Monday, September 13, 2010

Midweek TV Preview: 13 - 16 September 2010

Monday 13 September

20.00 Stoke City v Aston Villa, Premier League, Sky Sports 1/HD1
Stoke are looking for their first points of the season while Villa are still waiting for Gerard Houllier to sort out his desk at the French FA. Despite ruling himself out of the Wales job (for the time being) speculation still surrounds Tony Pulis, which is hardly the sort of distraction you need when you've lost your first three games of the season.

Tuesday 14 September

19.45 Werder Bremen v Tottenham Hotspur, UEFA Champions League Group A, Sky Sports 4/HD4
Bremen really took the game Bayern at the weekend and were unlucky not to take all the points back from Bavaria. After their horror start in Berne, 'Arry may choose to take the conservative approach here and look to progress through maximum points at home - which would be a shame because this is a very winnable tie and could provide a lot of entertainment. This is the one I'll be watching.

19.45 FC Twente v Inter Milan, UEFA Champions League Group A, Sky Sports 4 (Red Button)
Two sides under new management after success last season. Twente have had a steady start under Steve McClaren's replacement Michel Preud'homme (to put you out of your misery, he was Belgium's goalkeeper in the 80s) and have only conceded one goal in five Eredivisie games. Rafa Benitez has a much harder act to follow at competition holders Inter but his record in the Champs League stands up against the biggest names out there.

19.45 Lyon v Schalke, UEFA Champions League Group B, Sky Sports 4 (Red Button)
Despite the marquee signings Schalke look disjointed and lacklustre at the moment. In Friday's defeat to Hoffenheim, Raul was anonymous while Huntelaar squandered what chances the side could muster. The pressure is already mounting on Felix Magath. Lyon haven't started much better, with just one win from five in the league.

19.45 Benfica v Hapoel Tel Aviv, UEFA Champions League Group B, Sky Sports 4 (Red Button)
Two more sides that have started slowly domestically, but if Oscar Cardozo hits the form he showed last season Benfica will prove difficult opposition in this group and should feel confident they can progress to the next stage. Hapoel only just scraped past Salzburg to get this far, it's unlikely they'll go any further but given the form of the other teams here, who knows.

19.45 Manchester Utd v Rangers, UEFA Champions League Group C, Sky Sports 2/HD2/3D
Rangers go into this without a win in twelve Champions League ties - a record that goes back three years. The last time they came to Old Trafford, in 2003, United strolled to a 3-0 win. With Rooney returning with something to prove, you can't see this being much different.

19.45 Bursaspor v Valencia, UEFA Champions League Group C, Sky Sports 4 (Red Button)
If this was being written by Alan Shearer we could get away with saying "we don't know anything about Bursaspor" - however we try to have at least something to tell you. Bursaspor took the Turkish title last season on a dramatic final day: going into the last day a point behind Fenerbache, they secured a win while their rivals could only draw at home, handing the Green Crocodiles their first league title. They've started this season with four wins from four. Valencia return to the Champions League after two seasons away and hoping for a better campaign than last which saw them take just one win in the group and finishing bottom.

19.45 Barcelona v Panathinaikos, UEFA Champions League Group D, Sky Sports 4 (Red Button)
With Barcelona losing 2-0 at home to Hercules at the weekend, the Greek side might feel they can cause an upset here like Shaktar Donetsk, Rubin Kazan and Liverpool have managed in recent seasons. Not impossible, but unlikely.

19.45 FC Copenhagen v Rubin Kazan, UEFA Champions League Group D, Sky Sports 4 (Red Button)
Copenhagen are back in the Group Stage for the first time since 2006. They finished bottom of the group that season but registered a famous win against Manchester United. Rubin's famous win against Barca was their only victory in their first Champions League last season. They finished third behind the Catalans and the eventual winners, Inter.

Wednesday 15 September

19.45 Bayern Munich v Roma, UEFA Champions League Group E, Sky Sports 4 (Red Button)
Roma will be licking their wounds after a 5-1 mauling at the weekend against Cagliari. While Bayern made it to the final last season they almost went out at the group stage winning just one of their home games and only qualifying with a matchday 6 win away to Juventus.

19.45 CFR Cluj v FC Basel, UEFA Champions League Group E, Sky Sports 4 (Red Button)
Play-off for the Europa League spot. Basel managed just one point in the group stage of 2008/09. In the same season, Cluj started the group stage well, beating Roma and drawing with Chelsea but went on to lose the remaining games. In the Romanian League Cluj have had a poor start for them losing three times in their first seven games.

19.45 MSK Zilina v Chelsea, UEFA Champions League Group, Sky Sports 2/HD2
Could be the surprise of the night  - I wouldn't be surprised if this finished 0-0. The Slovak champions have done well to get this far and Chelsea have often dropped points away from home at this stage of the competition in recent years. I wouldn't put too much money on it though, if I were you.

19.45 Marseille v Spartak Moscow, UEFA Champions League Group, Sky Sports 4 (Red Button)

Head-to-head to see who joins Chelsea in the knock-out stage. Spartak have been inconsistent this season but the French champions have won just one game from the first five games of their title defence.

19.45 Real Madrid v Ajax, UEFA Champions League Group, Sky Sports 4/HD4
One of those groups where there is absolutely no room for error. Hard to believe that this is Ajax's first group stage for five seasons and what a welcome back. Anything short of a win for Mourinho's side will raise eyebrows.

19.45 AC Milan v Auxerre, UEFA Champions League Group, Sky Sports 4 (Red Button)
I can't wait to see the awesome attacking power of Milan this season - Robinho, Ibrahimovic, Ronaldinho, Pato - if it works, it'll be incredible - but of course given those names, it could all go horribly wrong. 2002 was the last time Auxerre reached this stage, finishing behind Arsenal and Borussia Dortmund.

19.45 Arsenal v Braga, UEFA Champions League Group, ITV1 / ITV HD
Braga: the new power of Portugese football? Celtic and Sevilla are a pair of impressive scalps they've acquired on the way to the group stage and will probably provide the toughest test in this group to Arsenal.

19.45 Shakhtar Donetsk v Partizan Belgrade, UEFA Champions League Group, Sky Sports 4 (Red Button)
This draw represents Shaktar's best opportunity to advance to the knock out stage for the first time - they'll need three points here for starters.

Thursday 16 September

18.00 Switzerland v England, FIFA 2011 Women's World Cup Qualifying Play-Off 2nd Leg (0-2), BBC (Red Button)
Fara Williams and Kelly Smith's goals in the first Leg give England the advantage to see who progresses through to the finals in Germany next year. Defeat wouldn't be the end of the campaign as all the play-off losers go into more play-offs for one final place.

18.00 Red Bull Salzburg v Man City, UEFA Europa League Group A, ESPN/ESPN HD
You'd hope that no amount of sugar and caffeine should get in the way of City and three points here.

18.00 Aris Thessaloniki v Atletico Madrid, UEFA Europa League Group B, ITV4
The holders start their defence of the trophy with a tricky trip to Greece. Aris are unbeaten in their nine Europa League/UEFA Cup home games and beat Real Zaragoza here a few seasons back.

20.05 Sevilla v Paris St Germain, UEFA Europa League Group J, ITV4
A fixture that, for my money, sounds better than it actually is. A stick on 4-4 then.

20.05 Liverpool v Steaua Bucharest, UEFA Europa League Group K, Five/Five HD
Will Hodgson play Torres from the start? This should be a straightforward matter for the Reds but then that's usually when things go horribly wrong for them.

20.05 PSV Eindhoven v Sampdoria, UEFA Europa League Group I, ESPN/ESPN HD
My choice of viewing for the evening. Samp must still be smarting from the manner of their exit from the Champions League - taking off Cassano five minutes before the end so that he could get a standing ovation. Fans will hope they'll be no such self-indulgence here.

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