The 2018-19 season really feels like it’s up an running now.
With European matches and domestic cup competitions bookending this weekend of domestic action, the strains of a campaign will start to take hold for numerous sides, especially those with hopes of challenging on multiple fronts.
This weekend our selection includes two matches from the Premier League, two matches from the Bundesliga and, in arguably the standout contest of the weekend, a possible thriller from France.
All kick-offs are in Eastern time. Enjoy your weekend and enjoy the games!
Hoffenheim vs. Borussia Dortmund
Hoffenheim and Dortmund are expected to be challenging for European places come the end of the season, but they’ve been in very different spells at the start of the campaign.
For Hoffenheim it’s not been an ideal beginning. Having finished last season so well manager Julian Nagelsmann hasn’t been able to carry that momentum into this term, with two losses from their opening three games. They also threw away a two-goal lead in the Champions League at Shakhtar Donetsk on Wednesday.
Dortmund appear to be taking to the ideas of Lucien Favre well, by contrast. They’ve only dropped two points so far from their three outings, with the side showing renewed flair in front of goal. They also picked up a big win in the Champions League in midweek, beating Club Brugge on the road.
Of the two, the rigours of midweek are more likely to effect Hoffenheim and Nagelsmann will hope his players don’t feel the effects of a trip to Ukraine. If they aren’t at full throttle, this Dortmund team have shown enough to suggest they will punish their opponents.
Manchester United vs. Wolves
Saturday, September 22, 10 a.m. ET, NBC Sports Gold
One of the most fascinating showdowns in the Premier League this weekend will come from Old Trafford, where Manchester United seek to tame newly-promoted Wolves.
The visitors have showed in recent weeks why so many were excited about what they can offer in the top flight this term. A week ago they dominated Burnley; while the scoreline was only 1-0, there was a huge chasm between the two sides, with Ruben Neves and Joao Moutinho dominating the midfield tussle.
United will be back at Old Trafford for the first time since their 3-0 loss at home to Tottenham Hotspur, a result that prompted plenty of criticism of the players and manager. Since then they’ve dug in, playing three away games and taking maximum points in each.
The result should be a positive atmosphere at the Theatre of Dreams and hope that this team can continue their winning run and get back among the division’s top sides. Wolves, who have little to lose here, will surely make this an uncomfortable afternoon for Jose Mourinho’s men, though.
Schalke vs. Bayern Munich
Last season Schalke emerged as the second-best team in the Bundesliga behind Bayern Munich. As the two gear up to face each other again, they look a long way off the defending champions as things stand.
Schalke’s campaign hasn’t got going yet, as they’ve slumped to disappointing defeats in all three of their top-flight matches. Manager Domencio Tedesco will be worried that a team that were so cohesive and aggressive last season are totally lacking an edge at this early stage of the season.
Bayern have hit the ground running under Nico Kovac, meanwhile. New players have settled into the setup well, other squad members appear rejuvenated and the early signs are that they will dominate the division once again in 2018-19.
Schalke did get a result against Porto in the Champions League in midweek, drawing 1-1 at home, while Bayern went to Benfica and earned a professional 2-0 win. The home side will be hoping the visit of another massive outfit can trigger their campaign into life.
West Ham United vs. Chelsea
West Ham’s Premier League finally got up and running last week when they beat Everton and now face up to another big challenge in league leaders Chelsea.
After losing their first five matches of the campaign the Hammers needed a big performance at Goodison Park. On the day, some of their key forwards made their mark, as Andriy Yarmolenko was on the scoresheet twice before the excellent Marko Arnautovic sealed the win with the third of the day.
The counter-attacking potency West Ham showed at Everton should be enough to give Chelsea problems at the London Stadium, but the Blues have quickly taken to the principles manager Maurizio Sarri is looking to instil. Few would’ve expected them to have had 15 points from 15 available at this juncture.
They also have Eden Hazard, who has been the standout player in the Premier League to this point, scoring a fine hat-trick in the 4-1 win over Cardiff City last time out. Containing him will be a huge challenge for a West Ham team that’s showcased numerous defensive frailties already this season.
Boca Juniors vs. River Plate
Sunday, September 23, 4:45 p.m. ET, Fanatiz (free trial)
A game that nobody wants to miss. Boca and River, two of the biggest clubs in South America facing each other in the second most watched derby in the world after the Spanish Real Madrid vs Barcelona. Cradle of stars and hotbed of Argentine passion, the Superclasico can be seen outside of Latin America in exclusive via streaming through Fanatiz, a sports streaming platform that broadcasts every game of the Superliga Argentina and the Copa Argentina with their original commentary through a monthly subscription of $9.99. In addition, it has the complete programming of TyC Sports International and the Copa Libertadores and Copa Sudamericana in the United States and Canada.
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