Do you have plans this weekend? You might want to think about canceling them.
It was difficult to pick just five games this week’s ‘must watch’ selection, as the fixture computers from across the globe have churned out a succession of top class contests.
In the two main events, we will get to see arguably the best two sides in both England and Spain go head-to-head. Those epic contests will be ably supported by two huge derby games and a top of the table clash in Portugal.
Cancelled those plans yet? I bet you will have done after reading this line-up of games…
All times Eastern
FC Schalke 04 vs Borussia Dortmund – Saturday 26th October, 9:30am, GolTV
The Ruhr derby will be played out on Saturday against two sides who have had contrasting starts to the campaign.
Schalke have been massively inconsistent and sit fifth in the Bundesliga standings. Chelsea cruised to an easy victory in midweek at the Veltins arena, but the Die Knappen have got back to winning ways in the Bundesliga as of late.
They have won their last three domestic games and will have to be at their absolute best if they are to get a result against Borussia Dortmund. Die Borussen put in a superb performance away at Arsenal in the Champions League, and a similar showing of clinical, incisive soccer should see them have too much for Schalke here.
Schalke actually came out on top in this fixture last season, and the atmosphere for the Revierderby often gives major impetus to the home side. It should be a cracking contest between two teams that will be looking to win.
Barcelona vs Real Madrid – Saturday 26th October, Noon, beIN SPORT and DishWorld
El Clasico is always special. Barca vs Real. Catalonia vs Castile. One ideology against another.
Real Madrid are back on the coattails of the league leaders after La Blaugrana and Atletico both dropped points in their first games after the international break. A win at the Nou Camp would thrust them right back into the title picture.
Naturally, the talk going into these huge occasions usually centre around Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo. But ahead of this one, some of the focus has been distributed to two other players who will be making their debut in this fixture: Gareth Bale and Neymar.
Both look set to start, and a strong contribution in a winning performance from either player could kick-start their respective careers in Spain.
Coaches Carlo Ancelotti and Tata Martino will also get their first taste of the Clasico. Their respective philosophies – along with the aforementioned new faces – should bring a freshness to a fixture that is always an intriguing spectacle.
Programming note: For viewers in the United States, Barcelona vs Real Madrid is being shown exclusively on beIN SPORT, beIN SPORT Espanol and DishWorld. The pre-match programming begins at 11am ET Saturday, with kick-off at Noon ET. Even if you don’t have a TV subscription to beIN SPORT, you can access those channels via online streaming service DishWorld for $10/month. Read our review of DishWorld. And sign up for DishWorld via their website.
Sunderland vs Newcastle United – Sunday 27th October, 9:30am, NBCSN
Police horses beware, it’s Tyne-Wear derby weekend. The eyes of the North-East will be be fixed on the Stadium of Light come Sunday lunchtime, as Gus Poyet takes charge of his first ever home game as Sunderland boss in the club’s biggest game of the season.
In a peculiar twist of fate, Paolo Di Canio faced Newcastle in his second game in charge. And whilst the Uruguayan will be hoping for a much longer stint in the hot-seat than his predecessor, a repeat of the 3-0 win the Italian masterminded would surely be welcomed by those of red and white persuasion.
But it would be quite the turn up if Sunderland were to put in that kind of performance. Their 4-0 defeat to Swansea was an emphatic indicator of the tough job Poyet has on his hands.
They will take on a Newcastle side that look to be getting on the right track. After an awful showing against Everton, the team have beaten Cardiff away and taken a point against an in-form Liverpool side. The cliche goes that ‘form goes out the window’ when it comes to derby games, but Newcastle must be favorites going into this one.
If the passion of the English game could be encapsulated in one fixture, then this would probably be it.
Chelsea vs Manchester City – Sunday 27th October, Noon, NBCSN
These two sides were the most popular picks for the Premier League title before the campaign kicked off, and they will go head-to-head on Sunday afternoon. Encouraging for the viewers, after stuttering starts for both sides, they both seem to be coming into form ahead of this one (editor’s note: NBC has also decided to introduce Tim Howard as a co-commentator for this match).
City will be in great spirits after two consecutive away wins against West Ham United and CSKA Moscow. Sergio Aguero is in red-hot form having bagged six goals in his last three games, whilst David Silva is also starting to get back to his mesmeric best.
The biggest test of how far the Citizens have come under Pellegrini will undoubtedly come at Stamford Bridge on Sunday. Winning three tough away games in seven days will give City a real boost after their early struggles on the road and should set them up for a prosperous run of form.
Chelsea will make it tough for them, no doubt. And with an apparently rejuvenated Fernando Torres within their ranks, it looks like their striking woes might be solved. Oscar is a player to look out for here. He has been sensational this season, and it will be interesting to see how he stands up to the physicality of City’s Fernandinho and Yaya Toure.
A huge game is in store and it could have major connotations for the Premier League title race.
FC Porto vs Sporting Lisbon – Sunday 27th October, 3:45pm, Online streaming
The top two in Liga Sagres will square off at the Estadio Dragao on Sunday evening. It’s a fixture that Sporting have struggled with down the years, having failed to beat Porto in any of the last six meetings between the sides.
But they should be confident going into this one having won five and drawn two of their opening seven games. Their Columbian striker Freddy Montero has been banging in the goals so far this season having netted nine times in seven appearances.
He will have to be at his best if Sporting Lisbon are to win at Porto, though. Paolo Fonsenca’s side are also unbeaten and they have won six of their opening seven games. They sit atop Liga Sagres, and a win here would send them five points clear.