Top 5 must-see soccer games: Feb. 19, 2016

fa-cup

Although the Premier League has been a fine watch this season, the FA Cup always provides soccer fans in with England an exciting change of pace.

The weekend provides two kind of clashes which make the competition so special too. The first is a tussle between two of the Premier League’s established elite sides, each seeking to salvage something from a disappointing season. Additionally, there’s a class cup affair, with a third tier side welcoming one of the most successful sides in the FA Cup’s history.

Elsewhere, there are fascinating matches to savor in Spain, Germany and Italy, with the title still up for grabs in each.

All kick-offs are in Eastern time. Enjoy your weekend and enjoy the games.

 

Las Palmas vs. Barcelona

Saturday, February 20, 10:00AM, beIN SPORTS, beIN SPORTS Español, fuboTV and KlowdTV

las-palmas-barcelona

Barcelona will be confident of extending their league atop La Liga when they head to Las Palmas this weekend, although they’ll be facing a team who are battling for their lives to stay afloat in the top flight.

No team in European soccer at the moment fulfills the must-watch criteria quite like Barcelona at the moment. Their 3-1 win over Sporting Gijon in midweek saw the coveted front three of Neymar, Luis Suarez and Lionel Messi thrive once again, making it nine goals in the space of four days after their sensational 6-1 demolition of Celta Vigo last weekend.

Granted, there’s a chasm in quality between the squads of Barcelona and Las Palmas, but this weekend’s hosts have plenty to play for. They aren’t in the best form, having lost four of their last five, sagging back into the relegation zone, but have little to lose when the Blaugrana come to town and will undoubtedly raise their levels in the face of such illustrious opposition.

If they can lift their game, then this will be a testing afternoon for the European champions. But even if Barcelona turn up, turn on the style and notch a landslide victory, it’ll be a brilliant 90 minutes viewing.

 

Bayer Leverkusen vs. Borussia Dortmund

Sunday, February 21, 9:30AM, FOX Soccer Plus and FOX Soccer 2GO

bayer leverkusen borussia dortmund

Borussia Dortmund have been doing their utmost to keep their slender title chances alive with some positive recent form and will be tested significantly by Bayer Leverkusen on Sunday.

Having started the season slowly, Leverkusen have steadily started to turn things around, inspired by the goalscoring of Javier Hernandez. In the Bundesliga, Roger Schmidt’s team have won four and drawn two—one of which came against a rampant Bayern Munich—of their last six, pushing up into third place. However, there are plenty of teams on their tale.

Dortmund look secure in second and while Bayern have been majestic this season, Thomas Tuchel won’t have completely given up hope of winning the title quite yet. Granted, they trail Bayern by eight points, but still have to welcome the leaders to the Westfalenstadion; he’ll be acutely aware his players need to be perfect to keep the pressure on, though.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is likely to return for this one for BVB, meaning there will be goals aplenty on the field with Chicharito at the point of the Bayer attack. Expect an absorbing, intense and open game at the BayArena.

 

Chelsea vs. Manchester City

Sunday, February 21, 11:00AM, FOX Sports 2 and FOX Soccer 2GO

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Although both of these teams usually have grander priorities, Chelsea and Manchester City will see this competition as a chance to gloss over what have been disappointing seasons.

For City boss Manuel Pellegrini, a cup win looks the most likely chance he has of ending his tenure on a high. They’re off the pace in the Premier League, but in the final of the League Cup, as well as the latter stages of the Champions League and the FA Cup too. With a crucial clash with Dynamo Kiev in the week, it’ll be intriguing to see what side he chooses here.

Chelsea boss Guus Hiddink has happy memories of the FA Cup, having won the trophy in 2009 in his previous stint as Blues boss. His team may have lost to Paris-Saint Germain in the Champions League on Tuesday, but there were encouraging signs and on the domestic stage, Chelsea have yet to lose a game with the Dutchman in the dugout.

Both sides will be unhappy with how 2015-16 has gone so far and a run in this competition could spare their blushes come the end of the season. Subsequently, expect two strong line-ups and an attacking clash, with neither side likely to fancy a replay.

 

Shrewsbury Town vs. Manchester United

Monday, February 22, 2:45PM, FOX Sports 1, FOX Deportes and FOX Soccer 2GO

shrewsbury-man-united

Shrewsbury Town will be hoping to fulfil the role of the weekend’s giant killers, as they welcome Manchester United to New Meadow for what should be a fascinating affair.

The Red Devils certainly have an aura of vulnerability about them coming into this one. Not only did they lose in the Europa League to Midtjylland on Thursday, but manager Louis van Gaal has a squad which has been ravaged with injuries, devoid of confidence and a little jaded by the amount of fixtures the team has had to play as of late.

It means despite their lowly position of 18th in League One, Shrewsbury will fancy their chances. Not only is the pressure off the third-tier outfit, they’ll be backed by a raucous home support and most unusually for a team in the lower reaches of the football pyramid, they’ve had a nine-day rest in the build-up to this one. That’s something which could be key against a weary Red Devils XI.

There’s big pressure on Van Gaal ahead of this one. With the club’s Europa League chances in doubt and a top four finish looking unlikely, United can’t afford to fall out of the running in another competition. Indeed, to go out against humble opposition like Shrewsbury may well be the final straw for the Dutchman.

 

Napoli vs. Milan

Monday, February 22, 3:00PM, beIN SPORTS, beIN SPORTS Español, fuboTV and KlowdTV

napoli-milan

All eyes will be on Napoli on Monday evening, as the soccer stratosphere looks at how they bounce back from last weekend’s heartbreaking loss to Juventus when they welcome Milan to the San Paolo.

Simone Zaza finally broke Napoli’s determined resistance at the Juventus Stadium last weekend, with the Bianconeri leapfrogging the long-term league leaders in the title race. It was a performance which included plenty of positives from Maurizio Sarri’s players, but to lose the game so late on will be a significant blow.

Milan will be tough opposition to conquer too. Recently the Rossoneri seem to have found some overdue consistency under Sinisa Mihajlovic, avoiding defeat in their last nine Serie A matches and playing with a defensive resolve which has long been absent at the San Siro. However, they were thumped 4-0 by Napoli in the reverse fixture earlier in the campaign.

Having been frontrunners for such a sustained spell, it’s going to be intriguing to see just how Napoli handle chasing. Juventus have the chance to move four points clear on Friday when they face Bologna; responding to a Bianconeri win with a victory of their own in this one would be a significant show of mental strength from the Partenopei.

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6 Comments

  1. Lawrence Dockery February 19, 2016
  2. Christian February 19, 2016
    • RJ February 19, 2016
      • Awful Awful Knight February 20, 2016
    • Bow Down to the Guus February 19, 2016
      • Morocco Mole February 20, 2016

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