The opening matches of the 2011-12 English (sorry, Barclays) Premier League kick off in less than an hour–not to mention the fact that Ligue 1 and Bundesliga have been already been going to a minute. So, just in the nick of time, we’re back with our weekend preview–here’s our picks for what you could/should be tuning in for this weekend.
(As usual, we’re US ET-centric with our listings info included below; take a look at livesoccer.tv for your local listings.)
Saturday, Aug 13
Germany, Wolfsburg-Bayern Munich 9:30am GolTV
A Bundesliga match to kick things off. It’ll be interesting to see if Bayern can rebound from their disappointing finish last spring. Says goal.com: “The Bavarian giants travel to Lower Saxony to meet their former coach Felix Magath and will be looking to bounce back following their opening day defeat to Borussia Monchengladbach”
England, Liverpool-Sunderland 10am FSC:
Coach (& Liverpool supporter) Larry provides us with a match preview: “Sunderland are the level of team Liverpool have struggled to beat in recent years, especially with beach balls on the pitch. But, no more Malbranque Henderson, or Bent, offset with 9 purchases, including from Man Utd (Brown and O’Shea) and Premier League (Birm City’s Larsson and Gardner) deadweight. [Ghanaian Black Star Asamoah] Gyan should cause a lot of trouble for the Reds middle, but for now is the Black Cats only true danger man. Many feel Liverpool have overpaid on the right people (cause they are British-persons) to put them right back in the Champions League race, but they can’t really play a 1-8-1 formation. Dalglish won’t have the just-appointed magic to rely on now, but has figure out how to balance the money spent against his 3 most reliable players (Kuyt, Meireles, Lucas) from last term. Will Suarez play? When he does, what happens to Carroll? Maybe they found a sub-optimal solution by immediately spending a bunch of money because somebody handed them a whole bunch more. But those are longer term considerations. Liverpool should manage to handle Sunderland in this one.”
England, Newcastle-Arsenal 12:30pm FSC
We don’t have to remind you Gooners (nor you Geordies) what happened in this fixture last year (but for the rest of you: Arsenal took a 4-0 lead in the first half, put it in cruise control, suffered a red card early in the 2nd half, and watched Newcastle come back to tie it up 4-4–the final goal by Ivorian holding midfielder Cheikh Tiote, which led to the epic “BOOM BOOM Cheikh Cheikh The Room!!” call.
Clearly, this is a fraught opening fixture for a highly unsettled Arsenal side.
France, Rennes-PSG 1pm foxsoccer.tv:
Paris-St. Germain’s new Qatari owners are looking to follow the Man City model to success in France–buy the way to hardware using Mideast oil money. They’ve been splashing the cash already this summer, bringing in Leonardo to manage and Argentine youngstar Javier Pastore (outbidding Chelsea and Man U for the latter).
U20 World Cup quarterfinal, Portugal-Argentina 5:50pm ESPNU, Galavision, ESPN3.com
Two footballing countries that seem to keep churning out young talent–take a look at the next generation of each.
MLS, Philadelphia-Dallas 8pm Direct Kick
Does Freddy Adu’s second chance at MLS success start tonight? (Sean’s thoughts on that: ” I’m happy to see if Feddie can blossom in the city of brotherly love, he can also go to hell.” On the other hand, Sean has a man-crush on Brek Shea after watching him come as a sub against Mexico last Wed night..so will Sean be supporting the Texans to beat his hometown team? Inquiring minds want to know.)
Sunday, Aug 14
England, West Brom-Manchester United 11am FSC
A cellar-dweller hosting the table-topper. Roy Hodgson vs Sir Alex. Granted. Man U will bee some key players due to injuries suffered in int’l play (Evra, Chicharito). And on the other hand, Peter Odemwingie is dangerous up front for West Brom–his quickness may cause problems for the solid and stolid but aging Vidic-Ferdinand halfback partnership. de Gea, recently arrived from Atletico Madrid, could be tested in goal–he looked a little shaky at times vs Man City in that Community Shield match, no? It’ll take some time before Vidic and Ferdinand trust him the way they did van der Saar.
Spain Super Copa, Real Madrid-Barcelona 4pm GolTV, ESPN Deportes, ESPN3.com
Because we haven’t had enough Clasicos this year–this is just the 1st leg of the home & away Super Copa, held each year between the winners of La Liga and the holders of the Copa del Rey. Maybe we’ll see some of those highly hyped new signings, such Sahin for Madrid (young German of Turkish origin who starred for Borussia Dortmund last year), or Alexis Sanchez for Barça (young Chilean who starred for Udinese in Serie A and for Chile in the Copa America over the summer).
U20 World Cup quarterfinal, Brazil-Spain 6:45pm ESPNU, ESPN3.com
See the comment above for the other U20 WC qf.
Monday, Aug 15
England, Manchester City-Swansea 3pm ESPN2, ESPN Deportes, ESPN3.com
The Monday match is an interesting one. Like West Brom-Man U, a team that’s expected to finish near the top of the table against one that will most likely struggle to avoid relegation. Which mercurial Argentine striker will Mancini play–the perpetually disgruntled Carlos Tevez, who’s been rumored to be leaving all summer; or the dazzling Kun Aguero, who just arrived on an expensive transfer from Atletico Madrid? Will Balotelli be paired with one of them? Behind the striker drama, watch for Yaya Toure and David Silva to continue building a formidable partnership in the midfield.