Weekend Boxset: Cracking the code



A full fixture list across all of Europe's major leagues - there's plenty to get your teeth into this weekend.

Seven great matches to take you from Friday to Sunday. It's the Sound of Football Weekend Boxset.

All times are BST

Friday

Bundesliga: Bayern Munich v Schalke
19.30 on BT Sport 1
The Bundesliga's showpiece opening fixture is likely to be a bit of an exhibition, to be honest. So anxious are Bayern to crack on with their defence of their title, they insisted on playing this game on the Friday when the League had preferred to schedule the Dortmund v 'Gladbach game. Hansi Flick has new signing Leroy Sane to boost the flanks but will miss the Liverpool bound Thiago Alcantara in the midfield. Nevertheless, the Champions are well stocked and are heavy favourites to make it 9 (nine) consecutive championships. By contrast, Schalke are in crisis. The financial stricken club don’t have a Ruhrpott to piss in and have had to let a number of players go, including, top US prospect Weston McKennie to Juventus. Vedad Ibisevic, the 36-year-old veteran striker joins from Hertha. The Bosnian international should be worth a few goals and will lift what could be a downbeat dressing room. However, no one is under any illusions as to the scale of the task for David Wagner this season. It would be an enormous shock were the Gelsenkirchen club to get so much as a point against the Bavarians. TD

Saturday

Championship: Nottingham Forest v Cardiff City
12.30 on Sky Sports Footbal
Such are the fine margins of the Championship that even after 46 games you can miss out on the play-offs by just one goal's difference. Forest had a terrible restart but have spent the summer rebuilding following the departure of key players like Matty Cash to Aston Villa and Ben Watson to semi-retirement. Jack Colback comes in from Newcastle on loan but the stand out signing is of defender Loic Mbe Soh from PSG. The 19 year old has made just three appearances for the Paris club but turned down a four year contract to stay there. Cardiff have been more reserved in their dealings - so far at least, there's a month to go before the transfer window closes. They too have a promising young defender coming in: Jordi Osei-Tutu joins on a season long loan from Arsenal having spent last season in the German second tier with Bochum, where he scored five goals in his 21 appearances. Both sides lost their openers 2-0, another defeat here could see the panic set in to raid the market again. GS

Bundesliga: Borussia Dortmund v Borussia Monchengladbach
17.30 on BT Sport 1 & Ultimate 1
If I'm right about Bayern then the real value in the Bundesliga is in games like these between teams likely to finish in the top four. German football is brimming with talented players and creative coaches like Dortmund's Lucien Favre and 'Gladbach's Marco Rose. It's a shame, for them, that the best they can realistically aim for is second spot. There is plenty of English interest in this fixture. Jadon Sancho has not left for Manchester United and no one in Germany thinks he will. Jude Bellingham, the 17-year-old box-to-box midfielder signed from Birmingham City became the club's youngest ever goal scorer on his debut last Monday in the Cup against Duisburg. Gladbach have had a quiet summer, perhaps too quiet. However, with such an attacking array as Lars Stindl, Marcus Thuram, Alasanne Pléa and Patrick Herrmann plus with Leipzig and Leverkusen losing key players in Werner and Havartz respectively, the Rheinland club are tipped to finish in the top four. With so many possibilities for goals between these two teams, this is the game to watch in this timeslot. However, I will also be keeping my eye on Manchester United v Crystal Palace on Sky Sports Premier League. TD

Ligue 1: Rennes v Monaco
20.00 on BT Sport 1
After a bumpy start, things are settling down in Ligue 1 with everyone now having played three games. Still unbeaten, these sides sit second and third in the early table, under St Etienne - the only side with a 100% record. Chelsea transfer target Edouard Mendy has still to complete his move but hasn't featured in goal for Rennes since the first game of the season. Rennes finished third in the shortened season, qualifying for the Champions League for the first time; doing the same this around will be a tough job with sides like Lyon and Monaco not having the distraction of any European competition. Monaco's biggest dip into the transfer market has been 28 year old German international Kevin Volland from Bayer Leverkusen for €15 million. That seems good business for a striker who is by no means spectacular but can be counted on for at least a dozen goals in a season. He will probably do even better in Ligue 1. GS

Sunday

Serie A: Parma v Napoli
11.30 on Premier Sports 1
Having gone bust in 2015 and climbed their way back to Serie A from the fourth tier of Italian football, one would think that Parma would be more than happy with their 11th place at the end of last season, their second in the top flight since rebirth, but they sacked head coach Roberto D'Aversa who had taken them through two of their promotions on their climb back. You might think they did that to get a higher profile manager in but no, his replacement is Fabio Liverani who has just been relieved of his job at Lecce having relegated them. He also has a spell as Leyton Orient manager - got them relegated too. Napoli are looking to improve on their seventh place finish and have taken a €80 million punt on 21 year old striker Victor Osimehn. The Nigerian had a stunning break-through season with Lille, scoring 18 in all competitions, including a goal against Chelsea in the group stage of the Champions League. He certainly has the potential but only time will tell if he's worth what is, at the moment at least, the highest transfer fee of this summer. GS

Premier League: Chelsea v Liverpool
16.30 on Sky Sports Premier League & Main Event
Frank Lampard seems to delight in picking up feuds - he to finds them everywhere. When these sides came to together for the penultimate game of last season, Lamps completely lost it with individuals on the Liverpool bench, who he accussed of "smirking" and "smiling" while their team ran home to a 5-3 victory. To the poker-faced Chelsea legend this broke "the code" - an accusation that certainly wasn't meant to distract from the fact that his side had been beaten by the already crowned Champions who had failed to beat Arsenal and Burnley in their previous games. Klopp, no stranger himself to touchline bust-ups, took it all in his stride, reminding the younger coach that this sort of stuff happens all the time and ends when the final whistle blows. The cameras will be no doubt be trained on the dugouts, looking out for any casual smirkers. GS

La Liga: Real Sociedad v Real Madrid
20.00 on LaLigaTV
Real Madrid were one of six clubs that missed the opening week of the season after being given extra time to prepare following the UEFA competition manoeuvres in August. Any disadvantage caused by ring rustiness will be partly mitigated by the fact that they have a player returning after a season long loan from Sociedad who can dish the dirt on the team. Martin Ødegaard, played 31 games last season at San Sebastian. The 21-year-old Norwegian, who joined Madrid as a 16 year old, is said have impressed coach Zinedine Zidane with his attitude and performance in pre-season training so he may get a run out against his former club. Sociedad, who finished sixth last season have replaced Ødegaard by snatching David Silva from under the noses of Lazio. Unfortunately, the former Manchester City legend tested positive for COVID-19 which wiped out his pre-season. However, the club confirm that he's out of quarantine and may play a part in this game. TD


Whatever you watch, have a great weekend.

Terry and Graham

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