Tales Black

We are another week closer to the Premier League promised land, with pre-season friendlies now well underway. We’ve also got the Gold Cup and the Women’s European Championship on the schedule, but can you fill another week with football matches? Is this the longest close season on record?

Monday 17th July

I’m breaking my golden rule here and picking a match that kicks off stupidly early, but I wanted to tell you about Curacao vs Mexico in the Gold Cup. Sure, Curacao need to defy the odds and win to even stand a chance of going through, and yes Mexico have named a second string squad to cope with the rigours of two tournaments in one awful summer, but these are minor points. Remember when you were a kid and your parents made you go to a party of like a neighbour’s kid who you didn’t even know or like and they weren’t even in your year group? “But I won’t even know anybody!” is the famliar whine, and you’re probably thinking the same here. Well, guess what. Leandro Bacuna plays for Curacao. Aston Villa’s Leandro Bacuna. Now if that isn’t a long winded way of saying you should get up at 1.30am to watch Leandro Bacuna, I don’t know what is.

Tuesday 18th July

There are more white hot Scottish League cup ties to get stuck into, or there’s TNS trying to overturn a 2-0 deficit at home in the Champions League. But all of that pales into insignificance when you consider there’s Brazilian Serie A action to take in. 9th placed Botafogo host the brilliantly named Sport, who are coached by Vanderlei Luxembergo. Luxembergo was of course the Brazil manager at the 1998 World Cup and also managed Real Madrid in the mid 2000’s, so you can go and check in on him here. Neither team have any hilarious players, sadly.

Wednesday 19th July

England’s Lionesses are in action, live on Channel 4. They take on Scotland in their opening group game of the Women’s European Championships. We’re covering the tournament here on Tales so I’m sure you’ll be able to keep up to date with all the happenings, but Germany are the favourites to win yet another tournament. England are third favourites, so hopefully they go well. Good luck ladies. There’s also Champions League action, including Rosenborg vs Dundalk. Dundalk claimed a creditable 1-1 in the home leg but will have their hands full away in Norway. The return leg of Celtic vs Linfield will also take place, which as predicted got a little bit tetchy on Friday.

Thursday 20th July

Aberdeen struggled to a 1-1 draw at home to Siroki Brijeg last week so have a bit of an uphill task to turn that around on Thursday. Gary Mackay-Steven made his debut for Aberdeen in that match so hopefully the Dons can build on their previous success at this stage of the competition and make it through to the third qualifying round for the fourth successive season. There’ll also be a Gold Cup quarter final at 2am, but the participants won’t be known until the group stages end.

Friday 21st July

There’s a chance to see tournament favourties Germany in the Women’s Euros at 7.45pm against Italy, as well as two early morning Gold Cup quarter finals. But more importantly, we have Friday night Scottish League Cup action live on BT Sport. Ross County face newly promoted Hibs and I’m sure it’ll be a classic. Ross County have Premier League…players of the past in Andrew Davies and Jay McEveley, whilst Hibs have just re-signed Steven Whittaker and also nabbed Efe Ambrose. Feel those ratings.

Saturday 22nd July

There’s a collection of terrible leagues on Saturday, with fixtures across Austria, Sweden, Finland, Denmark along with a full programme of Scottish League cup action. However, my focus is on the MLS over in America, where you’ll find New York City FC vs Chicago Fire. David Villa is of course the star attraction for NYC, he’s either still really good or the MLS makes him look really good but perhaps you can watch and decide. They also have a chap called Andrea Pirlo, who you may not get many more chances to watch as his clock ticks towards retirement. On the opposite side of the pitch is Bastian Schweinsteiger, finally free of Mourinho’s imprisonment and enjoying playing football again. It’s 3rd vs 1st in the Eastern Conference and that should give you every motivation to tune in at 7pm

Sunday 23rd July

We’re a bit strained for Sunday, but the England ladies are in action again, going up against Spain, once again live on Channel 4. That’s at 7.45pm, but earlier on the same day is the clash between Scotland and Portugal’s women, that kicks off at 5pm. Elsewhere, there’s Danish Superliga matches to enjoy. It’s slim pickings, as you might expect, but former Norwich and Wimbledon forward David Nielsen is manager of Lyngby these days but this is the first game of the season, so all I can say is they finished 3rd last season so he’s not doing too badly at all. FC Copenhagen won the title at a canter, but then again they have former Wimbledon midfielder (and terrible Wolves manager) Stale Solbakken in the dugout, so you’d expect nothing less really. You’ll be glad to know that by this point, there’s just a few weeks to go…

We’re nearly there! The Premier League returns August 11th. Hell, the football league returns August 4th. Tick tock…