Top Storylines in World Football for Weekend of August 22-24
Two of Europe’s biggest leagues will raise the curtains on their 2014-15 seasons this weekend.
Bayern Munich will begin their latest title defense in the Bundesliga on Friday and La Liga will kick off on Saturday, although reigning champions Atletico Madrid won’t be in action until Monday.
There are countless other storylines to be following over the coming weekend, and the following slides will highlight just a few of them.
Let’s get to it.
9. Petr Cech’s Status as a Chelsea Player
Earlier this month Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho revealed he would sell at least one of his foreign players in order to comply with Premier League and Champions League regulations, according to The Telegraph.
That player could end up being Petr Cech.
Benched on Monday as Thibaut Courtois started the Blues’ Premier League opener against Burnley, Cech will likely be second choice again on Saturday at home to Leicester City.
At 32, the Czech Republic goalkeeper still has plenty of football left in him, and a Monday report in the Mirror linked him with a move to Monaco.
Watch this space.
8. Ice Bucket Challenge: Who Will Be Next?
Some of world football’s most high-profile personalities have already completed the Ice Bucket Challenge, with the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, Luis Suarez and Jose Mourinho having containers of freezing-cold water dumped over their heads.
Who will be next?
Manchester United midfielder Anderson has nominated former Red Devils manager Sir Alex Ferguson (that would be interesting), and Paris Saint-Germain captain Thiago Silva has nominated Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
More footballers, managers and on-air personalities will likely take the Challenge, which supports the ALS Association, in the coming days.
7. Madrid Rivalry Continues in Spanish Super Cup
Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid faced one another in last season’s Champions League final, and already this term they’ve gone head-to-head on one occasion—a 1-1 draw being the result of the first leg of the all-Madrid Spanish Super Cup.
Needless to say, the familiarity has bred enmity between the two.
In the first leg of the Super Cup they combined for 31 fouls and seven yellow cards, and Friday’s rematch should once again be a highly charged affair.
6. The Angel Di Maria Saga
On Friday, Real Madrid manager Carlo Ancelotti confirmed that midfielder Angel Di Maria had asked to leave the club.
“Di Maria put in a transfer request this summer and turned down an offer to renew his contract,” the Italian told AS.
Earlier this month the Daily Mail reported that Manchester United were readying an offer for the Argentina international, although news on that front has since gone stale.
Paris Saint-Germain are another possible destination for Di Maria, and on Friday club manager Laurent Blanc conceded there were “many clubs” in the hunt for the 26-year-old, as per Marca.
5. Barcelona’s Transfer Ban
On Thursday, a FIFA committee rejected Barcelona’s request for appeal regarding their transfer ban, meaning the Primera Division side will be prevented from acquiring players in both the upcoming winter transfer period and next summer’s registration window.
As a result, the Catalans may look to do some additional deals before September as the next chance they’ll have to bolster their squad will be in January 2016.
Sao Paulo right-back Douglas—a mostly unknown quantity in Brazilian football—will shortly finalise his move to Camp Nou, according to Goal, and as reported by Inside Spanish Football, they could also make late approaches for both Borussia Dortmund attacker Marco Reus and Fiorentina winger Juan Cuadrado.
4. How Bad Will It Get at Manchester United?
The summer arrival of Louis van Gaal and a promising pre-season programme created a lot of optimism in and around Manchester United, which is why last weekend’s 2-1 defeat to Swansea came like a pin to a balloon.
Since then the Red Devils have acquired defender Marcos Rojo from Sporting Lisbon, but moves for other targets, including Arturo Vidal and Juan Cuadrado, seem to have fizzled, as highlighted by the Manchester Evening News.
United will face Sunderland on Sunday, and one can only imagine the panic that will set in should they fall to a second successive defeat.
Executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward continues to come in for considerable criticism, and unless he can deliver a big-name player before September, it’s likely he’ll struggle to hold onto his current position.
3. The Iain Moody/Malky Mackay Affair
Just as it looked as though Crystal Palace were about to appoint Malky Mackay as Tony Pulis’ successor as manager, the Premier League club withdrew their offer.
According to The Guardian, Mackay’s former club, Cardiff City, had submitted a dossier to Selhurst Park alleging misconduct on behalf of the 42-year-old, including homophobia.
Iain Moody, who worked with Mackay in Wales and later accepted the position of sporting director at Palace, was also caught up in the allegations and has since resigned his post.
The Daily Mail says both men have since been reported to the Football Association, which will be investigating the matter.
In other words, this story is far from finished and could have some far-reaching consequences and ramifications.
2. Bundesliga Kicks off with Bayern Munich vs. Wolfsburg
Bayern Munich won the Bundesliga in record time last season and will begin their title defense on Friday against a promising Wolfsburg side.
Six more matches will follow on Saturday, including a high-profile contest between Borussia Dortmund and Bayer Leverkusen.
Sunday’s pair of matches will include a tasty showdown involving Borussia Monchengladbach and Stuttgart.
1. La Liga Commences with Malaga Hosting Athletic Bilbao
Athletic Bilbao will travel to Malaga to open the 2014-15 Primera Division season on Saturday, and Sevilla will host Valencia in the day’s biggest match.
Barcelona begin their La Liga campaign on Sunday at home to Elche, and Real Madrid will host promoted Cordoba on Monday.
Atletico Madrid will also be in action on Monday with a match away to Rayo Vallecano.