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.
A guy chatting absolutely anything in a desperate attempt to keep the reader’s attention in this football-esque blog. I also do football previews, kinda…
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Lazio vs Napoli ( Wed 20 19:45 )
In response to Lazio’s 4-1 win against AC Milan 8 days ago; ‘We have to be like Fantomas,’ Lotito told Corriere della Sera.
Right who is this Lotito guy?
President of Lazio.
But who or what is Fantomas?
So when I googled Fantomas the first image that popped up raised far more questions than I expected:
If this first generation blue man group member wasn’t strange enough (I promise this will come back to football) things take another unexpected turn, opening up a new can of worms.
Hmmmm. Ok, Lazio needs to embody the ways of a French serial killer who dresses like a Bond villain with a blue face.
Lotito continues: ‘We stay hidden and then appear at the right time. In Serie A Lazio dress as a schoolboy from a humble background: he’s in the second row compared to the rich ones, but if his head is screwed on and he’s intelligent will he emerge or not?’
If you look past the rather dark imagery of a serial killer disguised as a schoolboy, I think what Lotito is implying is that Lazio needs to keep their profile low, as a serial killer like Fantomas* would. As the papers focus mainly of the traditional headliners like Juventus or Napoli, Lazio is progressively building up to a noticeable stride. After drawing to newly promoted SPAL they beat Chievo and AC Milan in some style. They are a fun team to watch. The counter-attack and high pressure commit half of the outfield players into the opposition box, leading to goals like this:
The 3-4-2-1 can be used effectively as a counter-attacking unit but with so many players going forward the defence is more vulnerable to a quick switch in possession. The Lazio defence will be tested to the max against this Napoli attack. The same attack that was highest scorers in Serie A (94 goals) and took 17.7 shots per game last season. Napoli is indebted to their manager Sarri who elevated them 19 points above their last season finish in 2016. In his 3rd season in charge, he has settled into his role. His switch from a 4-2-3-1 to 4-3-3 allowed for a short and quick passing game that allowed his team to cut through their opposition as smooth as butter. As Lazio show signs of increasing progress, Napoli may be the side to stop Juventus from winning their 7th Serie A title in a row. This game will give an insight into how these two exiting teams fair against a formidable attack.
*Fantômas is the Lord of Terror, the Genius of Evil, the arch-criminal anti-hero of a series of 32 pre-WWI French thrillers written by Pierre Souvestre and Marcel Allain. He carries out the most appalling crimes: substituting sulfuric acid in the perfume dispensers at a Parisian department store, releasing plague-infested rats on an ocean liner, or forcing a victim to witness his own execution by placing him face-up in a guillotine.
Rangers vs Celtic ( Sat 23 12:00 )
Well every time I research the Old Firm derby, it always starts with my search on Scottish football, this time I tried Bing instead of Google search:
Well, the wide spectrum of pessimism seen on the right only reaffirms the importance of this game in particular.
Last time I looked at this game I summed up the tensions between the two clubs like this:
Without turning into a full essay on the Irish revolution, there is a deep hate between Rangers and Celtic fans involving the IRA and division between Catholicism and Protestantism. Now I hate to quote myself but, ‘often what we see off-field is reflected on-field’. Not literally (though Rangers did only sign their first Catholic player in 1989),
I’d like to point out the majority of the supporters don’t take their religious or political ideologies with them into the stadium. They try not to cross the line; the line which has been crossed so many times over the years there’s a list of ‘shame games’. The 100+ years of a complex rivalry has brewed an atmosphere like no other in the world. Imagine 50,000 drunk, uninhibited supporters cheering you on or ridiculing you in the most creative and cruel ways possible. The unique atmosphere in the stadium creates a unique atmosphere in your mind. There have actually been scientific studies done regarding behavioural changes either correlating to or as a direct result of this game.
With that said I would have to agree with former Celtic manager Jock Stien on the game prediction:
Only a fool would try to predict the score in an Old Firm game!
Other games you should check out:
Leicester vs Liverpool ( Tue 19 19:45 )
Athletic Bilbao vs Atletico Madrid ( Wed 20 19:00 )
Atletico Madrid vs Sevilla ( Sat 23 12:00 )
Fenerbahce vs Besiktas ( Sat 23 17:30 )
Juventus vs Torino ( Sat 23 19:45 )
AEK Athens vs Olympiacos ( Sun 24 18:30 )