Scouting For Fixtures: Nov 14 – Nov 20

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

All times are GMT.

Manchester United vs Arsenal ( Sat 19 12:30 )

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

 

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Courtesy of Sky Sports, only competitive games listed.

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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!