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

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Scouting for Fixtures: Sept 26- Oct 2

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.

Leicester vs FC Porto ( Tue 27 19:45 )

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Courtesy of AFP

 

Well, this is weird. Even though it’s been a good 4 months since the Foxes won the Premier League, when the words Leicester and Champions League appear in the same sentence, one of them looks out of place. The feng shui is ruined if you will. And that’s a compliment; the amount of progress made by one team in one year is unprecedented and refreshing. Now they top their group and welcome FC Porto to the King Power on Tuesday. Porto’s first game ended 1-1. A draw which must have felt like a defeat, considering they were against 10 men Copenhagen at home. Copenhagen managed a mere two shots on goal, plus they were on the backfoot with only 43% possession. Porto needs to bring a different game plan to the King Power or Leicester will surely add another 3 points to their name.

Borussia Dortmund vs Real Madrid ( Tue 27 19:45 )

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Courtesy of AFP

 

This is the match to look forward too. Both teams are undoubtedly fun to watch play their brand of football. Dortmund still pioneers gegenpressing and do it better than any other team on the planet. Despite losing Hummels, Mkhitaryan and Gundogan, BVB has done well to sign Gotze back, the french talent Ossosuna Dembele and left back Guerreiro who was exceptional in their first UCL game with a goal, assist and a clean sheet. Real Madrid, on the other hand, is a team that I would make on FIFA 16, just trying to fit every attacking player on the pitch, into something resembling a functional starting XI. Zidane has added some stability with Casemiro playing CDM and they’ve also won the trophy 11 times; so clearly they’re doing something right. When we think Dortmund vs Real Madrid, the 4-1 is what we all remember. Regardless of the scoreline on Tuesday, it’s going to be a good game.

Atletico Madrid vs Bayern Munich ( Wed 28 19:45 )

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Courtesy of Bongarts

 

These types of fixtures have a semblance to those high profile games that on paper should be a ‘cracker’ but ends up being two teams trying their hardest not to concede and never (in the drunk, passionate, slightly slurred speech of a man hamstrung by his heavy dutch accent) think: ‘Yes! We go for it!’. But, go on, give it a chance. Atleti, while admired for their defensive prowess, aren’t usually described as entertaining.  However, this season they’ve shifted into gear and maintain the second highest shots per game in La Liga (18.8), outdoing even Barcelona. Antonie Griezmann is integral to the side, contributing to 40% of the sides goals and will be the target for the Bayern defenders. Simeone’s men have their work cut out as Bayern are the team to beat. After smashing FC Rostov 6-0 without breaking a sweat, Atletico has to deal with Lewandowski, Ribery, Costa, Alcantara, Muller, Renato Sanchez, Robben (maybe), Vid-. You get it. It’s likely the game will be tight as these two battle out for top spot, fingers crossed we can get more than last years 1-0.

Borussia M. Gladbach vs Barcelona ( Wed 28 19:45 )

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Courtesy of Getty Images

 

The running theme of this week’s games seems to be La Liga vs Bundesliga, now an underperforming Borussia M. Gladbach side faces Barcelona. The german side is in a tough group: Barcelona, Man City whom they lost to 4-0 and Celtic. Barcelona as we all expected, cruised through their first match, beating Celtic. What wasn’t expected was 7 goals with no response from the away side. Barcelona to win looks obvious. The only stat that inclines otherwise is that Gladbach has won all their home games, which is 2, out of a total 4 games this season. This looks like a cut and paste win for Barcelona, but maybe Gladbach can pull it out the bag.

Valencia vs Atletico Madrid ( Sun 02 11:00 )

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Courtesy of Getty Images

 

Atletico Madrid will go to Valencia 3 days after their encounter against Bayern Munich in the Champions league. The away side started with 2 disappointing draws against lesser opposition but since then look like a team possessed. A 4-0 win against Celta Vigo, 5-0 against Sporting Gijon, then holding Barcelona to a 1-1 draw which hasn’t been done by Atleti since 2014. Valencia to looks like a team possessed (by the ghost of Gary Neville), losing 4 matches in a row, subsequently sacking their manager Pako Ayesteran. This comes after another blow to their team over the summer seeing integral players like Mustafi, Andre Gomes and Pablo Alcacer leave. One notable stat from this fixture in the past is that a red card has been shown in 5 of the last 6 games. Looks like Atletico are going to thump the struggling home side, but the recovery from the UCL game could play a part in a potential upset.

Tottenham vs Manchester City ( Sun 02 14:15 )

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Courtesy of Getty Images

 

After 5 games, the table is starting to take shape. Manchester City is currently first and their five-game winning streak has incited some bookies to drop the odds of going unbeaten all season from 200/1 to 40/1. Bear in mind the odds (which no one took according to Ladbrokes) for Arsenal to go unbeaten in their 2003-04 season was 500/1, later reduced to 50/1 only towards the end of the season. The citizens have the firepower up front, scoring 14 goals already, but Tottenham has the most shots per game (19). Harry Kane’s injury is still inconclusive as to whether he is fit to start against Man City. Dembele, Dier and Rose are also recovering from injury and despite the holes left in the squad, Spurs are steady at a 3rd place after 5 games.

Scouting for Fixtures (European Fixtures only) : Sept 12 – Sept 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.

Champions League:

Paris Saint-Germain vs Arsenal ( Tue 13 19:45 )

Barcelona vs Celtic ( Tue 13 19:45 )

Manchester City vs Borussia M.Gladbach ( Tue 13 19:45 )

Bayern Munich vs FC Rostov ( Tue 13 19:45 )

Juventus vs Sevilla ( Wed 14 19:45 )

Tottenham vs Monaco ( Wed 14 19:45 )

Club Bruges vs Leicester ( Wed 14 19:45 )

UEFA’s disingenuous attempts to make the Champions League ‘better‘ has lead to a familiar backlash from the football community.

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‘Afraid, slammed, anger, backlash, rejected and revolt,’ is a word association list befitting a militarist dictator, not the Union of European Football Associations.

The Champions League is still the biggest club football tournament in the world, returning on Tuesday the 13th with so many fixtures to choose from. Usually I would preview each and every game but in this case, it seems futile. Chances are you know which fixtures you’ll be tuning into already.

Europa league:

Sassuolo vs Athletic Club ( Thu 15 16:00 )

Feyenoord vs Manchester United ( Thu 15 16:00 )

First timers Sassoulo come into the game heavy underdogs despite Atleti currently in 18th place. Sassuolo is a tough team to break down, conceding the 4th lowest goals in the league last season. Two of their defenders (Versaljko and Acerbi) were in the Whoscored. com Serie A team of the season. Atletic Bilbao is a fierce team themselves, winning the highest % of aerial duels last season. Atletic Bilbao actually rarely attack down their left side and Sassuolo’s influential Berardi will be operating at RW. The home side will have their hands full with the power of Aduriz, Inaki Williams’ pace and Benãt orchestrating from the midfield. Should be good. 

Manchester United come into their first Europa League fixture after losing to Manchester City and need a big win to regain their confidence. It looks like another difficult game for the Red Devils, as they’ve lost 6 out of their last 7 away games in European competitions (excluding qualifiers). Feyenoord has only won 1 out of their last 7 games against English opposition, so both teams are against the odds coming into the game. 

Champions League changes in Layman terms:

Not to dampen the mood with UCL and all, but enjoy the current format now because in 2 years it could be irreversibly changed. The biggest worry for fans is how UEFA ‘evolved’ their weighting system. From 2018/19 season onwards, historical weighting will be taken into account when calculating coefficients. In Layman terms, teams who’ve won it before are weighted higher than newbies. Let’s make it even harder for new/lower-ranked league teams to break into the UCL. Yaaay.

But why? It’s UEFA so it must be about…

Money. I didn’t leave out Basel vs Ludogrets and Porto vs Copenhagen (on my SFF post pls read thanks) because I have a vendetta against Liga Nos. On the whole, people want to watch the elite: Barcelona, Real Madrid, Manchester United (not even in UCL but whatevs) etc. So UEFA makes it easier for the elite clubs to play, more people watch, more profits. Either that or it’s just one big coincidence.

Scouting for Fixtures: May 9 – May 15

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.

While the season is almost all wrapped up, it’s not over yet, we still have one week, one more overwhelming, exhilarating, addictive, unmissable week of the beautiful game.

Lets go!

  1. West Ham vs Manchester United ( Tue 10 19:45 )

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West Ham have to win. There are no two ways about it; there’s too much riding on this to settle for anything less. All eyes will be fixed on this game as it decides the final champions league situation coming into the last round of games. Granted, Man City have to lose their game against Arsenal/Swansea to see the Hammers or Devils clinching that 4th spot; but as this goes out before Man City take on the Gunners; I write with quiet optimism that Arsenal don’t do an Arsenal and instead do us a big favour. 1 game in hand means if MUFC win they’re within 1 point of City, and the Hammers 2 points away if they win, coming into the last Sunday. A draw would do neither team any good, simultaneously shooting each other in the foot, cancelling out either clubs chances of Champions league. Regardless of the final score, for the home side; it’s more that just the outcome and champions league. West Ham vs Manchester United will be the final game before the Hammers depart from their beloved Boleyn Ground after 102 years of service. The Boleyn Ground has held it’s fair share of supporters, footballing talent and unique memories throughout the years; this leaves us with a fitting match to send off the old Park before a fresh start at the Olympic Stadium and a fresh start for West Ham.

 

 

2. Sunderland vs Everton ( Wed 11 19:45 )

Everton v Sunderland - Premier League

Much to my dismay it looks like Sunderland will probably stay in the premier league (no offence sunderland fans). If you saw Sunderland-Chelsea 5 goal thriller you saw how Sunderland were able to claw back a result after being 2-1 down, the highlight being Khazri’s smooth 3o yard volley. Foe Everton though, it’s fizzled out again, the fans and club build frustration and Martinez looks less and less likely to be the main man come next season. The capitulation in the last 4 games is particularly disheartening for all Everton fans considering how well they were doing a few months prior. A 4-0 loss to your biggest rivals, followed by a last minute Martial winner to kick Everton out the cup, third, a win to Bournemouth, both teams who have nothing left to play for, then yesterday loosing without putting up much of a fight against new champions Leicester. Morale might be a slight issue for the Toffees. Sunderland however stand to lose everything here, is it imperative to win, with the new premier TV deal coming into affect next season, it’s important not to hamstring their much needed chances of development with a huge investment increase of £258.13 million. Weather people like it or not, in the premier league, money talks, and it shouts. If Sunderland wants to remain in the pack with the top dogs, they have to stay up. From what we saw against Chelsea, it looks like they can.

 

 

3. DC United vs New York Red Bulls ( Sat 14 00:00 )

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Contrary to the running theme of finality in most of the mainstream leagues, here we have in the US of A, a refreshing old-school rivalry between the cultural capital and, you know, the actual one. These two cities are filled with regional rivalries: be it ice hockey in Washington Capitals (really creative name there) vs New York Rangers (not much better to be fair), New York Giants vs Washington Redskins in american football, and of course in proper football, DC United and New York Red Bulls. Holding the title of being the leagues oldest rivalry, this game has memorable MLS moments in one of the classic playoffs. Nicknamed the Atlantic Cup, it has too many moments to condense in one sitting, and with so much to football to unpack this week I found an interesting read i’ll link at the bottom. It may be that the love of the beautiful game doesn’t translate easily through to the states, but this rivalry has the passion we so often see in big footballing fixtures.

Top 10 Atlantic Cup moments

 

 

4. Bayern Munich vs Hannover 96 / Borussia Dortmund vs FC Cologne (Sat 14 14:30)

FC Bayern Muenchen v Borussia Dortmund - Bundesliga

Partly due to me writing a week ahead, also being the ‘final’ week, plus my personal indecisiveness and incompetence in general; i’m letting you the reader, chose which game to watch, as they both link to each other quite well. Chances are Bayern will see out the game and see to it they get the 4th consecutive Bundesliga title. But, statistically there’s a chance Dortmund can clinch the cup, statistically, that slight glimmer of hope. But yes if Bayern drop all points in their next 2 games and BVB win their last 2, ta daaa, they get the trophy. On the face of it, what’s even the point of watching. Usually Bayern will easily see out the games, but the draw with M.Gladbach plants the seed in your mind that they’re susceptible to the slip up in these situation. Fact is the title race should already be over. Bayern should’ve beaten M.Gladbach and should’ve already been crowned champions. But they haven’t and here we are. The pressure continues to build as they fly out of the champions league, and yes it’s Atletico Madrid, but you have Guardiola saying if they did not win the champions league he considers the season a failure. That sort of pessimism can easily trickle down into the players and affects morale, which is most important now more than ever. So i’m putting out two scenarios: If Bayern win against Ingolstadt, then by all means skip this one if you wish, but if they lose against Ingolstadt then all eyes are on FC Bayern to lose and Dortmund to take full advantage and beat FC Cologne and collect a well deserved cup.

Edit: For God’s sake Bayern have won, rendering this whole section almost useless, but I’m too stubborn to discard this whole bit. I mean you can watch Bayern celebrate the league win, again, yaaay. Or you might as well watch the No. 3.

 

 

5. Werder Bremen vs Eintracht Frankfurt ( Sat 14 14:30 )

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With a week packed with the likes of Bayern, Barca and Los Blancos, why watch Werder Bremen and Eintracht Frankfurt? Usually discarded as relegation fodder; as we edge towards the final week, theres a good case to be made for all teams between 12th -17th position of going down. The 5 position wide crevice, filled with teams between 33 and 37 points leaves a chance for any of these teams to fall into the 2 relegation places still in contention; Hannover 96 securing their ticket to the 2nd division well in advance with only 22 points to their name. These two are the two most in danger of relegation along with VfB Stuttgart (33 points: 17th pos), Frankfurt stuck in 16th with 33 points and Werder jumping 2 places up after beating Stuttgart elevate themselves just safe with a slim 34 points, one spot off relegation in 15th. Everything is at stake for and it goes down to the wire. This game will be the most important game in delivering the final verdict and it’s very likely that whoever wins this game is going down. Expect the fight, passion and the charged atmosphere of two teams giving everything to stay up, and the to other go down.

 

 

6. Deportivo La Coruna vs Real Madrid / Granada vs Barcelona /                                        _iAtletico Madrid vs Celta Vigo ( May 14 16:00 )

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Los Blancos and Barca have easy fixtures on paper, but their opponents too are desperate for the points to stay up, Granada especially, sitting in in 16th, another tight situation as 19th – 16th all separated by only one point. Deportivo aren’t far behind them in 15th, 4 points above relegation. Celta Vigo however are an accomplished side and have proved to be tough opposition, looking like, but not secured, the last european spot at 6th. But that’s evidently not why you’re all here. After Barcelona lost the 3 consecutive games the title race has burst back into life and this is the climax, the big finish, the moments football fans wait all season for. This is the big one. All 3 teams separated by only 1 point. One silly mistake or slip up is all it takes.

 

 

7. Reims vs Lyon ( Sat 14 20:00 )

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By now you’d have seen the result for the pivotal Lyon vs Monaco game, pinning either team for the final champions league spot. Lyon hammer the final nail in the coffin for Monaco’s champions league hopes, demolishing them in an emphatic 6-1 win. Reims too face their own challenge of staying up, with the relegation prospects a very real possibility after only 9 wins all season and 19th position. Reims weren’t blessed with a favourable list of fixtures in the last month with Nice, Marseille and now Lyon. The most recent loss to Marseille leaves them 36 points but only 1 point off 18th (Ajaccio) and 17th place (Toulouse). Even if they beat Lyon this weekend, it ultimately relies on the other two teams slipping up, which is a very real possibility. The home side will have to take the game to Lyon if they want a fighting chance of staying up, and could end up being a high scoring game.

 

 

8. Manchester United vs Bournemouth / Swansea vs Manchester City (Sun 15 15:00)

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Right now Man City are about to play a big match against Arsenal in which they have to win if they want to come into the final round with some room for error. Depending on how that plays out, we have 2 teams both going all out for the 4th champions league spot. It’s gonna be like the final week, 3 years ago where Aguuuueeeeerrrrrrooo fired in a 93rd minute winner to secure their first ever PL title, Manchester United just behind. Goes to show how much both teams have receded over the years, once battling it out for the title, now battle it out for champions league. But a battle it will be nonetheless.

 

 

 

 

It may be over for the Barclays Premier League, Bundesliga, La Liga, Serie A, Ligue 1 and many more big footballing leagues, but football never stops.

The silver lining being an FA cup final still to play for, don’t forget the championship playoffs, how about the champions league final, and then we’re treated to not just 1, but 2 international tournaments in the summer with Euro 2016 and Copa America 2016.

This may be the end for Scouting for Fixtures, until next season begins, but again, football never stops, and neither will I. Expect more and varied content on the site as the big tournaments are looming.

Scouting for Fixtures: May 2 – May 8

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.

the accumulation of 3240 minutes of football all comes down to the next 90 minutes

I couldn’t make a preview about Leicester vs Everton but WATCH IT. DON’T MISS IT.

  1. Bayern Munich vs Atletico Madrid ( Tue 03 19:45 )

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I called it! Atletico Madrid will win their first champions league cup and I called it from the start. Of course they still have the simple task of drawing/beating Bayern Munich at the Allianz, face either Man City or Real Madrid in San Siro under the eyes of the world, then fingers crossed they don’t do a repeat of 2014 where they blew it in the last seconds to an overwhelming attacking outfit. No pressure. The 1-0 scoreline couldn’t be less reflective of the game panned out. I mean; yes only one goal was scored, but it could’ve easily been more. The game had a good rhythm and fast tempo with a few heart in you mouth moments, hitting the woodwork 4 times, one being a cracker from Alaba swerving and dipping onto the bar. At this point it really is impossible to pick who’s going to the final. With good cases to be made for both sides, fate will play a crucial part in who ends up of the flight to San Siro and who’s going home.

 

 

2. Real Madrid vs Manchester City ( Wed 04 19:45 )

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Well, I might not be the football genius I touted myself a mere paragraph ago. Last week I said, direct quote: ‘this game has goals written all over it’. Final scoreline: 0-0. Swiftly moving on, we now have an open game at the Bernabéu. Madrid have lost Ronaldo to injury in the process, but if City put out a performance like that, los blancos might as well book their tickets in advance. This time the attack is what let City down, with one of the worst performances from Aguero and dire game overall. When 50 seconds of a 2 minute highlight video consists of shaking hands, confetti, a coin toss and a cut and paste generic crowd shot; it’s safe to say you didn’t miss much. Not a single shot on target in the first half, with Aguero, De Bruyne, Benzema and Bale on the pitch. It was the complete opposite of the Atleti-Bayern fixture. Lets hope we get the champions league semi final we all expected.

 

 

3. Borussia M.Gladbach vs Bayer Leverkusen ( Sat 07 14:30 )

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Borussia M.Gladbach’s thin chance of snatching 3rd place from Bayer is all but over, Leverkusen’s faultless performances (7 game winning streak) see them shoot up the table leaving an 8 point gap with 2 games remaining. Bayer too have the edge on Borussia as they demolished them 5-0. So what’s the point in watching? True, technically Bayern have nothing to play for, but look slightly lower down the table and you’ll find Borussia in the middle of a four way showdown between 4th – 7th place, separated by only 3 points. Dropping points is not an option for any of these sides, and Gladbach will have to pull it out of the bag if they want a chance of beating the in form Bundesliga team. Tensions are rising, with direct competition facing ‘easy’ opponents, there is no room for error. If Gladbach lose this fixture, they’re gonna drop from a secure champions league qualifiers place, to the perilously low, last europa league spot coming into the final week of football.

 

 

4. Middlesbrough vs Brighton ( Sat 07 12:30 )

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It’s rare you’ll see a second division game make it on this list, but this is too good to pass up. The final week of championship football, minus playoffs, and we have another make or break game. Middlesbrough still remain 1st, only one point behind Burnley (2nd) and Brighton (3rd) but are faltering as they fail to get the job done, drawing their last 3. Brighton aren’t handed any favours as they face Derby before this game, just as important in who makes the playoffs. Expect more drama and mayhem as the mad scramble for promotion reaches its climax and the season nears it’s end.

 

 

5. Lyon vs Monaco ( Sat 07 20:00 )

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Though PSG have run away with it, the competition in the french league is only getting tighter as Lyon and Monaco play their most important game of the season. With both sides playing, again ‘easy’ opposition next week, this will be special. Separated by 0 points, Lyon edge Monaco in 2nd place by goal difference. As there are only 2 champions league spots in Ligue 1, who ever wins this has the champions league spot in their hands, and for them to lose in the final week. If they draw, then it becomes even tighter as 4th place Saint-Etienne are only 2 points behind if they win their game against Nice who are only one point off Saint-Etienne. A lot to take on board there, but the weight of the game will bring out the best in the players, the accumulation of 3240 minutes of football all comes down to the next 90 minutes; making or breaking the season. Moments like this are why we love football.

 

 

 

Other Mentions:

Brighton vs Derby ( Mon 02 14:30 )

Chelsea vs Tottenham ( Mon 02 20:00 )

Liverpool vs Villarreal ( Thu 05 20:05 )

Aston Villa vs Newcastle United ( Sat 05 15:00 )

Leicester vs Everton ( Sat 07 17:30 )

Nice vs Saint-Etienne ( Sat 07 20:00 )

 

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

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

All times are in GMT.

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

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

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

 

 

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

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

 

 

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

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

 

 

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

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

 

 

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

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

 

 

Other Mentions:

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

Galatasaray vs Fenerbahce ( Wed 13 17:30 )

Atletico Madrid vs Barcelona ( Wed 13 19:45 )

Benfica vs Bayern Munich ( Wed 13 19:45 )

Inter vs Napoli ( Sat 16 19:45 )

 

 

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

Scouting for Fixtures: Apr 4 – Apr 10

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.

‘Forget Dortmund vs Bayern Munich; this is the biggest derby in Germany.’

  1. Barcelona vs Atletico Madrid ( Tue 05 19:45 )

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Often the CL brings out the best in the world, as shown the last time these two faced each other where Diego produced this atomic rocket strike from distance, swerving into the top corner. What we have here is an even split, the best attack in the world against the best defence in the world. Looking at Atleti, they embody hard work and determination. For a team to concede 14 goals in 30 games is testament to Simeone’s capabilities as a world-class coach. While they’re not as easy on the eye, they get the job done and get results. With one exception. Despite the rock solid defence, and even a considerably threatening attack; the Catalonian giants have won the last 6/6 matches between these 2, 5 of them as recently as last year. What we’re seeing with MSN is 3 players in their prime (debatable with Neymar) and considered by many the best player in their respective positions. They hold their place in a bracket with the likes of the Best-Charlton-Law and Rivaldo-Ronaldo-Ronaldinho trios. If the Madrid side want to beat Barca they have to shut down Mr Peekaboo, Sergio Busquets. He’s the pivot between defence and midfield and is vital to Barca’s success over the years. Shut him down and your halfway there. Will they? Well they’re capable, and done it before, but it’s impossible to sustain that level of pressure for 90 minutes. It’s all up in the air.

 

 

2. Borussia Dortmund vs Liverpool ( Thu 07 20:05 )

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It’s definitely an emotional return for the former Dortmund man, Jurgen and Liverpool travel to Germany, taking on cup favourites Borussia Dortmund. When Klopp took over Dortmund he inspired this mid-table side with his tactical-nous and unique man management, elevating them to European status and leaving a profound impact on players and fans alike. Since the Liverpool move, even in his short tenure we’re seeing the beginnings of that relentless ‘heavy metal’. The disparity between the two sides is apparent. Liverpool are a team in progress but Dortmund are fully realised, with great understanding of Thomas Tuchel’s system and players of a different calibre to most of the Anfield players. BVB (weren’t exactly going for it… but still) comfortably cruised through what looked to be tough opposition Spurs, with a 5-1 win on aggregate. Expect a warm reception from the yellow wall, but a restless 90 minutes as both thrive on the counter with fast, precision play.

 

 

3. West Ham vs Arsenal ( Sat 09 12:45 )

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The premier league is imploding. You’ve got Chelsea in mid-table, Leicester and Tottenham the two tittle challengers and now West Ham have a chance of champions league. Slaven Bilić has gone above and beyond the expectation of even the most optimistic West Ham fans, as they contemplate going into next season with an Olympic stadium and potentially European football. Arsène Wenger’s under the gun to keep Arsenal afloat and hold a slim 4 point hold on a struggling Man City. If one word could describe this Arsenal side, it would be bipolar. Unfortunately for Arsenal they’ve developed a habit of clutching defeat from the jaws of victory; what’s most worrying is that it usually against the grain. They should take a leaf out of Bendtner’s book. Even if Arsenal brings their a-game it doesn’t bode well for the away side. The Hammers have the best home form in the league with 16 points out of a total 18, beating Southampton, Liverpool and Tottenham in the process, which Arsenal never managed when at home. Both teams need the 3 point as insurance for Europe as with 7 weeks left, only a few points separate the window of uncertainty between 3rd to 7th.

 

 

4. Schalke 04 vs Borussia Dortmund ( Sun 10 14:30 )

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Forget Dortmund vs Bayern Munich; this is the biggest derby in Germany. The Rivierderby is one of the few that remain un-sedated by the modern game, with an atmosphere that literally shakes the Sudtribune to its foundation. The home side are tucked in neatly in 5th place, insuring Europe, but the current forms suggest anything but an easy end to the season. The downfall for Schalke is their in creative play, as there isn’t any. On paper they should be, with the young flair of Meyer and Sane mixed with the experience of Huntelaar, but what we mostly see is rigid, stale and careless. When they do turn up they produce the best football Bundesliga has to offer, and be sure they’ll bring their best to this derby. We already know how good Dortmund are, but even for them, they’ve been exceptional all season. It’s evident in the league, as for the first time in years Bayern Munich have an actual rival in BVB. As for what to expect; the 2015 resulted in an average of 4 goals a game and with Dortmund being as clinical as they are this season, expectations are high.

 

 

5. Tottenham vs Manchester United ( Sun 10 16:00 )

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If Tottenham want a chance of winning their first ever Premier league title, they have to win every game left to bridge the 7 point gap between them and Leicester. Man Utd hold a different challenge as they sit in the aforementioned ‘window of uncertainty’, the two Manchester clubs and West Ham battle for the 4th and 5th European spot. Tottenham’s spine looks in good shape with Kane, Alli and Dier, crucial to the 3-2 comeback against the world cup winners (what d’you mean Netherlands?) and would give a boost to Pochettino’s men ahead of the fixture. The Man Utd players didn’t have any notable performances during the international break. The Red Devils have gone backwards over the course of the season as Louis Van Gaal’s tenure has been just short of a catastrophe. The team is so deep in disarray, there’s no notable style of play and are now out of Europe, out of the title race and out of ideas. This seems the sort of game where Tottenham can send a statement to the rest of the league with a big performance as Man Utd are technically a ‘big club’. Take from that what you will. Spurs are superior in almost every department apart from the GK spot, but I doubt even De Gea can save United from the impending collapse.

 

Other Mentions:

Bayern Munich vs Benfica ( Tue 05 19:45 )

Wolfsburg vs Real Madrid ( Wed 06 19:45 )

Paris Saint Germain vs Manchester City (Wed 06 19:45 )

Real Salt Lake vs Colorado Rapids ( Sun 10 02:30 )

 

 

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

 

Pick of the Week: Feb 22 – Feb 28

Pick of the week 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 . Arsenal vs Barcelona ( Tue 23 19:45 )

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This weeks main attraction, Arsenal and Barcelona battle for the precious champions league quarterfinal spots. The Catalonian giants cruised through the group stages, granted it wasn’t particularly challenging, finished 8 points clear of 2nd place Roma, with the only hiccups being Roma and Leverkusen. Arsenal had a very different story reaching the last 16, all hopes pinned on a 3 goal away win against a notoriously tricky Olympiakos side, but managed it comfortably, showing a drastic improvement in their questionable mental toughness. It’s just a shame they’ve got the worst draw possible. In their defence, Arsenal are well versed in playing Europe’s elite, facing Bayern Munich 6 times in the last 3 years, beating them twice. The neutrals however, are hoping Barca replicate the high scoring spectacles and upsets that this type of fixture often produces. While The Gunners are capable of an upset here, everyone is well aware that on their day Barca are one of the few teams that are genuinely unplayable.

 

 

2. Juventus vs Bayern Munich ( Tue 23 19:45 )

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The great minds at UEFA came to the conclusion that the two biggest fixtures in the last 16 should be played at the same time. Therefore we have the Italian champions facing their German counterpart on Tuesday night at the San Siro. It’s rare to see two title winners face off this early in the competition, but Juve’s mercurial form snowballed into ever growing self-doubt; leading to the last day where Juve lost to Sevilla and handed Man City the top spot. Bayern toped their group, 6 years and counting, the only worry being a 2-0 loss at the Emirates for the Bavarian side. Now, Juventus are an entirely different beast. The unbeatable side completed the rise to the top after beating Napoli, making that 15 Serie A wins in a row, and show no signs of slowing down. Bayern too are in remarkable form, winning 18/21 matches in the Bundesliga, only losing once so far. The only hindrance for Juve is the 3-5-2 system, exposing the wings. With Douglas Costa’s lighting quick pace and Arjen Robben returning after his injury; both look dangerous for Bayern, in what will be a tense match in Turin.

 

 

3. Real Madrid vs Atletico Madrid ( Sat 27 15:00 )

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On par with El Classico in sheer quality, the Madrid derby returns this weekend, with both teams separated by 1 point and the La Liga title slipping further into Barcelona’s hands, it’s a must win for all involved. Atleti are the more balanced team of the two, a solid spine of Griezmann, Gabi, Godin and Oblak put them in good stead. The main worry for Los Blancos are the defensive frailties. The lapses of concentration and tactical ineptitude must drive Zidane up the wall. To rub salt in the wounds, both Pepe and Varane out and no other centre back to partner Ramos, the spine has no base. This is Real Madrid’s biggest test after their capitulation at Barcelona, with a chance to show how far they’ve come under Zidane. No love lost between these two, last year averaged 8 cards per game, the atmosphere never disappoints and expect both teams to leave their hearts on the field.

 

 

4. Manchester United vs Arsenal ( Sun 28 14:05 )

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The most mediocre defence in the league, just off a well deserved loss to the Danish minos FC Midtjylland and a whole starting XI injured; par for the course at Old Trafford. Things couldn’t get much worse for the Manchester side, but as fate would have it they face Arsenal, with one of the best attacks in the league. Yes Arsenal too have their problems at times, but nowhere near to United’s issues. A late winner against Leicester will give them great confidence coming into the match, also to take main man Sanchez of the injury list is a relief to the Gunners, bolstering an already menacing attack. The only glimmer of hope for Manchester United is young star Anthony Martial, but the overwhelming injuries fills all Man Utd fans with dread coming up to this fixture. The inconsistency has become near toxic at Old Trafford, with many fans close to the end with Louis Van Gaal. If Arsenal are looking for revenge for the 8-2 humiliation; now is as good a chance as any.

 

 

 

5. Liverpool vs Manchester City ( Sun 28 16:30 )

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Everyone loves a cup final, and Wembley hosts the first one of the year, Liverpool and Manchester City play for the Capital One cup this Sunday. This Liverpool side is just so fun to watch right now, the combination of poor defending and outstanding attacking is the perfect match for entertainment. Last time these two met it was one way traffic for the reds, as they won 1-4 at the Etihad. Since then it’s gotten progressively worse for Man City, only 2 wins in the last 6 and 6 points of the top spot, there’s a worrying lack of urgency about all of it. Liverpool look slight favourites to win the cup but cup games are famously difficult to predict.

 

 

Other Mentions:

AEL Limassol vs Apollon Limassol ( Wed 24 14:00 )

Leicester vs Norwich ( Sat 27 15:00 )

Juventus vs Inter ( Sun 28 19:45 )

Lyon vs PSG ( Sun 28 20:00 )

 

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