The Premier League season is 8 days away, but other leagues kick off this weekend including France, Scotland and The Championship. Here are 10 games to look out for this weekend.
Blackburn vs Cardiff (Sky Sports 1 HD Tonight 7:30pm)
The opening game of the Championship kicks off with newly relegated Cardiff and former Premier League winners Blackburn Rovers. Cardiff lost their captain Steven Caulker, who joined QPR and Gary Medel looks set to leave for Inter Milan in the coming weeks. Other than that they haven’t sold any others but Juan Cala misses out through suspension.
Blackburn have most players available including former Cardiff striker Rudy Gestede, who overcame illness on Monday. Jordan Rhodes will be their main threat who has a fantastic goal scoring record for the club with 51 league goals in 89 games.
Reims vs Paris Saint Germain (Friday 7:30pm)
PSG get their title defence underway away at Reims this evening and have looked impressive in pre-season. They beat Guingamp in the French Super Cup with Zlatan Ibrahimovic scoring 2 goals, the 2nd being an absolute stunner. David Luiz and Thiago Silva are both unfit to play after their exploits at the World Cup meaning Laurent Blanc may have a headache selection with only Marquinhos and 25 year old Zoumana Camara available for selection.
Jean-Luc Vasseur is keen to deal Paris Saint-Germain an early blow in their Ligue 1 title defence when he starts his reign as Reims boss. Vasseur took over at Reims in June after Hubert Fournier left for Lyon following a spell that saw him guide the six-time French champions back to Ligue 1, ending a 33-year absence from the top flight. The 45 year old spent 6 years as a player at the French giants and will be well aware of the challenge this evening.
Ipswich vs Fulham (Sky Sports 1 HD Saturday 5:15pm)
Ipswich made a late surge for promotion last season to narrowly missing out by 4 points. Mick McCarthy has settled well at the Tractor Boys. Ipswich bought in Bálint Bajner from Dortmund, who made 1 appearance for the 1st team back in 2012 and he is a player with huge potential for the Championship side.
Fulham decided to stick with Felix Magath after a very disappointing Premier League campaign that ended in relegation. Ashkan Dejagah left the club for Al Arabi but Fulham have kept Kostas Mitroglou and Bryan Ruiz on their books but it is unknown for how long. The German manager splashed £11m on Ross McCormack who was prolific for Leeds last season and Fulham fans will be looking to see what he can do at Portman Road tomorrow tea time.
Liverpool vs Dortmund (BT Sport 1 HD Sunday 12pm)
Two managers with very similar styles, the comparisons were always expected. Both trying to punch above their weight in the league, always playing attractive football and consistently bringing in young fresh talent. Liverpool end their pre-season exploits with an intriguing friendly at Anfield against a very strong Dortmund side. This will be a final chance for Liverpool’s new signings to prove to Rodgers they should start against Southampton on opening day.
Although Dortmund lost their talismanic figure in Robert Lewandowski, they have added Ciro Immobile, Adrián Ramos and Matthias Ginter and their squad depth has improved markedly from last campaign. Comparisons can be made between the stadiums and the fans. It will be a cracking atmosphere at Anfield on Sunday and it can be expected to be a goal fest.
Rangers vs Hearts (Sky Sports 1 HD Sunday 1:30pm)
Rangers completed another promotion last season making it 2 from 2 and putting them 1 season away from returning to the promised land of the Scottish Premier League. This game is being called ‘The battle of the falling giants’. 3 years ago a packed Ibrox were anticipating a new season with new ownership against Hearts, 3 years on both these clubs are scrapping to get themselves out of the second tier of Scottish football.
It is well documented that both of these clubs have gone through terrible financial mismanagement making them laughing stock amongst other Scottish fans and teams. Rangers have the superior squad for this 1 but will the pressure and anticipation get to them? Only time will tell. Ally McCoist has been known to crack under the pressure and Hearts might be just the start he wants if he can gain 3 points.
Ajax vs Vitesse (Sky Sports 4 HD Sunday 1:30pm)
The Eredivisie champions kick off their season with a home tie against Vitesse. It will be interesting to see how they get on having sold Siem De Jong and Frank De Boer confirming that vice-captain Daley Blind will be leaving the club imminently. Both of those players were key to Ajax last season and with no transfers in as of yet, there will be growing tension amongst the fans and they will be hoping for a confident performance on Sunday.
Man City vs Arsenal (BT Sport 1 HD Sunday 3pm)
The League Champions face up against the FA Cup winners in the Community Shield. Man City and Arsenal have both splashed the cash this summer and neutrals will be hoping for a thrilling encounter. Alexis Sanchez is expected to start for the Gunners and Man City might opt to start Frank Lampard or Fernando in midfield to see what the new boys can do.
City will go into the match as favourites and could easily blow Arsenal away, who will only have Yaya Sanogo and Joel Campbell available as it is expected Olivier Giroud will not be fit to start. Aaron Ramsey will be fresh after a summer off and a big performance from him is crucial if the Gunners are to cause an upset. Bacary Sagna may also start against his former club but star striker Sergio Aguero is out. Wenger took a sly dig at Frank Lampard saying ‘“The quickest route is not via New York.” While looking at a road map from London to Manchester.
Wolves vs Norwich (Sky Sports 1 HD Sunday 4pm)
League One champions Wolves host newly relegated Norwich. It’s key to get off to a good start in the Championship or you could end up being left behind in a push for a top 6 place. Leon Clarke, Jack Price and Bakary Sako. Norwich loaned out Ricky van Wolfswinkel who only scored 1 league goal in the Premier League on the opening day of the season. They kept hold of Dutch star Leroy Fer who is expected to be a lynchpin for the Canaries this season.
Monaco vs Lorient (Sunday 8pm)
James Rodriguez left Monaco for £60m to Real Madrid in 1 of the biggest transfers of the summer. Radamel Falcao may be joining up with him in Spain and it may be his final game for the French side. They will be expected to beat Lorient on Sunday night but it will be difficult to see them dethrone PSG losing two players of such importance this summer. They have a fairly small squad as it is and have only bought in Aymen Abdennour so far this summer.
They looked very impressive in their 1-0 win over Arsenal in the Emirates Cup last weekend but that was mainly down to the fact that Falcao was superb. He is now expected to be leaving the club so Ocampos and Berbatov will be hoping they can match Falcao’s goal scoring record to keep the fans and owners happy.
Benfica vs Rio Ave (Sunday 8:45pm)
The Portuguese Super Cup sees Benfica take on minnows Rio Ave on Sunday night. There has been a lot of unrest at Benfica with Rodrigo, Garay, Oblak, Mitrovic, Markovic and Gomes all leaving the club for big money and the only player coming in being Bebe, who was famously signed for Man Utd having never been watched by Sir Alex Ferguson. With £32m profit and only £2.4m spent, it is easy to see why there has been anger amongst the Benfica fans.
They played very poorly against Arsenal at the Emirates cup and it was also reported that Enzo Perez, their talismanic central midfielder, was meeting with Valencia representatives while playing at the Emirates cup as another star player looks set to leave Benfica.