepe, Casemeiro, Mariano, Casilla, Modric (recovering) and Benzema. To make things even worse for the home side, Atleti’s one strong point this season has been their improvement in attack, netting 25 times so far, 9 better that this time last season. This could be Simeone’s chance to break Real Madrid’s unbeaten run.

Borrusia Dortmund vs Bayern Munich ( Sat 19 17:30 )

The Signal Iduna Park is a sight to behold usually, a yellow sea of endless noise will be dead silent before kick-off to pay respects to Dortmund legend, Alfred Schmidt who recently passed away. There is some uncertainty of what type of game we’ll get this time, as both teams have very similar styles of play. Both favour heavy possession (Bayern: 64.7% Dortmund: 63.6%) have high pass accuracy (Bayern: 87.2% Dortmund: 85.6%) and smash the goals in with Bayern netting 24, Dortmund 25. The only significant differences are that Dortmund favours direct play with 33% of play coming through the middle (the most in the league) while Bayern is reliant on the counter attack, 4 of their goals as a result (again, the most in the league). Potentially Marco Reus may play, though he’s expected to recover by the 19th, match fitness is still in question. The same applies to Bayern Munich players Manuel Neuer, Martines and Arturo Vidal, while Kingsley Coman is out till early January.

Scouting For Fixtures: Oct 10 – Oct 16

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.

Borussia Dortmund vs Hertha Berlin ( Fri 14 19:30 )

Courtesy of Sky Sports

 

Since Pál Dárdia took over a struggling Hertha BSC (finishing that season at 15th) a year ago, the Berliners finished 7th the following season and expect to continue a dramatic upward trajectory, currently floating above Borussia Dortmund at 2nd place. Both teams play direct football, Dortmund the most direct in the league with 31% of play coming down the middle, Hertha BSC just behind with 29%. Despite the similar playing styles, the disparity in creativity becomes clear with Dortmund attempting a huge 15.2 shots per game, for Hertha BSC the figure drops to only 8.7. Hertha BSC’s clinical striker Ibesivic is pivotal in this great run of form, contributing to 45% of all goals scored by the away side this season. We saw last week that an in-form striker can make all the difference, as a shaky Bayer Leverkusen overcame Tomas Tuchel’s side as start striker Chicharito secured a 2-0 win.

 

Chelsea vs Leicester ( Sat 15 12:30 )

Courtesy of Getty Images

 

The two Italian managers have malignant issues spreading through their respective teams. For Conte, his Chelsea backline is giving way game after game, conceding 9 goals in  7 games. The irony being this was the same man who formed the greatest defence currently in world football at Juventus: Bonnuci, Barzagli and Chiellini. In fairness, this is Conte’s first season in the premier league, experimenting with a 4-1-4-1, 4-3-3 and 3-4-3. Their attack is promising, with Costa contributing to 50% of all Chelsea goals. Now looking to Claudio Ranieri, Leicester’s lack of form is in part due to a missing man in midfield. The new Chelsea man N’Golo Kante left a gaping hole in the middle of the park, as the only stats that saw a noticeable change over last season was tackles per game (22.9 last season to 16.1) and interceptions per game (21.6 to 14.6). Despite that loss, the tempo, clinical finishing and excitement in their UCL games are that of last season’s performances. The UCL presents a new territory to conquer while Leicester will never top their first ever premier league win, irrespective of the glory of winning a PL title. As a player how can you motivate yourself to win the PL again after what you achieved last season, and the nature in which it all spectacularly unfolded? So both managers come into the game with issues, yes, but their attacks are their strongest weapon of choice; be it Costa, Willian and Hazard for Chelsea, or Mahrez, Vardy and Slimani for Leicester.

Napoli vs Roma ( Sat 15 14:00 )

 

Roma’s manager Luciano Spalleti hopes his AS Roma side can win silverware this season, as he returns back to his club after 7 years. Roma is yet to win any trophy since his departure in 2009, leaving his club with a good foundation, 2 Coppa Italia’s and a Supercoppa Italiana trophy. Roma may sit 6th after 7 matches, but the attack is the best in the league, with 16 so far, the best of which is Stephan El Sharaarwy’s sweet strike.  While Napoli has just lost to Atalanta, their home record goes like this: WWWWWWWWW. Not bad. Milik, Mertens, Callejon and Hamsik are all targets for Roma defenders, with 13 goals and 3 assists between them. If any occasion were big enough to end the streak it would be this game, also known as de Derby del Sole (Derby of the Sun). As for Roma actually coming away with any points, good luck, but it should be a worthwhile experience watching attack after attack after attack after attack …

Athletic Club vs Real Sociedad ( Sun 16 15:15 )

Courtesy of Reuters

 

It will be the 107th year and 140th derby between the two biggest teams in Basque. Basque is an area of northern Spain with as much history as its representative football clubs, Bilbao and Sociedad. The unfortunate trend of most competitive derbies is division, fights and more violence, the Basque derby is a shining example of how a derby should be a celebration of the local area and bring people together (good luck trying to sell that to Tottenham and Arsenal fans). Nothing exemplifies this idea more that the fact both Real Sociedad and Bilbao fans sit side by side, with no stewards present. The significance of this derby is interwoven deeply between the areas political strain and some would say even religion, as one tourist guide points out: ‘We have two cathedrals in the city. The first where people go to pray; the second is the stadium of Athletic Club’.

Sources:

ESPN FC

FourFourTwo

Getty Images

Reuters

Sky Sports

These Football Times

WhoScored

Youtube

Scouting For Fixtures: Apr 25 – May 01

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.

  1. Manchester City vs Real Madrid ( Tue 26 19:45 )

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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 )

Bayern Munich v Porto - UEFA Champions League Quarter Final Second Leg

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 )

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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 )

Borussia Moenchengladbach v FC Bayern Muenchen - Bundesliga

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 )

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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!”.

 

 

Other Mentions:

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.

Scouting for Fixtures: Apr 18 – Apr 24

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.

Described by the BBC as ‘a sea of colourful flowing banners, screams and roars, chanting, dancing and never-ending fireworks’, sounds alright.

  1. FC Dallas vs Sporting Kansas ( Mon 18 00:00 )

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Blink and you’ll miss it. The phrase ‘first thing in the morning’ has never been more literal (for anyone who lives in the UK) as we see the top 2 in the MLS play in one of the high profile games of the season. Both conferences combined, these two stand above the rest in their rankings and performances. Dallas are the pack leaders with 14 points in 7 games and sit in 1st. Closely behind in 2nd follow Sporting Kansas with 12 points and a mean streak, seeing 3 red cards already. Dallas may have only lost one game so far, but the 5-0 thrashing they took from Houston is an embarrassing display of all the faults, still unresolved in their backline, epitomised by one of the most moronic own goal I’ve seen in a long time. This fixture in particular has a knack for goals, having an impressive record of averaging 5.2 goals a game in 5 games. If for whatever reason you’re awake this early, then you might as well watch this thriller of a game.

 

 

4. Hertha Berlin vs Borussia Dortmund ( Wed 20 19:30 )

Borussia Dortmund - Hertha BSC

A cup fixture now in Germany, the semi-finals between Hertha BSC and BVB is Dortmund’s last notable chance of silverware in a remarkable but unfruitful season. It’s an sad truth that BVB fans have to deal with; as Bayern monopolised the Bundesliga since 2011, it seems no matter how good they get they can’t dethrone the Bavarian side. Now out of Europe in a shock 4-3 loss to Liverpool, Bayern are on course for a 4th consecutive Bundesliga title, a feat never achieved in the top tier of german football, ever. 7 points adrift and 4 games remaining the likelihood of BVB overtaking FC Bayern is unlikely, but possible. For HSC, the stagnation of never ending promotion to relegation seems to have ended. Similar to that of Leicester this season, the underdogs have turned from relegation candidates to champions league candidates within 2 seasons. With Europe is still in question, this is most likely chance for Hertha to win this competition for the first time ever. Dortmund will still be hurting from the Europa League exit and will go all out to secure a cup win, and for BSC, this would be the perfect end to an already stelar season.

 

 

3. Athletic Club vs Atletico Madrid ( Wed 20 19:45 )

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More midweek action from the continent, so we head to Spain in an intriguing matchup between the Bilbao side scrambling for European spots, while Atleti need to find a solution to their unenviable problems. As it stands, As well as Atleti, Bilbao also face their two main rivals in Celta Vigo and Sevilla in the next 5 weeks in the race for Europa league. Only 4 points separate the 3 clubs and with time at a premium, every point counts. The same applies to Atletico Madrid who see themselves with the chance to win an unexpected double. Everything is going right for Simeone and his men. Last week they knocked out cup favourites Barcelona in the Champions league, compounding to what’s been a downward spiral for the Catalonian club. Barca losing 3 matches in a row, Atleti closed the gap to 3 points only and have a very real chance of winning La Liga. This is also a chance to redo the dramatic finish that ended in Atleti losing the final to their polar opposites in Real Madrid, 2 years ago. For a team to keep out MSN and Co. makes them a formidable opponent for any team, and in my eyes I can see them winning the whole thing. It’s going to be interesting to see if Simeone has put all is eggs in one basket, be it La Liga or the Champions League, or believes they can do the double. This is Bilbao’s chance to attack as the Madrid side have a heavy fixture list, as the season comes to it’s final stages.

 

 

2. Liverpool vs Everton ( Wed 20 20:00 )

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The oldest running top flight derby returns, as Everton travel a brief 0.7 miles south to face Liverpool in the 226th Merseyside derby. Having a history this long, the Merseyside has it’s collection of defining moments. Gary McAllister’s screamer,  Fowler’s risky celebration and Terry McDermott’s goal of the season being the ones that come to mind. In the current state, everything looks set up for another cracker at Anfield. Liverpool come into the big game after a resurgence and emphatic win against cup favourites, Borussia Dortmund. Real mental strength was shown by Klopp and his men, coming back from 3-1 down to win 4-3, boosting confidence and morale for the upcoming game against the Toffees. Everton though, are falling apart as Martinez tries to revive the Everton we saw in the first half of the season. This side are a shadow of their former selves, but are still capable of thrashing any team with a potent attack, personified by Lukaku. This is Everton’s chance to hit the reset button. A win against their biggest rivals could be the jumpstart needed to steady the ship, with questions of Martinez’s future looming.

 

 

5. Boca Juniors vs River Plate ( Sun 24 20:00 )

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The Superclásico returns as now we head to Buenos Aires where the Blue and Gold take on Los Milloranios. For the first time in a long time you don’t have to stay up till 1 in the morning to catch this game, as now the Sunday night fixture allows a huge crowd to witness this footballing event. The atmosphere is second to none, and being in the stadium during the derby is one only a few lucky people get to experience. As the crowd jumps up and down, the stands bounce and shake to the rhythm of the game. Described by the BBC as ‘a sea of colourful flowing banners, screams and roars, chanting, dancing and never-ending fireworks’, sounds alright. The game itself is unquestionably entertaining and the likes of which you won’t find anywhere else in the world, encapsulated by the best 0-1 you will ever see.

 

 

Other Mentions:

Juventus vs Lazio ( Wed 20 19:45 )

Roma vs Torino ( Wed 20 19:45 )

Real Madrid vs Villarreal ( Wed 20 21:00 )

Schalke 04 vs Bayer Leverkusen ( Sat 23 17:30 )

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