The European soccer season continues to be in full swing after midweek UEFA Champions League & Europa League matches as well as a thrilling weekend of fixtures highlighted by Ligue 1’s PSG vs. AS Monaco in what has been dubbed “El Cashico” as well as the Manchester Derby in the EPL, this week promises to have some interesting fixtures in all the major European leagues and our focus this week will be a matches in England and Spain.
Here are the Top Soccer matches of the Week:
English Premier League: Tottenham vs. Chelsea (White Hart Lane) – Saturday September 28, 2013
The first match on our list is the early kickoff in England between two London rivals and two interesting coaches, as Jose Mourinho and Chelsea travel to White Hart Lane to battle Andres Villas-Boas and Tottenham.
Both of these sides are coming off wins last weekend, Spurs earning a 1-0 away victory over Cardiff City while Chelsea came away with a 2-0 win over Fulham, the fascinating aspect of these two sides are the multitude of options at the disposal of the managers and how they match up stylistically as a whole. The main tie between these two managers is that Villas-Boas serves as an assistant under Mourinho at FC Porto and both led that club to European success, Mourinho leading them to the UEFA Champions League crown in 2004-2004 while Villas-Boas guided the club to UEFA Europa League glory in 2010-2011.
This is a tough match to call because how both managers deploy their respective sides and how the strengths of both cancel each other out, I’m leaning towards the UNDER as it stacks up much more as a cagey affair than an attacking display and the margins are just too tight.
Prediction: UNDER 2.5 (-125)
English Premier League: Swansea City vs. Arsenal (Liberty Stadium) – Saturday September 28, 2013
Continuing to look at the English Premier League, while the first match looks to be a more combative affair the league leaders Arsenal traveling to Wales and the Liberty Stadium to take on Swansea City it shapes up to be an entertaining contest with attacking flair.
Arsenal are really starting to perform at its peak since the signing of influential German midfielder Mesut Ozil, the playmaker had a role in setting up all three of the Gunners goals in a 3-1 victory over Stoke City while Swansea City are on cloud nine after its 3-0 UEFA Europa League victory in Spain against Valencia and followed it up by defeating Crystal Palace 2-0. Arsene Wenger vs. Michael Laudrup is an interesting coaching duel; both play similar attacking styles but have shown an ability to thrive on the counter attack. This is particularly the case with the visitors, who have been problematic for opposition to stop the speedy breaks.
Full disclosure on this pick, I’m an Arsenal fan so you may want to take this pick with a grain of salt. Swansea is a talented side but Arsenal is in such great form, are getting fantastic production from Aaron Ramsey, Mesut Ozil continues to be a difference maker and are set to get Mikel Arteta and Santi Cazorla back from injury. The Arsenal defensive unit is a concern and Swansea are capable of taking advantage, however given what I’ve said about Arsenal combined with the value of the pick has me going with the visitors.
Prediction: Arsenal ML (+120)
Spanish La Liga: Real Madrid vs. Atletico Madrid (Santiago Bernabeu) – Saturday September 28, 2013
The final match we’ll be looking at is the Madrid Derby in La Liga, as a red hot Atletico Madrid take on Real Madrid in a huge top of the table clash.
Both of these sides are performing fantastically well in both league play and European competition, Atletico are coming off a midweek win against FC Zenit and followed it up with a 2-0 result away to Valladolid while Real Madrid hammered Turkish side Galatasaray 6-1 in Turkey followed by a 4-1 drubbing of Getafe. At the moment of writing this both of these sides have midweek matches in La Liga which could change the course of this match, as injuries, suspensions, fatigue and looming UEFA Champions League matches could play a role. The main storyline between these two sides is the injury to Gareth Bale, Madrid’s newest signing is suffering from ‘thigh muscle fatigue’ that saw him miss the Getafe match, it doesn’t seem like a serious issue but one has to wonder if Carlo Ancelotti will rest him midweek in order to have him fit for this match.
At the moment of writing the odds for this match aren’t available, however if I was leaning one way Real Madrid would be my choice. The odds on the total will likely be inflated and Madrid playing at home could make this pick have little to no value, this should be a very entertaining contest and is one worth tuning in for if La Liga interests you.
Prediction: Real Madrid