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