Monday, September 12, 2011

Midweek TV Preview: 12 - 15 September 2011

Monday 12 September

20.00 QPR v Newcastle United, Premier League, Sky Sports 1/HD1
Football philosopher Joey Barton gets his first opportunity to put one over on his old club as he sports the blue and white hoops instead of black and white stripes at Loftus Road tonight, where Shaun Wright-Phillips' uncontrolled touches will send the ball far and wide around another new home ground.

Tuesday 13 September

19.45 Chelsea v Bayer Leverkusen, Champions League, Sky Sports 2/HD2
ZOMG the Champions League is back! Yes, if the billions and artifice of modern football is your thing then you'll be welcoming the tedium of the group stage with open arms. London's first match sees Chelsea welcome Leverkusen, last year's Bundesliga runners-up.
19.45 Borussia Dortmund v Arsenal, Champions League, Sky Sports 4/HD4
BVB held their nerve to keep Leverkusen at bay and win the title last season and are rewarded with a return to the Champions League and a group with Arsenal. Pundits are rightly looking forward to this one, and Dortmund's football is more attractive than Arsenal's pass-pass-dismissal-pass-cockup style.
19.45 Barcelona v AC Milan, Champions League, Sky Sports 4 Interactive
In what would undoubtedly be the tie of the round in a proper two-legged knockout European Cup, the champions of Spain and Italy meet in Barcelona; unfortunately, both will expect to cruise through the group regardless of their games against one another. Still, Zlatan should add a little spice.
19.45 Porto v Shakhtar Donetsk, Champions League, Sky Sports 4 Interactive
Two of the last three UEFA Cup and Europa League winners meet in the Champions League. Both have an excellent chance to progress, but face a significant threat from Zenit in a winnable yet potentially tricky group.
19.45 Olympiakos v Marseille, Champions League, Sky Sports 4 Interactive
The other half of Group F (alongside Arsenal and Dortmund) kick off their challenge to the 'big two' of the group with a match in Piraeus. For the Greek champions to progress, one suspects this one is a must-win.
19.45 Genk v Valencia, Champions League, Sky Sports 4 Interactive
Valencia have started the La Liga season in impressive form, winning both matches against Racing and Atletico Madrid. They'll be looking to start positively against Genk in a group that also pits them against Chelsea and Leverkusen.
19.45 APOEL v Zenit St Petersburg, Champions League, Sky Sports 4 Interactive
Zenit start their Group G campaign against APOEL, who currently sit second in the Cypriot first divsiion. Zenit top the Russian Premier League on goal difference from CSKA.
19.45 Viktoria Plzen v BATE Borisov, Champions League, Sky Sports 4 Interactive
Two of the Champions League minnows (on a continental scale at least) go head to head in Group H. Viktoria are in the UCL courtesy of their first domestic title, and face the Real Tractor Boys on matchday one.

Wednesday 14 September

19.45 Benfica v Manchester United, Champions League, ITV1/ITV1 HD
Alex Ferguson's Manchester United are Lisbon-bound and will open their group matches with a clash against Benfica. This is a fixture that evokes many great European football memories and should get the group off to a quick start.
19.45 Manchester City v Napoli, Champions League, Sky Sports 2/HD2
Two teams with little (read: none since the days of the European Cup) recent Champions League experience meet in arguably the most exciting group of the round. Napoli came out swinging as Serie A began over the weekend, while City benefited from a hat-trick from Sergio Aguero, the son-in-law of etc. etc.
19.45 Dinamo Zagreb v Real Madrid, Champions League, Sky Sports 4/HD4
Dinamo's visitors head for Croatia in fine fettle. Real Madrid have predictably won two out of two so far in Spain, but all the more worrying for Dinamo will be their ability to score freely. Cristiano Ronaldo already has four as Jose Mourinho's side put four past Zaragoza and Getafe.
19.45 Villarreal v Bayern Munich, Champions League, Sky Sports 4 Interactive
If Real are scoring for fun, then goals for Bayern Munich are a serious business. They head into Champions League action after a 7-0 thumping of Freiburg, a big result to add to the five they put past Hamburg. Mario Gomez scored four to double his excellent early tally.
19.45 Ajax v Lyon, Champions League, Sky Sports 4 Interactive
Ajax's chance to make suprise progress arrives early, with Lyon heading for the Amsterdam ArenA (yep, uppercase A) on matchday one. With Real Madrid to contend with along with the French outfit, Wednesday's clash is of huge importance to the Dutch.
19.45 Internazionale v Trabzonspor, Champions League, Sky Sports 4 Interactive
Trabzonspor had a fair amount of good fortune in arriving in the Champions League group stage, but landing in Group B has done them no favours whatsoever. After Wednesday's visit to San Siro, the Turkish side will face CSKA Moscow and free-flowing French champions Lille. Good luck with that.
19.45 Lille v CSKA Moscow, Champions League, Sky Sports 4 Interactive
Lille get underway against CSKA and are, like Dortmund and Napoli, a much anticipated and most welcome competitor this season. With so many teams in this season's competition who play pretty football, perhaps the tide is turning against pragmatic defensive-mindedness.
19.45 Basel v FC Galati, Champions League, Sky Sports 4 Interactive
I've marked Basel as my dark horses to get out of the group stage. With Manchester United in scintillating form, the Swiss team must topple Benfica in order to escape the group. I don't think it's beyond the realms of possibility, but in order for it to happen this one will need to be a comfortable win over the

Thursday 15 September

18.00 PAOK v Tottenham Hotspur, Europa League, ESPN/ESPN HD
Spurs begin their Europa League group campaign in Greece. It's a slippery trip but in truth it should be three points for the visitors, who should also have little trouble grabbing at least second spot in Group A. Rubin Kazan are the major obstacle.
18.00 Dynamo Kiev v Stoke City, Europa League, ITV/ITV4 HD
You read that correctly: Dynamo Kiev v Stoke City. It's a fantastic tie to get Stoke's Europa League season proper moving, a visit to vintage European opponents. A surprise win here and the Potters would be in great shape.
20.05 Atletic Madrid v Celtic, Europa League, ESPN/ESPN HD
Reprieved by FC Sion's ongoing "issue", Neil Lennon's Celtic have been placed in a stupendously difficult group. After Atleti, it's Rennes and Udinese - Scottish football's European lifeline may well be short lived.
20.05 Birmingham City v Braga, Europa League, ITV/ITV4 HD
The author refuses to acknowledge the presence of Birmingham City Football Club in European competition.
20.05 Fulham v Twente, Europa League, Five/Five HD
2010 finalists Fulham host Dutch side Twente Enschede, for whom manager Martin Jol played over 70 league games. Steve McClaren long departed, Twente are now managed by Co Adriaanse, who replaced Michael Preud'homme in June.

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