There’s no denying it – this World Cup has been a bit of a belter. It’s definitely one for unsung heroes with Italy and the Netherlands not even making it to the finals and Germany, Argentina, Spain and Portugal all exiting before the quarter final stage. Cracking game has followed cracking game – it’s been a veritable feast of football the likes of which has not been seen since perhaps the 1990 finals tournament in Italy.
However, come July 16 and it will be all over. There are literally … days … before the football season starts the world over, and in some cases football is already up and running. Here are a few ideas of what you can watch when the World Cup is done and dusted.
The English Premier League
Billed as the biggest league in the world, the EPL kicks-off in 2018 on August 11. Match of the day will undoubtedly be Arsenal’s first game without Arsene Wenger in charge since 1996, when they welcome champions Manchester City to the Emirates. Manchester United take on Leicester City, Chelsea are at Huddersfield and Tottenham face Newcastle at St James Park. Keep an eye on the successful tipping site FootballTips for match previews ahead of all the fixtures next season.
Of the new boys, Fulham are at home to Crystal Palace, Wolves are at home to Everton while Cardiff City visit Bournemouth at Dean Court. Will the 2018/19 EPL season be a little more competitive than the Man City-dominated campaign of last term? It’s sure to be another thrill-ride, no matter what happens.
The Football League
You barely have time to breath post-World Cup before Football League games begin again, as the opening games come only three weeks after football’s greatest tournament concludes. All three divisions will enjoy an early summer start, with the Championship opening up on the Friday when Reading take on Derby at the Madejksi Stadium.
In League One free-falling Sunderland have an early kick-off at the Stadium of Light against Charlton, while in League Two new boys ‘old boys’ Macclesfield Town are at Swindon and Tranmere Rovers face a trip to Stevenage.
South American Football
If you really can’t wait until early August to get your football fix, then you’ll be pleased to hear you can enjoy a little samba action as all the main leagues in South America are already in full swing, although the premier divisions of most of them have taken a break during the World Cup Finals.
Brazilian league football is a little unusual as most teams compete in two leagues – national championships and state championships. The main national championship, known as Serie A, is currently being lead by Flamengo, with Atletico Mineiro, Sao Paulo and Internacional the main three sides giving chase. The season took a break on June 13/14 and will recommence July 18/19.
In Argentina the Primera Division will not begin until August 10. This league is one of the most bizarrely-run in the world, as it consists of no less than twenty-six teams and relegation is decided upon by records spread over the last three seasons.
Unlike most European leagues, the majority of leagues in Scandinavian countries do not follow the traditional August to May pattern.
In Sweden the top flight – known as the Allsvenskan – has been in operation since April, and recommenced in early July despite the fact that the Swedish national side were still competing in the World Cup. Talk of the 2018 season so far has been the performance of the country’s top side – Malmo. The habitual title-winners have suffered an appalling first third of the season and currently sit below halfway in the table. Their championship-winning coach Magnus Pehrsson has been sacked and replaced by former Manchester City player and Leeds United manager Uwe Rosler.
The Eliteserien is the leading league in Norway, and games commenced in March. The season is running interrupted as Norway did not qualify for the 2018 World Cup finals tournament. Brann are currently topping the table, with Rosenborg and Ranheim giving chase.
Football in Finland follows an April to October pattern with no break, while the Superliga in Demark does not start until the middle of July.
Major League Soccer
While attendances in the US at baseball games are falling, the number of people taking an interest in ‘soccer’ is continually on the rise. This begs the question – have the US sports-loving population finally seen what the rest of the world has known for over a century?
The regular season for MLS began in March, and will continue until the MLS Cup in December. The main source of interest for the 2018 season so far has been the continual rise of Atlanta United, a team that did not even exist until 2014. Currently topping both the Eastern Conference and consolidated standings, Atlanta has average crowds of over 50,000, which is 20,000 per game more than the long-established baseball franchise, the Braves.
Of interest to UK football fans will be the new career of former England hero Wayne Rooney who, at the age of thirty-two, has quit the EPL after one season of return at Everton for DC United. Rooney will start his USA career one week before the end of the World Cup but has his work cut out, with DC United currently rooted to the bottom of the Eastern Conference.
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