Although it doesn’t really feel as though football has fully stopped during the summer, this weekend marks the return of all five of the European game’s top divisions.
The Bundesliga and Serie A are back in full this weekend, while we’ll also get a full schedule of fixtures in the Premier League and La Liga.
As such, it’s no surprise that there are a ton of intriguing games to get stuck into. But here are the best five.
All kick offs are in Eastern time. Enjoy your weekend and enjoy the games!
Borussia Dortmund vs. Borussia Monchengladbach
Saturday, September 19, 12:30 p.m., ESPN+
Although German and European champions Bayern Munich get the 2020-21 Bundesliga season underway on Friday against Schalke, the best clash of the weekend looks set to come from the Westfalenstadion.
As ever when it comes to Borussia Dortmund, there is a huge sense of intrigue surrounding them at the start of the new campaign. Jadon Sancho remains at the club despite incessant speculation regarding his future, while Jude Bellingham appears poised to make a big impact following his arrival from Birmingham City, despite being just 17 years old.
It will also be the team’s first full campaign with Erling Haaland leading the line and the Norway international is surely Dortmund’s best hope for keeping in touch with the Bayern juggernaut this term, having netted 13 Bundesliga goals in 15 appearances since moving to BVB in January.
Monchengladbach supporters will also be looking forward to the campaign, with Champions League football on the agenda at Borussia Park. The visitors will be out to end a disappointing run of results against Dortmund, having lost in the last five meetings between the two sides.
Chelsea vs. Liverpool
Sunday, September 20, 11:30 a.m., Peacock Premium (free trial)
We’re set to get an early read on the seriousness of Chelsea’s title chances on Sunday, when they welcome Premier League holders Liverpool to Stamford Bridge.
While both teams come into this encounter having won their opening game of the campaign, neither were completely convincing in Week 1. The Reds showcased uncharacteristic defensive fragility in a 4-3 win over Leeds, albeit Mohamed Salah was on fire with a hat-trick, whereas Chelsea battled to a 3-1 win over Brighton despite failing to hit their stride.
All eyes will be on Blues forward Timo Werner in this one you sense. The German was long linked with Liverpool before eventually heading to the capital and he’ll no doubt be desperate to show Jurgen Klopp what he missed out on. He looked razor-sharp against Brighton too.
As for Liverpool, they will want to assert their dominance on the division with a win away at one of their most likely challengers. Three points at the Bridge with Thiago Alcantara to add to the squad would represent an encouraging few days for the champions.
Juventus vs. Sampdoria
Sunday, September 20, 2:45 p.m., ESPN+
Sunday will mark the start of a new era at Juventus, with club legend Andrea Pirlo taking charge of the team for the first time.
The former midfielder has no managerial experience at a senior level, but was the shock choice in the summer to replace Maurizio Sarri. The former boss steered Juventus to their ninth title in succession last season, although a below-par performance in the Champions League cost him his position.
So in many respects, Pirlo won’t be judged on his domestic performance, with a Scudetto success almost taken as a given for the Bianconceri. However, it’ll be intriguing to see how he sets up on Sunday following a busy summer in the transfer window, including the arrival of new midfielders Weston McKennie and Arthur.
Sampdoria are not expected to cause too many problems for their opponents admittedly. Claudio Ranieri was only able to steer the Liguria outfit to 15th in the Italian top flight last term.
Real Sociedad vs. Real Madrid
The most intriguing fixture on the La Liga calendar this weekend comes from San Sebastian, when Real Sociedad welcome defending champions Real Madrid.
There’s set to be a lot of focus on two players in particular at the Anoeta. From Madrid’s point of view, Martin Odegaard is back at the club following his loan move to Sociedad last season. Having been one of La Liga’s best performers in 2020-21, it’ll be fascinating to see how the Norwegian performs against his former club.
Fitness permitting, it’ll also be a momentous day for David Silva, as he returns to Spanish football following a glorious spell with Manchester City. Sociedad supporters will be looking to the veteran midfielder to fill some of the creative void that was left by Odegaard’s recall.
The two sides met at the Anoeta in June, as Madrid came out on top 2-1 in one of the most intriguing clashes of the campaign. Even with Odegaard on their side, Los Blancos boss Zinedine Zidane will be well aware that this is a possible banana skin to start the season for his team.
Wolverhampton Wanderers vs. Manchester City
Monday, September 21, 3:15 p.m., Peacock Premium (free trial)
We’ll get a first competitive look at Manchester City in 2020-21 on Monday and they are set to be pushed hard in their opener by Wolves.
After falling a long way behind Liverpool in the Premier League title race last season, there should be a desire among Pep Guardiola and his players to get back on top. And while they’ve lost Silva and Leroy Sane, the acquisitions of Nathan Ake and Ferran Torres should provide depth in crucial areas.
Wolves are a couple of games into their own campaign and it’s been a mixed bag so far. After flying out of the traps in a 2-0 win over Sheffield United, they were beaten 1-0 by second-tier Stoke City at home in the League Cup on Thursday.
In this fixture last term, 10-man City took a 2-0 lead before eventually being pegged back and losing 3-2. This time, anything other than a win for City will surely trigger a few concerns at the start of a new campaign.
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