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: Apr 10 – Apr 16

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.

Borrusia Dortmund vs Monaco ( Tue 11 19:45 )

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You may feel underwhelmed by this game, after looking further down this list. If I were a

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The Ferrari 308 GT4 is known as one of the ugliest Ferrari’s ever, but a Ferrari nonetheless.

car salesman, this would be an interesting sell. It’s a Ferrari 308 GT4. Looking at the picture, it’s basically a piece of cardboard come to life. Like a 4-year-olds drawing of a car, and they just went with that. But that’s still a Ferrari engine with the same engine that made the car what it is. And that’s this game. Yes, it isn’t All Star XI or Super-Legends Ultimate United FC. But it’s still Ferrari and still worth watching.

Yes well, bu-bu- the, Dortmund aren’t as good as Bayern and no- they’ve lost all the good players.

Yes, BVB has played the role of the kid who gets their lunch money stolen over the years. But Dortmund has one of the strongest records in the UCL this season, holding their own against Real Madrid and only losing only one game, 1-0 to Benfica before dismantling them in the 2nd leg.

Fine, Monaco’s top of Ligue 1 right now, but PSG are still the best team in France.

  1. I don’t care how good the team is, PSG dropped a 4-0 lead; first time ever in UCL history (what d’you mean 1-4?).
  2. Monaco is the top scorer in the world right now, 135 goals in all competition.

*Mic drop*

Juventus vs Barcelona ( Tue 11 19:45 )

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Imagine the look on the Juventus player’s faces when that final whistle blew and the scoreline read 6-1. In an inexplicable turn of events – or maybe it was explicable  – the Catalonian giants managed to reach the final 16. The Italian side has been hard done by vis a vis their fixture list. Coming into the game, the home side will have played 3 games in the last 8 games, 2 against Napoli who’s attack worked Juve into the ground. Now they have to face one of the best attacks teams in the world. Anlackee.

Bayern Munich vs Real Madrid ( Wed 12 19:45 )

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Sometimes you have games so good that you don’t know how to convey why you should watch it. Did that even make sense? It just is*. If you’ve even scraped the very top layer of football the names Bayern Munich and Real Madrid are supposed to be the best. Just like how when you think basketball your imaginary mind map has Golden State Troopers or the Boston Limericks attached to it. I’m sorry but this is a literal no-brainer.

*Great Journalism rate 10/10

Inter vs AC Milan ( Sat 15 11:30 )

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The identities of these two clubs and what they represent are more resonant than ever in philosophies of football, also echoing the differing ideologies in our political climate. The whole reason this rivalry even exists is because Internazionale was born out of AC Milan not allowing foreign players to join. Thus a rivalry was born, currently in its 109th year. That number itself is indicative of why this game is lauded the way it is. When you have an event that occurs every year, for generations, it becomes part of your life. It becomes more than a game but a celebration or a ritual that’s woven into your culture. It’s almost religious in nature which explains why it is the most famous Italian derby. The name itself, derby Della Madonnina has religious ties; Madonnina takes its name from the golden Virgin Mary statue which overlooks the Duomo in the city centre. Though it doesn’t hold the anticipation it once did, once the crucible that is the San Siro is lit, enjoy the spectacle.

Games I was too lazy to write about:

Atletico Madrid vs Leicester ( Wed 12 19:45 )

Vancouver Whitecaps vs Seattle Sounders FC ( Sat 15 03:00 )

Colorado Rapids vs Real Salt Lake ( Sun 16 02:00 )

Manchester United vs Chelsea ( Sun 16 16:00 )

Spartak Moscow vs Zenit St. Petersburg ( Sun 16 18:00 )

Marseille vs Saint-Etienne ( Sun 16 20:00 )

 

Scouting for Fixtures: Mar 13 – Mar 19

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.

Chelsea vs Manchester United ( Mon 13 19:45 )

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Do we have a treble on the cards? The league cup, FA Cup and Europa League is a treble but to say it’s the same as the treble of ’99. It’s like saying Danny Devito and Arnold Schwarzenegger are twins; technically yes, but Danny is just objectively better*. Anyway, that is a possibility for Manchester United this season, and beating Chelsea would move them one step closer to that treble. Though Mourinho’s former side have the upper hand in almost every way possible. Chelsea has won more games, scored more goals, conceded less and are topping the Premier League as of right now. Some would say Mourinho was spiralling downhill at Chelsea but you have to look at the big picture. By finishing 10th last season this disabled any chance of European midweek fixtures so they could have enough recovery time for the domestic cup games.  The very same issue Mourinho now has to deal with in Manchester as the squad had a 17-hour roundtrip flight to FC Rostov and back. Head to Head Chelsea has the Red Devils beat 4 to nothing. As if MUFC could be any more disadvantaged, their main striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic has a 3 game ban effective immediately, all because ‘he jumped into my elbow’That treble looks like a pipe dream, not even opium could induce. But need I remind you fifth-tier side Preston join Man Utd in the quarter finals and Leicester won the premier league a few months ago. If I were to echo the sentiment of this fixture it would be through the words of my hero:

They never said winning was easy. – DJ Khaled

#Woke.

*Here’s another one.

Monaco vs Manchester City ( Wed 15 19:45 )

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This is unmissable, with the potential to go down as one of the great Champions League fixtures. – Myself, previewing the first leg of this fixture ( Tue 21 19:45 )

Well, after reflecting for 22 days and 8 goals later, it’s time to retract that statement. Because it HAS gone down as one of the great Champions League fixtures.

Why would the second leg be any different?

Monaco needs the goals if they want to progress to the next round. It’s counterproductive for Man City to park the bus, especially with their comedy duo in defence. It would only increase the inflammation that led to Monaco winning 1-3 by the 45′ minute. The thing is if either side could actually defend, the are capable of cake-walking this whole competition. But they can’t. So they won’t. In this case, an attack is the best form of defence, and that is exactly what they plan to do.

So, why would the second leg be any different?

Manchester City vs Liverpool ( Sun 19 16:30 )

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Defence is about the work you put into it. Defensive strategy is absolutely essential if I want to attack a lot. – Pep Guardiola

I know I just described the Man city defence as a comedy duo. With justification might I add (refer to the video above); but as a unit, the citizens are sound, in theory.

While being a preview this is also like a Football Tactics for Dummies, except it’s written by a real life dummy, so take what I say with a grain of salt.

I’m sure you’re familiar with a trampoline (ref fig.1).

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Fig 1: for the incompetent

So think of Man City as the trampoline and Liverpool as the person jumping on the trampoline, if you will.

Guardiola employs the 4-1-4-1 formation for the majority of games, especially against a high calibre side. It allows them to remain compact in defence with virtually no passing lines with tight banks between defence and midfield.

So when Liverpool attack, they are jumping down on the trampoline and compressing the fibres, in this case compressing the Manchester city midfield and defensive lines. If Liverpool fails to see an opening they will lose possession, flinging them uncontrollably in the air. As the fibres return to the original positions Man City can quickly transition into their attack and hit Liverpool on the

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Fig 2: The Mountain stands 6’9 tall, the UFC champion Connor McGreggor pales in comparison, a foot shorter and 115kg lighter

counter-attack. The stronger Liverpool’s intensity of the attack is, the more uncontrollably and higher they are flung into the air.

Or, of course, you could break the trampoline. No mere mortal can break this trampoline, but let us anthropomorphize Liverpool in this scenario. To account for their mountain of goals (highest in the PL), the person who represents them should share the same nickname, Hafþór Júlíus Björnsson (ref fig 2).

This guy would have very little trouble breaking the trampoline, as does Liverpool with their intensity, is capable of scoring against any defence.

Games I would’ve written about but was too lazy: 

Leicester vs Sevilla ( Tue 14 19:45 )

Vancouver Whitecaps vs Toronto FC ( Sat 18 20:00 )

Atletico Nacional vs Independiente Medellin ( Sun 19 00:45 )

Atletico Madrid vs Sevilla ( Sun 19 15:15 )

Paris Saint-Germain vs Lyon ( Sun 19 20:00 )

 

 

Scouting for Fixtures: Feb 27 – Mar 05

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.

Coppa Italia Semi-Finals:

The Italians do not mess about when it comes to their cup football. In England, you’ve got Lincoln City slapping teams around; in Germany, third division side Sportfreunde Lotte are in the quarter-finals, this would definitely not fly in the Coppa Italia. Napoli, Roma, Juventus, Lazio. Not only the last 4 left in Coppa Italia but ranked 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 5th in goals scored.

Juventus vs Napoli ( Tue 28 19:45 )

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I don’t know what more to say than, it’s Juventus and Napoli. The weight of those names alone is enough to persuade me, but when you put them against each other, you have a real show. People use the term star-studded when describing top teams, but collectively, these two could fill out a Michael Jackson military jacket. Some football teams play the boring game or the rapid game or even flat out take-down bulldog. These two are the few who play in a way you would be justified in calling it the beautiful game. In terms of entertainment value, there are only a handful of games and circumstances that could outdo this game. Having said that, the other semi-final may be one of the select few that fall into that category.

Lazio vs Roma ( Wed 01 19:45 )

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The cherry on top of the tiramisù is that to accompany this heated semi-finals is that of this rivalry. A rivalry spanning 89 years; It has it’s moments, from the good, the bad, to the Mussolini. The famous line ‘you think that’s air your breathing’ from the Matrix was actually inspired by the time the Wachowski’s sat in on a Rome derby. In actuality, it’s part red smoke, part Bovril and part god knows what. To accompany the incandescent red and blue flames are a 50/50 split of Roma and Lazio fans. Unusual you would think, as you wouldn’t expect 50% of tickets for away fans. In actual fact, 0% of tickets go to away fans, as both Roman sides have to share a stadium. From personal experience, I’ve found sharing an Xbox with my brother has led to fights well into the hundreds by now. Take that scenario, add a tonne of beer, and 72,689 fans who can actually throw a proper punch. For a player, that atmosphere is the equivalent of shooting a bucket of adrenaline into your blood stream. Plus, it’s not going to just be a shin-kicking contest out there, as Roma and Lazio have the quality to put on a real show, with 54 and 44 goals scored in Serie A respectively. There is further motivation for the 2 sides – not that they need it – as Lazio hasn’t won this tournament in 5 years, for Roma that number doubles to 10 years.

Liverpool vs Arsenal ( Sat 04 17:30 )

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I don’t know, you don’t know, Gary Neville might think he knows, but he doesn’t know; hell, Paul the Octopus is shrugging with all 8 of his shoulders or whatever the equivalent is because they don’t have bones. Point being, if you want to bet on the score line, don’t. It encompasses the Premier League as a whole right now, just look at the form of the top 5 from England with the top 5 from Italy:

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One shows a neatly organised pile of W’s, with the top sides doing what they do, win. The other side is just a mess. Arsenal lost to Watford and drew to Bournemouth, but Liverpool is even more inexplicable. They drew with Sunderland and Man Utd, lost to Swansea but drew with Chelsea; lost to Hull then beat Tottenham who has the best defensive record in the league. But hey, at least they know how to do one thing. That’s taking the ball and putting it in the back of the net. Being top goalscorers of a league is one thing, but being top goalscorers of the Premier League means you really know what you’re doing (attacking wise only). Both sides share the title of being top goal scorers with 54 each, and these games have a knack of finishing with a high scoreline. Apart from an anomalous 0-0 finish, the rest have been Man-City-versus-Monaco-esque. 3-4, 3-3, 4-1, 2-2, 2-1. Chelsea might already have etched their name on the trophy, but right now only 4 points separate 2nd place Manchester City from 6th place Manchester United.

These are the games I would’ve also written about if I wasn’t so lazy:

Galatasaray vs Besiktas ( Mon 27 17:00 )

Kaizer Chiefs vs Orlando Pirates ( Sat 04 13:30 )

Roma vs Napoli ( Sat 04 14:00 )

LA Galaxy vs FC Dallas ( Sat 04 21:00 )

Scouting For Fixtures: Dec 05 – Dec 11

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.

Benfica vs Napoli ( Tue 06 19:45 )screen-shot-2016-12-02-at-15

Envision yourself as Benfica manager Rui Vitória. So it’s half-time, good news your side is 0-3 up away from home at Beşiktaş. ‘Great work’ and ‘keep up the pressure’ would have been the crux of the half time talk. Fast forward to the final whistle blowing and you hear a roaring crowd of Beşiktaş fans. What? Oh, wait that’s right, you’ve just let a 3 goal lead slip and drawn 3-3. Instead of securing a spot in the knockout stages of the champions league you now have to beat Napoli on the last day or pray that a struggling FC Dynamo Kyiv can contain a Beşiktaş team that just rinsed your side. While a rising list of four-letter words is bubbling in your head for what you just witnessed, an utter shambles, think of the players. Left frustrated and anxious from an indefensible performance, only intensified by the FIFA Street-Esque goals you’ve conceded. Now it’s your job to rebuild their confidence and figure out how it all fell apart. Napoli experienced a lesser version of that when they were held to a draw with Dynamo Kyiv. Due to Napoli beating Benfica already (4-2), there is no room for errors for the home side if they wish to remain in the competition, a sentiment shared by Benfica striker Guedes who believes ‘It is going to be a difficult match against Napoli, but we are counting on the fans to help us win.’ 

Lyon vs Sevilla ( Wed 07 19:45 )screen-shot-2016-12-02-at-15

Will Sevilla finally make it past the group stage or will they do what the always do? Get knocked out, into the Europa League, win the Europa league, qualify for the Champions league… Unfortunately for Lyon, winning is not enough. The home side needs to beat Sevilla by a difference of at least 2 goals if they are to qualify for the group stages. So when one team is incentivised to score as many goals as possible (because no one with any sense is going to sit back after scoring 2 in these circumstances) either: The home side will pelt shots at the goal until it ends up like this amazing/horrific scene. Or the game would be stretched by Lyon’s lopsided press, leaving gaps in the middle for either side to exploit and score multiple times. Either way, it looks like a win-win for the neutral viewer.

Real Madrid vs Dortmund ( Wed 07 19:45 )screen-shot-2016-12-02-at-15

Real Madrid is a side riddled with injuries, held by an impulsive owner described as ‘an idiot, at least it when comes to matters on the field,’ yet remain undefeated in and top of La Liga. Even more impressive being that all of this is done as the home side is deep into a brutal run of fixtures. Since Nov 19 till Dec 10 Los Blancos will play 7 matches, averaging a game every 3 days, against the likes of Atletico Madrid, Barcelona and Borussia Dortmund. Meanwhile Real are on a 6 game winning streak. In the Bundesliga, Dortmund continues their mixed season, losing and drawing half of their games. In a situation like, it’s tempting for managers or players to not invest too much into the outcome of the game, seeing as both teams are already guaranteed qualification. In the last 10 years, only 1 team finished 2nd in the group stages and went on to win the UCL (Inter Milan 2009/10). If Dortmund keeps their top spot after going to the Bernabeu they would be the 3rd side to do draw with Real/ end Madrid’s 21-game unbeaten run.

Toronto FC vs Seatle Sounders FC ( Sun 11 01:00 )

Well, this is odd. Amidst football giants like Real Madrid and Juventus is sandwiched Toronto and Seatle. In the 20 years the MLS Cup has been running, Toronto has never won it. The same goes for Seatle Sounders. In fact, this is the first time either side has even qualified for the MLS Cup playoffs – this is THE FINAL. I’m also wondering how this happened as I almost overlooked this fixture thinking it was just another normal MLS game. Because I don’t know as much as I should about the MLS, here is what MLS Soccer had to say on these two MLS teams. If you read that link then you understand how crazy this all is. Though most of you are in GMT you should definitely check out the highlights because history will be made.

Torino vs Juventus ( Sun 11 14:00 )

Did you know I tried learning Italian a few years ago? Failed miserably. What little I still remember was that there are differences between the English alphabet and the Italian. One big difference is that the letter ‘J’ is not present in their alphabet. So, Juventus? What’s going on there? Turns out Juventus derives from Latin, a language only used by the authoritative church at the time (1897) made by aristocratic high-school students, meaning ‘the age of youth’. Torino was made within a division of Juve 9 years later, as people felt it did not represent the city from which it was born: ‘the team of the working class, migrant workers from the provinces or neighbouring countries, the lower middle-class and the poor’That is the dichotomy of these Turin clubs in a nutshell. It’s the winning formula that runs in a lot of great football rivalries like Real Madrid vs Atletico Madrid, Manchester United vs Manchester City and Liverpool vs Everton. Most casual football fans not in Italy conjure up Perez’s amazing goal for Torino when thinking about the Turin Derby (also known as Derby Della Mole), but in actual fact continues to be dominated by Juventus. The Old Lady is without Dani Alves, Bonnuci, Dybala and Barzagli while floating 4 points above Roma at the top of the league. Torino is currently 7th, but form goes out the window when it comes to a derby like this.

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: May 9 – May 15

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.

While the season is almost all wrapped up, it’s not over yet, we still have one week, one more overwhelming, exhilarating, addictive, unmissable week of the beautiful game.

Lets go!

  1. West Ham vs Manchester United ( Tue 10 19:45 )

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West Ham have to win. There are no two ways about it; there’s too much riding on this to settle for anything less. All eyes will be fixed on this game as it decides the final champions league situation coming into the last round of games. Granted, Man City have to lose their game against Arsenal/Swansea to see the Hammers or Devils clinching that 4th spot; but as this goes out before Man City take on the Gunners; I write with quiet optimism that Arsenal don’t do an Arsenal and instead do us a big favour. 1 game in hand means if MUFC win they’re within 1 point of City, and the Hammers 2 points away if they win, coming into the last Sunday. A draw would do neither team any good, simultaneously shooting each other in the foot, cancelling out either clubs chances of Champions league. Regardless of the final score, for the home side; it’s more that just the outcome and champions league. West Ham vs Manchester United will be the final game before the Hammers depart from their beloved Boleyn Ground after 102 years of service. The Boleyn Ground has held it’s fair share of supporters, footballing talent and unique memories throughout the years; this leaves us with a fitting match to send off the old Park before a fresh start at the Olympic Stadium and a fresh start for West Ham.

 

 

2. Sunderland vs Everton ( Wed 11 19:45 )

Everton v Sunderland - Premier League

Much to my dismay it looks like Sunderland will probably stay in the premier league (no offence sunderland fans). If you saw Sunderland-Chelsea 5 goal thriller you saw how Sunderland were able to claw back a result after being 2-1 down, the highlight being Khazri’s smooth 3o yard volley. Foe Everton though, it’s fizzled out again, the fans and club build frustration and Martinez looks less and less likely to be the main man come next season. The capitulation in the last 4 games is particularly disheartening for all Everton fans considering how well they were doing a few months prior. A 4-0 loss to your biggest rivals, followed by a last minute Martial winner to kick Everton out the cup, third, a win to Bournemouth, both teams who have nothing left to play for, then yesterday loosing without putting up much of a fight against new champions Leicester. Morale might be a slight issue for the Toffees. Sunderland however stand to lose everything here, is it imperative to win, with the new premier TV deal coming into affect next season, it’s important not to hamstring their much needed chances of development with a huge investment increase of £258.13 million. Weather people like it or not, in the premier league, money talks, and it shouts. If Sunderland wants to remain in the pack with the top dogs, they have to stay up. From what we saw against Chelsea, it looks like they can.

 

 

3. DC United vs New York Red Bulls ( Sat 14 00:00 )

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Contrary to the running theme of finality in most of the mainstream leagues, here we have in the US of A, a refreshing old-school rivalry between the cultural capital and, you know, the actual one. These two cities are filled with regional rivalries: be it ice hockey in Washington Capitals (really creative name there) vs New York Rangers (not much better to be fair), New York Giants vs Washington Redskins in american football, and of course in proper football, DC United and New York Red Bulls. Holding the title of being the leagues oldest rivalry, this game has memorable MLS moments in one of the classic playoffs. Nicknamed the Atlantic Cup, it has too many moments to condense in one sitting, and with so much to football to unpack this week I found an interesting read i’ll link at the bottom. It may be that the love of the beautiful game doesn’t translate easily through to the states, but this rivalry has the passion we so often see in big footballing fixtures.

Top 10 Atlantic Cup moments

 

 

4. Bayern Munich vs Hannover 96 / Borussia Dortmund vs FC Cologne (Sat 14 14:30)

FC Bayern Muenchen v Borussia Dortmund - Bundesliga

Partly due to me writing a week ahead, also being the ‘final’ week, plus my personal indecisiveness and incompetence in general; i’m letting you the reader, chose which game to watch, as they both link to each other quite well. Chances are Bayern will see out the game and see to it they get the 4th consecutive Bundesliga title. But, statistically there’s a chance Dortmund can clinch the cup, statistically, that slight glimmer of hope. But yes if Bayern drop all points in their next 2 games and BVB win their last 2, ta daaa, they get the trophy. On the face of it, what’s even the point of watching. Usually Bayern will easily see out the games, but the draw with M.Gladbach plants the seed in your mind that they’re susceptible to the slip up in these situation. Fact is the title race should already be over. Bayern should’ve beaten M.Gladbach and should’ve already been crowned champions. But they haven’t and here we are. The pressure continues to build as they fly out of the champions league, and yes it’s Atletico Madrid, but you have Guardiola saying if they did not win the champions league he considers the season a failure. That sort of pessimism can easily trickle down into the players and affects morale, which is most important now more than ever. So i’m putting out two scenarios: If Bayern win against Ingolstadt, then by all means skip this one if you wish, but if they lose against Ingolstadt then all eyes are on FC Bayern to lose and Dortmund to take full advantage and beat FC Cologne and collect a well deserved cup.

Edit: For God’s sake Bayern have won, rendering this whole section almost useless, but I’m too stubborn to discard this whole bit. I mean you can watch Bayern celebrate the league win, again, yaaay. Or you might as well watch the No. 3.

 

 

5. Werder Bremen vs Eintracht Frankfurt ( Sat 14 14:30 )

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With a week packed with the likes of Bayern, Barca and Los Blancos, why watch Werder Bremen and Eintracht Frankfurt? Usually discarded as relegation fodder; as we edge towards the final week, theres a good case to be made for all teams between 12th -17th position of going down. The 5 position wide crevice, filled with teams between 33 and 37 points leaves a chance for any of these teams to fall into the 2 relegation places still in contention; Hannover 96 securing their ticket to the 2nd division well in advance with only 22 points to their name. These two are the two most in danger of relegation along with VfB Stuttgart (33 points: 17th pos), Frankfurt stuck in 16th with 33 points and Werder jumping 2 places up after beating Stuttgart elevate themselves just safe with a slim 34 points, one spot off relegation in 15th. Everything is at stake for and it goes down to the wire. This game will be the most important game in delivering the final verdict and it’s very likely that whoever wins this game is going down. Expect the fight, passion and the charged atmosphere of two teams giving everything to stay up, and the to other go down.

 

 

6. Deportivo La Coruna vs Real Madrid / Granada vs Barcelona /                                        _iAtletico Madrid vs Celta Vigo ( May 14 16:00 )

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Los Blancos and Barca have easy fixtures on paper, but their opponents too are desperate for the points to stay up, Granada especially, sitting in in 16th, another tight situation as 19th – 16th all separated by only one point. Deportivo aren’t far behind them in 15th, 4 points above relegation. Celta Vigo however are an accomplished side and have proved to be tough opposition, looking like, but not secured, the last european spot at 6th. But that’s evidently not why you’re all here. After Barcelona lost the 3 consecutive games the title race has burst back into life and this is the climax, the big finish, the moments football fans wait all season for. This is the big one. All 3 teams separated by only 1 point. One silly mistake or slip up is all it takes.

 

 

7. Reims vs Lyon ( Sat 14 20:00 )

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By now you’d have seen the result for the pivotal Lyon vs Monaco game, pinning either team for the final champions league spot. Lyon hammer the final nail in the coffin for Monaco’s champions league hopes, demolishing them in an emphatic 6-1 win. Reims too face their own challenge of staying up, with the relegation prospects a very real possibility after only 9 wins all season and 19th position. Reims weren’t blessed with a favourable list of fixtures in the last month with Nice, Marseille and now Lyon. The most recent loss to Marseille leaves them 36 points but only 1 point off 18th (Ajaccio) and 17th place (Toulouse). Even if they beat Lyon this weekend, it ultimately relies on the other two teams slipping up, which is a very real possibility. The home side will have to take the game to Lyon if they want a fighting chance of staying up, and could end up being a high scoring game.

 

 

8. Manchester United vs Bournemouth / Swansea vs Manchester City (Sun 15 15:00)

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Right now Man City are about to play a big match against Arsenal in which they have to win if they want to come into the final round with some room for error. Depending on how that plays out, we have 2 teams both going all out for the 4th champions league spot. It’s gonna be like the final week, 3 years ago where Aguuuueeeeerrrrrrooo fired in a 93rd minute winner to secure their first ever PL title, Manchester United just behind. Goes to show how much both teams have receded over the years, once battling it out for the title, now battle it out for champions league. But a battle it will be nonetheless.

 

 

 

 

It may be over for the Barclays Premier League, Bundesliga, La Liga, Serie A, Ligue 1 and many more big footballing leagues, but football never stops.

The silver lining being an FA cup final still to play for, don’t forget the championship playoffs, how about the champions league final, and then we’re treated to not just 1, but 2 international tournaments in the summer with Euro 2016 and Copa America 2016.

This may be the end for Scouting for Fixtures, until next season begins, but again, football never stops, and neither will I. Expect more and varied content on the site as the big tournaments are looming.

Scouting for Fixtures: Apr 18 – Apr 24

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.

Described by the BBC as ‘a sea of colourful flowing banners, screams and roars, chanting, dancing and never-ending fireworks’, sounds alright.

  1. FC Dallas vs Sporting Kansas ( Mon 18 00:00 )

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Blink and you’ll miss it. The phrase ‘first thing in the morning’ has never been more literal (for anyone who lives in the UK) as we see the top 2 in the MLS play in one of the high profile games of the season. Both conferences combined, these two stand above the rest in their rankings and performances. Dallas are the pack leaders with 14 points in 7 games and sit in 1st. Closely behind in 2nd follow Sporting Kansas with 12 points and a mean streak, seeing 3 red cards already. Dallas may have only lost one game so far, but the 5-0 thrashing they took from Houston is an embarrassing display of all the faults, still unresolved in their backline, epitomised by one of the most moronic own goal I’ve seen in a long time. This fixture in particular has a knack for goals, having an impressive record of averaging 5.2 goals a game in 5 games. If for whatever reason you’re awake this early, then you might as well watch this thriller of a game.

 

 

4. Hertha Berlin vs Borussia Dortmund ( Wed 20 19:30 )

Borussia Dortmund - Hertha BSC

A cup fixture now in Germany, the semi-finals between Hertha BSC and BVB is Dortmund’s last notable chance of silverware in a remarkable but unfruitful season. It’s an sad truth that BVB fans have to deal with; as Bayern monopolised the Bundesliga since 2011, it seems no matter how good they get they can’t dethrone the Bavarian side. Now out of Europe in a shock 4-3 loss to Liverpool, Bayern are on course for a 4th consecutive Bundesliga title, a feat never achieved in the top tier of german football, ever. 7 points adrift and 4 games remaining the likelihood of BVB overtaking FC Bayern is unlikely, but possible. For HSC, the stagnation of never ending promotion to relegation seems to have ended. Similar to that of Leicester this season, the underdogs have turned from relegation candidates to champions league candidates within 2 seasons. With Europe is still in question, this is most likely chance for Hertha to win this competition for the first time ever. Dortmund will still be hurting from the Europa League exit and will go all out to secure a cup win, and for BSC, this would be the perfect end to an already stelar season.

 

 

3. Athletic Club vs Atletico Madrid ( Wed 20 19:45 )

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More midweek action from the continent, so we head to Spain in an intriguing matchup between the Bilbao side scrambling for European spots, while Atleti need to find a solution to their unenviable problems. As it stands, As well as Atleti, Bilbao also face their two main rivals in Celta Vigo and Sevilla in the next 5 weeks in the race for Europa league. Only 4 points separate the 3 clubs and with time at a premium, every point counts. The same applies to Atletico Madrid who see themselves with the chance to win an unexpected double. Everything is going right for Simeone and his men. Last week they knocked out cup favourites Barcelona in the Champions league, compounding to what’s been a downward spiral for the Catalonian club. Barca losing 3 matches in a row, Atleti closed the gap to 3 points only and have a very real chance of winning La Liga. This is also a chance to redo the dramatic finish that ended in Atleti losing the final to their polar opposites in Real Madrid, 2 years ago. For a team to keep out MSN and Co. makes them a formidable opponent for any team, and in my eyes I can see them winning the whole thing. It’s going to be interesting to see if Simeone has put all is eggs in one basket, be it La Liga or the Champions League, or believes they can do the double. This is Bilbao’s chance to attack as the Madrid side have a heavy fixture list, as the season comes to it’s final stages.

 

 

2. Liverpool vs Everton ( Wed 20 20:00 )

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The oldest running top flight derby returns, as Everton travel a brief 0.7 miles south to face Liverpool in the 226th Merseyside derby. Having a history this long, the Merseyside has it’s collection of defining moments. Gary McAllister’s screamer,  Fowler’s risky celebration and Terry McDermott’s goal of the season being the ones that come to mind. In the current state, everything looks set up for another cracker at Anfield. Liverpool come into the big game after a resurgence and emphatic win against cup favourites, Borussia Dortmund. Real mental strength was shown by Klopp and his men, coming back from 3-1 down to win 4-3, boosting confidence and morale for the upcoming game against the Toffees. Everton though, are falling apart as Martinez tries to revive the Everton we saw in the first half of the season. This side are a shadow of their former selves, but are still capable of thrashing any team with a potent attack, personified by Lukaku. This is Everton’s chance to hit the reset button. A win against their biggest rivals could be the jumpstart needed to steady the ship, with questions of Martinez’s future looming.

 

 

5. Boca Juniors vs River Plate ( Sun 24 20:00 )

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The Superclásico returns as now we head to Buenos Aires where the Blue and Gold take on Los Milloranios. For the first time in a long time you don’t have to stay up till 1 in the morning to catch this game, as now the Sunday night fixture allows a huge crowd to witness this footballing event. The atmosphere is second to none, and being in the stadium during the derby is one only a few lucky people get to experience. As the crowd jumps up and down, the stands bounce and shake to the rhythm of the game. Described by the BBC as ‘a sea of colourful flowing banners, screams and roars, chanting, dancing and never-ending fireworks’, sounds alright. The game itself is unquestionably entertaining and the likes of which you won’t find anywhere else in the world, encapsulated by the best 0-1 you will ever see.

 

 

Other Mentions:

Juventus vs Lazio ( Wed 20 19:45 )

Roma vs Torino ( Wed 20 19:45 )

Real Madrid vs Villarreal ( Wed 20 21:00 )

Schalke 04 vs Bayer Leverkusen ( Sat 23 17:30 )

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

Scouting for Fixtures: Apr 4 – Apr 10

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.

‘Forget Dortmund vs Bayern Munich; this is the biggest derby in Germany.’

  1. Barcelona vs Atletico Madrid ( Tue 05 19:45 )

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Often the CL brings out the best in the world, as shown the last time these two faced each other where Diego produced this atomic rocket strike from distance, swerving into the top corner. What we have here is an even split, the best attack in the world against the best defence in the world. Looking at Atleti, they embody hard work and determination. For a team to concede 14 goals in 30 games is testament to Simeone’s capabilities as a world-class coach. While they’re not as easy on the eye, they get the job done and get results. With one exception. Despite the rock solid defence, and even a considerably threatening attack; the Catalonian giants have won the last 6/6 matches between these 2, 5 of them as recently as last year. What we’re seeing with MSN is 3 players in their prime (debatable with Neymar) and considered by many the best player in their respective positions. They hold their place in a bracket with the likes of the Best-Charlton-Law and Rivaldo-Ronaldo-Ronaldinho trios. If the Madrid side want to beat Barca they have to shut down Mr Peekaboo, Sergio Busquets. He’s the pivot between defence and midfield and is vital to Barca’s success over the years. Shut him down and your halfway there. Will they? Well they’re capable, and done it before, but it’s impossible to sustain that level of pressure for 90 minutes. It’s all up in the air.

 

 

2. Borussia Dortmund vs Liverpool ( Thu 07 20:05 )

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It’s definitely an emotional return for the former Dortmund man, Jurgen and Liverpool travel to Germany, taking on cup favourites Borussia Dortmund. When Klopp took over Dortmund he inspired this mid-table side with his tactical-nous and unique man management, elevating them to European status and leaving a profound impact on players and fans alike. Since the Liverpool move, even in his short tenure we’re seeing the beginnings of that relentless ‘heavy metal’. The disparity between the two sides is apparent. Liverpool are a team in progress but Dortmund are fully realised, with great understanding of Thomas Tuchel’s system and players of a different calibre to most of the Anfield players. BVB (weren’t exactly going for it… but still) comfortably cruised through what looked to be tough opposition Spurs, with a 5-1 win on aggregate. Expect a warm reception from the yellow wall, but a restless 90 minutes as both thrive on the counter with fast, precision play.

 

 

3. West Ham vs Arsenal ( Sat 09 12:45 )

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The premier league is imploding. You’ve got Chelsea in mid-table, Leicester and Tottenham the two tittle challengers and now West Ham have a chance of champions league. Slaven Bilić has gone above and beyond the expectation of even the most optimistic West Ham fans, as they contemplate going into next season with an Olympic stadium and potentially European football. Arsène Wenger’s under the gun to keep Arsenal afloat and hold a slim 4 point hold on a struggling Man City. If one word could describe this Arsenal side, it would be bipolar. Unfortunately for Arsenal they’ve developed a habit of clutching defeat from the jaws of victory; what’s most worrying is that it usually against the grain. They should take a leaf out of Bendtner’s book. Even if Arsenal brings their a-game it doesn’t bode well for the away side. The Hammers have the best home form in the league with 16 points out of a total 18, beating Southampton, Liverpool and Tottenham in the process, which Arsenal never managed when at home. Both teams need the 3 point as insurance for Europe as with 7 weeks left, only a few points separate the window of uncertainty between 3rd to 7th.

 

 

4. Schalke 04 vs Borussia Dortmund ( Sun 10 14:30 )

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Forget Dortmund vs Bayern Munich; this is the biggest derby in Germany. The Rivierderby is one of the few that remain un-sedated by the modern game, with an atmosphere that literally shakes the Sudtribune to its foundation. The home side are tucked in neatly in 5th place, insuring Europe, but the current forms suggest anything but an easy end to the season. The downfall for Schalke is their in creative play, as there isn’t any. On paper they should be, with the young flair of Meyer and Sane mixed with the experience of Huntelaar, but what we mostly see is rigid, stale and careless. When they do turn up they produce the best football Bundesliga has to offer, and be sure they’ll bring their best to this derby. We already know how good Dortmund are, but even for them, they’ve been exceptional all season. It’s evident in the league, as for the first time in years Bayern Munich have an actual rival in BVB. As for what to expect; the 2015 resulted in an average of 4 goals a game and with Dortmund being as clinical as they are this season, expectations are high.

 

 

5. Tottenham vs Manchester United ( Sun 10 16:00 )

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If Tottenham want a chance of winning their first ever Premier league title, they have to win every game left to bridge the 7 point gap between them and Leicester. Man Utd hold a different challenge as they sit in the aforementioned ‘window of uncertainty’, the two Manchester clubs and West Ham battle for the 4th and 5th European spot. Tottenham’s spine looks in good shape with Kane, Alli and Dier, crucial to the 3-2 comeback against the world cup winners (what d’you mean Netherlands?) and would give a boost to Pochettino’s men ahead of the fixture. The Man Utd players didn’t have any notable performances during the international break. The Red Devils have gone backwards over the course of the season as Louis Van Gaal’s tenure has been just short of a catastrophe. The team is so deep in disarray, there’s no notable style of play and are now out of Europe, out of the title race and out of ideas. This seems the sort of game where Tottenham can send a statement to the rest of the league with a big performance as Man Utd are technically a ‘big club’. Take from that what you will. Spurs are superior in almost every department apart from the GK spot, but I doubt even De Gea can save United from the impending collapse.

 

Other Mentions:

Bayern Munich vs Benfica ( Tue 05 19:45 )

Wolfsburg vs Real Madrid ( Wed 06 19:45 )

Paris Saint Germain vs Manchester City (Wed 06 19:45 )

Real Salt Lake vs Colorado Rapids ( Sun 10 02:30 )

 

 

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