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: Mar 14 – Mar 20

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. Bayern Munich vs Juventus ( Wed 16 19:45 )

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Another late goal by an unlikely Stefano Sturaro, with the prolific goal-scoring record of 1 per 20 games (eat your heart out Shearer), sends the old lady with a slither of hope into the Allianz Arena on Tuesday night.Bayern dominated the first leg from the word go, and on paper all sign’s point to a repeat of that. But, and a big but, the recent form of the Bavarian giants suggests anything but an easy 90 minutes ahead for the German side. Granted Dortmund is a hard side to breakdown, but losing to Mainz at home? Simply put for a club of this stature, with no disrespect to Mainz, it’s nothing short of shameful. Juve however are still chugging along with their unbeaten record. However looking at how poor they were against Bayern for the first hour, one begins to question if Juve are as good as they seem, or the overall lack of quality in Serie A exacerbates how dominant the side actually are. Regardless, the inevitability of Bayern scoring means Juve’s best chance of progressing is a straight win. That means Juve have to come up with something special but will give it their all to outscore the German giants in their own backyard.

 

 

 

2. Everton vs Arsenal ( Sat 19 12:45 )

everton-v-arsenal-premier-leagueBoth teams play very fluid neat football, and goals come easy for them, but the failure to finish games off is why neither club are where they want to be in the league table. Everton come into the fixture after a disappointing 2-3 loss against a West Ham side shooting up the table, but a stupid red card from Kevin Mirallas gave the incentive for the Hammers come run away with it after a comfortable 2-0 lead. The Gunners too continue to oscillate between blowing teams away and bottling it as they’ve always done, but yet, somehow, Arsenal still remain in touching distance of Leicester. More than any other match, this one looks to have goals written all over it; a necessary win for both teams can boost their confidence coming into the final weeks, and shoddy defences mixed with proven attacking line-ups points to a high scoring game at Goodison Park.

 

 

 

3. Newcastle United vs Sunderland ( Sun 20 13:30 )

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The Tyne-Wear derby returns and the two relegation candidates play arguably their most important game this weekend. You’s really got to feel sorry for these Newcastle supporters. As the new Newcastle man once said ‘lez taulk abouuo fats’. £80 million spent and what does McClaren have to show for it? 19th place and a pompous money-grabbing fiend of a chairman, leave Newcastle in the most hopeless chance of staying up in years. And then, McClaren leaves with millions in his pocket for the stellar job he did. That’s a passive burglary. Sunderland to be fair are only 1 point ahead and sit 17th place, playing just as awful football as their neighbours and the whole Johnson situation can only bring more tension to a club fighting to stay up.Sunderland do have one thing on their side. Stats. Having won their last 6 against Newcastle they are odds on, but Benitez could be the difference in turning that dreadful form around. The only manager in history to win every European competition now goes to Newcastle to pull them out of a relegation dogfight (on a side note is Benitez actively trying to ruin his career), that takes balls. On the other side of the coin no manager has ever taken over a relegation side at March and ever kept them up. But if they take Sunderland down with them they’d be doing English football a big favour (no offence Sunderland, you just play awful football).

 

 

 

5. Torino vs Juventus ( Sun 20 14:00 )

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We’ve been waiting for over a year but finally the Derby della Mole returns. Like most great football derbies, the rivalry runs much deeper than simple geography. Turin was born from the melting pot of Juventus’ early years and both play stylish attacking football in their own way (on a side note they also have the most stylish kits around). Each match is an event where the whole city stops to spectate, as you know it’ll always make headlines the next day. Last year Juventus dominated the derby, crushing Torino 4-0, the year before Bruno Perez scored that wonder goal where he skinned 2/3 of the Juventus team. Go back one year further, Torino ground out their first win in 20 years. For a small city in Italy, Turin always seemed to small to house two big footballing clubs. Unfortunately riots are also on the papers days leading up to and after the fixture, but the city have made their best efforts to stub out those incidents while maintaining a fiery atmosphere during the game. Emotions run high for the players and are fuelled by the fans rousing pride for the respective sides. The Turin derby always gives something for the fans and while Juve may look vastly superior, these kinds of games are capable of humbling even the giants of football.

 

 

 

6. PSV Eindhoven vs Ajax ( Sun 20 15:45 )

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This game will be crucial in deciding which of these two clubs will lift this year’s Eredivisie trophy. The famous big 3 in Netherlands seem to have lost one of their members, with Feyenoord falling down the table without hope of recovering, leaving PSV and Ajax to fight for the title. Both come into the fixture with near perfect form and are playing like they run this league. Supreme in confidence, both teams are never fazed with resolute teams; it looks like the team of the season will be comprised mostly of players from PSV or Ajax. The game itself is usually anticipated by everyone in Netherlands, gifted by fierce tackles, fantastic goals, slick passing moves and unrivalled drama from anywhere else in the country, nothing short of spectacular. The top 2 are separated by 1 point, 19 points from the next closest challenger; the stakes have never been higher.

 

 

 

4. Manchester City vs Manchester United ( Sun 20 16:00 )

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The most expensive derby in the world returns with an expected value of £382 million on that football field at the Etihad. Or should it be called the most overpriced derby in the world? Man Utd are sliding down to 6th, and have serious pressing issues throughout the club. The injuries continue to rack up and it’s past a joke now, most of which come from training. The style of play and lack of motivation is the most frustrating aspect of this years campaign. What is happening when 11 Man Utd players can’t be motivated enough against Liverpool? It’s unacceptable is what it is, unacceptable and humiliating as a supporter. Looking over to the blue side, while they are structurally sound as a club, there’s still a plethora of issues Pep will have to sort out. There is absolutely no reason, none whatsoever, that this side shouldn’t be cruising through this league. Aguero, Silva, Yaya Toure, Kompany, Hart, you won’t find a much better spine anywhere in the world, but still produce football that can only be described as stale and uninventive for the most part. So, as we can see, both teams are far from complete. Like Everton vs Arsenal this game looks like goals will flood in, two dire defences don’t look like recovering in time but City look the ones more likely to punish the other sides defensive ineptitudes.

 

 

Other Mentions:

Arsenal vs Barcelona ( Wed 16 19:45 )

Schalke 04 vs Borussia M. Gladbach ( Fri 18 19:30 )

Chelsea vs West Ham ( Sat 19 15:00 )

 

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