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.

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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 )

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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 )

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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.