Scouting For Fixtures: Oct 17 – 0ct 23

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.

Liverpool vs Manchester United ( Mon 17 20:00 )

 

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Courtesy of Getty Images

 

 

I suppose Newton’s third law applies to football also. Last Monday night we had the Louis Van Gaal slumber-inducing level of entertainment in the international friendlies. Now we counteract that with Liverpool vs Manchester United, equivalent to the embodiment of anger, frustration and euphoria bundled into this mess of a human being. And isn’t that what football is all about? No? Well, it holds true to this north-west derby, where to loathe your rivals was institutionalised over generations. You might think I’m exaggerating but Liverpool legend Steven Gerrard, one of the nicest men in football, sounds more like a sleeper agent than a football player when recollecting his tackle on Ander Herrera: “I couldn’t stop myself. Without even giving myself time to think I brought my left foot stamping down on Herrera. I felt my studs sink into his flesh just above the ankle. It had to have hurt him.”. As for current standings, both teams could and should be doing better with the talent they have, but Mourinho and Manchester United are finding ever more ways to not win a football match. Be it late equalisers, missing easy goal scoring opportunities or amateur goalkeeping errors, and that was just from last week’s game. Liverpool are putting a tidy run together, with 4 consecutive wins, 2 of which came against Leicester and Chelsea. At Anfield, you would hedge your bets on an inform Liverpool, but in a derby of this nature, facing a team managed by Mourinho and lead by Ibrahimovic, you can’t count them out.

Leicester vs FC Copenhagen ( Tue 18 19:45 )

 

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Courtesy of Sky Sports 

 

 

Last month pundits thought it was impressive how FC Copenhagen kept their 37 game record of not losing at home intact, as they held Porto to a 1-1 draw. Fast forward 2 weeks and their home record becomes even more impressive as they thrash Belgium side Club Brugge 4-0; Thomas Delany stealing headlines with his peach of a volley. Leicester are cruising through the group stages so far, thwarting Club Brugge and securing 3 points against FC Porto. The Foxes may be heavy favourites against their counterparts, but The Lions have 10 years of European football experience under their belt. While Leicester City manager Claudio Ranieri still believes ‘we are underdogs’ in the UCL, on Tuesday it will be FC Copenhagen causing an upset if they can overthrow the Premier League champions in their own backyard.

Barcelona vs Manchester City ( Wed 19 19:45 )

 

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Courtesy of Getty Images

 

 

‘Stretched like spandex on Miami Beach’ is how football commentator Ray Hudson chose to describe Barcelona’s defending against Celta Vigo while painting a picture you wouldn’t associate with Sunday night football, but here we are. As that game ended 4-3 to Celta Vigo, it became more apparent that Barca couldn’t deal with counter attacking sides. We also saw Manchester City drop their first points in the Premier League, losing 2-0 to Tottenham with a counter-attack of their own. Guardiola is opting for possession based (60% per game) build up play, similar to his Barcelona and Bayern Munich sides. If required, the citizens have the players required to execute the potent counter-attacking press that saw Celta Vigo outscore an impressive Barcelona attack. However, the City defenders with have to face a player that the Celta Vigo defenders were fortunate enough not to, Lionel Messi.

Bayern Munich vs Borussia M. Gladbach ( Sat 22 17:30 )

 

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Courtesy of Bundesliga

 

 

Borussia M. Gladbach travels to Munich, tumbling down the table after losing 4-0 to Schalke. SCHALKE. To put that in perspective, Schalke’s league performances up to that point has been the following: L L L L L. Bayern Munich fans were also stunned, as the home side only came away with 1 point after FC Cologne somehow held Ancelotti’s side to 1 goal; goalkeeper Timo Horn made one of the best saves of the year. As we’ve all come to expect, Bayern Munich are dominating the league. As well as topping the league with 16 points, they also have the most shots per game (19), highest possession (66%), pass accuracy (87.2%) and conceded the least amount of goals (2). Just to make it harder for the away side, Bayern Munich haven’t lost in 16 games, while Gladbach only won 1/14 of their last away games. So why bother watching? Every team has a bogey team, for Chelsea, it’s Sunderland, for Barca you have Celta Vigo and for FC Bayern, Borussia M. Gladbach. In their last 6 encounters, Gladbach have won 3, drawn twice, meaning FC Bayern have only won once (in a penalty shootout).

Feyenoord vs Ajax ( Sun 23 13:30 )

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Courtesy of Getty Images

 

Remember when I said Liverpool vs Manchester United was a fierce rivalry where loathing your rivals was institutionalised over generations?  Well, that seems more like a pre-season friendly for these guys, who just want to kill each other. No really, here’s what Ajax legend Ruud Kroll had to say on the matter: ‘We wanted to kill them’. As fate would have it, in the late 90’s, the dangerous levels of aggression lead to ‘supporters’ following through on Kroll’s words. When Carlo Picornie was killed in 1997 as a result of the derby riots, it sobered the nation and dutch football, casting a shadow on De Klassiker that lasts till today. Sitting in a packed, freezing cold stadium full of screaming fans is a uniquely terrifying experience I witnessed first hand, as well as being subjected to security before and after the game that makes US border security look relaxed and incomprehensive. It was all worth it, as it was one of the best games of football I witnessed, ending 4-2. Moving on, this derby known as De Klassiker (the classic) is the biggest game in the Netherlands, with its roots dating back to the 13th century. As for the 2016-17 season, Feyenoord tops the table after 8 matches, yet to drop a point*. Ajax aren’t far behind, sitting 2nd and hope to close the 5 point gap. Both teams are aggressively attacking, with Ajax scoring 23 (2.9 per game) and Feyenoord with 20 (2.5 per game). Don’t miss it.

*As I’m typing this up I see Feyenoord losing 1-0 to NEC Nijmegen with 30 minutes left, making my stats redundant approximately 17 minutes after posting the article. Fantastic.

EDIT: Oh wait it’s ended 1-2, with Kramer scoring in the 91′ minute! Oh my god.

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Scouting for Fixtures: Mar 7 – Mar 13

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. Chelsea vs PSG ( Wed 09 19:45 )

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John Obi Mikel of all people give Chelsea a glimmer of hope in qualifying for the next round of the Champions League on Tuesday night. The current PL champions are a steep 18 points from the top spot, despite the 12 match undefeated run; but the aftershocks of their disaster that was the first half of the season are still felt in the Chelsea camp. Hiddink’s team are very much capable of nicking a win at home, but is that enough? The first leg which ended 2-1 to PSG means Chelsea need to win 1-0 0r by a 2 goal deficit. With a defence reminiscent of a leaky drain pipe, the 1-0 win seems near impossible, looking like goals is the name of the game. The Parisian side at last end their run of 25 games unbeaten with an entertaining game at Stadio Olympico, losing 2-1 against an attacking Lyon side. If Chelsea want to win successfully they have to do the same, but with a PSG side effortlessly dominating like they are, the chances are slim.

 

 

2. Borussia Dortmund vs Tottenham ( Thu 10 18:00 )

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It’ll be fascinating to see how two near complete teams will fair at the Signal Iduna, both teams play elegant, precision football, in abundance of exiting players and are in a rich vein of form. If this tie was a year ago, it’s likely Spurs would’ve Spurs’ed up in typical Spurs fashion, but Tottenham’s exponential improvements mean they’re close to winning their first ever premier league title. Dortmund are as exiting as ever to watch, capable of beating any team on their day. The only position where there is a noticeable drop (off a cliff) in quality is between the two goalkeepers, where Hugo Lloris trumps Roman Bürki in every attribute. The high profile Europa league fixture, or on par with the Man Utd vs Liverpool, it’s likely the winner (over the two legs) are odds on to win the whole competition. Very difficult to call but expect top drawer football on display.

 

 

3. Liverpool vs Manchester United (Thu 10 20:05 )

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For the first time ever, the two most successful English clubs ever play each other in the Europa League. Granted both teams aren’t fit to hold that title in their current state, but that will never undermine the importance of this tie. To everyone’s surprise, the Red Devils are ones currently playing the unpredictable, lightning quick, attacking style that Klopp’s hammering into his players, with varying degrees of success. Liverpool seem to oscillate too, between completely blowing teams away or bottling it, the mentality is what needs to be dealt with here. Lucky for Liverpool the club mentality isn’t an issue in this game, where it’s more than just the three points. The derby always produces magic, has done throughout history, drama, spectacular goals, red cards, fights, comebacks; it means everything to the fans and players alike.

 

4. Houston Dynamo vs FC Dallas ( Sun 13 01:30 )

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This Texas derby goes against the grain of the overused clichés that the MLS is just a comfortable retirement plan for big names in the game, or doesn’t have the same passion as in Europe. The MLS returns this week and this is the pick of the week in the North American continent, the rivalry runs deep, extending to every sport at every level but FC Dallas hold the upper hand here. Houston have lost their last 6 matches, some in spectacular fashion. The other key stat is the goals, 4.5 goals a game for the last 3 years. The winning team gets to fire a howitzer, that’s a freaking cannon! It just screams Texas.

 

Other Mentions:

Real Madrid vs Roma ( Tue 08 19:45 )

Athletic Club vs Valencia ( Thur 10 20:05 )

Manchester United vs West Ham ( Sun 13 16:00 )

 

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