Some of the European leagues, including the English Premier League, are finally underway. This weekend we can also look forward to the start of the Spanish La Liga and the Italian Serie A.
With top-notch soccer once again filling up our weekend schedules and having us get up at ungodly hours, here are a couple of games to keep an extra eye on.
Manchester United – Newcastle United (Premier League Matchday 3):
Manchester United is looking to stay perfect as they host Newcastle United on Saturday. The Red Devils won the two opening games of the Premier League 1-0, despite not playing very well. In the opening game against Tottenham, they were saved by an own goal by Kyle Walker and in the game against Aston Villa, young Belgian international Adnan Januzaj scored the lone goal of the game.
Newcastle recently signed Florian Thauvin from Olympique Marseille, and we’ll have to see if he’s given a chance in the lineup right off the bat. Newcastle drew 2-2 on Opening Day against Southampton. Papiss Demba Cisse and new signing Georginio Wijnaldum scored for the Magpies. Last weekend they fell 2-0 to a strong Swansea side.
Manchester won both meetings between the clubs last season.
TSG Hoffenheim – Bayern Munich (Bundesliga Matchday 2):
Bayern Munich were thoroughly impressive in the 5-0 thrashing of Hamburg SV on Opening Day of the Bundesliga. Bayern held a 1-0 lead at halftime after a goal by Mehdi Benatia, but they absolutely steamrolled HSV in the second half.
Thomas Muller had a phenomenal game and scored a brace. Robert Lewandowski also got on the scoresheet along with new signing Douglas Costa, who had a fantastic first outing for his new team.
Hoffenheim had a tough game against Bayer Leverkusen on Matchday 1, and ultimately fell 2-1. They did get off to a good start as Steven Zuber scored in the fifth minute.
Leverkusen took over more and more as the game went by and when Stefan Keissling scored right before halftime, it felt like there was only one outcome in the game. The goal was Keissling’s 136th Bundesliga goal, and he ranks 18th on the all-time scoring list in Bundesliga history.
Leverkusen kept on pressuring in the second half and Julian Brandt came in off the bench and scored the winning goal in the 71st minute.
Leicester City – Tottenham Hotspur (Premier League Matchday 3):
Leicester was one of the most exciting teams to watch at the end of last season, as they won nine out of the last 11 games to avoid relegation from the Premier League. They picked up right where they left off, starting the season with two straight wins over Sunderland and West Ham.
The 4-2 win over Sunderland was downplayed a bit because of how poor Sunderland are, but West Ham were coming off a 2-0 win over Arsenal. But the Foxes proved that they are for real, as they won over the Hammers 2-1. Riyad Mehrez has been particularly impressive, scoring three goals in two games.
Tottenham is still looking for the first win of the season after falling 1-0 to Manchester United on Opening Day after an own goal by right back Kyle Walker, followed by a 2-2 draw against Stoke City. The Spurs had a 2-0 lead in the game against Stoke, but after star striker Harry Kane got subbed off, the team fell off the map and conceded two goals in the final 12 minutes of the game.
Athletic Bilbao – FC Barcelona (La Liga Matchday 1):
Bilbao shocked Barcelona in the Spanish Super Cup. In the first leg at the San Mames Stadium, Bilbao played Barca off the pitch and won 4-0. Aritz Aduriz scored a hat-trick for the Basque side.
The return leg finished 1-1 and Bilbao won 5-1 on aggregate. The Super Cup win was Bilbao’s first title since 1984, when the team won the Spanish league and cup titles.
It will be extremely interesting to see if Bilbao can pull off another victory against Barcelona on Sunday, and Lionel Messi & Co. will be out for revenge. Barcelona won both meetings between the sides in the league last season along with a 3-1 win in the Copa Del Rey final.
Juventus – Udinese (Serie A Matchday 1):
Juventus is on the hunt for a fifth-straight Serie A title. The Turin side was extremely dominant last season, winning the league 17 points ahead of runner-up AS Roma.
There’s been quite a lot of turnover in the Juventus squad over the summer, with players like Andrea Pirlo, Carlos Tevez and Arturo Vidal leaving the club. But they have been active in bringing in new players and fans will be eager to see what Mario Mandzukic, Alex Sandro and Paulo Dybala can do.
Udinese had a disappointing campaign last year, finishing in 16th place, seven points from relegation. The team hasn’t done too much on the transfer market this summer, but they hope a couple players they sent out on loan last year have developed enough to contribute with the first team.