We’ve made it! This is the final week of scratching around trying to find some decent football to watch. Next Sunday (spoiler alert) is the Community Shield and that means the curtain is raised for another season of top flight action. We’ve also got The Championship, the SPL and some Champions League qualifiers to look forward to. Shall we?
Monday 31st July
As ever Monday is a bit of a loose day. However, we can draw strength from the fact that France’s Ligue 2 is back underway and they bring us a Monday night offering of Auxerre vs Lens. Back in my day, they were both Ligue 1 sides competing in European action. Here though they get their campaigns underway in the Antoine Sibierski derby. Auxerre have nobody hilarious on their books but Lens can offer us former wonderkid John Bostock. Remember John Bostock? He’s been in Belgium but now he’s at Lens, having once cost £700k as a 15 year old. Football is on the way back!
Tuesday 1st August
As August arrives, so too does one of the poorest set of fixtures I have ever laid my eyes on during a whole summer of writing this. There’s one Champions League qualifier but it’s between Sheriff Tiraspol and FK Qarabag, which is nobody’s dream match. There is however some white hot second round Copa Sudamericana action. The Copa Sudamericana is basically the Europa League of South America except English teams don’t complain about it. We’re at the second stage which seems to be the round of 32, and we have Huracan of Argentina vs Libertad of Paraguay. Libertad won the first leg 5-1, so this is either going to be the greatest comeback of all time or…it’s not. 11.15pm kick off
Wednesday 2nd August
The rest of the Champions League qualifying field take to the stage on Wednesday, where we’ll see Celtic try and topple Rosenborg. They are up against it though having drawn the first leg 0-0 at Celtic Park. Also going at it for a second leg are Ajax and Nice, who played out a 1-1 draw a week ago. An outsider of a game you may enjoy is Istanbul Basaksehir, who drew 3-3 away to Club Brugge last week and welcome the Belgian side to Turkey for what will hopefully be another belter of a game.
Thursday 3rd August
Everton looked a bit rusty last week didn’t they? They managed a 1-0 win over their Slovakian opponents but they will certainly need some time to gel. A good step towards doing that would be not messing up the second leg here but we’ll see. PSV grabbed headlines for the wrong reasons, losing 1-0 at home to NK Osijek whilst Aberdeen won 2-1 in their first leg and will look to get the job completed this week. AC Milan are also in action, bringing a 1-0 lead back from Romania.
England’s Women saw off France on Sunday night and have a semi-final against hosts Holland on Thursday evening. It’s on Channel 4 for your viewing pleasure – howay lasses!
Friday 4th August
The Championship is back! Friday night football is awful but in this case I’ll embrace it gladly, as Sunderland face Derby live on Sky Sports. It’s been a summer of much change at The Stadium of Light as Simon Grayson has arrived to replace David Moyes and he has looked to strengthen his team with Aiden McGeady, James Vaughan and Lewis Grabban. Whilst they aren’t names to set the pulse racing, they are very good Championship players. They did however suffer a 5-0 loss to Celtic on Saturday in their final preparations, so we’ll see how that transpires. Derby meanwhile have lost Tom Ince but gained Tom Huddlestone and Curtis Davies, which I’m not sure is a fair swap.
Saturday 5th August
JEFF STELLING IS BACK ON THE TELLY. As the Football League gets underway properly, there’s also the SPL to consider as champions Celtic play their first league game in the Saturday lunchtime offering against Hearts. There’s Championship action at tea time, featuring Aston Villa and Hull as Steve Bruce welcomes his former club (but probably not the owners). Villa now have John Terry, which will do little to give them popularity but I think it’s a great signing. You can’t deny he’s a leader and as long as the owner doesn’t play silly buggers, I think Villa win be promoted. In Scott Hogan and Jonathan Kodjia they have proven goalscorers at this level and you can add in the obviously talented Jack Grealish along with new signings Ahmed Elmohamady and Glenn Whelan and it just looks like a squad that will get promoted. Steve Bruce knows the division, of course. Hull I am less convinced about. Leonid Slutsky is a great name but he has lost a lot of players and signed…Frazier Campbell and a couple of defenders on loan from Chelsea. He has kept hold of Abel Hernandez and Sam Clucas though, which might help.
Sunday 6th August
It’s the final of the Women’s Euros, and whether England feature or not I think it’ll be worth a watch. It’s been a good tournament and the female game has had some good publicity out of it as it continues to go from strength to strength, even if there’s still been some suspect goalkeeping at times. I think that is me being picky though, after all we all saw Joel Robles last season.
It’s also the Community Shield though, just two weeks after Arsenal & Chelsea played a pointless friendly abroad they meet again under the arch of Wembley. Chelsea won that at a canter but Arsenal will surely be better here. They’ve signed Lacazette, but they haven’t nailed down Sanchez, so I guess you’d call that a draw. Chelsea have nailed down their manager for a few more years and signed Alvaro Morata. You’d be a fool to bet against him doing well.
We made it. A week on Friday, the Premier League is back in town. If I don’t see you through the week, I’ll see you through the Team of the Weekend. That doesn’t work does it? We’ll work on that.