Five Must-See Football Matches 11/8-12/8
Club football is back big time this weekend with all sorts of action with the annual season precursors for England, Italy and Germany as well as the return of leagues in the Netherlands, France and Scotland too.
The Community Shield is fast upon us with Sunday’s clash involving the Blues and the Sky Blues at Wembley. Chelsea have bolstered in a big way this off-season with the recruitment of Eden Hazard, Marko Marin and Oscar, while City boss Roberto Mancini has been left frustrated at his side’s lack of spending. In fact, Mancini ruled his side out of the chase for Robin van Persie, while Edin Dzeko has been linked with a move away. The Sky Blues still possess a very strong squad, but whether they’re at last season’s level we’ll get a glimpse of on Sunday. Chelsea’s progress will be keenly observed too under now full-time boss Roberto Di Matteo.
Firstly on Saturday in China there’s the Super Coppa between Serie A champions Juventus and Coppa Italia winners Napoli. It’s been a big week for the Old Lady with manager Antonio Conte’s 10-month ban for his involvement in match-fixing providing a subtext which may grow as the season goes on. Napoli have retained Edinson Cavani but been dealt an off-season blow with Ezequiel Lavezzi’s exit to PSG.
The Edinburgh derby takes place on the second weekend of the new SPL season, with Hibs playing host to Hearts at Easter Road. Hearts’ 5-1 Scottish Cup final win last term is fresh in the memory for most Hibs’ fans and some sort of vengeance will be sought here. Hearts started the season with a solid 2-0 win over St Johnstone, while Hibs were beaten 3-0 by Dundee United. It’s worth remembering, Rangers are no longer an SPL side, so these kind of sides can battle for the crown and Uefa Champions League football.
The Dutch top flight gets underway this weekend with a superb match-up on Sunday providing the genuine highlight as Amsterdam giants Ajax play host to the upstarts AZ Alkmaar. Ajax, reigning Dutch champions, will hope to get off to a bright start but against AZ, who finished fourth last term, it won’t be easy. Ajax have lost Jan Vertonghen to Tottenham, along with striker Mounir El Hamdaoui but added Lasse Schone, while AZ’s star attacker Brett Holman is now at Aston Villa.
The German champions take on last season’s three-time runners-up in the Bundesliga precursor at the Allianz Arena on Sunday evening. Dortmund have been weakened this off-season by the loss of Shinji Kagawa to Manchester United but bolstered with the arrival of talented young German international Marco Reus. Bayern, meanwhile, appear to determined to win trophies this term after last season’s near misses. Xherdan Shaqiri and Mario Mandzukic are their big new arrivals.
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