Friday, October 22, 2010

Weekend TV Preview: 22 - 24 October 2010

Friday 22 October

19.45 Bristol City v Queens Park Rangers, Championship, Sky Sports 1/HD1
It's bottom versus top in the second division as unbeaten QPR head west to face Bristol City. Rangers flew out of the blocks but most recently have drawn two games in a row. City have won just twice, once at home against Reading on Tuesday. Jamie Mackie's eight goals for QPR is still level best in the division, but he hasn't found the net in his last seven appearances for club and country.

Saturday 23 October

12.00 Aberdeen v Hibernian, Scottish Premier League, ESPN/ESPN HD
The Dons were beaten at home by Hearts in midweek, and will encounter another Edinburgh side on Saturday lunchtime. Aberdeen and Hibs are in eighth and ninth positions respectively and it's the hosts that are on a downward curve. They've lost five out of their last six league games, but Mark McGhee has outlasted his opposite number. Former Newcastle coaching staffer Colin Calderwood is now in the Easter Road hotseat after the departure of John Hughes earlier this month.

12.45 Tottenham Hotspur v Everton, Premier League, Sky Sports 2/HD2
These two sides will come into this game in differing spirits. Everton delivered a sharp reality check to neighbours Liverpool in the Merseyside derby last weekend, leaving Roy Hodgson's side (at the time of writing, that is) in the bottom three. In the Champions League, Tottenham were 4-0 down at San Siro against Inter Milan, but Gareth Bale's brilliant second half hat-trick gave them something to cheer about despite a poor first half performance and some unimpressive defending.

17.15 Doncaster Rovers v Sheffield United, Championship, BBC2
Two Yorkshire sides meet in this terrestrial television football extravaganza on Saturday evening - why oh why can't the BBC show more Football League games? Rovers are a single point ahead of United, but the stage could be set for the visitors to steal a march on Sean O'Driscoll's side. Doncaster haven't won in their last three home league games.

17.00 Real Zaragoza v Barcelona, La Liga, Sky Sports 4/HD4
A scenario, dear reader. You're bottom of the league. You're winless. You have just three points from seven matches. Which team would you least like to be hosting on Saturday? Spare a thought, then, for Real Zaragoza, who welcome Barcelona to La Romareda with Lionel Messi amongst the goals and five wins from a possible seven already banked in La Liga.

17.30 West Ham United v Newcastle United, Premier League, Sky Sports 2/HD2
Newcastle matches have already provided some surprises this term, both good and bad, and there's no reason to suggest that won't continue. Last weekend they were 2-0 down at home to Wigan and earned a point at the death. They are below last-placed West Ham in the Premier League form table so don't expect a classic in East London. A win for either team should see them leap up a few places in the table.

19.00 Real Madrid v Racing Santander, La Liga, Sky Sports 4/HD4
Unbeaten Real Madrid will be on a high at the Bernabeu when Racing come calling on Saturday evening. Two quickfire goals saw off AC Milan in the Champions League, and Los Merengues are top of the league ahead of Villarreal, Barcelona and Valencia. The league's joint top scorer is one Cristiano Ronaldo, who's notched five goals in seven league games as well as getting on the scoresheet against Milan in midweek.

19.45 Fiorentina v Bari, Serie A, ESPN/ESPN HD
If Roma are in crisis, spare a thought for the Viola. Siniša Mihajlovic's Fiorentina are bottom of Serie A after losing to Sampdoria last weekend and the Serbian coach is the inevitable subject of whisperings about a change in the dugout, with former Brazil coach and Fiorentina midfielder Dunga a possible candidate for his replacement. Bari have won two of their seven league games so far and are just three points off the bottom.

21.00 Valencia v Real Mallorca, La Liga, Sky Sports 4/HD4
Sevilla, dead level in the league with Barcelona, take on Mallorca after something of a non-showing in their midweek Champions League action. United States midfielder Maurice Edu had a mixed evening at Ibrox, scoring headers for both sides as Rangers grabbed another valuable European point against Unai Emery's side and striking the foot of the post to set up one of two gilt-edged chances that should have won the game for Rangers. Valencia pressured the Gers as the game wore on, but they'll be expecting better on Saturday.

Sunday 24 October

11.30 Parma v Roma, Serie A, ESPN/ESPN HD
Claudio Ranieri and Roma have had a torrid time this season, defeating Inter to earn their first win and then dropping right back into poor form with a 2-0 loss to Napoli. The momentum from last Saturday's win over Genoa has likewise been jettisoned, the Lupi beaten at home by Basel in the Champions League on Tuesday evening. Parma have just one win under their belts and that came way back on opening day against Brescia. Three points from a possible 18 since then is not an impressive return.

12.00 Celtic v Rangers, Scottish Premier League, Sky Sports 4/HD4
There have been sixteen matches in total featuring the Old Firm clubs, and not a single point has been dropped by Rangers or Celtic so far. All that comes to an end on Sunday in the noon kick-off in the SPL. That's right, fixture fans - it's time for the first Old Firm derby of the season! The Gers currently have the edge on goal difference but Celtic's mean defence has conceded just four times. However, each of their last three league opponents have found the net and with 11-goal Kenny Miller on the prowl you have to fancy the visitors to score.

13.30 Stoke City v Manchester United, Premier League, Sky Sports 1/HD1
United head for the Potteries in a state of utter chaos. Wayne Rooney briefed journalists on Sunday that he intends to leave the club, and Alex Ferguson confirmed his imminent exit in a candid press conference in midweek. In years gone by, it's always been foolish to write them off regardless of previous results, form or crises. Sunday's clash will give some indication as to whether their mystique remains.

13.30 PSV Eindhoven v Feyenoord, Eredivisie, ESPN/ESPN HD
It's top against nowhere in the Netherlands on Sunday. Mario Been's Feyenoord have banked just eight points from a possible 27 in the Dutch top flight this term and haven't won since August. Their opponents are top and unbeaten, with Ola Toivonen and Ibrahim Afellay firing in the goals. Perhaps the only glimmer of hope for Feyenoord is that PSV travelled to Hungary for a Europa League tie with Debrecen on Thursday.

16.00 Manchester City v Arsenal, Premier League, Sky Sports 1/HD1
In their free-spending quest for a top four place, City have started well and sit proudly in second place. They're three points ahead of their ailing neighbours, but also ahead of Arsenal. The Gunners are shining brightest in Europe so far this season and will see their trip to Eastlands as a crucial fixture against a close competitor. There'd be the Emmanuel Adebayor factor too, if anyone had heard hide or hair of him this season. (Please note: I wrote this on Wednesday, before Adebayor's hat-trick in the Europa League, thinking I would be roundly applauded for my razor-sharp evil streak.)

16.30 Bayer Leverkusen v Mainz, Bundesliga, ESPN/ESPN HD
Remember Mainz? They're the team that broke the record for the longest unbeaten start to a Bundesliga season and impressed every football supporter with consciousness beyond the Premier League. They're not unbeaten anymore, having been beaten by a late Hamburg winner on Saturday, and face the possibility of being reeled in by third-placed Leverkusen who are currently six points behind.

18.00 Sevilla v Athletic Bilbao, La Liga, Sky Sports 1/HD1/Red Button
Think Fernando Torres is in poor form? Well, you're half right. But Fernando Llorente Torres is banging the goals in for fun in the Basque country, with four in seven in the league and three so far in Euro 2012 qualifying for Spain, including a heartbreaking/relieving winner against Scotland. Sevilla are just one point ahead of Bilbao in seventh place.

19.45 Inter Milan v Sampdoria, Serie A, ESPN/ESPN HD
The season's going to plan for Inter so far with the Nerazzurri poised to pounce should Lazio or Milan slip up. The transition from Jose Mourinho to Rafael Benitez has been relatively smooth. Samuel Eto'o and Wesley Sneijder, who combined to provide the only goal against Cagliari (a game interrupted by racist chanting), have been in sparkling form along with Esteban Cambiasso, who is currently sidelined with injury. If you tune in for this one, keep an eye out for Jonathan Biabany and Philippe Coutinho.

20.00 Villarreal v Atletico Madrid, La Liga, Sky Sports 1/HD1
High-flying Villarreal have been beaten only once in the league this season and will be looking to stay in touch at the top of the table against Atleti on Sunday night. Brazilian Nilmar is Ronaldo's equal at the top of the goalscoring chart, helping the Castellón side to five wins from their last six Primera Liga matches. Atletico are not far behind and a win would see them go level on points with their hosts.

01.00 (Mon) LA Galaxy v FC Dallas, Major League Soccer, ESPN/ESPN HD
Ladies and gentlemen, presenting the final match of the regular season in MLS. A Real Salt Lake win over Colorado 24 hours before would mean that LA needed a victory to win the Supporters Shield, but Dallas have proved to be a formidable opponent this season. Their 19-game unbeaten run came to an end last weekend but they have more points than any team in the East and cruised into the playoffs.

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