La Liga and Serie A are the two latest European leagues to get underway this week and we’ve picked one match from each division as part of our quintet of must-see matches.
In addition, Sunday sees what looks set to be a tantalizing clash between two of the most high profile sides in Major League Soccer. And, of course, there are pair of superb matches to savour from the Premier League too.
All kick offs are in Eastern Time. Enjoy your weekend and enjoy the games!
Hellas Verona vs. Roma
Saturday August 22, Noon, beIN SPORTS and fuboTV
In what’s our only Saturday offering, the first game of the Serie A season looks as though it’s going to be a belter, with Verona hosting Roma at the Stadio Marcantonio Bentegodi.
The hosts will be hoping to build on a solid 2014-15, in which they finished in 11th position. The Gialloblu have a host of talented players and are still spearheaded by the evergreen Luca Toni, who scored more goals than anyone in the Italian top flight last season. At home they can be a tough side to beat as well, meaning it’ll be a testing start for the men from the capital.
Rudi Garcia’s team will head to Verona bolstered and emboldened, though. They’ve brought in Antonio Rudiger, Mohamed Salah and Edin Dzeko this summer already and the Giallorossi will be hoping these new players will enable them to close ground on a much changed Juventus squad at the summit.
Getting off to a winning start will be vital to their chances and the Roma side will be desperate to see early signs that this new-look side has clicked. But going away from home on the first day is never easy.
Everton vs. Manchester City
Manchester City have been the standout team in the Premier League so far this season, but they’ll get another thorough test of their title credentials this weekend when they head to Goodison Park to face Everton.
City swaggered to an impressive 3-0 win over champions last time out and after completing the signing of Nicolas Otamendi from Valencia earlier in the week, they’ll be bouncing to Merseyside with massive confidence. With players like David Silva, Raheem Sterling and Sergio Aguero all in exceptional form, they have every right to be.
They’ll need to be careful against a Toffees team that showed signs of life against Southampton last time out. Everton romped to an impressive 3-0 win over Saints in Week 2, with Ross Barkley and Romelu Lukaku enlivened at the point of the attack. If City do come forward, they should have room to run into.
Goodison is a stadium at which City usually struggle and after the win against Saints it’ll be a cauldron of fervent fandom. So if Manuel Pellegrini’s men can make it three wins from three with a victory here, they’ll have definitely deserved it.
Athletic Club vs. Barcelona
Sunday August 23, 12:30PM, beIN SPORTS, beIN SPORTS Español & fuboTV
Barcelona return to the scene of the crime in many respects, as they gear up to face Athletic Club for the third time in nine days in their first match of the La Liga season.
The Blaugrana have failed to beat the Basque outfit in either of the two previous clashes, as Ernesto Valverde led his side to a Super Cup win. The first leg saw Barcelona capitulate at the San Mames, losing 4-0 to Athletic; a 1-1 draw at the Nou Camp, capped off with a Gerard Pique red card, will have done little to quell fears this team is undercooked going into the season.
Without Pique, Aritz Aduriz will be rubbing his hands together gleefully. The veteran forward terrorized Barca in the previous two games with his aerial ability and without their talismanic centre-back marshaling him, it’s tough to see how the Catalans will contain him. The Bilbao players will also be extremely confident after the manner in which they dispatched Barcelona previously.
So it’s a really tough challenge for the Blaugrana as they get the defense of their league title underway. The defense is creaking, the midfield imbalanced and the front three is missing Neymar, one if its key components. They’ll be desperate to show the resolve of champions with a determined performance and a vital win.
LA Galaxy vs. New York City
In season’s to come, matches between Los Angeles Galaxy and New York City will most likely be the most illustrious in Major League Soccer. This weekend’s clash is a taster of what could lie ahead.
Galaxy seem to be settling into a rhythm as the season starts to move towards the business end. Bruce Arena’s side have won their previous three games in succession, including a hard earned 2-1 win away at FC Dallas last time out. Back in front of their own supporters they’ll be hopeful of cementing their status as the top side in the Western Conference.
New York are the visitors and they’re a team that seem to be on the cusp of something special, but not quite there yet. A 2-2 draw away at Columbus Crew showcased the beginnings of a real top quality side, but with new signings still finding their feet, the cohesion isn’t quite there and they’ll be vulnerable against LA Galaxy’s attacking talent.
It could well come down to a straight shootout between two of the league’s finest goalscorers too. David Villa has been in red hot form, banging in 14 goals so far this season for NYCFC, while Robbie Keane has notched six goals in his previous three games. Needless to say, goals should be a given.
Arsenal vs. Liverpool
Monday August 24, 3:00PM, NBCSN and NBC Sports Live Extra
Liverpool will be hoping their renewed solidity will continue when they head to the Emirates Stadium on Monday, as they start a tough run of away matches with a trip to Arsenal.
The Reds have had to grind out 1-0 wins in each of their previous two Premier League games, but for a team that was so ropey at the back at times last season, the organization showcased is a massive positivity. Especially as they get set to tackle a team who hammered them 4-1 in this fixture last season.
Arsenal are still chasing their first home win of the campaign after their opening day debacle against West Ham United. But there were certainly more promising signs in the win at Crystal Palace and three points against a team like Liverpool would certainly send out a message that this team is ready, as many anticipated, to challenge for the title.
The 4-1 loss will be fresh in the mind of a lot of Liverpool players and you suspect Brendan Rodgers will set his team up a little more conservatively this time round. But hopefully that doesn’t take the shine off what should be a match filled with thrilling attacking football.
Follow Matt on Twitter @MattJFootball
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