Scouting for Fixtures: Mar 27 – Apr 02

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.

Check out the Other Mentions at the bottom as this week there was an unprecedented amount of heavyweight games, enjoy.

Liverpool vs Everton ( Sat 01 12:30 )

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It may sound sadistic, but these are the sort of rivalries where you relish inflicting any pain possible on your opposition. It’s exacerbated for Everton seeing that – let’s be honest – European football is as likely for them this season, as is me getting with Cara Delevigne. If someone came up to you and described a game as:

You want to hurt each other. The tackles are more brutal, the challenges wilder. It’s meatier than other matches.

I am immediately on board. I don’t know why this phenomenon occurs, but it is synonymous with entertainment. When you wish, just horrific thoughts on your opposition players, 1. you need help and 2. you are witnessing a derby worth watching. For a neutral, if there is a favourable turn of events, it’s like watching everyone morph into Connor McGregor for a few minutes. All it takes is one ‘liberal’ challenge and the fuse has been set. Everton has more or less reached the ceiling in terms of their position. Breaking through the wall of Chelsea, Man City, Tottenham, Liverpool, Man Utd and Arsenal is too big a challenge this season. Liverpool is hanging on to that last Champions league spot for dear life. Man Utd and Arsenal within a stone’s throw away, plus they have 2 games in hand on Liverpool. If Everton contributed to Liverpool’s downfall from European football, it would be even more comical considering the last time Everton won a Merseyside derby was 7 years ago.

Schalke 04 vs Borussia Dortmund ( Sat 01 14:30 )

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The unexpected enormity of this fixture is something to behold. The picture above compresses tens of thousands of simultaneous emotions onto a few pixels. In actuality, the 22 men are playing for the Revierderby. For the layman, you’d probably heard of the Revierderby in the fringes of Bundesliga talk, or not at all. Under the radar in recent years due to a recent lack of silverware and big name players (until recently), but this is as big as it gets in Germany. It’s a hallmark trait of these derbies, the atmosphere is different, you can feel it through the TV or computer screen. Those who are more up to date with German football know that both these clubs are flopping. Maybe harsh considering Dortmund is only in 3rd place, but many pinned hopes on BVB leading the charge on pulling FC Bayern down of their throne. Instead, Dortmund is fighting it out with rising clubs like RB Leipzig, Hertha Berlin for champions league. Those rising clubs have pushed Schalke down to 9th, where from what I can see are twiddling their thumbs till next season arrives. But all the built up frustration and form is washed away with the arrival of this derby.

Monaco vs Paris Saint-Germain ( Sat 01 20:00 )

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Blessed be the name of the lord, blessed be your name, for God has given the holy grail of fixture lists this week – Revelations 10:66

I didn’t fact check that* but I’m pretty sure that was in Revelations. Makes sense to, if you look at the Expendables-esque lineup ahead. This one included. To steal another weighty proverb:

Onions have layers – Shrek

Not only do we have Monaco, who has the strike force equivalent to a roided up SEAL team; they face the current champions of France, PSG. Not only that, but they face each other in a Coupe de la Ligue fixture. Not only that. It’s the final. Monaco is showing PSG how it is done so far. None of this 6-1 loss to Barcelona crap and cry about it after (though they may have a point). Domestically, Monaco has the upper hand, 8 games left and holding the top spot. It’s impossible to do what PSG have done and maintained it. Now with Europe out the question and Monaco in line to win Ligue 1, this is their most likely and immediate chance of winning silverware this season.

*I’m not fake news please no hate.

Benfica vs FC Porto ( Sat 01 20:30 )

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With 10 games left, I can say with confidence that one of these 2 teams will win Liga NOS. As things stand, Benfica is 1st with 64 points, Porto is 1 place and 1 point behind them. The next closest are Sporting CP who are 9 points behind. And the name of this game: O Clássico. With a name like that you come to expect a certain level of football that is a given. With a combined 9 international titles between them, the weight is justified. WWWWWWD. WWWWWWD. One of those is the form of Porto, the other is the form of Benfica. Geographically is the only distinct difference between these 2. Clearly, on paper, there is very difficult to distinguish who is the better side. Not to resort to the wine cliche, so I’ll opt for the less used cheese analogy. Like a finely aged cheese (E.g. Monterey Jack), the derby has had over 100 years to affinage. the game itself predates the league it currently resides in by 22 years. That’s 1 Wisconsin cheddar older than Liga Nos. Not to undercut (please don’t click off) the tension with all this cheese talk, it really is one of the biggest derbies in the world, we expect grate things (please, please don’t click off).

Arsenal vs Manchester City ( Sun 02 16:00 )

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For better or worse – depending on your perspective – Arsenal is making bigger strides in the meme community than in the football community. The most recent loss to West Brom only adds more wood to a bonfire set alight months ago. WLLWLL. The Gunners form is horrific, and the gut instinct is change. But who? There are some shouts of Allegri but at this point, there is no way of distinguishing fact from fiction. You don’t want to end up with the next David Moyes, followed by Louis ‘philosophy’ Van Gaal*. Look at Man City. They knew Pep Guardiola was coming from the point Mancini left 4 years ago. While both currently reside in the tornado that formed between 2nd and 7th place, Man City unquestionably hold the upper hand. There is some hope for the home side, as the last 2 encounters in Emirates, Arsenal won both against Man City. That is the only positive thing I could find.

*I miss this man so much.

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

France vs Spain ( Tue 28 20:00 )

Hertha Berlin vs Hoffenheim ( Fri 31 19:30 )

Ajax vs Feyenoord ( Sun 02 13:30 )

Napoli vs Juventus ( Sun 02 19:45 )

 

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Scouting For Fixtures: Oct 17 – 0ct 23

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.

Liverpool vs Manchester United ( Mon 17 20:00 )

 

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Courtesy of Getty Images

 

 

I suppose Newton’s third law applies to football also. Last Monday night we had the Louis Van Gaal slumber-inducing level of entertainment in the international friendlies. Now we counteract that with Liverpool vs Manchester United, equivalent to the embodiment of anger, frustration and euphoria bundled into this mess of a human being. And isn’t that what football is all about? No? Well, it holds true to this north-west derby, where to loathe your rivals was institutionalised over generations. You might think I’m exaggerating but Liverpool legend Steven Gerrard, one of the nicest men in football, sounds more like a sleeper agent than a football player when recollecting his tackle on Ander Herrera: “I couldn’t stop myself. Without even giving myself time to think I brought my left foot stamping down on Herrera. I felt my studs sink into his flesh just above the ankle. It had to have hurt him.”. As for current standings, both teams could and should be doing better with the talent they have, but Mourinho and Manchester United are finding ever more ways to not win a football match. Be it late equalisers, missing easy goal scoring opportunities or amateur goalkeeping errors, and that was just from last week’s game. Liverpool are putting a tidy run together, with 4 consecutive wins, 2 of which came against Leicester and Chelsea. At Anfield, you would hedge your bets on an inform Liverpool, but in a derby of this nature, facing a team managed by Mourinho and lead by Ibrahimovic, you can’t count them out.

Leicester vs FC Copenhagen ( Tue 18 19:45 )

 

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Courtesy of Sky Sports 

 

 

Last month pundits thought it was impressive how FC Copenhagen kept their 37 game record of not losing at home intact, as they held Porto to a 1-1 draw. Fast forward 2 weeks and their home record becomes even more impressive as they thrash Belgium side Club Brugge 4-0; Thomas Delany stealing headlines with his peach of a volley. Leicester are cruising through the group stages so far, thwarting Club Brugge and securing 3 points against FC Porto. The Foxes may be heavy favourites against their counterparts, but The Lions have 10 years of European football experience under their belt. While Leicester City manager Claudio Ranieri still believes ‘we are underdogs’ in the UCL, on Tuesday it will be FC Copenhagen causing an upset if they can overthrow the Premier League champions in their own backyard.

Barcelona vs Manchester City ( Wed 19 19:45 )

 

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Courtesy of Getty Images

 

 

‘Stretched like spandex on Miami Beach’ is how football commentator Ray Hudson chose to describe Barcelona’s defending against Celta Vigo while painting a picture you wouldn’t associate with Sunday night football, but here we are. As that game ended 4-3 to Celta Vigo, it became more apparent that Barca couldn’t deal with counter attacking sides. We also saw Manchester City drop their first points in the Premier League, losing 2-0 to Tottenham with a counter-attack of their own. Guardiola is opting for possession based (60% per game) build up play, similar to his Barcelona and Bayern Munich sides. If required, the citizens have the players required to execute the potent counter-attacking press that saw Celta Vigo outscore an impressive Barcelona attack. However, the City defenders with have to face a player that the Celta Vigo defenders were fortunate enough not to, Lionel Messi.

Bayern Munich vs Borussia M. Gladbach ( Sat 22 17:30 )

 

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Courtesy of Bundesliga

 

 

Borussia M. Gladbach travels to Munich, tumbling down the table after losing 4-0 to Schalke. SCHALKE. To put that in perspective, Schalke’s league performances up to that point has been the following: L L L L L. Bayern Munich fans were also stunned, as the home side only came away with 1 point after FC Cologne somehow held Ancelotti’s side to 1 goal; goalkeeper Timo Horn made one of the best saves of the year. As we’ve all come to expect, Bayern Munich are dominating the league. As well as topping the league with 16 points, they also have the most shots per game (19), highest possession (66%), pass accuracy (87.2%) and conceded the least amount of goals (2). Just to make it harder for the away side, Bayern Munich haven’t lost in 16 games, while Gladbach only won 1/14 of their last away games. So why bother watching? Every team has a bogey team, for Chelsea, it’s Sunderland, for Barca you have Celta Vigo and for FC Bayern, Borussia M. Gladbach. In their last 6 encounters, Gladbach have won 3, drawn twice, meaning FC Bayern have only won once (in a penalty shootout).

Feyenoord vs Ajax ( Sun 23 13:30 )

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Courtesy of Getty Images

 

Remember when I said Liverpool vs Manchester United was a fierce rivalry where loathing your rivals was institutionalised over generations?  Well, that seems more like a pre-season friendly for these guys, who just want to kill each other. No really, here’s what Ajax legend Ruud Kroll had to say on the matter: ‘We wanted to kill them’. As fate would have it, in the late 90’s, the dangerous levels of aggression lead to ‘supporters’ following through on Kroll’s words. When Carlo Picornie was killed in 1997 as a result of the derby riots, it sobered the nation and dutch football, casting a shadow on De Klassiker that lasts till today. Sitting in a packed, freezing cold stadium full of screaming fans is a uniquely terrifying experience I witnessed first hand, as well as being subjected to security before and after the game that makes US border security look relaxed and incomprehensive. It was all worth it, as it was one of the best games of football I witnessed, ending 4-2. Moving on, this derby known as De Klassiker (the classic) is the biggest game in the Netherlands, with its roots dating back to the 13th century. As for the 2016-17 season, Feyenoord tops the table after 8 matches, yet to drop a point*. Ajax aren’t far behind, sitting 2nd and hope to close the 5 point gap. Both teams are aggressively attacking, with Ajax scoring 23 (2.9 per game) and Feyenoord with 20 (2.5 per game). Don’t miss it.

*As I’m typing this up I see Feyenoord losing 1-0 to NEC Nijmegen with 30 minutes left, making my stats redundant approximately 17 minutes after posting the article. Fantastic.

EDIT: Oh wait it’s ended 1-2, with Kramer scoring in the 91′ minute! Oh my god.

Pick of the week: Feb 1 – Feb 7

Pick of the week is a weekly blog for people that love the beautiful game. It comes out every Sunday and hand picks upcoming matches worldwide that week, which look set up for 90 minutes of non-stop action.

All times are in GMT.

  1. Leicester City vs Liverpool ( Feb 02 19:45 )

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League leaders Leicester take on the most exiting team in the BPL right now, Liverpool, and yes I am being serious. Jurgen Klopp’s aggressive passion to win and positive attitude seems to be rubbing off on the Liverpool players as you can see the beginnings of the high energy, aggressive press his Dortmund team perfected. Defensively it’s easy to see how much improvement is required, but on the up side, goals have been flowing with an average of 7.5 goals in their last 2 BPL matches, and Leicester will look to take full advantage on Tuesday. While Vardy and Mahrez have been less prominent in recent matches, the squad is still grinding out results and this team is very capable of doing a number on Klopp’s men.

 

 

2.  Granada vs Real Madrid ( Feb 05 19:30 )

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Granada are facing the revitalised Los Blancos under Zidane as he looks to continue his successful time managing Madrid. Zizou is beginning to do what Benitez never could; turn this exceptional group of individuals into a world-class team. The link up play is reminiscent to his times as a player in that amazing Madrid team that won the champions league all those years ago. The whole team are a joy to watch and everyone is enjoying the football in the Bernabéu; having scored 11 in their last 3, facing Granada who’ve conceded 43 goals so far. Granda are falling apart, with manager Sandoval adopting a 3-5-2 for god knows why, they look defensively hopeless but play attractive football; which explains how the last 5 matches have average 4.4 goals. With Ronaldo, Benzema and Rodriguez clinical as ever; they could do a repeat of this fixture last year where they humiliated the Nazaríes in a 9-1 demolition.

 

 

3. Schalke 04 vs Wolfsburg ( Feb 06 14:30 )

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Schalke welcome Wolfsburg to the Veltins-Arena on Saturday afternoon, a big match as only one point separates them, both teams are desperate for those last few European spots that remain. Both come into the match with abysmal form and injuries across the spine of the team, most notably their defensive frailties, evident as Schalke went into the winter break with a GD of -7 and Wolfsburg GD of -12 compared to this time last season. Both teams are desperate for this win, even if to gain any sort of momentum, potentially being decisive as to who will get into Europe.

 

 

4.  Ajax vs Feyenoord ( Feb 07 11:30 )

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The landmark fixture in Netherlands returns this Sunday. The rivalry starts at the Amsterdam-Rotterdam rivalry and stems into many different segments of dutch culture which turns the match into a magnet for controversy; the lowest point of which shocked the two cities and country, to silence, as one Ajax fan was killed in a pre game riot, now known as the Battle of Beverwijk. Since that event, violence, while still prevalent in this fixture, has never escalated to those levels, due to increased security, but also respect for the loss of life. For football fans the event holds a unique atmosphere, due to it’s rich history, fueled by the players passion and importance to win at all costs. The game is more important than ever as Ajax fight to regain the Eredivisie tittle from PSV Eindhoven. Feyenoord are in horrendous form with 4 consecutive losses but will not roll over against their most bitter rivals, in the spectacle that is De Klassieker.

 

 

5. Frosinone vs Juventus ( Feb 07 14:00 )

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The hopeless Frosinone face Juventus, hoping for anything less than a humiliation by the tittle holders on Sunday. The newly promoted side hold the unenvious record of the worst defence in Europe’s top 5 leagues, with a staggering 45 goals conceded. On the other hand Juve hold an unbelievable 13 wins in their last 14. The most notable of which being the young prospect Paolo Dybala who is on fire with 7 goals in the last 9, and the dominant Paul Pogba is in the form of his life having recently made FifaPro World 11. Allegri has also sured up the Juve defence with a remarkable 10 conceded in the last 20; the team have recovered miraculously to sit 2nd after their shocking start to the season. Frosinone have conceded an average of 4.5 goals against teams in the top 4; if this game is going to be anything like it’s suggests, it’s definitely worth the watch.

 

 

6.  Marseille vs PSG ( Feb 07 20:00 )

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Le Classique arrives this Sunday as Marseille clash against the best team in France, PSG, holding a remarkable record of being undefeated in the last 31 Ligue 1 games, and unbeaten all season. PSG put on a performance to be proud of last week with Di Maria running the show with two spectacular goals as the Paris side shifting into gear these last weeks. While they hold a remarkable +46 GD and 30 points above their opponents, it’s difficult to see how Marseille can get anything out of this game. The home side were dominated against recovering Lyon last weekend but hold a solid group of quality players in their squad, most notable of which are Cabella and Batshuayi with an impressive with 15 goals and 9 assists between them. While the score lines may tell one story, on the pitch Marseille are a fun team to watch with the majority of their attacks stemming from the wings, relying on individual skill more than most teams. While the odds suggest there is a clear winner, doesn’t mean Marseille aren’t capable of an upset at home.

 

 

Other Mentions:

Lazio vs Napoli ( Feb 03 19:45 )

Bayern Leverkusen vs Bayern Munich ( Feb 06 17:30 )

Verona vs Inter ( Feb 07 11:30 )

Levante vs Barcelona ( Feb 07 11:00 )

Club Brugge vs Gent ( Feb 07 13:30 )

 

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