It’s been a week where the transfer window is slightly ablaze. It’s not quite a full on furnace just yet but hey, it’s nearly August. So what have we got to look forward to in the final week of July? The Women’s European Championship is underway, the Gold Cup is reaching a close and another European league gets their 2017/18 season underway. Let’s break it down.
Monday 24th July
Monday has been a troublesome day for my schedule, I’ll be honest with you. But let me tell you this: The League of Ireland is really hotting up. They have a crazy system, where teams play each other home and away and then a third time home OR away. You can’t write unpredictability like that. But it gets better. This Monday we have Finn Harps vs Derry City in the North-West derby. Derry are third and on course for Europa League qualification, but Finn Harps are 8th and in danger of relegation. Who will you be watching? Well, Paddy McCourt plays for Finn Harps, who is basically the best player in the world on the ball but not so good off it. Or good very often. Here’s what he can produce
Derry have nobody of note, which is probably why they are as high as third, but they are managed by Kenny Shiels. Father of Dean Shiels. Yeah. 8pm Monday
Tuesday 25th July
We’ve reached the time of season where the glamour friendlies are out. If you’re at a loose end on Tuesday lunch time, you can enjoy Bayern Munich vs Chelsea on Premier Sports. Does anybody actually subscribe to Premier Sports? They seem to specialise in niche competitions and Irish friendlies. Anyway, Chelsea thrashed Arsenal 3-0 in a pointless friendly on Saturday and will have the chance to do the same in a glorified pointless friendly in a few weeks when they face off in the Community Shield. That marketing. Anyway, Chelsea and Bayern Munich face off in a re-match of the 2012 Champions League Final in Singapore, I’m sure it’ll be lovely. There’s also Champions League qualifiers that evening but none of them take my fancy.
Wednesday 26th July
Seemingly all the decent Champions League qualifiers have been saved for Wednesday. You have a choice to make. Celtic vs Rosenborg should be quite good, Celtic dismantled Linfield in the previous round but this will be a much tougher test, even if Rosenborg did need extra time to see off Dundalk. Alternatively, you have Nice vs Ajax. Nice, home of Balotelli, vs Ajax, home of many stars of the future. Some of them have left this summer but such is the Ajax academy, there’s always more to come. They should be two good matches.
Thursday 27th July
England’s Lionesses put on quite the display in their 6-0 win over Scotland and then secured an excellent win over Spain on Sunday night. England are all but through to the last 16 but will want to ensure they secure top spot with a victory or even a draw against Portugal. Alternatively, you have the Gold Cup final. The second semi-final will be played after I write this. So the final between USA and Jamaica/Mexico should be a real classic…at 2.30am. At a more sociable hour, but whilst the Lionesses are playing, Everton get their Europa League campaign underway. They take on MFK Ruzemborok of Slovakia. You can’t deny Everton have really gone for it this summer and I hope they stir up the top 7 yet further, though I don’t think they have purchased enough goals to replace Lukaku’s contribution. As long as they don’t do a West Ham and fail to make the group stage, I’ll be happy.
Friday 28th July
The Belgian league is back! Thank goodness. Champions Anderlecht go up against Royal Antwerp. Antwerpy have just been promoted and they couldn’t face a tougher opening fixture. It’s good to see the fixture computers are as hilariously rigged as the English one is, seeing as we have Brighton vs Man City over here it’s nice that Belgium have followed suit. I’m sure it’ll be another classic Belgian season.
Saturday 29th July
It’ll be the first two semi-finals of the Women’s European Championship, but if England make it through their match will be on Sunday. Spoiler alert for Sunday’s entry. We have a full compliment of Scottish League cup fixtures to enjoy, including Queen of the South against Albion Rovers. Not a big game by any means, but I love the fact Queen of the South play their home games at Hampden Park in front of a few hundred people. A mystery.
Sunday 30th July
Hopefully we’ll have England Women’s European semi-final to look forward to, but I just don’t know yet. An alternative is Dundee vs Dundee Utd, which is a hats off to the Rod Stewart equivalent who did the Scottish League cup group stage draw. I’m sure it’ll be keenly contested, and it’s live on BT Sport at 3pm, so what’s not to enjoy?
Next week we’ll have English Football League and the Community Shield on the schedule. We are nearly there. Only a few more weeks of listening to me try and make the Finnish League sound like the World Cup final. See you soon.