After some time away, I’m back with Sports Chat Place in a more understated role. I will now be providing 1-2 articles a week on my “top matches” and possibly “value matches” to watch in world soccer. My “top matches” articles are fairly self-explanatory, looking at the big games of the week, while my “value matches” articles will focus on the “under the radar” matches that are either good value from an entertainment and/or betting perspective.
With all that said, here are my “Top Matches” to watch this week:
English Premier League: Manchester City Vs. Newcastle United (Etihad Stadium) – Monday August 19, 2013
The first match that stands out as the European Soccer season gets back into full swing is the curtain closer on the first week of the English Premier League, as new look Manchester City hosts Newcastle United at Etihad Stadium in the Monday match. The main talking point surrounding this match is how new coach Manuel Pellegrini, the long time La Liga manager, has splashed the cash to bring in quality players to an already stacked attack. The main additions to the squad are Spanish forward and midfielder Alvaro Negredo and Jesus Navas, Montenegrin attacker Stevan Jovetic and Brazilian midfielder Fernandinho from Sevilla, Fiorentina, and Shakhtar Donetsk respectively. It will be interesting to see how these players compliment an attack that already had the likes of Segio Aguero and David Silva as main options.
This will be a tough opening test for a Newcastle side looking to continue the French invasion on the Premier League under Alan Pardew, this is a side that didn’t do much business during the transfer window due to the slew of players brought in last season, but they did acquire a long time target in forward Loic Remy from relegated Queeens Park Rangers and are aiming for European soccer, as opposed to its 16th place finish last season.
Prediction: Manchester City
German Bundesliga: Eintracht Frankfurt Vs. Bayern Munich (Commerzbank Arena) – Saturday August 17, 2013
Another top match to keep an eye on are last seasons treble winners Bayern Munich, under former Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola taking on Eintracht Frankfurt, the defending champions looked in good form aside from an own goal in the season opener against Borussia Monchengladbach and, although they’re playing a different style. the results look the same. The squad hasn’t changed too much, but instead of running teams over on its way to silverware, as was the model to last season's side, this edition of the team looks poised to squeeze the life out of the opposition with possession. The play of Arjen Robben, Tony Kroos, Bastian Schweinsteiger, and Frank Ribery was particularly noticeable and with new signings Thiago Alcantara and Mario Gotze yet to play, this squad is without question the deepest side in World Soccer.
Frankfurt, under coach Armin Veh, was the surprise package last season, going from promoted club to now participating in European competition later this season in UEFA Europa League, however the club kicked off its season in brutal fashion, losing 6-1 away to Hertha Berlin and could be in store for something similar. How the likes of midfielders Takashi Inui, Alexander Meier and Stefan Aigner improve from last season will go a long way to determining the clubs position at the end of the season, not only do they have a responsibility to set up plays and create combinations, but also score goals with not many out and out forward options at the club's disposal.
Prediction: Bayern Munich
French Ligue 1: AS Monaco Vs. Montpellier HSC (Stade Louis II) – Sunday August 18, 2013
Another interesting match will be big spending and newly promoted AS Monaco, hosting a Montpellier side coming off a 1-1 draw against the other big spending Ligue 1 club in Paris Saint-Germain. The main storyline in this match is the big money spent by the club from the principality, as its Russian benefactor gave coach Claudio Ranieri the license to sign the likes of Colombian tandem Radamel Falcao and James Rodriguez, Portuguese midfielder Joao Moutinho and defender Eric Abidal, amongst others. The club kicked off its season with a 2-0 win over Bordeaux and look strong candidates to challenge PSG for the title, particularly because they won’t have the fixture congestion that comes with UEFA Champions League soccer, unlike PSG.
Prediction: AS Monaco
Liga MX: C.F. Monterrey Vs. Club Tijuana (Estadio Tecnológico) – Saturday August 17 2013
The final match to look our for this week comes from Mexico’s first division, this one sees Monterrey look to recover from a 3-1 defeat to Tigres taking on everyone’s new darling in Tijuana, who are coming off a 2-0 victory over Pumas. Tijuana are the talk of the town in North America due to the influx of American players that have migrated south of the border and have become key members of the U.S. Men’s National Team, to start the 2013-2014 Apertura season (in Mexico the season is split into two parts, the two champions meet in the Liga MX Final). Tijuana have faired well, even though one of its main acquisitions in US Men’s National Team forward Herculez Gomez has yet to play due to injury. That said, other US National Team players are worth keeping an eye on, particularly midfielder Joe Corona, who looked good for them during CONCACAF Gold Cup as well as defenders Gregory Garza and Edgar Castillo, amongst others. This is a club that didn’t play too well in its most recent CONCACAF Champions League game against El Salvadorian side Luis Angel Firpo, however how much they are taking the early going of that tournament is up for debate, with the Liga MX season taking top priority.
They’re taking on a Monterrey side that sits near the bottom of the league and have yet to record its first win of the season, and for a side that is expected to challenge for trophies this season, it will need to get more production from players other than the ever reliable Chilean center forward Humberto Suazo. Players like Colombian forward and new signing Dorlan Pabon, former Olympique Lyon midfielder/forward in Argentine Cesar Delgado and former Celtic and Mexican National Team standout Efarin Juarez need to pull their own weight if Monterrey are to challenge for silverware.
All of these games should provide a good level of excitement and storylines to follow, so until next time sit back, relax and enjoy the game!