Top 10 Storylines in World Football This Weekend
With each passing week the club schedule gets more and more jam-packed—a sign that the 2014-15 season is either upon us or about to begin, depending on one’s geography.
This weekend sees the commencement of several European top flights, as well as the Community Shield match that heralds the beginning of another Premier League campaign.
There are also a handful of compelling local derbies on the fixture schedule, and the rumour mill, it goes without saying, will continue to work overtime with September fast approaching.
Following are 10 of the top storylines to keep apprised of through Monday.
10. A California Derby in Major League Soccer
San Jose Earthquakes have lost just one of their last four matches against Los Angeles Galaxy, and they’ll look to keep that run of form going when they visit StubHub Center on Friday.
Presently second from bottom in Major League Soccer’s Western Conference, San Jose are still only seven points back of a play-off spot and have one of the better defensive records in the section.
Galaxy, meanwhile, are flying high after big wins over Seattle Sounders and Portland Timbers and could conceivably conclude the weekend joint-second with Real Salt Lake.
9. Scolari and Gremio Contest Porto Alegre Derby
He only just returned to Gremio, but former Brazil manager Luiz Felipe Scolari will be handed a stiff test when the Porto Alegre outfit face local rivals Internacional on Sunday.
Gremio, presently 11th in Campeonato Brasileiro, have struggled to find the back of the net this season and will find goals difficult to come by against stingy Inter.
Internacional are third in the table and could leapfrog Fluminense into second if results go their way.
8. Football League Championship Commences
The Football League Championship commences on Friday with relegated Cardiff City paying a visit to Blackburn Rovers.
Ten matches will follow on Saturday, including Fulham’s appointment at Ipswich Town.
7. Scottish Premiership Kicks off
The Scottish Premiership gets underway on Saturday with a trio of matches, including Motherwell vs. St. Mirren at Fir Park.
Aberdeen vs. Dundee United headlines Sunday’s fixture list, what with Celtic idle following midweek Champions League commitments.
6. Santos Host Corinthians in Sao Paulo Derby
Unfortunately for the Peixe, their native son hasn’t returned just yet, which means they’ll be looking to bounce back from a 1-0 defeat away to Internacional with Leandro Damiao once again leading the line.
Corinthians, meanwhile, are coming off a 0-0 draw with Coritiba and fighting for the fourth and final Copa Libertadores berth in the 2014 Brasileiro.
5. Moscow Derby Features High-Flying Local Rivals
Dynamo Moscow and Spartak Moscow are joint top of the Russian Premier League ahead of Sunday’s showdown, although both sides have played just a single match this season.
Dynamo opened their 2014-15 campaign in a 7-3 demolition of Rostov while Spartak won 4-0 away to Rubin Kazan.
Both have also been active in the summer transfer market, with Dynamo acquiring Mathieu Valbuena and Alexander Buttner and Spartak bringing in Roman Shirokov and Kim Kallstrom.
4. Eredivisie Begins Its 2014-15 Schedule
The Dutch top flight is among the European leagues to commence this weekend, and PEC Zwolle and FC Utrecht will get things underway on Friday.
Returning champions Ajax will get their domestic campaign started on Sunday at home vs. Vitesse Arnhem, and title rivals Feyenoord and PSV Eindhoven will face ADO Den Haag and Willem II Tilburg, respectively.
3. Ligue 1 Begins with PSG in Action
Ligue 1 champions Paris Saint-Germain will help kick off the 2014-15 running of the French top flight, Friday, when they visit Stade de Reims.
The match may have come a bit too soon for new arrival David Luiz, however, as the former Chelsea defender and his Brazilian teammates are unlikely to feature at Stade Auguste Delaune II.
Elsewhere, Marseille will visit Bastia on Saturday, and Monaco will host Lorient on Sunday.
With Europe’s biggest leagues set to kick off in the next few weeks, it’s no surprise that transfer rumours continue to be churned out at an incredible rate.
The Daily Mail's Simon Jones is currently linking Monaco striker Radamel Falcao with a loan move to Liverpool, and Jones, along with colleague Jack Gaughan, has claimed that Manchester United are keen to sign defender Thomas Vermaelen from Arsenal.
The Daily Telegraph's Jeremy Wilson, meanwhile, is suggesting Liverpool defender Daniel Agger could be set to leave Anfield, and AC Milan have reportedly contacted Real Madrid regarding goalkeeper Diego Lopez, according to Marca's Oscar Mendez.
No doubt the weekend will see movement on one or more of these transfer stories.
1. Wembley Set for Sunday’s Community Shield Match
Sunday’s Community Shield showdown between Arsenal and Manchester City will officially signal the start of the 2014-15 English football season.
Arsenal—the FA Cup winners—have already spent heavily this summer, shelling out nearly £60 million on Alexis Sanchez, Mathieu Debuchy, Calum Chambers and David Ospina.