|Date & Time||Wednesday December 31, 1969, 7:00 PM (EST)|
Leverkusen/Gladbach: Sky Bundesliga Malaga/Barcelona: Sky Sports 1 Man United/Chelsea: TSN, NBCSN
After an eventful opening week in many of Europe’s Top leagues I return with some very interesting top matches to look out for in the German Bundesliga, Spanish La Liga and the English Premier League, so without further delay let’s get straight into the Top Matches of the Week:
German Bundesliga: Bayer Leverkusen vs. Borussia Monchengladbach (BayArena) – Saturday, August 24, 2013
We kickoff things off by heading over to Germany and looking at a match between two European hopefuls, Gladbach rebounded from its opening day defeat to the defending champions Bayern Munich with a 3-0 home win over Hannover 96 and now travel to the BayArena to face-off against a Bayer Leverkusen club looking in fine form after wins against Freiburg and Stuttgart to start the season.
What makes this match potentially so entertaining is the playing style both coaches deploy, as Gladbach’s Lucien Favre and Leverkusen’s Sami Hyppia are known for their willingness to get players into attacking positions and create scoring opportunities. Both clubs have had to sell key players over the last few seasons but there is still quality on both sides, Leverkusen has new South Korean signing Heung Min Son to go along with Sidney Sam and lead forward Stefan Kiessling while Gladbach has to rely on the likes of Juan Arrango, Patrick Herrmann and Max Kruse.
I’m siding with Leverkusen in this match due to the attacking talent previously mentioned but also its goalkeeping situation in my opinion is much more stable under the young Bernd Leno than Gladbach’s is under its young keeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen and the defensive unit of Gladbach can be questionable at times against the better sides in the league.
Prediction: Bayer Leverkusen -1 (+110)
Spanish La Liga: Malaga CF vs. FC Barcelona (Estadio La Rosaleda) – Sunday August 25, 2013
The next match on our list takes place in Spain, as the defending champions Barcelona fresh off a 7-0 hammering of Levante in the season opener travel to Malaga, Spain and the Estadio La Rosaleda to play newly named coach Bernd Schuster and Malaga CF.
The lopsided victory for the Catalan giants saw superstar forward Lionel Messi net a hat trick but was just what the doctor ordered given the clubs hectic offseason, not only having to replace beloved coach Tito Vilanova due to ongoing medical issues with cancer and replacing him with an “outsider” to the Barcelona way in Argentine Gerardo Martino only weeks before the start of the season but also trying to bed in its new Brazilian superstar signing in forward Neymar in with the likes of Messi, Xavi and Andres Iniesta.
They take on a Malaga side that is now managed under the former Real Madrid boss Bernd Schuster after Manuel Pellegini took over at English side Manchester City, now he has the task of trying to get the best out of a squad that has sold its best players, has significantly less money to spend and will be battling teams like Valencia and Atletico Madrid amongst others for the European places.
With Barcelona such heavy favorites this match doesn’t really have much in the way of betting value but it will be interesting to see if Neymar will start alongside Lionel Messi and whether the club can continue its dominance over the rest of the league, as the annual arms race between them and Real Madrid continues in a “two horse race” to the title with Malaga just being the next team in its crosshairs.
Prediction: Barcelona -2 (-110)
English Premier League: Manchester United vs. Chelsea (Old Trafford) – Monday August 26, 2013
The final top match-up we’ll be focusing on is the big clash in the English Premier League between two giants of the game, Jose Mourinho makes his return across enemy lines when his Chelsea travel to Old Trafford to battle against newly appointed David Moyes and Manchester United.
Both clubs kicked off its respective league seasons with victories, Chelsea earned a 2-0 home win over newly promoted Hull City while the defending champions Manchester United silenced the critics that are calling for a down year with a convincing 4-1 victory over Swansea City. This is a very interesting scenario that both Chelsea and Man United find itself in, as the main storyline surrounding both clubs is the rumors surrounding a potential signing of United forward Wayne Rooney by the London club, as the maligned Englishmen has wanted a move away from the club over the off-season and has now become a distraction.
This should not only be an entertaining match due to the storylines but also the talent on display, just looking at the embarrassment of options at the hands of Mourinho is a scary prospect as he can play any combination of Fernando Torres, Oscar, Eden Hazard, Kevin De Bruyne, Juan Mata, Andre Schurrle, Romelu Lukaku and Demba Ba amongst others. All of that said none of those players are Robin Van Persie, the Dutchmen has carried on where he had left off last season scoring 2 goals against the Swans, given that Chelsea’s defensive unit is now getting up in age with players like John Terry, Petr Cech and Ashley Cole it will be a difficult prospect for the Blues to contend with last season’s leading scorer.
This is an incredibly difficult match to predict and is really one to just sit back and enjoy, I’m going to lean towards a draw as both sides are so talented but with it being the beginning of the season I can see both Moyes and Mourinho playing it close to the vest.
Prediction: Draw (+200)
That’s it for this week’s edition of Kamal’s Top Soccer Matches of the Week; these matches might not be the best bets in the world but will surely be worth tuning in for.
Until next time sit back, relax and enjoy the games!