A Look Back at Week 6

  1. How will Barcelona respond to Messi’s injury? – The answer is the same as they did last year as they rolled to an easy victory over Sporting Gijon.  Luis Suarez opened the scoring a half hour in ,then Rafinha doubled the lead just two minutes later.  With 10 minutes to play the score was still 2-0, but Neymar would score a 7 minute brace with a goal from Arda Turan in-between those goals.  This is one game down and Barcelona was able to rest some players for their Champions League game this week which should help them out on Wednesday.  If they are able to win the game in Germany, they will be in a great spot for when Messi does return.
  2. It has been two defeats in a row in the league for Jose, will he drop Rooney this weekend? – Jose dropped Rooney and his team looked fantastic as they bossed Leicester this weekend.  Manchester United scored 3 goals from set pieces and took a 4-0 lead into halftime.  The game would finish 4-1.  Manchester United looked very strong this game and they really seemed to have the balance of the squad right.  I think the biggest change was not the dropping of Rooney, but rather the inclusion of Ander Herrera instead of Fellaini.  This made a big difference and United looked to control the game through him.  It also allowed Pogba more freedom and he pushed well up field.  Overall, it was a great performance from United and now it will be interesting to see when Rooney returns to the side.
  3. How will the top three in Italy end up after this weekend? – Well we have a new entrant into the top 3 in Italy as Inter Milan jumped above Roma thanks to their draw with Bologna and Roma losing 3-1 to Torino. Roma is now a point behind Inter and 5 behind the leaders Juventus. Juventus stayed on top of the table thanks to their 1-0 win over Palermo on Friday. Napoli stayed within a point as they defeated Chievo Verona 2-0. The top two are starting to distance themselves from the back. Napoli is 3 points above Inter. There is a pack starting to build for the third and final spot and that might become a revolving door as the season goes on with 10 teams within 3 points of 3rd place. We might be able to watch a title fight between Napoli and Juventus, plus a giant battle for 3rd. This could be a great competitive season in Italy.
  4. Is the Bundesliga over already? – Well it almost was game on this weekend as Bayern Munich need a late goal from Joshua Kimmich to earn all three points and stay unbeaten. They defeated Hamburger 1-0 this weekend to go to 15 points and 5 wins out of 5. Borussia Dortmund played a tough game on Friday. They did look really good in the end, but needed a late goal in the first half from Aubameyang to open the scoring. They then scored 2 goals in the second half but the game was very tight. Dortmund finished with a 3-1 win and stayed within 3 points of Munich. They are really the only team that can challenge them if they are able to get results in the Der Klassiker.
  5. Are Nice for real? – They really do appear to be as they were able to go to Nancy this weekend and get all three points.  This is the goal each week for the club and they were able to thanks to a goal from Alassane Plea.  Plea has been fantastic this season so far and is keeping a red hot Balotelli out of the side.  They have the depth and the defense that could lead to a big shock in France.  Each week, I think is this going to be the week they slip up and each week they seem to have answered the call.  How long can they maintain this? All Season? Long enough to finish in a Champions League spot?

The Score after the Weekend Games

Me – 58 (14)
Brad – 37 (6)

Games to Watch This Week

The Champions League and Europa League have their 2nd Round this week. Here is a game to watch each day.

Borussia Dortmund vs. Real Madrid – This has to be one of the marquee matchups of the group stage. This is going to be an amazing game of counter-attacking football. Real Madrid has been scintillating before their draw this weekend at Las Palmas. Now they face a tough trip to Dortmund who knocked Real Madrid out of the competition a couple seasons ago. This should be a fantastic game.

My Pick – Dortmund 2, Madrid 1: Aubameyang, Guerreiro, and Ronaldo
Brad’s Pick – Dortmund 3, Madrid 2: Dembele, Gotze, Papa, Ronaldo, and Ramos

Atletico Madrid vs. Bayern Munich – This is another rematch from last season that saw Atletico Madrid knock out the German Champions in the semifinals of the competition. Look for Atletico to put down a solid defensive game at home and really make Bayern work. Could this be their first defeat of the season?

My Pick – Atletico 1, Munich 1: Gameiro and Lewandowski
Brad’s Pick – Atletico 1, Bayern 3: Koke, Lewandowski, Muller, and Ribery

Shakhtar Donetsk vs. Sporting Braga – Donetsk still are not in their home stadium due to the political situation in Ukraine. They will be disappointed to not be in the Champions League this season, but will look to win the Europa League for the second time. Braga is a quality Portuguese side and will hope to qualify for the Round of 16.

Week 6 … 5 Things to Watch For

  1. How will Barcelona respond to Messi’s injury? – The Argentinean superstar is out for 3 weeks with a groin injury and Barcelona cannot afford to lose ground on their rivals Real Madrid. He is going to miss this weekend’s game at Sporting Gijon, the Champions League game at Borussia Monchengladbach, and the trip to Celta Vigo before the next international break. This will be a vital period for Barcelona if they are going to retain the Primera Division title. It should also be interesting to see how Luis Enrique sets up his team without Messi. Will he go with Suarez, Alcacer, and Neymar, or will it be Turan, Suarez, and Neymar? Either way, Barcelona is going to have to find a way to win without their talisman.
  2. It has been two defeats in a row in the league for Jose, will he drop Rooney this weekend? – I think the Manchester United team sheet will be the most anticipated thing this weekend. Rooney did play during the midweek when Manchester United defeated Northampton Town 3-1. Now they will look to turn around their league form as they host Leicester City. Leicester City suffered a 4-2 defeat to Chelsea in the League Cup thanks to a red card given to Marcin Wasilewski and then two Cesc Fabregas goals in extra time. The defending champions have been climbing up the table after a slow start. However, all the eyes will be on United and how they play. Will Mourinho keep Fellaini and Pogba together as a midfield two behind Martial, Rooney, and Rashford? Will he change that up and drop Rooney and bring in Carrick to push Pogba further up field? Mourinho is a manager who does not like to tinker too much to his formation and with his squad, so it will be interesting to see how they lineup this weekend.
  3. How will the top three in Italy end up after this weekend? – This might become a regular thing to watch for as the top three continue to change this season in Italy. I know that it is very early, but Juventus, Napoli, and Roma are all within 2 points of each other and seem to be playing very well so far this season. Inter and AC Milan need to show us some more before we consider them in this fight, but they are also right there as they are 2 and 3 points behind Juventus respectively. Napoli has the biggest matchup as they face off with Chievo Verona who has started this season spectacularly. They are in 4th place, level on points with Roma and Inter and just 1 behind Napoli. This is going to be a tough one for Napoli. Juventus can start the weekend by adding to their points as they travel to Palermo in the early game on Saturday. A win would extend their lead to four points and put pressure on Napoli. Roma is the early match on Sunday as they travel to Turin to face Torino. Each week, one of these three seem to drop points. Who will it be this week?
  4. Is the Bundesliga over already? – First let me start by saying that I know it is far from over, but should we be asking the question right now? Bayern Munich looks as strong as they ever have and have only conceded 1 goal in their opening four. I do not see them losing more than 2 or 3 all season, so each team with 2 losses is probably already eliminated from the conversation. Dortmund look like the likeliest challengers to Munich, but they suffered their first defeat already and will need some help from the other teams in the division. I think that the race for the other top four spots could be one of the best in the world as you have Koln (still unbeaten), Frankfurt, Hertha, and Leipzig all starting fantastically. Plus you know that Monchengladbach, Leverkusen, and Wolfsburg have talented sides that will hopefully figure it out soon. While these are all quality sides, they are not Bayern Munich. Munich are the deepest and most talented side and will most likely run away from the rest of the Bundesliga despite a lot of strong sides in the league.
  5. Are Nice for real? – This one might be more related to their 4-0 thumping of Monaco this week, but Nice now sit on top of the Ligue 1 and are still unbeaten. They have won 4 of their opening 6 matches and are 1 point better than both Monaco and PSG. Mario Balotelli has now scored 4 goals in 2 games for Nice and he looks the player that we all thought could be a starter while he was a teenager at Inter. Nice have a solid defense, only conceding 4 goals so far and are scoring with the big boys as they are tied for the fourth in terms of goals scored. I am not sure they can keep it up, but wouldn’t it be a sight if they did? They have already beaten Monaco, Marseille, Angers, and Rennais. The question will come soon when they face Lyon in mid-October and then PSG in December.

The Score after the Midweek Games

Me – 44 (3)
Brad – 31 (2)

5 Games to Watch This Weekend

Arsenal vs. Chelsea – Who doesn’t want to watch a London derby? Arsenal and Chelsea are always in and around the top four in the Premier League. This year they are currently level on points having won 3, drawn 1, and lost 1. However, they have been trending in opposite directions. Arsenal has won their last 3 league games while Chelsea have only won 1 of their last 3. The big lineup question for Arsenal is which two play between Xhaka, Coquelin, and Cazorla. For Chelsea, the question is who lines up in the center of their defense between Cahill, Luiz, and Terry.

My Pick – Arsenal 2, Chelsea 1: Sanchez, Walcott, and Costa
Brad’s Pick – Arsenal 3, Chelsea 3: Sanchez (2), Walcott, Costa (2), and Hazard

Las Palmas vs. Real Madrid – Los Blancos have been fantastic this season as they were perfect before their draw with Villarreal this week. Real is currently 3 points above Barcelona and 4 above Atletico Madrid. Las Palmas have been one of the surprise stories as they were top of the league after 2 weeks. They have struggled lately, winning just once in their last two games. This could be an interesting one following Real Madrid’s flight to the Canary Islands.

My Pick – Palmas 2, Madrid 2: Tana, Zhar, Ronaldo, and Benzema
Brad’s Pick – Palmas 1, Madrid 3: Livaja, Kroos, Bale, and Morata

Koln vs. Leipzig – This is a showdown between two teams who have surprised the Bundesliga as they both sit unbeaten and in the top 6. Koln is currently second in the table after their great start to the season. They have only conceded one goal all season. Leipzig has also had a great start, as they are also a strong defensive team. This will be a tight affair.

My Pick – Koln 1, Leipzig 1: Modeste, and Selke
Brad’s Pick – Koln 2, Leipzig 1: Risse, Lehmann, and Werner

Napoli vs. Chievo Verona – This is a top 3 clash in Italy this weekend as Chievo have been one of the surprise teams in the league. They have won 3 of their first five, with their only loss coming at Fiorentina. Napoli meanwhile is still unbeaten and sits 1 point behind the leaders Juventus following their scoreless draw with Genoa. Can Napoli get back to winning ways?

My Pick – Napoli 3, Chievo 1: Callejon, Milik (2), and Castro
Brad’s Pick – Napoli 2, Chievo 1: Callejon, Hamsik, and Maggiorini

Nancy vs. Nice – How can we not watch Nice right now? They are flying and Balotelli is must watch right now with his 2 goals from 2 games. Nancy is sitting just above the relegation zone. They will be hoping to put an end to Nice’s unbeaten run and jump up the table closer to safety.

My Pick – Nancy 1, Nice 2: Puyo, Balotelli, and Plea
Brad’s Pick – Nancy 1, Nice 3: Pedretti, Seri, Plea, and Koziello

A Look Back at Week 5

  1. How will Manchester United respond? – The answer is not well.  The score at half time could have been 2 or 3 to 0 in favor of Watford, but it was just 1-0 to Etienne Capoue. Marcus Rashford equalized in the second half. Just a minute after coming on Camilo Zuniga scored the go ahead goal and then in the 95th minute thanks to a Marouane Fellaini foul.  Troy Deeney would score the penalty and give Jose Mourinho his third straight loss. Mourinho blamed the ref, luck, and his left back but in reality it was a bad display from his team for the third straight game. The pressure will only go up on United and there will be more and more questions asked of Mourinho. How long does Rooney stay in the team is going to be the question on everyone’s mind.
  2. Which team will get their first win in the Bundesliga? – The answer is Mainz. Mainz took on Augsburg this weekend and defeated them 3-1 thanks to goals from Jhon Cordoba, Yunus Malli, and Yoshinori Muto. That win sent them into the top half of the table.  Hoffenheim remains unbeaten but are still yet to win a game this season as they drew 0-0 with Wolfsburg. The other four teams still remain winless. Werder Bremen took a massive step as they sacked their manager Viktor Skripnik after starting the season scoring 2 goals and conceding 12 in their 3 defeats. Ingolstadt took an early lead against Munich but then conceded 3 goals including an amazing one by Xabi Alonso. Hamburger were defeated comprehensively by Leipzig 4-0. Finally, Hertha Berlin continued their undefeated start to the season as they defeated Schalke to keep Schalke in the bottom 2.  We will have to wait and see if these five teams can get their first win during the week.
  3. Can Napoli put some pressure on Juventus and Roma? – The answer is yes. Napoli defeated Bologna 3-1 on Saturday.  Jose Callejon scored first.  Bologna equalized in the second half before Arek Milik scored twice. On Sunday, both Juventus and Roma were defeated.  Inter defeated Juventus 2-1.  Frank de Boer’s men played wonderfully. They fell behind in the second half but battled back thanks to Icardi and Perisic.  Fiorentina defeated Roma in the last game on Sunday. Milan Badelj scored the winner in the 83rd minute.  This means that Napoli is now on top of the table. Juventus sit 1 point behind them as they lost their first game.  Roma are 3 points behind the leaders. This was a great weekend for Napoli.
  4. How long does Pako Ayestaran have? – Well he is still the manager despite the fact that Valencia sits on the bottom of the table as the only team in Spain that still has not earned a point. They lost the game 2-1 but did look better. Alvaro Medran opened the scoring for Valencia in the 2nd minute. After that, Aduriz scored twice before halftime. No one scored in the second half of the game. This was an interesting game and Valencia looked better, but the pressure will continue to mount. They host Deportivo Alaves this week and then Leganes this weekend. If they do not get a point following these two matches, I cannot see Pako lasting long.
  5. How will the rest of the league respond following PSG’s 6-0 win today? – Monaco responded well with a 3-0 win over Stade Rennais. This win sent them back to the top of the table. Nice drew 1-1 with Montpellier thanks to a very late goal by Younes Belhanda. Lyon has continued to struggle as they failed to find the net without Lacazette. They drew 0-0 with Marseille. Monaco is on the top of the table now with a 2 point lead on Nice and a 3 point lead on PSG and Metz. This is starting to become a really interesting race in France, especially if Monaco and Nice can stay unbeaten for a couple more weeks. 

The Score After Week 5

Me – 41 (11)
Brad – 29 (4)

5 Games to Watch This Week

There is a full round of games in Spain, Germany, Italy, and France plus the League Cup resumes in England.

Barcelona vs. Atletico Madrid – This is the first big showdown between any of the big three in Spain as Atletico Madrid travels to Catalunya to face Barcelona. Both teams looked really strong at the weekend. The big question will be who plays for Barcelona at center back and who plays in the number 9 role for Atletico. Will it be Mascherano or Umtiti? Torres or Gameiro?

My Pick – Barcelona 2, Atletico 1: Suarez, Messi, and Griezmann
Brad’s Pick – Barcelona 2, Atletico 1: Neymar, Messi, and Griezmann

Bayern Munich vs. Hertha Berlin – This is the big game in Germany between the two teams to start the season perfectly so far with 3 wins from 3. Carlo Ancelotti has gotten of to a great start at Bayern Munich with 11 goals for and just 1 conceded. Their opponents have also been really strong this season defensively, conceding only 1 goal this season. Can Hertha stay with Bayern in this game or will the defending champions just be too much?

My Pick – Bayern 2, Hertha 1: Lewandowski, Mueller, Weiser
Brad’s Pick – Bayern 4, Hertha 1: Mueller (2), Lewandowski (2), and Ibesvic

Milan vs. Lazio – AC Milan has been hot and cold this season with two wins and two losses. They take on a Lazio side on Tuesday that sits in the top four and is within striking distance of a Champions League spot. Look for Lazio to go joint top of the table if they can get the type of performance they expect out of Felipe Anderson.

My Pick – Milan 1, Lazio 2: Bacca, Anderson, Immobile
Brad’s Pick – Milan 1, Lazio 3: Montolivo, Parolo (2), Immobile

Nice vs. Monaco – The top two teams in France meet this week as Monaco travels to Nice. They are the only two undefeated teams left in France so that is bound to change this week. Mario Balotelli has been a great addition to Nice. PSG will be hopeful that both teams might slip up this season.

My Pick – Nice 2, Monaco 3: Belhanda, Balotelli, Falcao, Fabinho, and Silva
Brad’s Pick – Nice 1, Monaco 2: Seri, Germain, and Moutinho

Leicester City vs. Chelsea – This is one of the more interesting League Cup fixtures this week in England. The last two champions in England meet in Leicester. Leicester seems to be getting their footing this season as Chelsea has failed to win their last two games. Which one of these two teams will make it on to the next stage?

My Pick – Leicester 2, Chelsea 1: Slimani, Mahrez, and Hazard
Brad’s Pick – Leicester 1, Chelsea 2: Mahrez, Oscar, and Costa

What to Watch in Week 5

  1. How will Manchester United respond? – United have had a rough week, suffering their first defeat of the season against their rivals Manchester City. Then they went to the Netherlands in the Europa League and lost 1-0. Jose Mourinho has suffered his first two defeats of his United career and now faces a tough trip to Watford.  Watford is coming off their first win of the season following their great comeback against West Ham.  United sit fourth in the table right now and they will hope to get back on pace this weekend.  Mourinho looks like he will be without Mkhitaryan this weekend so look for Rooney, Mata, and Martial to all start behind Ibrahimovic.  The question will be when will Rashford come on and change the game in a positive way for United.  Will the Europa League fatigue hurt United or will Mourinho get his side back on pace?
  2. Which team will get their first win in the Bundesliga? – Only 2 games in, Werder Bremen, Schalke 04, Ingolstadt, Hamburger, Mainz, and Hoffenheim are all still looking for their first win of the season. Most of these teams were not expected to be near the bottom of the table this season and some might possibly even push for a European place. They are going to need to string some wins together if that is going to happen.  This weekend, they all face teams that have won a game this season, so it should be interesting to see if any of them can get a win.  Werder Bremen travels to Monchengladbach this weekend.  Gladbach will look to get back on track after losing twice this last week.  Schalke 04 faces one of the two unbeaten teams this season in Hertha Berlin.  Ingolstadt faces a trip to the defending champions and the other unbeaten team, Bayern Munich.  Hamburger faces the new boys Leipzig as they come of their big win over Borussia Dortmund.  Hoffenheim has a tough home game against Wolfsburg this weekend.  Lastly, Mainz travel to Augsburg.  In hopes of a great overall season, let’s hope for big wins for all of the team that have not won a game this season.
  3. Can Napoli put some pressure on Juventus and Roma? – Napoli faces Bologna on Saturday with the chance to go to the top of the table. If they are able to defeat Bologna, then Juventus would need a win to go to back on top of the table. This looks like it could be a fascinating race this season and some early pressure from Napoli and Roma will only bring the best out of Juventus.  Juventus has a tough trip to Milan and face Inter.  Inter is in the middle of a rebuilding process and new manager Frank de Boer would love to make an early statement.  Inter are coming off their first win of the season when they defeated Pescara 2-1 last weekend.  Juventus is the only team in Italy to win all three games.  Genoa, Napoli, and Roma are all still unbeaten.  Can these three teams put pressure on Juve and make this season a close race to the finish?
  4. How long does Pako Ayestaran have? – Valencia have started the season in terrible form losing all three of their opening games to Las Palmas, Eibar, and Real Betis. This has not been the start that the Valencia faithful would have hoped for. They saw most of their team’s spine from last season leave as Mustafi, Gomes, and Alcacer all left this summer.  They brought in some talent, but they are struggling to gel this season.  Valencia are one of two teams that are yet to get a point and the distance between them and a spot in Europe is only going to grow.  The fans of Los Che will demand that they get back into Europe after exiting the Champions League group stage and the Europa League round of 16 last season, only to miss out all together this year.  Pako Ayestaran should get a little bit more time but if he fails to get a point this season, that time might be gone.
  5. How will the rest of the league respond following PSG’s 6-0 win today? – PSG made a statement today with their 6-0 win over Caen. PSG has failed to win in their two previous games.  Cavani scored 4 goals in the first half and then Moura and Augustin added goals in the second half.  Now the cameras turn to Monaco, Nice, and Lyon.  Monaco can go back on top of the league with a win or a draw this weekend against Rennes.  Rennes can go level with Monaco and PSG if they win that game.  Nice can go top if they win this weekend against Montpellier.  Lastly Lyon can get back in the race with a win this weekend.  This will be a big weekend as Monaco looks to respond to PSG and show they are in it for the long haul.

5 Games to Watch This Weekend

Everton vs. Middlebrough – Everton has been one of the surprise stories of the season winning three in a row after drawing their opening game with Tottenham.  They are one of three unbeaten teams left in the Premier League.  Ronald Koeman has the team working really well.  Middlesbrough has performed well so far as they have 5 points from the initial 4 games.  Another win for Everton will put them into serious contention for the top 4 and possibly the title this season.

My Pick – Everton 3, Middlesbrough 1 – Lukaku (2), Bolasie, and Stuani
Brad’s Pick – Everton 2, Middlesbrough 1 – Gueye, Lukaku, and Negrado

Athletic Bilbao vs. Valencia – These two teams have struggled this season and were both expected to be in and around the top 4.  Athletic Bilbao got their first win of the season last weekend when they defeated Deportivo La Coruna.  Two wins in a row would be a major bonus and could see them shoot up the table.  Valencia are in desperate need of points and a win could see them get out of the bottom 3.

My Pick – Athletic 2, Valencia 1 – Aduriz, Williams, Haddadi
Brad’s Pick – Bilbao 2, Valencia 0 – Susaeta, Williams

Hertha Berlin vs. Schalke 04 – This is a story of two clubs that seem to be going in opposite directions.  Schalke has failed to win their opening two games this season.  Hertha Berlin has won both of their opening two games. This is Hertha’s big chance to make a statement.  Last season they really struggled against the top teams in the Bundesliga and while Schalke are struggling, they still were able to defeat Hertha twice last season.

My Pick – Hertha 2, Schalke 1 – Weiser, Ibisevic, Huntelaar
Brad’s Pick – Hertha 1, Schalke 2 – Ibisevic, Huntelaar, and Choupo

Inter Milan vs. Juventus – The defending champions travel to Milan to face Inter.  Frank de Boer’s side lost at home in the Europa League to a side that they should not have on Thursday.  Now they face tough opposition in Juventus.  Juventus also struggled in Europe this weekend as they drew with Sevilla at home.  Now Juve will look to get back to winning ways.

My Pick – Inter 1, Juventus 2 – Candreva, and Higuain (2)
Brad’s Pick – Inter 1, Juventus 3 – Eder, Mandzukic, Dybala, and Pjanic

Marseille vs. Lyon – The Choc des Olympiques takes place this weekend as Lyon travels to Marseille.  Lyon started the season really well, winning their first two games but has now lost their last two games to see them slip to 8th.  Lyon has been hit with the injury bug as Nabil Fekir, Jallet, Lacazette, and Valbuena are out injured.  Marseille have had a rough start, only winning 1 game so far.  A win would be great for both teams.

My Pick – Marseille 2, Lyon 2 – Thauvin, Gomis, Tolisso, and Cornet
Brad’s Pick  Marseille 2, Lyon 2 – Gomis, Iseka, Tolisso, Darder

 

A Look Back at Week 4

  1. Pep Guardiola vs. Jose Mourinho – Round 1 goes to Pep as his team defeated Manchester United 2-1 this weekend. Manchester City looked amazing in the first half.       They were carving United apart. Mkhitaryan was terrible in his debut start for United. At halftime, Jose Mourinho pulled off Jesse Lingard and Mkhitaryan and put on Ander Herrera and Marcus Rashford. They made a great change and United looked much better, but it was not enough and they failed to score in the second half. Their goal came from a calamitous error made by Claudio Bravo in the first half.       Bravo came for a cross and failed to catch the ball. It fell to the feet of Zlatan Ibrahimovic and the Swede buried the volley into the back of the net. This gave United hope just before half time. Pep Guardiola has now won 8 of the head to head matchups to Mourinho’s 3 wins with 6 draws. I personally cannot wait for Round 2.
  2. Can Las Palmas maintain their perfect start? – The answer is no and they were not the only team to suffer their first defeat of the season. Las Palmas took the lead early in the first half and had a lead going into the 89th minute. However, Pedro Bigas saw his second yellow card for a tackle in the box and was sent off for Las Palmas. Pablo Sarabia scored the penalty kick. Then in the 94th minute, Carlos Luna scored on a header to give Sevilla all three points. This was a tough one for Las Palmas as their undefeated run is over, but they could still be in the mix for a spot in Europe next season. Barcelona also suffered defeat to Deportivo Alaves at home this weekend. Luis Enrique rotated the squad quite a bit and it came back to hurt Barcelona as they struggled to settle.       They are now 3 points behind Real Madrid and the pressure will be mounting on Enrique.

  3. How will RB Leipzig fare against the big boys? – They answered this question in a big way this weekend as they defeated Borussia Dortmund 1-0.       Naby Keita scored the winner just 6 minutes after coming on to the field. Leipzig allowed Dortmund to have the ball as Dortmund had 66% possession, but they outshot Dortmund 10 to 8. They made their chance count and they now have their first big scalp of the Bundesliga. They are 1 of 6 teams that still have not lost this season.       How high can they go in their first campaign?
  4. Can Genoa and Sampdoria keep up with Juventus? – We got an answer sort of to this question this week. Sampdoria was not able to keep pace as they lost 3-2 to Roma. Roma took the early lead thanks to Mohamed Salah but then fell behind 2-1 at half. In the second half, Edin Dezeko would tie the game and Roma legend Francesco Totti would score the winner from the penalty spot in the 93rd minute.       We will have to wait and see about Genoa as their game was abandon due to weather. The pitch was being bombarded with hail this weekend. Juventus are now the only team to win all three of their opening games as they defeated Sassuolo 3-1. Higuain continues his great start with 2 goals in the first 10 minutes and Miralem Pjanic scored his first of the campaign. Roma and Napoli are just 2 points behind the leaders and will do their best to maintain that pace and try to push Juventus all season.
  5. How will Lyon and PSG bounce back? – Not very well is the answer. Lyon was defeated 3-1 at home against Bordeaux. They took a 1 goal lead thanks to Aldo Kalulu, but the game went in to halftime as 1-1. Maxime Gonalons was shown a straight red card in the 67th minute. It did not take long for Bordeaux to capitalize as they took the lead just 4 minutes after the red card. Jeremy Menez then assured the points in the 91st minute. They have now lost 2 games in a row. PSG did not suffer defeat but they were pegged back in extra time. They took the lead thanks to a Lucas Moura penalty kick.       However, in the 93rd minute Robert Beric scored the equalizer. Neither PSG nor Lyon are in the top 4 of the league for the first time in a long time. Monaco seems to be just chugging along hoping to end the PSG domination.

 

The Score After Week 4 (This Week’s Score)

Me – 30 (9)

Brad – 25 (7)

This week is the first round of the Champions League and should be a great start. The game to watch tomorrow is PSG hosting Arsenal. The game to watch on Wednesday is Tottenham hosting Monaco. The greatest league in the world is back!!!!

What to Watch for During Week 4

  1. Pep Guardiola vs. Jose Mourinho – Ever since the schedule came out, everyone has had this game circled.  The rivalry will be renewed this weekend in the Manchester Derby.  This game is being dubbed the most expensive game in football history as both teams will field teams that have cost the club almost 300 million pounds each with United above the 300 million pound mark.  This is an early season title showdown and one team will leave full of confidence and with a leg up on their crosstown rivals.  It should be a fantastic game especially with no Aguero for City and the debut of Claudio Bravo.
  2. Can Las Palmas maintain their perfect start? – No one saw this one coming. A small team from the Canary Islands is on top of the Spanish table. Las Palmas has scored 9 goals in their two games. That is the most so far this season. Marko Livaja, Kevin Prince Boateng, and Nabil El Zhar have all found resurgence on the Canary Islands. Only three teams have started the season with two wins out of two. Two of them are Barcelona and Real Madrid. The third is Las Palmas. The whole world will be cheering for them. Could this be the Spanish Leicester City? This weekend they travel to Andalusia to face off with Sevilla. This should be a tough test for them. It will be interesting to see if the magic can continue and they can be up near the top all season.
  3. How will RB Leipzig fare against the big boys? – Leipzig hosts Borussia Dortmund this weekend. Red Bull started this club in 2009 with the goal of reaching the top flight of German football as quickly as they could. They started in the fifth tier of German football and outspent their way to the Bundesliga. They have not made many friends on the way up, but they are in the top flight and that is all they are about. This weekend they face Borussia Dortmund and will look for their first big scalp in the top flight. Dortmund started well, but could make a statement this weekend.
  4. Can Genoa and Sampdoria keep up with Juventus? – Just like in Spain, three teams have started with the season with two wins out of two. One is the title favorite, Juventus. The other two are a bit more surprising, Genoa and Sampdoria. The question now becomes can they keep pace with Juventus or will they run away with the title? Roma and Napoli are already 2 points behind Juventus. This weekend Sampdoria travels to the capital as they face Roma. Genoa hosts Fiorentina.   And Napoli travels to Palermo. While many of you may say it is still really early, this race has a tendency to get blown wide open early and then Juventus coasts to the finish line.
  5. How will Lyon and PSG bounce back? – Both of these teams suffered their first defeat of the season before the international break. Lyon has been led by Alexandre Lacazette, who scored 6 goals in the first 3 games. They are now sitting in 4th place, one point behind the leaders. This race is far from over and might actually get interesting this season, but it will be interesting to see how they bounce back against Bordeaux. This is a new feeling for the rest of the French Ligue since PSG is not on top. They also suffered defeat last weekend at the hands of now leaders Monaco. Cavani has struggled to fill the big shoes left by Zlatan. They will need him to start scoring if they are to keep their Ligue 1 title.

5 Games to Watch This Weekend 

Manchester United vs. Manchester City – The Manchester Derby returns early tomorrow morning. This is going to be a must watch affair. The touchline might be a better watch as Jose and Pep renew their rivalry. Claudio Bravo should start for City. Sergio Aguero is out suspended. Is this Pogba’s break out game? Who steals the headlines?

My Pick – United 1, City 2: Goals by Ibrahimovic, Nolito, and Silva
Brad’s Pick – United 2, City 1: Goals by Ibrahimovic, Martial, and De Bruyne 

Celta Vigo vs. Atletico Madrid – Atletico Madrid is in search of their first win. They have drawn their first two games of the campaign against newly promoted teams. This weekend they face Celta Vigo who have struggled this season but looked good against Real Madrid last round. Look for Atleti to try and make a statement this round.

My Pick – Celta 1, Atletico 2: Goals by Aspas, Griezmann, and Niguez
Brad’s Pick – Celta 0, Atletico 2: Goals by Griezmann (2) 

RB Leipzig vs. Borussia Dortmund – Leipzig started their season with a draw against Hoffenheim. Dormtund started with a 2-1 win over Mainz. Both teams will look to stay unbeaten as they face off this season. Dortmund have their sights set on the title this season and have the players to do it. Andre Schurrle and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang have been outstanding. This game should be very open.

My Pick – Leipzig 1, Dortmund 3: Goals by Selke, Schurrle, and Aubameyang (2)
James’ Pick – Leipzig 0, Dortmund 0: Goals by
Brad’s Pick – Leipzig 1, Dortmund 2: Keita, Reus, and Schurrle

Genoa vs. Fiorentina – Leonardo Pavoletti and his two goals have led Genoa this season. They have won both of their opening games by the scoreline of 3-1. They now face off with Fiorentina who won their last game against Chievo. La Viola lost their opener with Juventus. Can Genoa keep up this perfect start?

My Pick – Genoa 2, Fiorentina 1: Goals by Pavoletti, Ocampos, and Kalinic
Brad’s Pick – Genoa 1, Fiorentina 0: Goals by Simeone 

Nice vs. Marseille – The battle for the southern French coastline takes place this weekend. Nice hosts their close rivals, Marseille. Nice dropped their first points of the season last round when they drew 1-1 with Lille. Marseille got their first win of the season last round when they defeated Lorient. Could we see a Balotelli debut?

My Pick – Nice 2, Marseille 1: Goals by Plea, Balotelli, and Gomis
Brad’s Pick – Nice 1, Marseille 1: Goals by Plea and Thauvin

Champions League Preview

The Champions League returns for the 62nd season next week. So we thought it would be a good time to preview the group stage and give you a quick look at all of the teams, as well as something to watch for in each group.

Group A

Paris Saint-Germain (FRA), Arsenal (ENG), Basel (SWI), Ludogorets Razgard (BUL)

What to watch for: PSG is looking to take the next step in this competition, but they will need to advance to the second round. They should get pushed by Arsenal and Basel. Basel has been very tough for English opposition so watch out for that game. All three teams will want to win the group to avoid a top tier team in the round of 16.

Must Watch Game: PSG vs Arsenal on September 13th ~ A lot will be on the line right away for these two teams.

Predictions

My Pick – Arsenal, PSG, Basel, Ludogorets

Brad’s Pick – Arsenal, PSG, Basel, Ludogorets

Group B

Benfica (POR), Napoli (ITA), Dynamo Kyiv (UKR), Besiktas (TUR)

What to watch for: This group seems very wide open. Benfica will be the favorites and if Napoli still had Higuain, I think this would be those two on top but now I am not so sure. No one will want to go to Istanbul or Kyiv this season.

Must Watch Game: Napoli vs. Benfica on September 28th ~ Will go a long way in deciding this group.

Predictions

My Pick – Napoli, Dynamo Kyiv, Benfica, Besiktas

Brad’s Pick – Napoli, Benfica, Kyiv, Besiktas

Group C

Barcelona (ESP), Manchester City (ENG), Borussia Monchengladbach (GER), Celtic (SCO)

What to watch for: Pep Guardiola returning to face his former club has to be the story of this group. Barcelona will be clear favorites to advance, but can Pep pull one on his former club and win the group? Maybe we should be asking does City have enough to advance from the group, as Monchengladbach will be a tough out and Celtic Park will be a tough place to play.

Must Watch Game: Barcelona vs. Manchester City on October 19th ~ Pep’s 2nd return to Barcelona.

Predictions

My Pick – Barcelona, Manchester City, Monchengladbach, Celtic

Brad’s Pick – Barcelona, Manchester City, Monchengladbach, Celtic

Group D

Bayern Munich (GER), Atletico Madrid (ESP), PSV Eindhoven (NED), Rostov (RUS)

What to watch for: This might be the group of death as three teams in this group advanced last year to the round of 16. Atletico Madrid went all the way to the final. Bayern Munich were defeated by Atletico Madrid in the semifinals and PSV Eindhoven lost to Atletico Madrid in the round of 16. There is a lot of recent history so it should provide for some fantastic football. Plus Rostov is similar to Leicester City in their quick rise to this level so no one knows what they will bring.

Must Watch Game: Bayern Munich vs. Atletico Madrid on December 6th ~ Can Bayern get revenge for last year?

Predictions

My Pick – Bayern, Atletico, Rostov, PSV

Brad’s Pick – Bayern, Atletico, PSV, Rostov

Group E

CSKA Moscow (RUS), Bayer Leverkusen (GER), Tottenham Hotspur (ENG), Monaco (FRA)

What to watch for: This might be the most balanced group in the whole competition. I think any of these four teams could advance. It will be tough for each of them as they try to get one over on their competition. Tottenham is back after a 5 year absence.

Must Watch Game: Bayer Leverkusen vs. Monaco on December 7th ~ Could be a decider in this group.

Predictions

My Pick – Bayer Leverkusen, Monaco, Tottenham, CSKA Moscow

Brad’s Pick – Leverkusen, Tottenham, Monaco, CSKA Moscow

Group F

Real Madrid (ESP), Borussia Dortmund (GER), Sporting CP (POR), Legia Warsaw (POL)

What to watch for: Real Madrid won their 11th Champions League title last year. They will look to make it 12 this season and should easily advance from this group. Dortmund might be able to push them for the top spot, but I see both teams easily advancing.

Must Watch Game: Real Madrid vs. Borussia Dortmund on September 27th ~ Clash for first place in the group.

Predictions

My Pick – Real Madrid, Dortmund, Sporting, Legia

Brad’s Pick – Real Madrid, Dortmund, Sporting, Legia

Group G

Leicester City (ENG), Porto (POR), Club Brugge (BEL), Copenhagen (DEN)

What to watch for: Leicester City is the team to watch in this group. They have made it to the big time after a fantastic season last year. The question now is can they replicate that form in Europe. They have a chance to make the knockout stages in what is a fairly tame group. None of these teams will be major threats to the big boys later in the competition.

Must Watch Game: Leicester City vs. Porto on September 27th ~ their first home game in Europe.

Predictions

My Pick – Porto, Leicester City, Copenhagen, Brugge

Brad’s Pick – Porto, Leicester, Brugge, Copenhagen

Group H

Juventus (ITA), Sevila (ESP), Lyon (FRA), Dinamo Zagreb (CRO)

What to watch for: Juventus has their eyes on one prize this season, the Champions League. They will need to be at their best as they have a tough group. Lyon will look for a better showing this season and has looked fantastic so far. Sevilla are the kings of the Europa League, but I think they would rather give it a go at the Champions League knockout stages.

Must Watch Game: Lyon vs. Sevilla on December 7th ~ This game could decide who goes to the Champions League knockout stages and who goes to the Europa League.

Predictions

My Pick – Juventus, Lyon, Sevilla, Dinamo Zagreb

Brad’s Pick – Juventus, Lyon, Sevilla, Dinamo Zagreb