Monday, December 5, 2011

Midweek TV Preview: 5 - 8 December 2011

Monday 5 December

19.45 Lazio v Novara, Serie A, ESPN/ESPN HD
Novara jumped off the bottom of Serie in their last game with a win over Parma, and followed it up with a Coppa victory over Catania. Their short purple patch meets a formidable foe this evening, though. They travel to Rome to face high-flying Lazio, who are looking to bounce back from a loss against Juventus.

20.00 Fulham v Liverpool, Premier League, Sky Sports 1/HD1/3D
Both have been managed by Roy Hodgson in recent years, with very different memories of the nauseating old goat. Fulham haven't won in three and it's not going to get any easier with the visit of Liverpool tonight. The Reds are in rude form and will be disappointing with anything but a win at Craven Cottage.

Tuesday 6 December

19.45 Chelsea v Valencia, UEFA Champions League, Sky Sports 2/HD2
The season so far has been a bit of a struggle for Chelsea - you know, relatively speaking - and the quest to qualify from Group E has been a big part of that. They'll be glad when it's over, but only if they defeat Valencia to progress from the group. Unfortunately for Andre Villas-Boas, they didn't manage a victory in Spain.

19.45 Olympiakos v Arsenal, UEFA Champions League, Sky Sports 4/HD4
Unlike their rivals from across London, Arsenal are home and dry in Group F. Their hosts on Tuesday still have a realistic hope of success; they're a point behind Marseille, who face a significant challenge of their own on the same evening. The Gunners can take it easy having already ensured that they will top the group.

19.45 APOEL Nicosia v Shakhtar Donetsk, UEFA Champions League, Sky Sports Interactive
APOEL have made history in this year's competition and although they can be reached by either of the teams in second and third they cannot be overtaken by both; they will be in the next round which is a remarkable achievement from a very difficult group. Shakhtar have been an unmitigated disappointment in the UCL this season.

19.45 Barcelona v BATE Borisov, UEFA Champions League, Sky Sports Interactive
Unbeaten Barcelona have plenty of breathing space and have comfortably topped Group H. Their opponents on Tuesday are BATE Borisov, who are yet to win a game in the group stage this season. This is a dead rubber in the purest sense, so it could go either way. My money's on a free-flowing victory for the home team.

19.45 Borussia Dortmund v Marseille, UEFA Champions League, Sky Sports Interactive
Marseille's destiny is in their own hands as they travel to Dortmund to face the Bundesliga champions. BVB's form has improved lately but Marseille have no option but to go for the win. They'll also be keeping their eyes on Arsenal's game in Greece, where the Gunners can seal the French side's path to the next round.

19.45 Porto v Zenit St Petersburg, UEFA Champions League, Sky Sports Interactive
Porto host Zenit in a straight shoot-out to join APOEL in the next round. A draw will do the job for Zenit, who have only lost once - to leaders APOEL - and have already defeated Porto in this campaign. It's now or never for Porto, who need a triumphant European night in order to progress.

19.45 Genk v Bayer Leverkusen, UEFA Champions League, Sky Sports Interactive
Bayer are in good form domestically and sit pretty at the top of Group E. A win in Belgium will guarantee that the German outfit finish at the top of the group, a target that should be achievable given Genk's showing so far in this year's competition. A goal difference of -14 after five games is quite unimpressive.

19.45 Viktoria Plzen v AC Milan, UEFA Champions League, Sky Sports Interactive
Another dead rubber, this time in the Czech Republic were the Rossoneri have exactly nothing to play for. Their hosts probably don't either - even a defeat wouldn't take them to the bottom of the group (for all that matters) unless BATE defeat Barcelona.

Wednesday 7 December

19.45 FC Basel v Manchester United, UEFA Champions League, ITV1/ITV1 HD
It's a huge night for Basel, who welcome Manchester United but require nothing less than victory. If they were to beat the Red Devils they would join Benfica in the next round, but a draw is not enough for the hosts, who trail the English champions by a point. ITV might just have picked an absolutel slobberknocker to show this Wednesday. What do you mean they always show United?

19.45 Manchester City v Bayern Munich, UEFA Champions League, Sky Sports 2/HD2
Like their city rivals, Manchester City are up against it in the last game of the Champions League group stage. In Group A they host unbeaten and in-form Bayern Munich but they do not have their fate in their own hands. Even a win is not enough to guarantee without a result going their way elsewhere.

19.45 Villarreal v Napoli, UEFA Champions League, Sky Sports 4/HD4
The result City require is a a Villarreal win over Napoli, or a draw if City get the job done in full against FCB. The bad news for Roberto Mancini and his expensively-assembled unit of doom? Villarreal have lost all five Champions League matches.

19.45 Ajax v Real Madrid, UEFA Champions League, Sky Sports Interactive
Flawless Real Madrid are the team to watch in Europe this season. Victory in the Champions League or La Liga this year would arguably be Jose Mourinho's greatest achievement, and if the season to date is anything to go by then they are capable of overcoming Barcelona. They've already qualified from their UCL group, winning all five matches so far.

19.45 Dinamo Zagreb v Lyon, UEFA Champions League, Sky Sports Interactive
There's nothing left to play for for Dinamo, who sit at the bottom of Group D with five defeats to their name. Two 0-0 draws between Lyon and Ajax mean that if Ajax lose and Lyon win, the tie-breaker will drop to the fifth level - that will see Ajax through on goal difference unless there's a seven-goal swing.

19.45 Benfica v Otelul Galati, UEFA Champions League, Sky Sports Interactive
This know-nothing writer fancied Basel to nick a place in the top two spots in Group C, and suspected that they might do so at the expense of Benfica. The Portuguese side has taught me to predict nothing in football. Two wins and three draws in a tight group leaves them atop the mini-table looking ahead to the knockout rounds.

19.45 Inter Milan v CSKA Moscow, UEFA Champions League, Sky Sports Interactive
The Nerazzurri haven't been pulling up any trees domestically in this season's campaign but they've picked up three wins in the Champions League, enough to guarantee first place in Group B. CSKA need a win, and they need the result to go their way...

19.45 Lille v Trabzonspor, UEFA Champions League, Sky Sports Interactive
...when Trabzonspor head to France to face Lille. The bottom three in the group are separated by just one point, but even a CSKA win will only be sufficient if these two draw. If there's a winner here, they're through.

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