A holiday weekend and a full slate of matches from the top leagues in Europe; life doesn’t get much better for soccer supporters. Get out your remote, set your DVR and prepare yourself for this exciting array of contests:
Scudetto-holders Juventus make their home debut in this Serie A campaign and face a Lazio side eager for payback after losing 4-0 to the Old Lady in the Supercoppa earlier this month. Carlos Tevez, the club’s new No. 10, will lead the lines for Juventus, while Miroslav Klose and company will look to spoil the home party.
David Moyes survived his first major test as Manchester United boss with a 0-0 draw against Chelsea on Monday at Stamford Bridge. Now he returns to Liverpool, where he managed Everton for 11 years before moving this summer to manager the champions, and gets his first taste of the intense Reds v Red Devils rivalry.
Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers will look to build on his team’s perfect start—six points from two matches—and will hope to see Daniel Sturridge get more support in the attack. The English striker has scored one goal in each of the club’s first two contests, and Belgian goalkeeper Simon Mignolet is yet to concede a score since moving in the summer from Sunderland.
The North London derby is always one of the season’s most hotly contested matches, and this one takes on even more importance after the Gunners pipped Tottenham to fourth place last season and secured UEFA Champions League qualification. Since then, Tottenham, bracing for the lose of Gareth Bale, have splashed cash on a host of players, setting a club record transfer fee three times this summer with Paulinho, Roberto Soldado and, today, Erik Lamela. Arsenal, meanwhile, have added only Yaya Sanogo and Mathieu Flamini on free deals. This one has plenty of intrigue, for sure.
Neymar and Lionel Messi made the starting XI together for the first time in the midweek and lifted a trophy. What will they do for an encore? Valencia have replaced Soldado with Dorlan Pabon and Helder Postiga and aim to spring an upset that could set them on their way to Champions League qualification this term having narrowly missed out last season.
Marseille finished second to Paris Saint-Germain last season and will seek to show new boys AS Monaco that for all its summer spending, climbing the Ligue 1 ladder isn’t as easy as they might think. This is the first big test for AS Monaco’s stable of expensive players with prestigious pedigrees: Rademel Falcao, Joao Moutinho and James Rodriguez. Marseille’s on-form striker Andre-Pierre Gignac and his mates will look to show you can’t buy team chemistry.
Also keep your eye on …
Off the field, the summer transfer window shuts Monday. Arsenal and Manchester United are yet to act. Will Gareth Bale finally make his move to Real Madrid? Will there be a ripple effect? Are Wayne Rooney and Luis Suarez really going to stay put? Watch this space.