Preview: Los Blancos tipped for a wonderful start
Sunday marks a fresh start for the all-new Real Madrid squad – boosted by the fitness of Cristiano Ronaldo and the signings of Isco among others. Gone are the days of Jose Mourinho. The Portuguese manager left to Chelsea earlier this summer, allowing Los Blancos to free themselves from the turbulence that resulted in a poor finish to the 2012/13 club football season.
Carlo Ancelotti, with the help of Zinedine Zidane, has brought relief in the camp. Thanks to his openness, the players were able to enjoy their summer tour in USA; they delighted fans – signing autographs and putting on great shows to eventually claim the 2013 International Champions Cup.
During the pre-season campaign, Italian boss Ancelotti tried out several options – one of which included playing Cristiano Ronaldo as a number 9. While speculations continue to link Gareth Bale to a late arrival at the Bernabeu, Real Madrid are expected to stick to the formation that helped them defeat Chelsea 3-1 in the ICC final.
Match Preview: Tigers looking to shake things up in the Lion’s den
Jose Mourinho’s return to the English Premier League will see Chelsea play host to newly-promoted Hull City whose owner saw fit to change the club’s name to Hull Tigers. However, it appears that change of name might not help them out in this instance as they are going to lock horns with a Chelsea side that has invested heavily in the summer transfer window.
German international, Andre Scurrle is set to make his Premier League debut against Steve Bruce’s side and it is pretty likely to see a very strong Chelsea team take on the newcomers.
Preview: Russians poised to bounce back
As things stand in Group F, Russia are second with 12 points – one above Israel and two behind current leaders Portugal. However, the Russians have played a couple games less than the Euro 2012 semi-finalists. Grabbing maximum points from their two fixtures in hand would shoot them four points clear above the Portuguese.
Psychologically, Russia are fired up to bounce back from last time’s loss to Portugal. After failing to reach the 2010 FIFA World Cup and suffering a surprise group stage exit at the 2012 European Championship, Fabio Capello and his men have their eyes firmly set on reaching Brazil 2014. On paper, Russia have too much potential to allow themselves to drop further points tonight.
In contrast, Northern Ireland have not managed to win a single match in Group F. Their chances of turning the tables around tonight are slim as they occupy the fifth place in the six-team table. To make things more difficult for the hosts, Palermo’s Lafferty has been ruled out due to an Achilles injury. The Italian-based player is one of many key absentees on both sides.
Supporters of Israel’s national team and Cristiano Ronaldo’s Portugal will be on their toes tonight. They will be hoping for an upset of the Russians by Northern Ireland.
How possible is that?
Where to watch the match – live stream, start time, TV channels
Get your printable guide – EPL Matchday 25
Matchday 25 will begin with QPR’s must-win fixture at home to Norwich City in a lunchtime kick-off on Saturday. Arsenal and Chelsea, who both drew 2-2 on Wednesday, will feature in 10:00am EST games against Stoke City and Newcastle United respectively. Arsene Wenger and Rafael Benitez need to appease anxious fans. Victory would be very much welcomed, though hard to achieve.
In the last match of the day, Manchester United will play at Craven Cottage with the possibility of opening a 10-point gap at the top of the English Premier League table.
Get your printable guide – Spanish La Liga Matchday 22
The month of February begins with three days of league football in Spain and Real Valladolid will open proceedings with a home fixture against UEFA Europa League runners-up Athletic Bilbao. The latter, in 13th position, stunned Atletico Madrid 3-0 last week and could move two places up with victory over Valladolid this weekend.
Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo were overshadowed by the prowess of Cesc Fabregas, Gerard Pique and Raphael Varane in El Clasico on Wednesday. Will the world’s two best players resume their scoring adventure?
Get your printable guide – Spanish Cup first-legs
Just as it was expected to happen, Real Madrid defeated Valencia and Barcelona kicked out Malaga in the Last 8 to set up the first of El Clasico 2013’s fixtures. The two Spanish titans will face off in La Liga in March but for now, everyone’s attention is very much on the business in the Copa del Rey.
Can Jose Mourinho’s outfit, led by goal poacher Cristiano Ronaldo but deprived of injured veteran Iker Casillas, knock out defending Spanish Cup champions Barcelona?
Also vying for a spot in the final of this competition are Atletico Madrid and Sevilla. The two-legged semi-final meeting between these two teams has been outshined by El Clasico. Atletico and Sevilla can profit of this shadow to heat up their plan of upsetting either Barcelona or Real Madrid in the 2013 Copa del Rey final.
Get your printable guide – EPL Matchday 24
The FA Cup Fourth Round produced several Premiership casualties such as Liverpool and Spurs. A few days after an eventful midweek of cup action, the EPL resumes with a handful of fixtures scheduled to take place on Saturday and Sunday evening.
All four matches on January 29 will take place simultaneously. In one of those, Manchester City will be hopeful of defeating Queens Park Rangers to eventually close the five-point gap against league leaders Manchester United.
Get your printable guide – Spanish La Liga Matchday 21
There is basically no contest at the top of the Spanish La Liga table. Barcelona look set to go all the way to win the title while Real Madrid, for the sake of pride, do not want to give up.
This weekend’s fixtures will see Los Blancos engage in a local derby against Getafe while the Catalans will welcome Osasuna at the Camp Nou. In truth, the attention of the public has already diverted to Barca and Madrid’s meeting in the Spanish Cup.
Get your printable guide – English Capital One Cup semis
Stunning things happened in the first leg of the 2012/13 English Capital One Cup semi-final round. Bradford City overpowered Premier League side Aston Villa 3-1. The latter, who upset Arsenal in the previous round, are determined to finish their astonishing campaign with the Football League Cup in their hands.
Like the Villains, Chelsea have a two-goal deficit to overturn. This task against Swansea City is even bigger knowing that the first-leg loss occurred at Stamford Bridge. Who will make it to the final of the Football League Cup at Wembley?
Get your printable guide – Spanish Copa del Rey Last 8
Sevilla held Real Zaragoza to a goalless draw last week. The pressure is on Wednesday’s hosts to claim victory as Zaragoza can qualify with a score draw.
Valencia got rattled 5-0 by a Cristiano Ronaldo and Angel Di Maria inspired Real Madrid in La Liga last Sunday. Los Che, with a 2-0 deficit going into the second leg, will need a miracle to prevail against Los Blancos at the Mestalla Stadium. Also favourites to reach the Spanish Copa del Rey semis are Atletico Madrid. They claimed a straightforward 2-0 win over Real Betis in the first leg.
Get your printable guide – EPL Matchday 23
Anfield and the Etihad will capture a lot of attention on Saturday as Liverpool and Manchester City will be the only giants to play on that day.
Brendan Rodgers’ men must recover from last weekend’s narrow defeat to Manchester United. The Merseyside Reds will hope Norwich City fail to find the back of the net like they did against Newcastle United last weekend.
In midweek, Chelsea did little use of their game in hand as they dropped two points at home to Southampton. Rafael Benitez has a serious issue to deal with and that has to be the Blues’ home record which is gradually deteriorating.
Get your printable guide – La Liga Matchday 20
In between crunch Spanish Copa del Rey action, La Liga returns with its 20th round of fixtures. Real Madrid remain 18 points behind old foes Barcelona but the latter have claimed to remain concentrated until the end.
This weekend, the Blaugrana will be away to Real Sociedad. Atletico Madrid will welcome Levante at the Vicente Calderon and third-placed Real Madrid will feature in their second game of the triple header against Valencia.
Malaga stunned Barcelona in the Copa del Rey in midweek and will play at home to Celta de Vigo on Matchday 20. Real Betis’ hopes are slim in the cup but things are different in La Liga as they seat only three points behind champions Real Madrid. Betis will close this round with an encounter against Athletic Bilbao on Monday.
Get your printable guide – Copa del Rey Last 8 first leg
The Spanish Copa del Rey quarter-final stage gets underway in midweek with Real Madrid opening proceedings on Tuesday. The Spanish giants will host Valencia in the first game of both sides’ triple header.
Real Zaragoza will be looking to make full use of their home advantage as they plot an upset against Sevilla. Barcelona were tested and tried by Malaga over the weekend. The latter went through the process unhurt as they recorded the best ever run in the first half of La Liga with 18 wins and one draw in 19 games.
Get your printable guide – Spanish La Liga Matchday 19
Malaga are potentially dangerous having won half of their matches so far to keep hold of the fourth spot. They downed Real Madrid before the Christmas break and could upset Barcelona as well on Sunday. However, they will be mindful that facing an in-form Blaugrana side is totally different to confronting an under-pressure Madrid outfit.
Speaking about Los Blancos, they have refused to give up on the Spanish Primera Division title. With Cristiano Ronaldo at the head of their attack, they will play in Osasuna’s hostile ground on Saturday.
Get your printable guide – EPL Matchday 22
It is Super Sunday in England as Manchester United vs Liverpool and Arsenal vs Manchester City are scheduled for January 13. These two game have captured the attention of most English Premier League followers ahead of the 22nd round of fixtures.
However, there will be more to the EPL this weekend than just these giant clashes. In 15:00 (10:00am EST) kick-offs, Aston Villa will look to remain above Southampton while Swansea City will try to make of Everton their next victims at Goodison Park. Wigan Athletic, who suffered a 4-0 battering in the hands of Manchester United the last time out, will take on Fulham at Craven Cottage.
Get your printable guide – Spanish Copa del Rey Last 16 second leg
Real Madrid must overturn a 2-1 deficit against Celta de Vigo. A 4-3 result like the one they clinched against Sociedad in La Liga last Sunday would put Los Blancos out of the cup. A 1-0 win or a 2-0 margin victory on Wednesday is what Real Madrid are contemplating.
Barcelona will likely rest all their big guns as they carry a 2-0 advantage going into Thursday’s second leg match against Cordoba. Also on Thursday, Europa League and UEFA Super Cup titleholders Atletico Madrid will aim to finish the business against Getafe.
Get your printable guide – English Capital One Cup semi-finals
Four teams are fighting for the right to succeed Liverpool as Football League Cup champions. The semi-final round takes place in midweek. On Tuesday, English Premier League club Aston Villa will come up against Bradford City hoping to avoid an upset. Chelsea will step onto the stage a day later with a home fixture against Swansea City.
The latter secured a dramatic 2-2 draw against Arsenal in the FA Cup Third Round last weekend. Swansea are dreaming of victory in their rematch away to the Gunners. In the meantime, they must think about their trip to Stamford Bridge where Rafael Benitez is still working hard to seduce Chelsea’s fans.
Get your printable guide – Spanish La Liga Matchday 18
After the winter break, Spanish Primera Division resumes with 10 fixtures split over a four-day period. It all begins this Friday with fifth-placed Real Betis hoping to beat Zaragoza and close in on Malaga.
On Saturday, the latter will be away to rock-bottom side Deportivo La Coruna. In three other centres across the country, Levante, Granada and Sevilla will play hosts to Athletic Bilbao, Valencia and Osasuna.
The top three teams – Barcelona, Atletico Madrid and Real Madrid – only play on January 6 after Celta de Vigo opens the action with a home game against Real Valladolid scheduled for 6:00am EST.
Get your printable guide – EPL Matchday 21
The biggest clubs in England all snatched victory to end 2012 with a boost of confidence. Liverpool dismantled Queens Park Rangers in the very last match of the year on a day when Frank Lampard netted a double to rescue Chelsea away to Everton.
Tottenham Hotspur, who appear as genuine Champions League zone contenders this season again, edged 2-1 past Sunderlnd while Arsenal triumphed in a 7-3 goal fest against Reading.
Get your printable guide – EPL Matchday 20
After a Boxing Day full of goals and thrills in England, the football continues with eight matches on Saturday and two on Sunday. Spurs hit Aston Villa with four goals and will now take on a Sunderland team buzzing with confidence following Wednesday’s huge 1-0 victory over English Premier League champions Manchester City.
Speaking about the Citizens, they must react away to Norwich City as Manchester United could go 10 points clear with a win at home to West Bromwich Albion. The Red Devils are the kings of comebacks this season and their 4-3 triumph over Newcastle United on Boxing Day further emphasized their invincible fighting spirit.