10 Key Battles in World Football for Weekend of August 15-17

Karl Matchett@@karlmatchettFeatured ColumnistAugust 14, 2014

10 Key Battles in World Football for Weekend of August 15-17

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    Plenty of domestic leagues around Europe are already underway with more are set to take off this weekend, including the English Premier League.

    We've taken a look at 10 of the biggest matches this coming weekend, highlighting derby clashes, individuals involved in the games themselves and everything in between.

    Here are the 10 in question, ranging from as far afield as MLS, South America, Eastern Europe and the Continental mainland—but we start in the Premier League.

Liverpool vs. Southampton, Premier League

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    Liverpool and Southampton kick off the new Premier League campaign against each other—with three players having joined the former club from the latter over the summer.

    Centre-back Dejan Lovren, striker Rickie Lambert and midfielder Adam Lallana all swapped St. Mary's for Anfield in deals worth a combined £49 million, giving the fixture an extra bit of spice and something to look forward to.

    Of the trio, only Lovren is likely to start—Lallana is injured and Lambert a second option in attack.

West Ham United vs. Tottenham Hotspur, Premier League

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    London derbies aplenty can be found throughout the Premier League season on account of the number of capital-based sides in the top flight, and the opening weekend brings us two.

    Arsenal vs. Crystal Palace will be entertaining in its own right, but there is plenty more enmity and aggression between the two clubs in the West Ham vs. Spurs clash.

    Spurs pride themselves on playing attractive football, while West Ham boss Sam Allardyce has been told he must do the same. As they both try to achieve that feat, they'll be looking to pick up points and challenge for the top half and the top four.

Real Salt Lake vs. Seattle Sounders, MLS

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    If you're a fan of European football in the main and fancy taking on something new, make Real Salt Lake vs. Seattle Sounders your game to watch for the weekend.

    MLS continues to improve and impress, and this match features the top two clubs from the Western Conference, with Seattle currently on top by just two points. By contrast, though, it's Real Salt Lake who are in better recent form.

    The home side will be looking to claim the points here, as they know Seattle have two games in hand to restore their lead at the top whatever the outcome.

New England Revolution vs. Portland Timbers, MLS

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    Sticking with MLS for a moment, the conference-stage objective for most is to finish inside the top five, thus qualifying for the play-off stages and vying for the MLS Cup.

    New England Revolution currently sit seventh in the Eastern Conference but just one point outside the top five, while the Portland Timbers are seventh in the Western Conference, just two points below fifth.

    Three huge points are at stake for both as they seek to gatecrash that all-important fifth spot. There are around 10 games to play after this weekend's fixture.

Bordeaux vs. Monaco, Ligue 1

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    Bordeaux vs. Monaco is one of the most intriguing games to watch in Europe this weekend, with the Ligue 1 fixture pitting two new bosses against each other, both with great expectations at their respective clubs.

    Willy Sagnol is newly in charge of Bordeaux and took a 3-3 draw from his first game, but this will be his first home competitive game.

    Former Sporting Lisbon boss Leonardo Jardim suffered a late defeat in his first game in charge of Monaco which wasn't helped by defender Ricardo Carvalho's red card. He'll be looking to bounce back quickly as they mount another title challenge.

Paris Saint-Germain vs. Bastia, Ligue 1

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    Sticking in Ligue 1, any game featuring Zlatan Ibrahimovic is worth watching, as the man himself would no doubt be the first to agree.

    Bastia did well to come from 3-1 down to earn a draw last week against Marseille and will be hoping to build on last season's mid-table finish, but this will be their—and most teams'—most difficult test of the season.

    PSG could have debutant David Luiz in the side and several other returning World Cup stars who missed last weekend's opener.

Feyenoord vs. Heerenveen, Eredivisie

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    Over to the Eredivisie now, as two of last season's European contenders face off in the top flight in the Netherlands.

    Feyenoord impressed last season as they rose to second in the table and took the title fight the distance, but they have lost several key players throughout the summer and only managed a narrow win over ADO Den Haag in the first game.

    Heerenveen finished fifth last season, just two points behind PSV, and have largely looked to Scandinavia for their new recruits over the summer to try and improve on that.

Club Brugge vs. Cercle Brugge, Jupiler Pro League

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    How about a nice derby to pass the weekend?

    In Belgium's top flight, Bruges-based duo Club Brugge and Cercle Brugge do battle on Friday night, with the home side having made a good start to the new season, recording two wins and a draw so far. Cercle have drawn twice and lost once—but only won twice away from home all last season; they are certainly up against it here.

    Club Brugge ended last season as runners-up, while Cercle finished 11th in the 16-team league.

Velez Sarsfield vs. Arsenal, Argentina Primera Division

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    Another quick trip to the Americas now, as Argentina's Primera Division sees Velez Sarsfield face Arsenal.

    Both teams won on the opening matchday last time out—no great surprise after both sides finished within three points of the table-toppers during the 2013 Torneo Inicial.

    The Torneo Final didn't go quite as well for Arsenal, who finished 17th, so they'll be looking to make a much better fist of things this time around. Velez took 31 points in the Inicial, 30 in the Final, so consistency remains the aim of the game for them.

CSKA Moscow vs. Spartak Moscow, Russian Premier League

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    We finish up with another European derby, one in a major league: the Russian Premier League.

    Last season's champions CSKA Moscow play host to rivals Spartak on Sunday, with both teams enjoying a 100 percent record so far in the fledgling season.

    CSKA have won all three as they seek to defend their title, while Spartak (who play Krasnodar on Thursday evening) have two wins from two and are looking to close the gap on their rivals after finishing last season down in fifth place.

    It will be the first real test of the season for the champions, but Spartak have already impressed in defeating other city rivals Dynamo Moscow 2-1 away from home last week.