5 Games to Watch This Weekend

  1. Chelsea vs. Liverpool – Stamford Bridge, London

Saturday October 31st – 8:45 am EST on NBCSN

This is a showdown between two teams and two managers who are very familiar with each other.  Chelsea and Liverpool have had some great games in the past.  Chelsea has won 2 of the last four in London and drew the other two.  Liverpool will be looking for their first league win under Jurgen Klopp after having won their first game against Bournemouth in the League Cup.  Injuries and form are the story for both of these teams.  Courtois and Ivanovic are both out with injury.  Costa and Pedro face late fitness tests.  Matic might return after his suspension.  Liverpool has a longer list in Flanagan, Henderson, Gomez, Ings, Rossiter, and Toure who are all out.  Sturridge and Benteke are doubts with the latter a more likely candidate to play.

Betting Odds

Match Result: Chelsea 21/20, Liverpool 14/5, Draw 13/5

First Goalscorer: Loic Remy 9/2, Diego Costa 9/2, Radamel Falcao 9/2

Predictions

My Prediction: Chelsea 1, Liverpool 1: Goals from Willian and Firmino

James’ Prediction: Chelsea 1, Liverpool 1: Goals from Hazard and Benteke

  1. Villarreal vs. Sevilla – El Madrigal, Villarreal

Saturday October 31st – 1:15 pm EST on beIN Sports CONNECT

Villarreal started with a bang, winning 5 of their first 6.  Meanwhile, Sevilla have started slowly, winning 2 of their first 6.  However, Sevilla won their last match 5-0 against Getafe and have gone unbeaten in their last 4 league games, including beating Barcelona.  Villarreal have gone winless in their last 3 league games, earning only 1 point over those 3 games.  This sets up as two teams going in opposite directions, especially when you consider Sevilla have won on their last three visits to El Madrigal. Mateo Musacchio, Adrian, Sergio Asenjo, and Leo Baptistao are all out for Villarreal.  Tomas Pina is a doubt.  Nico Pareja, Daniel Carrico, and Beto are out for Sevilla.  Banega has an ankle problem and is likely to miss out with Iborra and Krohn-Delhi likely to keep him out.  Konoplyanka is likely to start with his recent form being so good.

Betting Odds

Match Result: Villarreal 5/4, Sevilla 9/4, Draw 12/5

First Goalscorer: Soldado 5/1, Gameiro 5/1, Bakambu 15/2

Predictions

My Prediction: Villarreal 1, Sevilla 2: Goals by Soldado, Konoplyanka, and Gameiro

James’ Prediction: Villarreal 1, Sevilla 2: Goals from Bakambu, Gamiero, Banega

  1. Wolfsburg vs. Bayer Leverkusen – Volkswagen Arena, Wolfsburg

Saturday October 31st – 1:30 pm EST on Fox Sports 2

Two top 6 teams in Germany face off with a place in the top 4 on the line.  Wolfsburg and Leverkusen are separated by 2 places, but only one point in the table.  A win can send either team into the top 3.  Despite their last loss against Bayern Munich in the German Cup, Wolfsburg had won 3 straight.  Leverkusen meanwhile is unbeaten in their last five.  Both teams will be looking to add three big points this weekend.  Wolfsburg has won the last four meetings at home.  Bayer Leverkusen came back from a 2-0 hole to win their last league game against Stuttgart.  In terms of team news, Knoche, Trasch, Kruse, and Lopes will all miss due to injury for Wolfsburg.  Schurrle should replace Kruse and Guilavogui, or Arnold both could play alongside Gustavo.  For Leverkusen, Aranguiz, Hilbert, and Jedvaj are all out injured.  Lars Bender is a doubt, which means Kampl and Kramer could start in midfield.

Betting Odds

Match Result: Wolfsburg 13/8, Bayer Leverkusen 17/10, Draw 12/5

First Goalscorer: Kießling 5/1, Dost 5/1, Mehmedi 13/2

Predictions

My Prediction: Wolfsburg 2, Leverkusen 2: Goals by Draxler, Dost, Kießling, and Hernandez

James’ Prediction: Wolfsburg 2, Bayer Leverkusen 2: Goals by Dost, Caliguiri, Hernandez, and Kießling

  1. Inter vs. Roma – San Siro, Milan

Saturday October 31st – 3:45 pm EST on beIN Sports CONNECT

Roma are the latest team to take the top spot in the Serie A table after their win against Fiorentina.  They maintained their top spot with a win over Udinese during the week.  Their opponent, Inter Milan, won their first game in the last five during the week when they beat Bologna.  Inter sit on the outside looking in despite being just two points behind Roma.  Napoli, Fiorentina and Inter all have 21 points.  Strootman, Keita, and Totti continue to miss with injury as they have been out for a long time.  De Rossi is doubtful.  Vidic is out for Inter and Melo is out with suspension.

Betting Odds

Match Result: Inter 19/10, Roma 6/4, Draw 23/10

First Goal Scorer: Icardi 9/2, Dzeko 5/1, Manaj 6/1

Predictions

My Prediction: Inter 2, Roma 3: Goals by Icardi, Jovetic, Salah, Rossi, and Gervinho

James’ Prediction: Inter 3, Roma 2: Goals by Icardi, Jovetic (2), Salah, Pjanic

  1. Monaco vs. Angers – Stade Louis II, Monaco

Sunday, November 1st – 11:00 am EST on beIN Sports USA

Angers has been the shock team of the French top division as they currently sit second in the table.  They were promoted to the top flight for this season and have won 6 of their first 11 games.  Monaco, meanwhile, is unbeaten in their last 7, but only have 3 wins in this run including their last two games.  They will look to make it 3 wins in a row this weekend against Angers.  Monaco has one of the longest injury lists in the big 5 leagues.  For them, Dirar, Bahlouli, Traore, Bakayoko, Lemar, Coentrao, Cavalerio are all out.  Wallace and Bernardo Silva are out with suspensions.  Angers have had one of the best defenses in the Ligue.  That, combined with the fact that Monaco have not won yet at home in their Ligue 1 campaign, could mean Angers could claim their first big scalp of the season.

Betting Odds

Match Result: Monaco 3/5, Angers 11/2, Draw 11/4

First Goal Scorer: El Shaarawy 9/2, Cavaleiro 5/1, Carrillo 5/1

Predictions

My Prediction: Monaco 1, Angers 1: Goals by El Shaarawy and Mangani

James’ Prediction: Monaco 1, Angers 1: Goals by Moutinho, Camara

All odds provided by bet365

League Cup Recap

The Round of 16 took place this past week.  At the start of the round, 13 Premier League teams were involved.  There were three London clubs in the tournament.  Now there are only 5 EPL teams left and all of the London clubs are out.  During the week, 4 of the 8 games went to penalties.  Stoke defeated Chelsea to knock the holders out of the competition on penalties.  Hull, Everton, and Middlesbrough all survived penalty shootouts against Leicester, Norwich, and Manchester United respectively.  Sheffield Wednesday upset Arsenal 3-0.  Manchester City dominated Crystal Palace 5-1.  Southampton beat Aston Villa 2-1.  Liverpool won their first game under Klopp as they beat Bournemouth 1-0.  The quarterfinals are set: Middlesbrough vs. Everton, Stoke City vs. Sheffield Wednesday, Manchester City vs. Hull City, and Southampton vs. Liverpool.

Other Games on TV This Weekend

Saturday, October 31st

Schalke 04 vs. Ingolastadt – 10:30 am EST on Fox Soccer Plus

Werder Bremen vs. Borussia Dortmund – 10:30 am EST on Fox Sports 2

Swansea City vs. Arsenal – 11:00 am EST on USA

Crystal Palace vs. Manchester United – 11:00 am EST on NBCSN

Real Madrid vs. Las Palmas – 11:00 am EST on beIN Sports

Juvetnus vs. Torino – 1:00 pm EST on beIN Sports

Getafe vs. Barcelona – 3:30 pm EST on beIN Sports

Sunday, November 1st

Fiorentina vs. Frosinone – 6:30 am EST on beIN Sports USA

Everton vs. Sunderland – 8:30 am EST on NBCSN

Genoa vs. Napoli – 9:00 am EST on beIN Sports USA

Stuttgart vs. Darmstadt 98 – 9:30 am EST on Fox Sports 2

Southampton vs. Bournemouth – 11:00 am EST on USA

Hamburger SV vs. Hannover 96 – 11:30 am EST on Fox Sports 1

Lazio vs. Milan – 2:45 pm EST on beIN Sports USA

Monday, November 2nd

Chievo vs. Sampdoria – 1:00 pm EST on beIN Sports USA

Tottenham Hotspur vs. Aston Villa – 3:00 pm EST on NBCSN

Palermo vs. Empoli – 3:00 pm EST on beIN Sports USA

10 Points From the Weekend

  1. Jose is sent to the stands as his team loses 5th game

This weekend, Chelsea traveled across London to face West Ham.  The Hammers had already beaten Manchester City, Arsenal, and Liverpool.  Now they can add Chelsea to that list.  Mauro Zarate finished off a poorly defended corner with a very sweet volley.  Then Nemanja Matic seemed to lose his mind as he picked up two yellows within 10 minutes of each other.  Just a couple minutes later, Silvino Louro (Chelsea assistant) was sent to the stands.  Chelsea might have felt hard done by with the Matic sending off, the close call via goal line technology, and very tight offside call.  In my opinion the only point of contention is the offside call, as it was very tight and Cesc’s goal should have stood.  Never the less, Chelsea did draw level thanks to Gary Cahill, but they were without their manager.  Jose Mourinho never came out of the tunnel, having been sent to the stands for something that happened in the tunnel.  Is he losing the plot?  Is he losing control of his team? How much longer does he have?  West Ham would come back and win the game thanks to Andy Carroll of all people.  The real question now is how many more games can Jose lose?

  1. Munich become first Bundesliga team to win first 10 games and win their 1000th Bundesliga win.

The most in-form team in the world continued their winning ways as Bayern defeated Koln 4-0 behind goals from Robben, Vidal, Lewandowski, and Muller.  Munich is now 7 points clear and looks set for another title.  They have been scoring for fun this year averaging 3.3 goals a game.  In the meantime, they have conceded just 4 total goals.  Robben added his second goal of the season and was very influential.  Lewandowski scored his 13th goal of the season.  Muller scored his 10th goal.  This team is having fun and scoring goals.  The only real point of question is how long Pep will be the manager.  He will obviously be judged solely on his results in the Champions League.

  1. Roma claims the top spot.

In a match between first and second place, Roma jumped out to an early lead.  Former Fiorentina star Mohamed Salah scored a beautiful goal 7 minutes in.  Gervinho doubled their lead after 34 minutes.  With their two goal lead, Roma held a very comfortable advantage.  The result got a bit closer late on as Mohamed Salah was shown two yellow cards in quick succession.  Just after that, Babacar cut the deficit in half.  It was too little too late for La Viola.  They were knocked off the top of the table and have to figure out what is wrong having lost 2 in a row.  Meanwhile, Roma has won 3 in a row in the league.  Is this the year that Roma finally wins the Scudetto?

  1. Last week it was Neymar, this week it was Suarez.

Last week, Neymar scored 4 goals to lead Barcelona to victory. This week after falling behind to Eibar, Barcelona was in need of a match winner.  This week it was Suarez’s turn to take that role.  He first finished off a nice cross from Sandro.  There was a hint of offsides on the play, but the flag stayed down.  Sandro played a great ball across the face of goal.  Neymar then became the provider as he played in two great passes and Suarez cooly finished them off.  Barcelona kept pace with Real Madrid and is level on points with Real Madrid.  There are a couple weeks left until Leo Messi returns to training.  Both Suarez and Neymar are going to have to carry the mantle for a little while longer and it looks more and more likely that they are ready to carry that torch.

  1. PSG continues to roll on.

So far this year, PSG has faced Lille, Monaco, Marseille, and Saint Etienne. They have beaten them all. The latest was a 4-1 win in which both Cavani and Ibrahimovic scored goals.  Lucas Moura added the fourth and Kurzawa opened the scoring.  To make matters worse, Verratti scored an own goal for the fifth.  PSG are all but set to win the French League again and is looking more and more dominate in France.  But like I write every week, the questions still remain in Europe.  They had a great chance this past week to knock off Real Madrid and make a statement, but they were not able to.  They did keep a clean sheet but could not find the back of the net.  They will face off again soon and PSG will need a big result in Madrid.

  1. Manchester sides play out a 0-0 draw.

In the top billed English game of the weekend, two sides played out to one of the most boring 0-0 draws I have seen this season.  Both teams really lacked quality in the final third and it took 80 minutes for a shot on target.  For United, it was out of form Rooney up top.  United dominated possession but really struggled to attack.  They seemed very comfortable just passing the ball back and forth.  They really lacked any attacking drive.  For City, they were missing their top two creative players in Silva and Aguero.  However, that does not mean there were not creative players on the field in Sterling, De Bruyne, and Yaya Toure.  Bony was awful on the day.  In what should have been an entertaining match of football, both Manchester sides really let us all down.

  1. Real Madrid stays top of the league.

This weekend, Real traveled to Vigo to face off with the surprise team of the season so far.  Real came out of the gate very quickly and jumped to a 2 goal lead within the first 23 minutes.  Ronaldo opened the scoring and then Danilo finished off a lovely ball from Jese.  When you look at the final score, it looks like a convincing Real Madrid win, but in reality, Celta Vigo was close to drawing level or even winning the game.  Gustavo Cabral was sent off for his second yellow in the 58th minute.  After that, honestly, Celta were the most likely to score and Nolito proved that goal making it 2-1.  Celta went on to try and equalize, but they were caught at the death and Marcelo made it 3-1.  It is three points for Real but not a perfect performance.  Keylor Navas has been great lately and really saved Madrid this weekend.  He will need to keep this up while they figure out the defense.

  1. Lyon jumps into the top 4.

The only big team still waiting to get their shot at PSG, Lyon, has finally made it into the top 4.  After some early season struggles, Lyon is now just 3 points behind Angers in second place.  While they are a ways off PSG, 10 points to be exact, they are climbing back up the table. This weekend, they dominated Toulouse winning 3-0.  Mathieu Valbuena was the stand-out player as he gets more and more comfortable back in France.  He scored one goal and assisted one.  Lyon will now set their sights on trying to get closer to PSG.  However, they will need a lot of help but they could challenge Angers and Caen for a spot in the top 3 places.

  1. The race for third place is heating up in Germany.

In Germany, four teams are within two points and all battling for the final two Champions League spots.  Schalke 04 (19), Wolfsburg (18), Hertha (17), and Leverkusen (17) are all fighting for two spots.  This weekend, they all came away victorious except for Schalke, who suffered defeat at Monchengladbach.  Monchengladbach is close to getting into the race.  It really gets interesting next weekend as Wolfsburg hosts Bayer Leverkusen.  This is a race that will be great to watch.  While the title race might be over, the race for the last two Champions League places is going to be great.

  1. Don’t Look No, but Napoli Won Again.

Napoli made it four wins in a row as they beat Chievo Verona this weekend.  Gonzalo Higuain scored the only goal of the game in the second half to give Napoli the win.  Napoli dominated the whole game and probably should have won by more, except for the great defense from Alessandro Gamberini and Bostjan Cesar.  Napoli is now second in the table and looks set to challenge Roma for the title.  The Naples side has come close in the past but with Juventus slipping, could this be the year they challenge for the title or even win the title?

Photo of the Week

Jose looking sad in the stands…

IMG_5250

Goals of the Week

My Pick – I am going to go down to Italy for the biggest game of the weekend.  Mohamed Salah faced his old team and opened the scoring with a beauty.

https://vine.co/v/eVLdjzr5zHZ/embed/simple

James’ Pick – Steven Fletcher’s goal in the Tyne-Wear Derby.  Great concentration and great volley.

Midweek Action

England – The League Cup 4th round takes place this week.  Chelsea travels to Stoke.  Arsenal travels to Sheffield Wednesday.  Crystal Palace travels to Manchester City in the tie of the round.

Italy – There is a midweek round of the Serie A.  Roma host Udinese.  Fiorentina travels to Hellas Verona.  Napoli will look to make it 5 in a row against Palermo.

Germany – Round 2 of the DFB Pokal takes place this week.  The match of the round has to be Wolfsburg hosting Bayern Munich.

France – The 3rd round of the Coupe de la Ligue takes place.  Most of the Ligue 1 teams are not in this round, but the match of the round is Lorient vs. Montpellier.

Manchester Derby and Other Top of the Table Clashes!!

  1. Manchester Derby – Manchester United vs. Manchester City, Old Trafford, Manchester

Sunday, October 25th at 10:05 am EST on NBCSN

In the last four Manchester Derbies in Old Trafford, United have won just 1 of them.  However, a win this weekend for Louis Van Gaal will send his team to the top of the table.  City comes into the Manchester Derby having won 4 straight games in all competitions.  However, they have also conceded in their last four league matches.  United meanwhile drew at CSKA Moscow during the week but beat Everton at the weekend.  Aguero is out injured, so Bony looks set to start up front.  De Bruyne and Sterling have been in phenomenal form lately.  Martial could stay out on the left with Rooney as the lone striker.  Herrera could start his second straight league game this weekend after looking great at Everton.  The Manchester Derby should be a cracker.

Betting Odds

Match Result – Man Utd 8/5, Man City 9/5, Draw 5/2

First Goal Scorer – Bony 11/2, Iheanacho 6/1, Martial 6/1,

Predictions

My Prediction – United 2, City 4 with goals from Herrera, Smalling, Toure, Sterling, De Bruyne, and Bony

James’ Prediction – United 2, City 2 with goals by Rooney, Martial, De Bruyne, and Sterling

  1. Celta de Vigo vs. Real Madrid, Estadio Balaidos, Vigo

Saturday, October 24th at 10:00 am EST on beIN Sports

The top two teams in Spain face off this weekend and it is not El Classico.  Celta Vigo hosts Real Madrid. Celta have been one of the biggest surprises in the footballing world.  They currently sit level on points with both Real Madrid and Barcelona.  They are ahead of Barcelona in the table thanks to their win over the Catalans.  Celta Vigo is fully healthy and is looking to continue their run of 8 matches without defeat.  Real Madrid has gone 11 games unbeaten.  Will one of these teams suffer defeat this weekend?  Real Madrid has many injury concerns headed into the game.  James, Carvajal, Pepe, and Bale are all out.  Benzema and Kovacic are doubtful.

Betting Odds

Match Result – Celta 14/5, Real Madrid 10/11, Draw 14/5

First Goal Scorer – Ronaldo 10/3, Benzema 9/2, Bale 5/1

Predictions

My Prediction – Celta 2, Real 1 with goals from Aspas, Nolito, and Ronaldo

James’ Prediction – Celta 1,Real 2 with goals by  Nolito, Ronaldo, and Isco

  1. Fiorentina vs. Roma, Stadio Artemio Franchi, Florence

Sunday, October 24th at 1:00 pm EST on beIN Sports Connect

The question this weekend is can Fiorentina get back to winning ways after losing two straight games.  Roma have not had the best run of form either, as they have won just 3 of their last 6 games.  The last six games between these two sides have been split 2 wins a piece and 2 draws.  This game could really go either way.  Paulo Sousa should return to his best eleven after rotating his Fiorentina side in the Europa League.  Giuseppe Rossi has been has fire.  Leandro Castan looks set to come back into the starting lineup for Roma due to Antonio Rudiger’s poor form.  Iago Falque could also return with the final spot down to Gervinho.  This is a showdown between 1 and 2.  They are separated by a point.  Roma have been the best offense so far in the league and Fiorentina are tied with Inter Milan for the best defense.

Betting Odds

Match Result – Fiorentina 6/4, Roma 9/5, Draw 12/5

First Goal Scorer – Rossi 9/2, Dzeko 5/1, Kalinic 11/2

Predictions

My Prediction – Fiorentina 2, Roma 2 with goals from Kalinic, Illicic, Dzeko, and Pjanic

James’ Prediction – Fiorentina 1, Roma 2 with goals by Kalinic, Pjanic, and Salah

  1. Paris Saint-Germain vs. Saint Etienne, Parc des Princes, Paris

Sunday, October 24th at 4:00 pm EST on beIN Sports

One of the most in form players in the world has been Zlatan Ibrahimovic.  He has scored six goals in his last four league games.  If he is able to add to that total, then PSG could put a very sizable distance between them and their rivals.  PSG is currently 5 points above Angers and Caen.  They are 7 points above Etienne.  If Etienne has any ambitions of being in the title race, a win this weekend is a must.  They have not had the best success lately as PSG has won the last 6 games against St. Etienne.  PSG will look to put their title rivals out of distance.  PSG have dominated Ligue 1 and a win this weekend sets them on a path for their sixth title over all and fourth in a row.

Betting Odds

Match Result – PSG 1/4, St. Etienne 11/1, Draw 5/1

First Goal Scorer – Cavani 12/5, Ibrahimovic 3/1, Augustin 9/2

Predictions

My Prediction – PSG 3, St. Etienne 1 with goals from Di Maria, Ibrahimovic, Cavani, and Beric

James’ Prediction – PSG 2, Saint Etienne 0 with goals by Cavani, Ibrahimovic

  1. Borussia Dortmund vs. Augsburg, Signal Iduna Park, Dortmund

Sunday, October 24th at 10:30 am EST on Fox Sports 2

Dortmund seem to have gotten back to winning ways as they have won their last two after going winless in four straight.  Augsburg ended their five game winless streak this week by beating AZ Alkmaar in the Europa League.   Augsburg is on the bottom of the table and is in need of a statement.  They have only won a single game so far and are really struggling.  They need to get going quickly.  Dortmund has Schmelzer fully fit and should start.  Hofmann and Januzaj look to be set for a place on the bench.

Betting Odds

Match Result – Dortmund 1/5, Augsburg 12/1, Draw 6/1

First Goal Scorer – Aubameyang 13/5, Reus 15/4, Ducksch 4/1

Predictions

My Prediction – Dortmund 3, Augsburg 1 with goals from Aubameyang (2), Reus, and Werner

James’ Prediction – Dortmund 4, Augsburg 1 with goals by Aubameyang, Mkhitaryan(2), Reus, Verhaegh

All odds provided by bet365

Other Games on TV This Weekend

Saturday, October 24th

 Bayern Munchen vs. Koln – 9:30 am EST on Fox Sports 2

Bayer Leverkusen vs. Stuttgart – 9:30 am EST on Fox Soccer Plus

Leicester City vs. Crystal Palace – 10:00 am EST on USA Network

Carpi vs. Bologna – 12:00 pm EST on beIN Sports

Arsenal vs. Everton – 12:30 pm EST on NBC

Palermo vs. Internazionale – 2:45 pm EST on beIN Sports

Sunday, October 25th

Sampdoria vs. Hellas Verona – 7:30 am EST on beIN Sports

Sunderland vs. Newcastle United – 8:00 am EST on NBCSN

Juventus vs. Atalanta – 10:00 am EST on beIN Sports

Borussia Monchengladbach vs. Schalke 04 – 12:30 pm EST on Fox Sports 1

Liverpool vs. Southampton – 1:15 pm EST on NBC (The Relationship Derby!!)

Barcelona vs. Eibar – 1:15 pm EST on beIN Sports

Munich, City, and PSG Remain Top, Real Go Top, Fiorentina Lose but Stay on Top!

10 Big Takeaways From This Weekend

  1. Napoli have taken the mantel as the hottest team in Europe.

In the last three Serie A games, Napoli have faced Juventus, Milan, and this weekend Fiorentina. Having defeated both Juventus and Milan, Napoli set their sights on La Viola. Lorenzo Insigne opened up the scoring in the second half.   However, Nikola Kalinic leveled the score up with just 17 minutes left. The lead didn’t last long, as Gonzalo Higuain scored just 2 minutes later. Napoli has won four of the last five games in the league and is unbeaten in the last seven matches. Napoli is now just three points from the top of the table. Can they continue their impressive run?

  1. Bayern edge past Bremen to stay perfect.

The Bavarians are the first team ever to go a perfect nine for nine in the Bundesliga thanks to Thomas Müller. Müller finished off a beautiful pass from Thiago to give them a first half lead. That was Müller’s ninth goal of the season. Bayern Munich is now 7 points clear at the top and might never lose. The only question that remains is how early will they clinch the league? Can they make another statement this week by ending the hopes of Arsenal in the Champions League?

  1. City, Arsenal, and United all look dominant at the top of the table.

City overcame their injury woes and got a hat trick from Raheem Sterling in a 5-1 win over Bournemouth. Arsenal went on to win 3-0 at Watford following their 3-0 win against United last week. United got back to winning ways by defeating Everton in Goodison 3-0. It was one of the most shocking performances from Everton, as they seemed to concede the game very early on. These three teams remain in the top three spots in the table. Arsenal and United are level on 19 points with City 2 points ahead of them. Next week, we will have another top 3 showdown as City and United face off in the Manchester Derby. The question now is who will join them in the top four this season?

  1. Ronaldo becomes all time leading scorer as Real go top.

Coming into the game this weekend, Cristiano was level with Raul on 323 goals for Real Madrid. In the 30th minute, Ronaldo stepped up and finished off a beauty to put Real up 2-0 and give him his 324th goal. It took Raul 741 games to score his 323 goals but Ronaldo was able to pass this is just 308 games.   He has set a record that will probably stand for years. He is one of the best players in the world and he continues to show us why. Real Madrid would go on to win 3-0 and to the top of the league. The only other note from the game was Gareth Bale leaving early with an injury.

  1. PSG stay top but Angers and Caen keep pace.

The two surprise teams in France have maintained their five-point gap behind the leaders. as they both went on the road and won. Caen went to Reims and defeated Stade Reims. Angers went to Toulouse and defeated them 2-1. The leaders meanwhile rolled behind two goals from Zlatan Ibrahimovic as PSG defeated Bastia. The Parisians remained unbeaten in France with the win and look set to take on Real Madrid this week in the Champions League. While PSG look set to win the league again, could one of these new title rivals give them a challenge?

  1. Who wants to win the Scudetto?

This weekend in Italy, only Roma and Napoli won from teams that finished in the top 5 last season. Fiorentina lost to Napoli, Juventus drew with Inter Milan, and Lazio lost to Sassuolo. Of those five teams, only Fiorentina, Roma, and Lazio were in the top 5 this season. Now it is Fiorenitna, Roma, and Napoli. With the former champions struggling to find their form, there is a void at the top of the league. A new champion might be welcomed in Italy, but the question is which one of them. Will it be Fiorentina? Do they have what it takes to hold on at the top? Maybe Napoli? They are on fire right now. How about Inter Milan, they got off to a great start. Or is it finally Roma’s turn to get the title?

  1. Chelsea gets much needed three points.

After the rough start and a tough loss to Southampton before the break, Chelsea needed to beat Aston Villa. While they were given the first and probably second goal of the game, the team got a much-needed clean sheet. This is only their second clean sheet of the season. Is Jose righting the ship? He sent a message as he sat Matic, Cahil, Ivanovic, and most importantly Eden Hazard. Diego Costa scored his second goal of the season. He looked much better this weekend but the same cannot be said about the rest of the team. Aston Villa had more possession and more total shots. There is still room for improvement, but it is a big step for the blues.

  1. Neymar runs riot.

Without Messi, Barcelona is in need of a talisman and Neymar seems to have taken that calling. He was phenomenal this weekend as he was all over the field and a real menace to the Rayo defense. He was taken down twice in the box and awarded penalties which he finished off. He then added two more goals as Barcelona would go on to win 4-1. This drew them level with Real Madrid on points. However, there are still questions to answer at the back. The team looked very vulnerable and needs to be figured out soon by Enrique if he wants to repeat as champions.

  1. Augsburg’s struggles continue.

After finishing 5th last season, Augsburg were hoping to push on and challenge for the top four spots in the German league. Augsburg has only won 1 game so far and now sits on the bottom of the table following their 2-0 loss at home against Darnstadt 98. The only win that they recorded this year was at home against Hannover who was in the relegation zone before this weekend. They have really struggled to score this season, but the real issue is their defense.  Can they fix their problems and right the ship or are they in trouble this season?

  1. Leicester City is the king of the comeback.

This weekend seems like déjà vu for most Leicester fans. Their team fell behind 2-0 and all of a sudden they came storming back in the second half to draw level and earn a point. Early on in the season they came back from 1-0 down to draw with Tottenham and Bournemouth. Then the comebacks really started as Aston Villa was 2-0 with under 30 minutes left. However, Leicester came back and won 3-2. Then just a week later they were down 2-0 to Stoke and came back to earn a 2-2 draw. This weekend was more of the same as they fell behind 2-0 to Southampton and came back to earn the draw. Leicester is never out of a game and look great under Claudio Ranieri.

Picture of the Week

Let the Klopp Era Begin…

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Goals of the Week

My pick – My pick of the week is from Antoine Griezmann for his superb run against Real Sociedad. Koke was credited with an assist but the goal was really made by his fantastic run.

https://vine.co/v/e96pW1UKabu/embed/simple

James’ Pick – For his pick, James is going down to Spain to pick Lucas Perez’s goal for Deportivo La Coruna. Perez controlled Juanfran’s cross and back-heeled the ball into the net in spectacular fashion.

https://vine.co/v/e9d7QFUBQdU/embed/simple

Bonus goal from James is this wonder strike from Paul Scholes in a charity game in China.

https://vine.co/v/eEL2eBIMDa1/embed/simple

European Playoff Matches

Following the draw on Sunday, we know who will face off for the final four spots in this summer’s tournament. These matches will be played between November 12th and 17th. The four matchups are:

Ukraine vs. Slovenia

Sweden vs. Denmark

Bosnia and Herzegovina vs. Republic of Ireland

Norway vs. Hungary

Champions League is Back!!!

Tuesdays Game of the Week – Arsenal vs. Bayern Munich – Emirates Stadium, London

The major story line from this game is whether Arsenal can still qualify or whether they will be all but out of the competition. Arsenal is on great form but nowhere close to the form of Bayern Munich.

Wednesdays Game of the Week – PSG vs. Real Madrid – Parc des Princes, Paris

This game fascinates me from a look to the future. PSG have a wonderful chance to make a huge statement this weekend and need to come up with a big result. Coming in second has hurt them in the past and a win this week can go a long way towards winning the group.

Other Games This Week
Zenit vs. Lyon – Petrovsky Stadium, Saint Petersburg
BATE vs. Barcelona – Borisov Arena, Barysaw
Dynamo Kyiv vs. Chelsea – Olympic Stadium, Kiev
Dinamo Zagreb vs. Olympiacos – Stadion Maksimir, Zagreb
Porto vs. Maccabi Tel-Aviv – Estadio do Dragao, Porto
Valencia vs. Gent – Mestalla, Valencia
Bayer Leverkusen vs. Roma – BayArena, Leverkusen

CSKA Moscow vs. Manchester United – Arena Khimki, Khimki
Atletico Madrid vs. Astana – Vicente Calderon, Madrid
Juventus vs. Borussia Monchengladbach – Juventus Stadium, Turin
Galatasaray vs. Benfica – Turk Telekom Arena, Istanbul
Malmo vs. Shakhtar Donetsk – Swedbank Stadion, Malmo
Wolfsburg vs. PSV Eindhoven – Volkswagon Arena, Wolfsburg
Manchester City vs. Sevilla – Eithad Stadium, Manchester

The Klopp Era Begins…

5 Games to Watch This Weekend

1. Tottenham Hotspur vs. Liverpool – White Hart Lane, London

Saturday, October 16 – 7:45 am EST on NBCSN

The Klopp Era will officially begin this weekend as Liverpool travel to London to face Tottenham. While spirits may be high around the club, they face the team with the longest unbeaten run in the premier league at 7 games. Liverpool enters the game with a very long list of injured players, including two new names in Danny Ings and Joe Gomez. Benteke, Henderson, and Firmino are also out for the clash. Tottenham will be without Dier due to a suspension, meanwhile Heung-Min, Mason, and Bentaleb are all out with injuries. The two teams will play similar styles and have similar formations. Liverpool have won their last five meetings and scored 18 goals during those five games. Will Klopp get off to the winning start he needs?

Betting Odds

Match Result – Tottenham 6/4, Liverpool 2/1, Draw 5/2

First Goal Scorer – Kane 5/1. Sturridge 5/1, Eriksen 15/2

Predictions

My Prediction – Tottenham 1, Liverpool 1 – Goals from Sturridge and Eriksen

James’ Predication – Tottenham 2, Liverpool 1 – Goals from Kane, Erickson, Benteke

2. Werder Bremen vs. Bayern MunichWeserstadion, Bremen

Saturday, October 17 – 9:30 am EST on Fox Sports 1

Bayern Munich come into the first game after the international break as one of the hottest teams in the world with the most in-form player in the world in Robert Lewandowski. Bremen on the other hand are looking to kick start their season, as they sit in 14th place having lost four straight games in the league. Bremen have only managed 1 goal in their last four games as well. This could be a rough one for them. American Aron Jahannsson is injured and will likely miss out. Javi Martinez is healthy for Bayern and should feature at center back. Mario Gotze is out injured after suffering an injury with Germany. Robben and Vidal are both in doubt for the game.

Betting Odds

Match Result – Werder Bremen 16/1, Bayern Munich 2/11, Draw 6/1

First Goal Scorer – Lewandowski 2/1, Muller 3/1, Robben 4/1

Predictions

My Prediction – Bremen 1, Bayern 5 – Goals from Muller (2), Lewandowski, Costa, Alonso and Ujah

James’ Predication – Werder Bremen 0, Bayern Munich 5 – Goals from Lewandowski (3), Muller (2)

3. Napoli vs. FiorentinaStadio San Paolo, Naples

Sunday, October 18 – 9:00 am EST on beIN Sports

Two of the hottest teams in Italy face off in Naples this weekend. Fiorentina are on top of the table right now after winning 6 of their 7 league games. Napoli is unbeaten since their week 1 loss. They won 2 straight in the league and 3 straight in all competitions. Fiorentina can stay on top of the table with a win. Meanwhile, Napoli looks to continue their climb up the table. Both of these teams have been scoring for fun with Fiorentina scoring 7 goals in their last two games. Napoli has scored at least twice in 5 of their last 6 games. This match will go a long way in deciding who will be in the race for the top spot.

Betting Odds

Match Result – Napoli 8/11, Fiorentina 4/1, Draw 11/4

First Goal Scorer – Higuain 7/2, Gabbiadini 9/2, Insigne 5/1

Predictions

My Prediction – Napoli 2, Fiorentina 3 – Goals from Higuain, Insigne, Kalinic (2), and Ilicic

James’ Predication – Napoli 2, Fiorentina 1 – Goals from Higuain, Insigne, Kalinic

4. Internazionale vs. Juventus – San Siro, Milan

Sunday, October 18 – 2:45 pm EST on beIN Sports

Juventus have dominated this fixture in the last four years with 3 wins and a draw in the last 4 games in Milan. Inter have been winning by very fine margins with scoring just one goal in six of their seven games. The defending champions have really struggled this year, but have won their last two games. They have been great in the Champions League but are still struggling in the Serie A. Juventus currently sit in 12th place with just 2 wins. They are a whopping 10 points off the pace. Kondogbia could find his place in doubt as Gary Medal looks to move back into the midfield. Mancini has shifted his formation and will look for a bit more strength in defense at home following their 4-1 defeat at home to Fiorentina. Can Inter get back on top of the table? Can Juventus make some noise and remind people who they are?

Betting Odds

Match Result – Inter 13/8, Juventus 9/5, Draw 11/5

First Goal Scorer – Icardi 9/2, Mandzukic 5/1, Manaj 6/1

Predictions

My Prediction – Inter 1, Juventus 2 – Goals from Morata, Cuadrado, and Icardi

James’ Predication – Inter 2, Juventus 1 – Goals from Jovetic, Icardi, Morata

5. Villarreal vs. Celta Vigo – El Madrigal, Villarreal

Sunday, October 18 – 6:00 am EST on beIN Sports Connect

Two of the top three teams in Spain face off this weekend as Celta Vigo travel to the Valencian Community to face Villarreal. Villarreal suffered their first defeat in their last league game when they lost 1-0 to Levante. Celta Vigo has drawn their last two games, but before that they beat Barcelona 4-1. Both of these teams have been amazing so far. Villarreal sit on top of the table and Celta has held that spot this season. Could they stay there all year? Bojan Jokic is sidelined for Villarreal due to suspension. Mateo Musacchio, Leo Baptistao, Denis Suarez, and Bakumbu are working their way back. Look for Leo to start the match. Eduardo Berizzo is likely to only make one change for Celta as Augusto Fernandez has passed his fitness test. Nolito has been one of the best players and Villarreal will need to stop him.

Betting Odds

Match Result – Villarreal 1/1, Celta 14/5, Draw 5/2

First Goal Scorer – Soldado 9/2, Nolito 6/1, Baptistao 6/1

Predictions

My Prediction – Villarreal 1, Celta 2 – Goals from Baptistao, Nolito, and Aspas

James’ Predication – Villareal 1, Celta Vigo 2 – Goals from Bakambu, Nolito, Aspas

All odds provided by bet365

Other Games on Saturday

9:30 am EST – Schalke 04 vs. Hertha BSC – Fox Sports 2

9:30 am EST – Hamburg vs. Bayer Leverkusen – Fox Soccer Plus

10:00 am EST – Chelsea vs. Aston Villa – USA Network

10:00 am EST – Everton vs. Manchester United – NBCSN

10:00 am EST – Real Madrid vs. LevantebeIN Sports

12:00 pm EST – Roma vs. EmpolibeIN Sports

12:30 pm EST – Watford vs. Arsenal – NBC

12:30 pm EST – Eintracht Frankfurt vs. Borussia Monchengladbach – Fox Sports 2

2:30 pm EST – Barcelona vs. Rayo VallecanobeIN Sports

Other Games on Sunday

9:30 am EST – Koln vs. Hannover 96 – Fox Sports 2

11:00 am EST – Newcastle United vs. Norwich City – NBCSN

11:00 am EST – Bordeaux vs. Montpellier – beIN Sports

11:30 am EST – Stuttgart vs. Ingolstadt – Fox Sports 2

European Championships Recap

The qualifying group stage for the 2016 European Championships has finished, and it was not without some surprises and shocks.

A quick rundown of who has qualified:

France – the hosts of the tournament

England – the only team with a perfect record in qualifying

Czech Republic – 1976 champions of Europe

Iceland – First ever appearance in the tournament

Austria – First time qualifying for tournament after hosting in 2008

Northern Ireland – First ever appearance in the tournament

Portugal – Ronaldo will look to win his first trophy with Portugal

Spain – Holders of the trophy and looking for third straight title

Switzerland – They will try to finally make it out of the group stage

Italy – Despite world cup glory, they have only won this trophy once in 1968

Belgium – The top ranked team in the world right now

Wales – First ever appearance in the tournament

Romania –This is their fifth appearance in the tournament

Albania – First ever appearance in the tournament

Germany – World Cup holders and three-time European Champions

Poland – Top scorer in qualifying was Poland’s Robert Lewandowski

Russia – 1960 winners of this competition

Slovakia – First ever appearance in the tournament

Croatia – Despite the point reduction for racist behavior, they have qualified.

Turkey – Best third place team in the group stage

Big takeaway: There are currently 5 teams that have never played in the summer tournament and could be joined by another team that has not played in the tournament in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Austria and potentially Ukraine can qualify for the first time having both hosted in the past. The expanded field is really giving some new countries a chance, and it should hopefully make France 2016 very exciting and filled with passion.

Who will join these teams in the last four spots? The following third place teams will be drawn into a two legged play-off to see which four advance.

Pot 1: Bosnia and Herzegovina, Ukraine, Sweden, Hungary

Pot 2: Denmark, Republic of Ireland, Norway, Slovenia

Notable teams missing: Ohh this is a big one too. The Netherlands has failed to qualify. They needed to beat the Czech Republic to advance, but a Robin Van Persie own goal was the difference as they lost 3-2. This is the first time that they have not qualified since 1984. That is 7 straight tournaments. However Dutch fans, just a note from history, the last time they did not qualify was 1984. Do you know what happened in 1988? They won their only European Championship trophy.

Some other notes on teams that did not qualify… Andorra, Gibraltar, San Marino, Moldova, Malta, and Armenia all failed to win, but only Andorra and Gibraltar failed to register a point. Scotland is the only team from the British Isles to be currently eliminated and if Ireland qualifies, then the only one not to play this upcoming summer.

Managerial Changes and International Break Recap

Klopp for the Kop

It is official; Jurgen Klopp is the next manager of Liverpool FC.  His announcement was made official today.  The German brings a great track record to Anfield.  He previously managed at Mainz 05 and most recently at Borussia Dortmund.  With Mainz, Klopp was able to get Mainz to the top flight of German football for the first time of their history.  With him, they had a 40.37 win percentage in 270 games.  In 2008, he was approached by Borussia Dortmund to take over as manager.  The club was in 13th place the season before he took over.  In his first two seasons, Dortmund finished 6th and 5th.  Then, Klopp won back to back Bundesliga titles, knocking Bayern Munich off their perch.  In 2011-12, Dortmund amassed the most points in Bundesliga history.  In 2011-12, he also won the DFB-Pokal Cup.  In 2012-13, he led Dortmund to the final of the Champions League, only to lose to rivals Bayern Munich.  Will he be able bring his style and winning ways to Liverpool?  He starts off with a tough stretch of games with a trip to White Hart Lane.  His first home game will be against Rubin Kazan in the Europa League.  Then his first home league game will be against Southampton.

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photo (LiverpoolFC.com)

Sam Allardyce aka Allardici is back!

The Former Blackpool, Notts County, Bolton Wanderers, Newcastle United, Blackburn Roves, and West Ham United manager has taken the job with Sunderland.  Allardyce has a career 39.31 win percentage.  He has a lot of success in the lower leagues.  Will he be able to turn around this team that has had 6 managers in the last four years?  He has a tough job on his hands and will need to turn around the club by getting the players to perform at their best.  They have not won a game all year and sit just one goal above the bottom of the table.

European Championships Update…

Group A, Iceland and the Czech Republic have automatically qualified in the top two spots.  The third place spot is down to Turkey with 12 points and the Netherlands with 10 points.  With two games to play, it can go either way.

Group B, Wales and Belgium have qualified for the tournament in the top two spots.  The third place spot is down to Israel (13), Bosnia Herzegovina (11), and Cyprus (9).  With two games, the three teams will look to get maximum points.  Israel and Cyprus face off tomorrow as Bosnia and Herzegovina host Wales.  On the final day, Cyprus hosts Bosnia and Herzegovina and Israel travels to Belgium.

Group C, Spain has qualified for the tournament, while Slovakia and Ukraine are tied with 19 points and one game to play.  Slovakia travels to Luxembourg and Ukraine hosts Spain.  Whoever gets the most points will advance.  If they get the same, then Slovakia will advance to the tournament and Ukraine will go to the playoff round.

Group D, Germany, Poland, and Ireland are all guaranteed a top 3 finish.  Poland faces off against Ireland in a winner goes automatically to the tournament and the loser goes to the playoff round game.  Germany plays Georgia in the final game.

Group E, England and Switzerland have qualified.  Slovenia and Estonia are both alive for the playoff spot.  Estonia faces Switzerland and Slovenia travels to San Marino.  Estonia needs a win and a Slovenia loss to advance.

Group F, Northern Ireland has qualified for their first-ever tournament.  Romania (17) and Hungary (16) sit in second and third.  They are both guaranteed to finish in the top three.   Romania travels to Faroe Islands, while Hungary travels to Greece.  With both teams likely to win, Romania will return to the Euros for the first time since2008.

Group G, Austria has qualified for the tournament going 8 wins and a draw in their nine games.  Russia (17) and Sweden (15) both host games that they must win to automatically qualify.  Sweden has their work cut out for them, as they need Russia to drop points against Montenegro.  Sweden meanwhile hosts Moldova.

Group H, Croatia is sitting in third place, trying to hold off Bulgaria.  The two teams face off tomorrow in Zagreb.  A win for Croatia will mean Bulgaria is eliminated.  Italy and Norway have guaranteed they will finish in the top 3 spots.

Group I, Portugal qualified by beating Denmark 1-0 yesterday.  Denmark is guaranteed a top 3 finish as they sit one point above Albania.  Denmark is done playing games, so it is up to Albania.  Albania travels to Armenia.  If Albania wins, they will advance to their first ever tournament.

The race for the best third place team is really heating up.  Hungary is currently in the lead.

On October 13, all of the games will be finished.  The draw for the play-offs will be held on October 18, 2015.  The playoff rounds will take place during the November International Break.

10 Things From This Weekend

  1. Bayern shows strength.

Coming into the Der Klassiker, Bayern Munich was looking to remind everyone that they were the kings of Germany and it would take a lot to knock them off their perch.  They are the most in-form team in the world, having won every competitive game since the German Super Cup.  They have only conceded 5 goals all year, including the one today against Dortmund.  They are yet to concede more than one goal in a game all year.  It didn’t take long, as 35 minutes in Muller had a brace and the game seemed over.  Aubameyang scored a late first half goal to give Dortmund hope, but Lewandowski did what he does.  He scored 2 goals in the first 13 minutes of the second half and the game was over.  To make matters worse, another former Dortmund player, Mario Gotze, scored the 5th goal.  So far this season against Dortmund and Wolfsburg, Bayern is ahead 10-2.  No German team has ever had a 7 point lead at the top with 8 games played.  Will they have this one wrapped up by Christmas?

  1. PSG reigns supreme.

In the biggest game on the French calendar, PSG came away winners thanks to their all time leading goal scorer, Zlatan Ibrahimovic.  He scored two penalties within 3 minutes and gave PSG the lead.  He has 110 goals for the Paris side.  Michy Batshuayi gave Marseille the lead on the half hour mark.  That lead would last for 11 minutes.  The first penalty was given when Steve Mandanda clattered into Zlatan.  The second was given for a hand ball in the box on Rolando.  Both were a little bit harsh but expertly finished by Zlatan.  PSG then took their 2-1 lead into half time.  10 minutes into the second half, Serge Aurier took down Abdelaziz Barrada in the box.  Barrada stepped up to the spot with the chance to tie the game, but Kevin Trapp came up with a fantastic save.  It meant that PSG got all three points and now has a 15 point lead on Marseille and 5 point lead on second place Angers.

  1. United fail first big four test of season.

This past weekend, United traveled down to London for their first big test of the English Premier Season.  They came back to Manchester having failed the test from the start.  The United back line looked in shambles from the very start, as Arsenal looked two to three steps faster at just about every position.  Within the first 20 minutes, Sanchez had scored a brace with an Ozil goal in between.  Arsenal should have made it even worse, as Aaron Ramsey missed some great chances.  While they have been hit by injuries, I find it hard to believe that Ashley Young is the best option at left back.  Then in order to change it up, Van Gaal brought on Valencia for one of his best defenders in Matteo Darmien.  Darmien and Smalling have been the rocks at the back for United.  The other two spots have been shaky since Shaw’s injury.  Should Van Gaal have strengthened his defense better in the summer?  I think so.  What will it cost him, is the question.

  1. Atletico blows chances to win but get a point against rivals.

There is no doubt in my mind that the better team in the Madrid derby was Atletico Madrid.  They had a plan for the game and executed to near perfection.  Real Madrid did score the early goal but then seemed to be content with their lead and were just trying to hold on.  Griezmann had a penalty saved in the first half and then the hosts missed a bunch of great chances in the second half.  The introduction of Jackson Martinez was critical.  Just as it looked like the hosts would be without a point for the night, Luciano Vetto tapped in the ball to give Atleti a 1-1 draw. In a weekend where the top 6 all failed to win, Atleti could rue not taking their chances.

  1. Is Top 4 okay for Chelsea?

Another week, another poor result for Chelsea.  This week it was at home against Southampton.  The Saints played very well as they took the game to Chelsea.  Chelsea took the lead from a wonderful free kick,  Willian scored his third free kick in as many games.  Then the game changed as Jose Fonte played a wonderful ball in towards Pelle, who chests the ball down to Steven Davis, who then smashes the ball past Begovic.  After halftime, the rout was on, as Southampton really started to take the game to Chelsea.  Mane and Pelle both scored to make it 3-1.  After the game, Jose Mourinho went on a long 7 minute rant that covered many different points.  One that I think was really important was his claim that making the top four was okay for Chelsea right now.  Is it?  For a manager who constantly rips on another manager for just finishing fourth, I do not see how it can be.  Is fourth obtainable for Chelsea?

  1. Barcelona missing cutting edge without Messi.

In the first league game since Messi went down injured, Barcelona stumbled as they traveled to Sevilla.  Sevilla was a team that was in a really poor run of form and had lost three of their last four games.  After a rather dull first half, Sevilla scored two quick goals in the span of 6 minutes.  Just like that, the game was flipped on its head.  Neymar would add a goal late in the game, but it was more about the missed shots.  Barcelona had a total of 28 shots during the game but could only score one goal and that was from the spot.  Barcelona missed Messi and it showed, as he was not able to provide the clinical finishing he has in the past.  It could be a rough couple months for Barcelona.  It will be a tough time for Luis Enrique, and he will need to figure out how to get the best out of the thin squad.

  1. Inter stumble and drop to second. Fiorentina continue to Roll on.

Coming into the weekend, Fiorentina and Inter were tied on 15 points.  In what looks like one of the better title races on the continent, Inter was traveling to Sampdoria this past weekend and Fiorentina hosted Atalanta.  Inter fell behind early in the second half but fought their way back to earn the point as Perisic scored the equalizing goal.  Fiorentina were gifted an early red card and Fiorentina didn’t take long to put the game out of reach.  The final was 3-0.  Fiorentina are now two points clear at the top.  With Roma, Napoli, and Juventus all struggling at the start of the season, a new champion could be crowned this season.  Inter are looking to get back to the top of the table and have been great this season. Fiorentina have been great having only lost one game so far and winning their other 6.  Can either of these teams keep it up all season?

  1. Angers make it four in a row unbeaten.

Last season, Angers was plying their trade in Ligue 2.  Last year they finished in third place in the Ligue and were promoted to Ligue 1. In their nine games in Ligue 1, Angers has 5 wins, 3 draws, and just 1 loss.  This is good enough for second in the table. They have beaten Montpellier, Gazelec Ajaccio, Troyes, Marseille, and most recently Bastia.   They are currently on a two game winning streak and a four game unbeaten run.  While the run cannot last, it has been a great start to the season.  I hope that they are able to keep this going for as long as possible.

  1. Napoli run riot in Milan

Napoli and Milan were both in need of a big result and one team answered the bell.  Napoli was all over Milan from the start and got their reward after 13 minutes as Allan finished.  After assisting the first goal, Lorenzo Insigne scored twice in the second half to make it 3-0.  Rodrigo Ely then scored an own goal to give Napoli a 4-0 win.  Napoli has now won 2 in a row and are starting to climb their way back up the table.  Higuain and Insigne are playing some of the best football in the world right now and are essential to Napoli being successful.

  1. Brendan and Dick Out. Who’s next?

The first manager of the season was fired this weekend, as Brendan Rodgers was ousted by Liverpool’s owners, FSG.  After a series of poor results, FSG felt they had no choice.  Brendan has had terrible results against the top four teams and Everton, recording just one win in 18 tries.  The same weekend, Dick Advocaat became the first managerial casualty of the Premier League season.  He resigned from his post at Sunderland.  His team threw away a two goal lead this weekend and he made his choice Sunday morning.  First, let’s take a quick look at who will replace them.  Jurgen Klopp and Carlo Ancelotti are the favorites for Liverpool.  Sam Allardyce, Nigel Pearson, and Sean Dyche are the favorites for the Sunderland job but not many seem to want it.  Now the question is who goes next.  The easy money is on Steve McClaren, as Newcastle sit at the bottom of the table with just 3 points.  However, Jose Mourinho has picked up some momentum as he is now 3/1 to be the next manager to leave.  Tim Sherwood is also being talked about.  It will be interesting to see who is next and who makes the change with some very good managers available.

Picture of the Week

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Image taken From http://www.independent.co.uk/

Goal of the Week

My Pick – While he may have been sent off later in the game, I am going to go with the man who scored the last goal for Dick Advocaat at Sunderland, Jermain Lens

https://vine.co/v/e2zJwxVMKMx/embed/simple

James’ Pick – While Sergio Aguero is getting all the headlines, James is going for the goal in the middle of Aguero’s goals, scored by Kevin De Bruyne.

https://vine.co/v/e2Mb6iT2I6q/embed/simple

This Upcoming Week

I will be putting out a look at the upcoming qualifying rounds later this week as we go on the October International Break.

What A Weekend…

This Sunday is a special day for the world of football.  It starts with Le Classique, and continues with Der Klassiker, Madrid Derby, the Merseyside Derby, and Arsenal vs. Manchester United.  It should be a great day of football!!!

  1. El Derbi Madrileno – Atletico Madrid vs. Real Madrid – Vicente Calderon, Madrid

Sunday October 4 – beIN Sports – 2:30 pm EST

In what has really become the second biggest game in Spain, the two clubs in Madrid square off this weekend.  Atletico Madrid has really had Real Madrid’s number in the Calderon, winning three of the last four and drawing last year 0-0.  Real Madrid has not scored in the Calderon on any of those trips.  Atleti are hoping that they can shake off their recent run of form.  They have been excellent at home and will look to continue this.  Koke is still a doubt for the match and Pepe is ruled out.  Sergio Ramos, James Rodriquez, Gareth Bale, and Danilo may be ready.  Real Madrid is unbeaten in their last five games and will hope to finally score in the Vicente Calderon.

Betting odds

Match Result – Atletico Madrid 11/5, Real Madrid 13/10, Draw 23/10

First Goal Scorer – Ronaldo 15/4, Griezmann 5/1, Benzema 5/1

Predictions

My Prediction – Atletico maintain their four game unbeaten run and win 2-1.  Torres and Griezmann for Atleti and Ronaldo for Real.

James’ Prediction – Atletico Madrid 2, Real Madrid 3.  Goals by Griezmann, Torres, Ronaldo (2), Benzema.

  1. Der Klassiker – Bayern Munich vs. Borussia Dortmund – Allianz Arena, Munich

Sunday October 4 – Fox Sports 2 – 11:30 am EST

In the first Der Klassiker of the season, Dortmund travel to Bavaria to face off with their rivals, Bayern Munich.  These are the two most successful clubs in German history.  Since 1994, Bayern has won the title 12 times and Dortmund has won it 5 times.  Javi Martinez looks set to return to the starting lineup for Munich, with Alaba switching to the left side of defense.  Arturo Vidal is a slight doubt which means Mario Gotze or Juan Bernat could come into the midfield.  Robben could also feature.  Dortmund has no major injury concerns and could field a very strong team.

Betting odds

Match Result – Munich 1/2, Dortmund 11/2 Draw 10/3

First Goal Scorer – Lewandowski 12/5, Gotze 5/1, Benko 13/2

Predictions

My Prediction – Dortmund have really cooled off lately but I am going 2-2 draw.  Goals from Lewandowski (2) and Aubameyang (2).

James’ Prediction – Bayern Munich 3, Borussia Dortmund 2.  Goals by Lewandowski (2), Muller, Aubameyang, Mkhitaryan

  1. Le Classique – PSG vs. Marseille – Parc des Princes, Paris

Sunday October 4 – beIN Sports Connect – 3:00 pm EST

This is the battle between the two largest cities in France, the hub of French society versus the working class port city.  PSG come into this game on top of the league having not lost a game all season.  Marseille lost three of their first four games this season.  Since then they have won 1, drawn 2, and lost 1.  They are seemingly on a better run of form.  Marseille were hoping to challenge for the title this year but now are looking to get back to the top half of the table.  PSG meanwhile are finally fully fit ahead of the match.  They are coming off a convincing win over Shakhtar Donetsk in the midweek.  Look for PSG to widen the gap from 12 points to 15 with all three points this weekend.

Betting odds

Match Result – PSG  1/3, Marseille 9/1, Draw 4/1

First Goal Scorer – Cavani 13/5, Zlatan 10/3, Lucas 9/2

Predictions

My Prediction – PSG 2, Marseille 0.  Goals from Zlatan and Cavani.

James’ Prediction – PSG 3, Marseille 1.  Goals by Cavani, Ibrahimovic, Matuidi, Batshuayi

  1. AC Milan vs. Napoli – San Siro, Milan

Sunday October 4 – beIN Connect – 2:45 pm EST

While Milan was successful in their last match against Napoli, they have only won one of their last eight matches against their rivals.  Milan needs three points, having won three and lost three in their last 6 matches.  Both teams are very strong in attack and will look to score a bunch this weekend.  Milan has not kept a clean sheet all season, while Napoli has scored 12 times in 6 games.  This is the battle between 10th and 11th in the table, as both teams sit on 9 points.  There was a chance that Balotelli could have started this weekend, but he has picked up an injury.  Romagnoli is suspended so Rodrigo Ely is expected to take his place for Milan.  Dries Mertens could start this week in place of Insigne if he can’t recover in time.  Jorginho should return as he seems to play in Serie A matches, as oppose to in Europa League matches.  Napoli is coming off the win against Juventus last weekend and will look to continue their run of form.

Betting odds

Match Result – Milan 2/1, Napoli 11/8, Draw 12/5

First Goal Scorer – Higuain 9/2, Gabbiadini 5/1, Bacca 11/2

Predictions

My Prediction – Napoli 2, Milan 1. Goals by Higuain, Hamsik, and Montolivo

James’ Prediction – Milan 2, Napoli 1.  Goals by Bacca, Bonaventura, Higuain

  1. Arsenal vs. Manchester United – Emirates, London

Sunday October 4 – NBCSN – 11:00 am EST

Manchester United is sitting on top of the Premier League table for the first time since Sir Alex Ferguson retired.  They have now won four games in a row and are finally looking like the United of old.  Arsenal has won just one time in the last nine meetings with United.  Arsene Wenger has to get a response from his players following their defeat at home to Olympiakos in the Champions League.  Koscielny is likely to miss with an injury.  Look for Walcott to start up top and Petr Cech should return to the lineup .  Carrick looks close to his return but will probably start on the bench.  Left Back could be an issue for Van Gaal.  Will he push out Blind or keep Valencia?   There is a lot riding on this fixture.  Look for them to play for a point.

Betting odds

Match Result – Arsenal 21/20 Manchester United 11/4, Draw 11/4

First Goal Scorer – Giroud 9/2, Walcott 11/2, Sanchez 6/1

Predictions

My Prediction – United 1, Arsenal 1 with goals from Walcott and Mata.

James’ Prediction – Arsenal 1, Manchester United 1. Goals by Fellani, Cazorla

All odds provided by bet365

Other Games on TV this Weekend

Saturday October 3rd

7:45 am – Crystal Palace vs. West Bromwich Albion – NBCSN – EPL

9:30 am – Borussia Monchengladbach vs. Wolfsburg – Fox Sports 1 – Bundesliga

9:30 am – Ingolstadt vs. Eintracht Frankfurt – Fox Soccer Plus – Bundesliga

10:00 am – Sevilla vs. Barcelona – beIN Sports – La Liga

10:00 am – Manchester City vs. Newcastle United – NBCSN – EPL

10:00 am – Sunderland vs. West Ham United – USA – EPL

12:00 am – Carpi vs. Torino – beIN Sports – Serie A

12:30 pm – Chelsea vs. Southampton – NBC – EPL

2:45 pm – Chievo vs. Hellas Verona – beIN Sports – Serie A

Sunday October 4th

8:30 am – Everton vs. Liverpool – NBCSN – EPL

9:30 am – Schalke 04 vs. Koln – Fox Sports 1 – Bundesliga

9:00 am – Sampdoria vs. Internazionale – beIN Sports – Serie A

11:30 am – Bayer Leverkusen vs. Augsburg – Fox Soccer Plus – Bundesliga

12:00 am – Juventus vs. Bologna – beIN Sports – Serie A