Top 5 must-see soccer games: Aug. 23, 2018

So then, as of this weekend all five of European football’s biggest domestic competitions will be back on the agendas of supporters across the globe. And that means our Top 5 feature is back.

Hello again! Good summer? Decent World Cup wasn’t it? Anyway, let’s get into it.

It’s Round 1 of the Bundesliga and there are a couple of excellent fixtures to get stuck into, while Serie A also serves of a brace of brilliant contests. The weekend closes with an all Premier League encounter between two of the division’s heavyweight outfits.

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

 

Bayern Munich vs. Hoffenheim

Friday, August 24, 2:30 p.m. ET, FS1, fuboTV, Sling Blue and PlayStation Vue (free trial)

After a summer to get himself acquainted with the rigours of being the Bayern Munich manager, the serious work starts here for new boss Nico Kovac against a talented Hoffenheim team.

Taking over from Jupp Heynckes will be a challenge for Kovac, while the expectations that were on him at Frankfurt will be lifted significantly at the Allianz Arena. With an ageing squad and some exciting young players, the onus on him throughout the course of the campaign will most likely be refreshing this group, as well as challenging for trophies of course.

In the short-term a showdown with Hoffenheim is one of the toughest matches the Munich outfit could face. And while it feels like the start of a new era at Bayern, we’re nearing the end of one at Hoffenheim, with manager Julian Nagelsmann to leave the club for RB Leipzig at the end of the 2018-19 campaign.

Having qualified for the Champions League in their last two campaigns, Hoffenheim can no longer be considered massive underdogs in the majority of Bundesliga matches. However, even with the major changes that have gone on at Bayern this summer, the men from Munich should have enough.

 

Juventus vs. Lazio

Saturday, August 25, 12 p.m. ET, ESPN2, ESPN Deportes, Sling Orange and PlayStation Vue (free trial)

Having toiled through their opening game to beat Chievo 3-2, Juventus will need to lift their levels when Lazio come to town on Saturday evening.

Perhaps the focus on Cristiano Ronaldo in the buildup to the game last week was a distraction for the Italian champions, as they found themselves 2-1 down with 15 minutes left in the game. In the end, an own goal and a stoppage-time winner from Federico Bernardeschi ensured the Bianconeri got 2018-19 underway in style.

This weekend will be the first time the Juventus faithful will get a glimpse of Ronaldo in their club colours and the Allianz Stadium will no doubt be dotted with the Portuguese’s iconic No. 7 jersey. It’s in these encounters against potential rivals at the top of the table when the Juve fans, staff and team-mates will be expecting the legendary goalscorer to shine.

Lazio got off to a losing start at home to Napoli last week and this trip to Turin continues their brutal start to the season. However, they won at Juventus last season with two goals from Ciro Immobile; the Italy international has already opened his account for the campaign too.

 

Napoli vs. AC Milan

Saturday, August 25, 2:30 p.m. ET, ESPN+

This showdown is a case of big names going up against former employers, as Carlo Ancelotti’s Napoli face an AC Milan side with Pepe Reina and Gonzalo Higuain set to line up at either end.

As noted earlier, despite the loss of some key men in the summer, Napoli got their season off to a fine start at Lazio, coming from behind to earn a massive three points. It was a reminder that they still have the potential to be a force this season; the determination they showcased throughout the previous term in pursuit of the Scudetto was on display here again.

Milan have yet to play a competitive game this season, as their scheduled opener against Genoa was postponed following the collapse of a bridge. It means Higuain, on loan from Juventus, will face a hostile reception from supporters on his first appearance for the Rossoneri; he’s never been forgiven for leaving the Partenopei for Juve in 2016.

The San Paolo is always an atmospheric venue, but the numerous storylines running through this fixture should add more spice to the occasion. With that in mind, this has the potential to be an early-season corker in the Italian top flight.

 

RB Leipzig vs. Borussia Dortmund

Sunday, August 26, 12 p.m ET, FOX, Univision Deportes, fuboTV, Sling Blue and PlayStation Vue (free trial)

Both Leipzig and Dortmund will be hopeful of putting together a more substantial title challenge this season in Germany and can start their respective campaigns in style here.

Leipzig are in a curious position coming in to 2018-19. Not only have they had a change of manager ahead of Nagelsmann’s appointment at the end of the campaign, they’ve also lost Naby Keita, who has been the driving force of the team during their two seasons in the Bundesliga. Replacing him will be a massive challenge.

Dortmund also start life under a new boss in the form of Lucien Favre. The signings made by the new boss have been geared towards making this a tougher team to beat, with the likes of Abdou Diallo, Thomas Delaney and Axel Witsel likely to stiffen up the core of the team; from there there’ll be a hope the likes of Christian Pulisic and Marco Reus can provide the attacking stardust.

Tactically this will be a fascinating watch, as Favre’s teams in the past have been renowned for their versatility. Even without Keita, you sense Leipzig will play the same high-intensity, high-pressure football that has served them so well in recent years.

 

Manchester United vs. Tottenham

Monday, August 27, 3 p.m. ET, NBCSN, Telemundo, fuboTV, Sling Blue and PlayStation Vue (free trial)

We’re just a couple of weeks into the Premier League season and already the pressure is on Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho ahead of this meeting with Tottenham Hotspur.

The defeat to Brighton a week ago was the last thing Mourinho needed. After his poor demeanour, jibes in the press and frustrating transfer window, some positivity was vital at Old Trafford in the early weeks of the campaign; at the moment Mourinho’s reputation for faltering in the third year appears to be coming to light.

While a response will be expected of United in front of their own supporters under the lights on Monday, Tottenham have the look of a side in a strong place at the start of the campaign. Mauricio Pochettino’s side have netted five times already in their opening two games and after their 3-1 win over Chelsea late last season, know they can go to the biggest grounds in the country and win.

Spurs will also be aware that United are a serious rival for Champions League spots this season and if they can plunge them into the mire at the beginning of this season, then it’d give the London outfit a massive edge over Mourinho’ side.

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3 Comments

  1. CTBlues August 24, 2018
    • MDFootball August 24, 2018
  2. Michal August 24, 2018

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