Monday, November 1, 2010

Midweek TV Preview: 1 - 4 November 2010

Monday 1 November

20.00 Blackpool v West Bromwich Albion, Premier League, Sky Sports 1/HD1
Monday's Premier League clash looks on paper to be one for viewers who like to be entertained in the obvious sense. These two promoted sides are known for their attractive (in the obvious sense) football, but it's Albion who go into this one on a high. Blackpool are above only Wolves in the form table, with only one win in the six-match attention span of everyone's favourite media behemoth.

Tuesday 2 November

17.30 Rubin Kazan v Panathinaikos, Champions League, Sky Sports 4/HD4
Group D's winless duo meet in Kazan to reprise their fixture from 20th October. The sides finished goalless in Athens to leave the Russians on two points and Panathinaikos on one in a group in which second place had been considered up for grabs. Rubin actually gained ground on Copenhagen that night, but four points still divide second place from third.

19.45 Tottenham Hotspur v Inter Milan, Champions League, Sky Sports 2/HD2
Inter may be duking it out with Milan and an excellent Lazio side at the top of Serie A, but for me they remain the best team in the league. Their quality was demonstrated emphatically in the first half of the home game against Spurs but Gareth Bale's freakish and brilliant hat-trick at San Siro took the shine right off the Nerazzurri's dominance. Don't be surprised if Tottenham throw a spanner in the works here - Bale's third changed the dynamic of this little duet somewhat.

19.45 Bursaspor v Manchester United, Champions League, Sky Sports 3/HD3
Nani's goal against the Turkish side enabled United to squeak past Bursaspor in their last Champions League fixture, a game in which United probably should have grabbed another goal but were ultimately quite disappointing. They picked up their first away win in the league just over a week ago, and will be looking to add another three points to those earned by beating Valencia away earlier in the round.

19.45 Valencia v Rangers, Champions League, Sky Sports 4/HD4
SPL leaders Rangers dropped their first league points of the season on Saturday thanks to Eric Odhiambo's late equaliser for Inverness Caledonian Thistle. The Gers' goal came from Maurice Edu, who scored headers at both ends against Valencia in the Champions League group game at Ibrox. Valencia's 1-1 draw against Zaragoza at the weekend also, incredibly, came courtesy of an opponent scoring past both goalkeepers.

19.45 Werder Bremen v FC Twente, Champions League, Sky Sports Interactive
Bremen sit in the bottom half of the Bundesliga as they prepare to host Twente. Wins over Freiburg and Borussia Mönchengladbach were followed by Saturday's home defeat at the hands of Nürnberg. In the Netherlands, Twente top the Eredivisie but are yet to win in the Champions League despite leading in two of their three matches in the group.

19.45 Benfica v Lyon, Champions League, Sky Sports Interactive
It's now 50 years since the golden age of the Eagles, who won the European Cup consecutively in 1961 and 1962. One win in three Group B matches puts paid to any faint hopes Benfica had of revisiting the good old days. Opponents Lyon are sitting pretty with a 100% record and have only conceded once - even that was scored by a goalkeeper from the penalty spot.

19.45 Hapoel Tel-Aviv v Schalke, Champions League, Sky Sports Interactive
That goalkeeper was Vincent Enyeama of Hapoel Tel-Aviv. The Israeli side are bottom of the group having been beaten three times. On 20th October they were dismantled by Schalke, for whom Raul scored twice is the competition's top goalscorer and appearance maker. A win for Schalke and defeat for Benfica would almost guarantee second place for the Germans.

19.45 FC Copenhagen v Barcelona, Champions League, Sky Sports Interactive
Copenhagen weren't the first team to fall foul of Leo Messi in the Champions League, and they won't be the last. Two goals from the Argentine wizard took Barcelona to a 2-0 victory over the Danish team at Camp Nou in October, and the return clash promises much of the same. The Spanish champions warmed up with a 5-0 demolition of Sevilla at the weekend.

Wednesday 3 November

19.45 Chelsea v Spartak Moscow, Champions League, ITV1/ITV HD
Spartak have won two in a week in the Russian Premier League and head for London in good spirits. A home win over champions-in-waiting Zenit St Petersburg was followed by a 2-1 victory against Rostov with goals by Welliton and Aiden McGeady turning the game around for Valery Karpin's men. Russian Yuri Zhirkov scored for Chelsea in Moscow in the previous meeting of these two sides.

19.45 Shakhtar Donetsk v Arsenal, Champions League, Sky Sports 2/HD2
After applauding Eduardo's consolation goal at the Emirates, it's Arsenal's turn to hit the skies as they travel to Ukraine to face Shakhtar. Arsene Wenger's side will be brimming with confidence against opponents they've dismantled so recently, and only a comfortable win will be good enough. It will certainly be a more testing game than the home fixture.

19.45 AC Milan v Real Madrid, Champions League, Sky Sports 4/HD4
The pressure's on for Max Allegri and Milan. With Ajax facing winless Auxerre, the Rossoneri need a win over Real Madrid to avoid facing an uphill battle in Group G. Despite playing time for Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Pippo Inzaghi, Robinho, Alex Pato and Kevin-Prince Boateng, Milan looked worryingly toothless in their defeat by Juventus on Saturday evening. Real won the tie in Madrid by a two-goal margin.

19.45 Auxerre v Ajax , Champions League, Sky Sports Interactive
Should Milan fail to get a result, Ajax would go three points ahead with victory over Auxerre. The French team are winless in the group but head into this game on the back of two consecutive league wins over PSG and Nice. Ajax are third in the Dutch league, one point behind leaders Twente and level with PSV. On goal difference, of course.

19.45 FC Basel v Roma, Champions League, Sky Sports Interactive
I wouldn't want to be Claudio Ranieri right now. Not only are Roma's deadly rivals Lazio tearing a strip off Serie A, but the Lupi are in the middle of a sequence that sees them repeatedly look to have a grip on things before losing impetus and slipping backwards again. After losing to Basel in Rome, Ranieri's men will again face the likes of Valentin Stocker and Xherdan Shaqiri on Wednesday.

19.45 CFR Cluj v Bayern Munich, Champions League, Sky Sports Interactive
Inconsistent Bayern Munich travel to Romania with a much more solid record in Europe than domestically. Wins over Cluj, Basel and Roma take them south east with nine points from a possible nine, but Cluj scored two own goals at the Allianz Arena to give Bayern something of a helping hand in the previous group game.

19.45 MSK Zilina v Marseille, Champions League, Sky Sports Interactive
MSK are top of the Slovakian Super Liga after 14 games and remain unbeaten domestically. Tomáš Oravec scored a hat-trick in their 3-3 draw with Dukla in Zilina on Friday (doubling his tally for the season), and bagged his side's only group stage goal so far. Marseille's home match against Rennes was postponed due to rain on both Saturday and Sunday, so they should be well rested.

19.45 Partizan Belgrade v Braga, Champions League, Sky Sports Interactive
Lowly Rio Ave won their first league game of the season in Portugal on Saturday, defeating ten-man Sporting Braga by two goals to nil. It's hardly ideal preparation for a Braga side in need of a win in Europe to take advantage of Shakhtar's Arsenal double-header. Back in mid-October, the aptly-named Arsenalistas reeled the Ukrainian side in thanks to Arsenal's win and their own victory over Partizan.

Thursday 4 November

18.00 Lech Poznan v Manchester City, Europa League, ITV4
Poznan gave Manchester City an easy evening at Eastlands, with Emmanuel Adebayor bagging a hat-trick in the previous meeting. Going to Poland is a more troublesome task on paper, but the difference in quality between these two teams should shine through. Then again, this is Man City we're talking about.

18.00 Rosenborg v Atletico Madrid, Europa League, ESPN/ESPN HD
The previous fixture between these two sides in Europa League Group B was a comfortable win for holders Atleti, who eased to a 3-0 victory over the Norwegian side thanks to goals by Diego Godin, Sergio Agüero and Diego Costa. Defender Godin will be absent against Rosenborg and for around a month afterwards having just had surgery for appendicitis. Los Rojiblancos are clear favourites nevertheless.

20.05 Liverpool v Napoli, Europa League, Five/Five HD
Last time out, a dull 0-0 draw at the San Paolo was a disappointing outcome for Napoli in a match overshadowed by problems off the pitch. Walter Mazzarri's Partenopei are nothing if not thrilling to watch this term, and they'll be looking to prove that Liverpool have not turned the corner we hear about so much. A draw does neither side any favours as crunch time approaches.

20.05 PSG v Borussia Dortmund, Europa League, ITV4
Ladies and gentlemen, Borussia Dortmund: second conquerors of the mighty Mainz and current leaders of 1.Bundesliga. Jürgen Klopp's Schwarzgelben beat Mainz on Sunday with goals from Lucas Barrios and the very nearly alarmingly-monikered Mario Götze, leapfrogging them in the process. With only one defeat in ten league games, confidence is high at the Westfalen and BVB will be keen to go level on points with PSG with a win on Thursday.

20.05 Steaua Bucharest v FC Utrecht, Europa League, ESPN/ESPN HD
Steaua are a club with fine European pedigree, with a European Cup win and a losing final on their books. In the continent's secondary competition, the Militarii's best performance is a semi-final appearance in 2005/06, when they were beaten over two legs by a miraculous comeback by Middlesbrough. They face a Utrecht side that has drawn all three games in Group K.

02.30 (Friday morning) New York Red Bulls v San Jose Earthquakes, Major League Soccer Playoffs, ESPN/ESPN HD
MLS is now down to the nitty-gritty of playoff football, and the Earthquakes head East both literally and in terms of their geographical conference. There, they face a New York side with real designs on the title this year. Joel Lindpere and Dane Richards are in fantastic form for the Red Bulls, but they won't have it all their own way in this two-legged tie. Chris Wondolowski finished the regular season as the league's top goalscorer, while Ryan Johnson and Brandon McDonald should make life difficult for New York at either end of the pitch. New York lead after the first leg.

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