Scouting for Fixtures: Apr 17 – Apr 23

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.

There are so many good fixtures this week. It’s like Christmas, new years, Halloween, Hannukah, Diwali and Chinese new years wrapped into one week of non-stop, top quality, football. 

Real Madrid vs Bayern Munich ( Tue 18 19:54 )

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Cristiano has chromosomes bussing about his body that belongs in a Bengal tiger – Ray Hudson on Cristiano Ronaldo

As the old adage goes I suppose… and with those inspiring words by Ray Hudson – football commentator/scouser/poet/philosopher – I horrifically segway into the Ronaldo’s goal against Bayern that only strengthens the point made above.

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That was one of 3 turning points. The 2nd and 3rd, which came 11 and 14 minutes later, were Javi Martinez’s 1st and 2nd yellow card, leaving Bayern 10 men down. That lead to their first loss in the Allianz Arena (in a competitive game) since March the 3rd, of 2016. If it wasn’t for Manuel Neuer the having one of the best games in recent memory, the tie could already be over. But it finished 1-2, holding the tie up nicely into the second leg; now Bayern needs to score at least 2 goals at the Bernabeu which could leave them exposed at the back.

Barcelona vs Juventus ( Wed 19 19:45 )

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This isn’t just Barcelona’s own doing. Juventus are – in my humble opinion – the best team in the world right now, with not only individual quality, but a consistently strong tactical awareness as a group, that I can only say is replicated at a similar rate by, Bayern Munich. They hit Barca like a train. The problems at the back are a well known long term issue for the Catalonians, but that’s not what happened here. Paolo Dyzbala’s what happened here, not to take away from a rare brilliant team performance, with Buffon and Chiellini making world class blocks. Now Barca has to pay another set of referees all over again. Oh no, wait! No, sorry I meant: They have to do one of the greatest comebacks in football history, all over again, to progress to the next round.

Monaco vs Dortmund ( Wed 19 19:45 )

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I can’t talk about this fixture without addressing the extraordinary circumstances of the last leg. There are many arguments for and against holding the game just a day after the attempted bombing of the Dortmund bus, but the decision was made and now we have a vert different game. Who knows? Who knows if Dortmund would have played differently if the game was delayed? As a player, well, for any human being, the idea of an attempt to kill you surely must have an impact on your mind and psyche? Then you’re expected to go out and focus for 90 minutes against one of the best sides in Europe requires tremendous mental fortitude. But nonetheless, we had a game not out of place with the quality you’d expect, ending 2-3. A similar dilemma to Bayern Munich rests on their other German side, as BVB needs to beat Monaco by 2 goals in the next leg. After the first goal goes in, the floodgates will open.

Chelsea vs Tottenham ( Sat 22 17:15 )

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It looks like the magic of the cup is all but been extinguished with the sides left in the competition, exactly what you’d expect. Chelsea, Tottenham, Arsenal and Manchester City. Though at least now we have a more even fixture. We can’t complain too much considering the quality on display in this fixture, Conte’s side already has one hand on the Premier League trophy and only cement their place as one of the most hated clubs in England. But if anyone can stop them, it is Tottenham. They have Guardiola’s backing:

Tottenham are the best team in the league when you let them play. I enjoy watching them play.

They’re the 2 best sides in England and if previous encounters are something to go by, the cards could be flying out like confetti. Though Spurs are hopelessly behind in the league, they have one last chance to trip them up.

Real Madrid vs Barcelona ( Sun 23 19:45 )

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We’re well into the third act of a well versed, but nonetheless captivating story. And this is the climax before the final resolution. The words El Classico is synonymous with the beautiful game, attracting crowds of up to 400 million people, roughly 1/18 people in the world. Touted as one of the greatest games of football one can play, the circumstances surrounding the fixture makes this game even more important. Both sides are in the middle of a tough fixture list. Barca played Sevilla, Malaga, Juventus, Real Sociedad and then Juventus again while Real Madrid had to face Atletico Madrid, FC Bayern, Sporting Gijon and FC Bayern again in the build up to this pivotal tie. The Catalonians are 3 points behind Los Blancos who have a game in hand. After this, they’re only 5 games to decide the league winner. The only realistic way of Barca winning the league, is to win this game. The winner of La Liga rests on the outcome of this game.

It’s also worth mentioning …

Messi is 29 years old, Ronaldo, 32. This is as good as it gets for two of the greatest players of all time, a once in a generation type player. Not to say they suddenly lose all motor functions in the coming years, or there won’t be any more moments of brilliance, but this is usually near the drop off point. This may be one of the last chances to see the 2 in their prime. Enjoy this game for what it is, a competition between two of the best teams – and players – in the world.

Games you should also watch but I was too lazy to write about:

Leicester vs Atletico Madrid ( Tue 18 19:54 )

America de Cali vs Deportivo Cali ( Thu 20 01:55 )

Schalke 04 vs Ajax ( Thu 20 20:05 )

Dynamo Kyiv vs Shakhtar Donetsk ( Fri 21 18:00 )

FC Cologne vs Hoffenheim ( Fri 21 19:30 )

Sporting CP vs Benfica ( Sat 22 20:30 )

Portland Timbers vs Vancouver Whitecaps ( Sat 22 21:00 )

Celtic vs Rangers ( Sun 23 12:00 )

Arsenal vs Manchester City ( Sun 23 15:00 )

PSV Eindhoven vs Ajax ( Sun 23 15:45 )

Lyon vs Monaco ( Sun 23 20:15 )

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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: Mar 28 – Apr 3

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.

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 Hendrik Johannes Cruijff ( April 25 1947 – March 24 2016 )

  1. Bayer Leverkusen vs Wolfsburg ( Fri 01 19:30 )

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The two teams sit shy of the 4 champions league spots up for grab and with the final weeks of the season are underway, this is a last big push for both teams to jump into the top 4 while simultaneously putting the other team out of their misery. Both teams have been disappointing in the games they’ve lost and in the manner they achieved the ‘biggest bottlers in the bundesliga’ title. For Wolfsburg, who knows what’s going to happen during the 90 minutes? When you beat a formidable Borussia M.Gladbach side and the following week lose to prime relegation candidates Hoffenheim; it’s hard to see how the sporadic form equates to a definite win for the away side with the 3rd worst away form in the league with 4L 1D 1W (last 6 games). Bayer aren’t in a much better state themselves. Throughout the season they’ve been kindly donating points to those in need, but it’s come to a do or die as the season comes to a close. Bayer need to shift a couple gears up if they want to catch the others, and from what we’ve seen they’re doing just that. The form has picked up and wins are coming back with Chicharito the man leading the charge. It should be mentioned that the game is a goal magnet, for the last 3 years it’s managed an average of a remarkable 4.5 goals a game. That’s helped further by both defences riddled with injuries and attack minded coaches at the brim.

 

 

 

2. Liverpool vs Tottenham ( Sat 02 17:30 )

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Klopp’s got his work cut out as the Liverpool bunch face the title challengers Tottenham at Anfield. It may be both teams separated by 7 places; both stand in the way of accomplishing the others season goal, of winning the PL title or reaching the top 4. Liverpool in the top 4? Well, I mean theoretically (with a huge dollop of luck) it’s possible, Liverpool are only 7 points behind Man City with a game in hand. The Manchester derby left only more questions unanswered on how they’re planning to turn this awful run of form around. Leaving Liverpool very much in the mix with an underperforming Man Utd and and inexperienced but in-form West Ham (and Southampton & Stoke but really … I wouldn’t count on it) to contest with. It will be an important and tense match to those clubs in the upper end of the Premier league, this late on into the season. Looking ahead to the fixture itself, it’s easy to see that Spurs will dominate the match, but the potent counter attack is capable (but unreliable) to devastating effect.

 

 

 

3. Barcelona vs Real Madrid ( Sat 02 19:30 )

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If you want one single fixture that encapsulates modern football and the beautiful game in 90 minutes; you can’t look past, El Clasico! The rivalry is unlike any other in the world, immersed in rich history and amplified by the endless conveyor belt of superstars at disposal. Throughout the years it has transformed into a global event by just the unfathomable, sheer weight of the two clubs. Literally, they are the 2 biggest clubs in the world, with a combined value of $6.4 billion (bear in mind the GDP of Monaco is only $6 billion) and a conservative estimate of $670 million of talent starting at the Nou Camp. Barcelona are favourites to take all 3 points, 1st in the league. Real Madrid and Zidane, while shifting the style of play is yet to move the team forward substantially and challenge the Catalonian giants. Averaging a 4 goals a game ratio for 3 years, and with the best attacking players in the world playing, it looks like another goal fest this Saturday night.

 

 

 

4. Lazio vs Roma ( Sun 03 14:00 )

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For those outside Italy if I asked you: What’s the biggest derby in Italy? 9/10 people would probably say the Milan derby; but within the borders, the Roman derby takes on that role, in what is a uniquely fierce Derby della Capitale. The derby itself has a deep, dark and hidden past behind it. Roma was actually built by Mussolini who combined 3 of the Roman clubs in a fascist regimen to challenge the established Italian clubs. Lazio was the only large club to resist and from there flourished one of the most violent derbies in the world. The fascist roots, while wiped clean from the internal structure of both clubs, is still prevalent among both sets of fans and brews a very tense atmosphere. The violence and hatred in the derby is truly underrated, on the derby day roads are closed in a 20 block radius! Rome transforms from a buzzing capital tourist attraction to a quiet and reserved city in the days leading up to the fixture. This weight of the occasion is felt by the players and with Roma legend Totti playing his last ever Roman derby, the impotence is on Roma to do their captain proud, and for Lazio to ruin the party. The league standings do not matter. Form is irrelevant. Simply put, losing is not an option.

 

 

 

5. Palmeiras vs Corinthians ( Sun 03 20:00 )

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The oldest derby in Sao Paolo returns for it’s 99th year anniversary in a fixture that ranks the tenth greatest rivalry of all time. Throughout the years it’s maintained a competitive edge despite Palmeiras having fallen from the top tier of Brazilian teams in Paulista A1. With the 350th match being played in the Allianz Parque the record currently stands with the home side just edging at 122 wins compared to Corinthians 120 wins. Palmeiras was originally formed out of Corinthians as the European faction within the club split and were known within the city as ‘traitors’. There are many memorable moments over the years, most recently the 3-3 thriller; and in-fact inspired a Romeo and Juliet film based on the two clubs (yikes). Brazil being as big a footballing nation as they come, the day is an event in Sao Paolo, with passion running high, vibrancy and endless colour, as with all Brazilian classics.

 

 

 

Other Mentions:

Germany vs Italy ( Tue 29 19:45 )

Arsenal vs Watford ( Sat 02 15:00 )

Leicester vs Southampton ( Sun 03 13:30 )

Manchester United vs Everton ( Sun 03 16:00 )

 

 

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