Top 10 Storylines in World Football for Weekend of August 15-17
With just over two weeks to go until the summer transfer window slams shut, several of Europe’s biggest clubs are looking to make the sort of late acquisitions they feel might be the difference between success and disappointment at season’s end.
We’ll underline several of the ongoing transfer sagas over the next few slides while highlighting some of the key storylines in world football ahead of the coming weekend.
Saturday, for example, will see the curtain raised on the 2014-15 Premier League campaign, and there are also noteworthy encounters in the Netherlands, Germany and Scotland.
Let’s get to it.
10. First Round of DFB-Pokal
Bayern Munich will begin their DFB-Pokal defense on Sunday when they travel to third-tier Preussen Muenster. The first round of the German Cup begins on Friday, with Bayer Leverkusen and Nurnberg among the clubs in action, and continues through the weekend with the rest of the Bundesliga elite joining the competition.
9. A Second-Tier Edinburgh Derby
Hearts and Hibs began life in the Scottish Championship last week, and both picked up wins in their first matches in the second tier. They’ll go head-to-head at Tynecastle on Sunday in a match that still seems like it should feature among the more tasty encounters of Scotland’s top flight.
8. Title Contenders to Duel in Eredivisie
The 2014-15 Eredivisie season is only one week old, and after the first round of matches. Ajax and AZ Alkmaar occupy the top two places in the table. Alkmaar, who trounced Heracles to begin their campaign, will welcome the champions, who beat Vitesse Arnhem last weekend, to AFAS Stadion on Sunday.
7. Chelsea Players Playing for Jobs
Chelsea are looking to offload at least one foreign player in order to comply with Premier League and Champions League regulations, according to The Telegraph. That means the likes of Fernando Torres, Marco van Ginkel, John Obi Mikel and Petr Cech could well be playing for their jobs in the first few weeks of the 2013-14 Premier League season. The Blues travel to Burnley on Monday.
6. Arsenal Still Looking to Strengthen
Arsenal have already set a club record for summer spending, but manager Arsene Wenger may still bring in another player or two before the closing of the summer transfer window.
According to the Express, the Gunners are leading the pack to sign Paris Saint-Germain striker Edinson Cavani and could also be set to land Olympiacos defender Kostas Manolas, as per The Independent. Watch this space.
5. Manchester United Embroiled in Vidal and Rojo Sagas
Don’t look now, but Manchester United’s rumoured approach for Sporting Lisbon defender Marcos Rojo could end up in court due to the involvement of a third party, according to the Daily Mail.
The Red Devils are also reported to be closing in on a swap deal for Juventus midfielder Arturo Vidal that will include striker Javier Hernandez, as per Metro.
Both transactions could go down to the wire.
4. Managerial Debuts
A handful of Premier League managers will be making their debuts this weekend, the most high-profile of which is Manchester United’s Louis van Gaal. But Tottenham Hotspur also have a new boss in Mauricio Pochettino, and Southampton and West Bromwich Albion will be introducing Ronald Koeman and Alan Irvine, respectively, to the English top flight.
3. Pulis Could Depart Palace
As reported by The Telegraph, Crystal Palace manager Tony Pulis could depart the club before the Premier League outfit’s match away to Arsenal. Pulis, who was appointed last November, is thought to be unhappy with a lack of transfer funds that saw him miss out on targets like Steven Caulker and Gylfi Sigurdsson.
Palace finished 11th in the English top flight last term.
2. Liverpool’s Ex-Southampton Contingent Faces Former Club
Liverpool raided Southampton during the summer, acquiring Rickie Lambert, Dejan Lovren and Adam Lallana for a combined £49 million. Lovren will likely start for the Reds against his former club on Saturday, and Lambert could feature at some point as well. Lallana, however, has already been ruled out with a knee injury.
1. Manchester United and Swansea Open the Premier League Season
Manchester United will host Swansea in the first match of the 2014-15 Premier League season. United, who finished a disappointing seventh last term, will be looking to rebound under the guidance of incoming manager Louis van Gaal. Swansea, coming off a 12th-place finish, have added a handful of players to the ranks, including striker Bafetimbi Gomis and midfielder Jefferson Montero.
All 20 Premier League clubs will be in action over the weekend.