You have to hand it to the football authorities. They try new and inventive ways every year to ween you off the addiction, gently at first but they know it is dangerous to go completely cold turkey. The Premier League offered a sympathetic hand, giving us football every night, just about, in the closing week of the season. But now, I sit here on a positively tropical May evening wondering: What am I going to watch between now and August?
Sure, there are other sports. I’m not ashamed to admit I like just about any sport, but they’re not the beautiful game, are they? Fortunately, I’ve come up with a plan. There is football everywhere in the world, and I’m going to find it. Please join me on my weekly quest to find a match of the day, every day, and please do share with us your experiences of these replacement matches.
Monday 29th May
This is an easy one. The traditional final act of the domestic season as Huddersfield and Reading meet at Wembley Stadium to decide who will be promoted to the Premier League. It’s live on Sky Sports on Monday at 3pm. Sweet, wonderful bank holiday Monday. Prepare for Sky throwing around astronomical sums of money about just how many millions this match is worth.
Tuesday 30th May
The coward’s way out is to settle for the Bundesliga 2 relegation playoff match between 1860 Munich and Jahn Regensburg. That’s on BT Sport 2 with a 5pm kick off. It’s neatly poised at 1-1 so I’m sure it’ll be a classic. I note Ivica Olic plays for 1860 Munich, so don’t tell me that’s not a selling point. What are 1860 Munich doing in that position anyway? If that’s not your bag, how about this? I’ve got five words for you: Asian Football Confederation Champions League. My personal pick for Tuesday is Kashima Antlers vs Guangzhou Evergrande. Guangzhou won the first leg 1-0 thanks to former Tottenham stalwart Paulinho, and they’ve also got Jackson Martinez and former Charlton maestro Zheng Zhi. Oh yeah, and Scolari is the manager. Kashima, who I presume are known as The Stags (Antlers, geddit?) are the J League champs so you know they’re a handy side themselves. I guess the negative here is that it’s an 11am kick off. It appears Bet365 customers can stream the game, which can only be good news. If you want a more sensible kick off time, Lekhwiya of Qatar host Persepolis of Iran at 8pm. The first leg was 0-0 though, so make your own mind up.
Wednesday 31st May
I’ll start with the good news – there is more AFC Champions League. However, variety is the spice of life and they’re both on during the day. So, I ask you, would you like to watch a meaningless International friendly? If the answer is yes, then good news! Morocco vs Holland is on! It has some importance, in that it is the first match for the Dutch under the guidance of Dick ‘third time lucky’ Advocaat and his new assistant Ruud Gullit. Shexy Football. It looks like another Bet365 job if you’re in Britain. England’s Under 20 side will also have a last 16 match in the Under 20 World Cup, but it’s in South Korea so it’s a midday kick off. A the time of writing, the opponents are yet to be decided. It’s on Eurosport though, so that’s fun.
Thursday 1st June
I’m going left field with this one. The women’s game is growing ever stronger and you can see how accurate that statement is by watching the UEFA Women’s Champions League final on British Eurosport 2. It’s also being played in Cardiff’s creatively titled Cardiff City Stadium, so you could even go. For the record, I have no idea how ticket sales have gone but I very much doubt they require me trying to sell them. It’s an all French affair between PSG and Lyon and it’s a good pre-cursor to the Women’s European Championship later this summer.
Friday 2nd June
It’s a Friday so why not book end your day with a duo of Irish Internationals? That’s a rhetorical question. If you subscribe to Premier Sports (and I mean, who doesn’t?) then you can set your alarm for 1am and watch Mexico vs Republic of Ireland. Or just stay up, depends on what you’ve got planned for Friday. Imagine how mad Roy Keane is going to be. Anyway, watch this game, have your Friday, and then get comfortable on the sofa again for Northern Ireland vs New Zealand. It might just be a friendly to you, but New Zealand have a Confederations Cup to prepare for. You can’t take chances with things like that.
Saturday 3rd June
Saturday is football day but you have to wait until 7.45pm for the main event. The UEFA Champions League final between Juventus and Real Madrid, live on (sigh) BT Sport. At least it’s freeview. I’m at a wedding so I’m going to record it and watch it ‘live’ when I get in. It still counts.
Sunday 4th June
You can watch all sorts of low quality football on Sunday. Two Under 20 World Cup quarter finals (not England) on Eurosport in the morning, Michael Carrick’s testimonial on MUTV at 4pm and then, round off your day with Republic of Ireland vs Uruguay at 7pm. That’s another Premier Sports job. But the real pick of the day is Auchinleck Talbot v Glenafton Athletic in the Scottish Junior Cup final on BBC ALBA, which is apparently nothing to do with Barcelona’s left back. And with that terrible joke, I will see you next week.