Monday, August 15, 2011

Midweek TV Preview: 15 - 18 August 2011

Monday 15 August

20.00 Manchester City v Swansea City, Premier League, Sky Sports 1/HD1/3D
The pressure is all on Manchester City, as Roberto Mancini's side clearly fancies a tilt at the title. Visiting them on the first weekend of the season will be a stern test for promoted Swansea, and anything more than a loss would be a bonus.

Tuesday 16 August

19.45 Arsenal v Udinese, Champions League Qualifying First Leg, Sky Sports 2/HD2/3D
Arsene Wenger's ailing Gunners could hardly have been handed a worse draw for UCL qualifying. But with Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri on their way, and points dropped in worrying circumstances against Newcastle United, Arsenal face an Udinese side that has also lost key players. As well as Alexis Sanchez, who joined Barcelona, Udinese are now without Gokhan Inler.

19.45 Twente v Benfica, Champions League Qualifying First Leg, Sky Sports 2 Interactive
Benfica got their domestic campaign underway on Friday, throwing away a 2-0 lead at Gil Vicente. They face a Twente side that has won two out of two so far this season - only Feyenoord sit above them in the pointlessly early league table in Holland.

19.45 Lyon v Rubin Kazan, Champions League Qualifying First Leg, Sky Sports 2 Interactive
This fixture looks more like one you'd expect to see deeper into the competition, which is testament to Rubin's progress in recent years. At present they are eight points behind CSKA Moscow in the Russian Premier League (in fourth place), so qualifying for the Champions League is imperative. Lyon, however, will be a formidable opponent.

19.45 Copenhagen v Viktoria Plzen, Champions League Qualifying First Leg, Sky Sports 2 Interactive
Czech champions Viktoria, edged out Sparta Prague by a single point to win their first league title. Their first Champions League adventure has already taken them to Armenia and Norway, and they will now face FCK in Denmark. With Rosenborg already on their list of victims, Roland Nilsson's side would do well to respect them.

19.45 BATE Borisov v Sturm Graz, Champions League Qualifying First Leg, Sky Sports 2 Interactive
Belarusian giants BATE have been carving out a successful European tale lately, reaching the group stage of the Champions League in 2008/09 and of the Europa League in both seasons since. Graz will be looking to qualify for the Champions League proper for the first time in over a decade.

Wednesday 17 August

19.45 Bayern Munich v FC Zurich, Champions League Qualifying First Leg, ITV4/ITV4 HD
Domestically, it's been an unimpressive start for Bayern. A first-day loss to Borussia Moenchengladbach did little to suggest their expected title charge is forthcoming, and taking 90 minutes to score at Wolfsburg won't have helped. FC Zurich, meanwhile, have turned their form around. After losing their first three in Switzerland this season, Urs Fischer's side have won two on the spin.

19.45 Odense v Villarreal, Champions League Qualifying First Leg, Sky Sports 2/HD2
Villarreal finished fourth in Spain to earn the right to play OB, who finished second in Denmark and were fully 26 points behind champions Copenhagen. A dramatic 5-4 aggregate victory over Panathinaikos will give the Danes hope of an upset.

19.45 Dinamo Zagreb v Malmo, Champions League Qualifying First Leg, Sky Sports 2 Interactive
Rangers fans, here's what you could have won. See that? That's nostalgia-driven observational comedy, that. Anyway, Malmo's prize for dumping out the Gers is a trip to Croatia to face Dinamo Zagreb - you may remember them from such group stages as 1998/99 and 1999/2000.

19.45 Maccabi Haifa v Genk, Champions League Qualifying First Leg, Sky Sports 2 Interactive
Haifa's domestic campaign begins with a trip to Maccabi Netanya on Friday, but first they must make home advantage count in the first leg against Genk. After being crowned Belgian champions, Genk took the not inconsiderable scalp of FK Partizan in the previous round.

19.45 Wisla Krakow v Apoel Nicosia, Champions League Qualifying First Leg, Sky Sports 2 Interactive
Wisla are unbeaten in the first three games of the Polish season, and continue their Champions League journey against the Cypriot champions Apoel after knocking out Litex Lovech of Bulgaria in the last round, and Skonto Riga in the round before that.

22.00 Barcelona v Real Madrid, Spanish Super Cup Second Leg, Sky Sports 1/HD1
The big guns did the job up front for Barca in the first leg, with David Villa and Leo Messi on the scoresheet, crammed in between goals from Mesut Ozil and Xabi Alonso in a tasty 2-2 sandwich.

22.45 LDU Quito v Yaracuyanos, Copa Sudamericana, Premier Sports
Mauricio Chalar's late equaliser for Venezuela's Yaracuyanos cancelled out a Hernan Barcos penalty in the first leg of this first round tie. Quito have plenty of pedigree on the continental stage, while their opponents - formed just five years ago - have none.

01.10 (Thu morning) Racing v Godoy Cruz, Argentine Apertura, Premier Sports
Racing and Godoy Cruz both drew their opening matches in Argentina, but then almost everybody did. Match two pits them against one another after a point each against Velez Sarsfield and Tigre respectively.

Thursday 18 August

19.45 NK Maribor v Rangers, Europa League Playoff First Leg, Premier Sports
Having consulted the Football Fairground European Football Travelguide (available in all good imaginary bookshops), I can tell you that Maribor is in Slovenia. I can also tell you that Maribor are champions of Slovenia and, like Rangers, went out of Champions League qualifying in the third qualifying round.

19.45 Hearts v Tottenham Hotspur, Europa League Playoff First Leg, ITV4/ITV4 HD
Ut's the Battle of Britain! No, not Rangers v Manchester United. Or Liverpool v Celtic. This time it's Tottenham's turn, and they face the Midlothian basket case that is Hearts, with the prize of a Europa League spot on the line. To the winner, the spoils of the longest football competition in Christendom.

02.00 (Fri morning) DC United v Chicago Fire, MLS, ESPN/ESPN HD
DC United are in fine fettle at the moment, riding the good form of Dwayne De Rosario back into contention in the East. Last weekend saw them thump Vancouver 4-0, while Chicago became the latest team not to be beaten by the porous New York Red Bulls.

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