Scouting for Fixtures: Mar 20 – Mar 26

Scouting for fixtures is a weekly blog for people who love the beautiful game. As well as seeking out the most entertaining games, each preview weaves the clubs into a greater football narrative. Each article is a selection of hand picked upcoming matches worldwide that week, which looks set for 90 minutes of non-stop action. 

All times are GMT.

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

Millonarios vs Santa Fe ( Mon 20 00:30 )

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

Germany vs England ( Wed 22 19:45 )

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

In fact the managers are also a microcosm:

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

x1 League Cup (Aston Villa)

x1 DFB-Pokal (VfB Stuttgart)

x1 League Cup (Middlesborough)

x1 Austrian Football Bundesliga (Tirol Innsbruck)

x1 Championship (Crystal Palace)

x1 Austrian Supercup (Austria Wein)

x1 FIFA World Cup Winner (2014)

x1 Sport Bild German Sports Manager of the Year

x2 German Football Manager of the Year

x1 FIFA World Coach of the Year

x1 IFFHS World’s Best National Coach

x1 L’Équipe Sports Manager of the Year

x3 Finger up the nose

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

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

Uruguay vs Brazil ( Thu 23 23:00 )

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

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

If your withdrawal symptoms are acting up again:

Argentina vs Chile ( Thu 23 23:00 )

Ireland vs Wales ( Fri 24 19:45 )

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Scouting for Fixtures: Nov 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: Oct 3 – Oct 9

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

All times are GMT.

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

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

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Courtesy of Jennifer Buchanan-USA TODAY Sports

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

Q: What’s Cascadia?

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

Q: Why is this a tournament?

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

Q: How does it work?

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

Current Standings:

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

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

Italy vs Spain ( Thu 06 19:45 )

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Courtesy of EPA

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

Paraguay vs Colombia ( Fri 07 01:30 )

Courtesy of FCF

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

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

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

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Courtesy of Getty Images

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

Scouting For Fixtures: Feb 29 – Mar 6

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

All times are in GMT.

1 . Fenerbahce vs Besiktas ( Mon 29 18:00 )

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We kick of with Monday night madness in this bullish Istanbul derby between the two front-runners of the Turkish league. As you’d expect from any Turkish derby, the atmosphere is second to none, with riots, flares and outbreaks to be expected. While it’s a local derby only 8 miles apart, the culture clash is huge. Besiktas sits on the European side of Istanbul while Fenerbahce locates in the Asian side of Istanbul, drawing in huge crowds across Turkey, both teams make up 53% of all Turkish league fans in the world. Looking at the league table, only separated by 1 point, Fenerbahce hold a cool 17 point gap on 3rd place Galatasaray. While it may not be as famous as the Fenerbahce vs Galatasaray fixture; the event is just as fiery, with the stadium filled in a smoky orange throughout the occasion and has 5 red cards in their last 6 encounters. The fixture holds greater weight than usual as one of these two will be winning the tittle and with steady form for both teams, this result could be crucial in winning the league.

2. Tottenham vs Arsenal ( Sat 05 12:45 )

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9 matches remaining and both teams neck and neck at the finish line, the immensity of the match is title defining at White Hart Lane this Saturday. The Gunners are well into their flow, with new and improved Danny Welbeck impressing against Barca, the whole attack is as good as ever. Spurs to have their chances of winning the league in this quiet charge over the last 2 months, but the big worry is how they’ll fair without the essential Mousa Dembele, Pochettino will have to rejig the midfield lineup to accomodate to the missing versatile midfielder. The former Arsenal man Harry Kane is the main threat upfront, netting 18 times this season. The Manchester United match and this North London derby could be the difference between Arsenal lifting the Premier League title after 12 years.

3. Borussia Dortmund vs Bayern Munich ( Sat 05 17:30 )

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Another classic Bundesliga clash returns this weekend as the two most exiting teams in Germany meet for the first time since the systematic demolition at the Bay Arena, finishing 5-1 to Pep’s Bayern Munich. The attacking lineups are unbelievable; Lewandowski, Costa, Robben, Reus, Aubameyang, Mkhitaryan, Muller, WOW. Their combined total is a staggering 110 goals. In their current mood, Dortmund are capable of beating Bayern at the Signal Iduna park, with Juventus managing to score 2 late goals, the sluggishness was clear to see from the backline. Der Klassiker in Germany, The German Classico, what ever you want to call it, this more recent rivalry has already produced it’s fair share of magic on and off the pitch, from cry babies, kung-fu kicks, traitors and mega score lines, who knows what’s going to happen on Saturday?

4. Sporting CP vs Benfica ( Sat 05 20:45 )

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This week is full of rivalries, and now we move to Portugal, where another title decider will be taking place, either Sporting, Benfica or Porto will take this years cup, and with only 3 points separating the two Lisbon teams, this is going to be crucial. Being one of the oldest derbies on the list, soaked in history, Derby de Lisboa is returning, 109 years and counting. This time at the José Alvalade stadium, the unpredictability is the only constant in this fixture, keeping the tension despite the peaks and troughs in their respective club histories. Slimani will be Benfica’s biggest worry, netting 18 times so far, but 2nd place Benfica hold one of the largest goal tallies (63) in Europe, one behind PSG, 78 behind Los Blancos in Madrid; all the stats just scream goals. Lisbon will come to a standstill Saturday night for the biggest derby in Portugal.

5. CSKA Moscow vs Spartak Moscow ( Sun 06 16:30 )

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From Lisbon we fly 2800 miles to the main Moscow derby between CSKA and Spartak. Despite St Petersburg falling behind the Russian premier league is tight at the top,with only 7 points separating the 6. The derby’s importance springs from the deeply political and violent foundation. Too often we see riots and clashes of football cultures during the fixtures, but it means the world to the fans and players. Its one of the few games in world football where once one goal goes in, the game literally becomes stretched. The midfield just vanishes into pockets of open space, and with the speed demons of Musa and Doumbia on the pitch, CSKA are capable of ending the game within the first half. The game doesn’t go without it’s foul play, leading to 1 red card every 2 matches. CSKA come in clear favourites but never discount the underdog in this derby.

6. River Plate vs Boca Juniors ( Sun 06 20:00 )

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In a single match these two managed 5 red cards, one of the most entertaining matches I have ever seen in my life. In a week full of derbies, I’ve left the trump card till the very end, the Super-classico returns. An unmissable event.  

Other Mentions:

Fiorentina vs Napoli ( Mon 29 20:00 )

West Ham vs Tottenham ( Wed 02 19:45 )

Liverpool vs Manchester City ( Wed 02 20:00 )

Inter vs Juventus ( Wed 02 20:00 )

Wolfsburg vs Borussia Mönchengladbach ( Sat 05 14:30 )

Valencia vs Atletico Madrid ( Sun 06 19:30 )

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