The football season is in full swing, so we best make the most of it as a pesky International break is looming large. This week we have Champions League and Carabao Cup to look forward to midweek before we head into a bank holiday weekend jam packed with action. Let’s get to it.
Tuesday 22nd August
We’re flush with Champions League action, though Celtic kick off at the rather unsociable hour of 4.30pm away to Astana. Mind you, they won 5-0 last week so unless Ronny Deila is taking over for the night I think they’ll be fine. Nice and Napoli will go at it again, Napoli defending a 2-0 lead from last week.
What might be a better bet, if you like low quality cup action sponsored by exotic energy drinks, in the 2nd round Carabao Cup tie between Sheff Utd and Leicester. Obviously Leicester would be the favourites but I guess it depends who has drank more Carabao. That’s Sky Sports’ televised offering, but there is a full programme of fixtures including Accrington Stanley against West Brom.
Wednesday 23rd August
We’ve got the other half of the Champions League qualifiers on Wednesday, including Liverpool against Hoffenheim. Klopp’s men have a 2-1 lead to defend at Anfield after a hard fought win in Germany last week, and you’d expect they’ll get the job done and make the group stages. As ever, BT will have all the Champions League qualifiers across their channels and online.
There’s more Carabao Cup action too, with the televised offering being Cheltenham Town against West Ham. There are a handful of other ties too, including a Lancashire derby between Blackburn and Burnley. I’ll be at Newcastle vs Nottingham Forest, which is hopefully more our level.
Thursday 24th August
Thursday is Europa League day! Sometimes. We’ve got Hajduk Split vs Everton on ITV4, with Everton 2-0 up from the first leg. Hopefully there’s no crowd trouble this time. Other games are available, including Rosenborg vs Ajax – Rosenborg won 1-0 in Amsterdam, as Ajax stare down the barrel of not being involved in European football post August.
Friday 25th August
Good old EFL on a Friday night. The bank holiday weekend kicks off with Bristol City vs Aston Villa, where we get to see just how slow John Terry now is. Villa got a win under their belt at the weekend, to the relief of Steve Bruce, whilst Bristol City’s good start seems to have fallen away somewhat.
Elsewhere, you can enjoy Neymar’s PSG as they are now known hosting St Etienne, that’s on BT Sport, or you can have Real Sociedad against Villarreal on Sky Sports Mix. It’s probably on Mix for a reason, but whatever. Real Betis vs Celta Vigo follows at 9pm but that’s on Sky Sports Football, so they must expect that to be a better game.
Saturday 26th August
Saturday, as ever, is football day, and I don’t know about you but it always feels better when Monday is a holiday (sorry non-UK people). The lunch time game is Bournemouth against Man City – Bournemouth haven’t started particularly well and will be in for a tough test here. You’re spoiled for choice at tea time, Man Utd vs Leicester being the Premier League offering but you have two elite European sides as alternatives. Alaves vs Barcelona is at 5.15pm on Sky Sports Mix whilst Genoa vs Juventus is on BT Sport Extra 2. If Champions League clubs don’t do it for you, maybe Championship clubs do it for you. Nottingham Forest and Leeds therefore might really appeal to you – that’s also a 5.30pm kick off.
In the evening, Roma vs Inter Milan is at 7.45pm kick off on BT Sport 3, that looks like a good fixture based on history alone. Las Palmas and Atletico Madrid kick off at 9.15pm if you’re into that sort of stuff.
Sunday 27th August
Watch as much as you can on Sunday as you’ll have to go cold turkey for two weeks. Granted, the 1.30pm offering in the Premier League is WBA vs Stoke City, but you know it might be a big deal Tony Pulis facing his old club. If you’re up early you can start your day with Dutch Eredivisie, Feyenoord against Willem II, with Ajax also in action at 1.30pm as an alternative to the afforementioned Pulis derby.
If you can negotiate all that, Liverpool vs Arsenal is your 4pm pot of gold. That should be a decent game as a neutral and probably one of the last things Wenger wants to see after the defeat at Stoke last week. Incidentally, there are two non-televised Premier League games, with Chelsea/Everton a fare more enticing 1.30pm affair whilst Tottenham host Burnley at 4pm.
Into the evening, and what’s left of Monaco host Marseille on BT Sport at 8pm, then you have Real Madrid vs Valencia at 9.15pm on Sky Sports Football. You could feasibly watch games all day and all night…even LA Galaxy against San Jose Earthquakes is a midnight option.
Monday 28th August
There’s actually very little to shout about on bank holiday Monday. Because there are International fixtures later in the week, the major European Leagues have to take a break. Next week’s column could be fun…
AFC Fylde take on Barrow in the National League at 7.45pm on BT Sport 1. Bloody hell.
See you next week, where we are back to scraping the International barrel