This Football Weekend

As we approach the halfway point of the season, the pressure is mounting at the top end of leagues all across Europe. Teams will be looking to finish 2016 on a high note, but to do so they will have to overcome tough opponents. There are plenty of exciting big games and unpredictable fixtures taking place all over the continent and here are my picks for the matches to follow this football weekend. 

Friday, December 16th

Hoffenheim vs Borussia Dortmund (4th vs 6th in the Bundesliga)

Saturday, December 17th 

RB Leipzig vs Hertha Berlin (2nd vs 3rd in the Bundesliga)

Atletico Madrid vs Las Palmas (6th vs 10th in La Liga)

Guingamp vs Paris Saint-Germain (6th vs 3rd in Ligue 1. Guingamp manager Antoine Kombouaré will be looking to prove a point against his former employers)

AC Milan vs Atalanta (3rd vs 6th in Serie A)

Oostende vs Zulte-Waregem (4th vs 1st in a clash of Belgium’s most surprising teams)

West Bromwich Albion vs Manchester United (7th vs 6th in the Premier League)

Juventus vs Roma (1st vs 2nd in Serie A)

Sunday, December 18th

Bournemouth vs Southampton (10th vs 9th in the Premier League’s south coast derby)

Napoli vs Torino (4th vs 8th in a match between Serie A’s third-highest scoring teams)

Ajax vs PSV Eindhoven (2nd vs 3rd in the Eredivisie’s biggest rivalry)

Manchester City vs Arsenal (4th vs 3rd in the Premier League)

Barcelona vs Espanyol (2nd vs 9th in La Liga’s Catalan derby)

Lazio vs Fiorentina (5th vs 7th in Serie A)

Monaco vs Lyon (2nd vs 4th in Ligue 1)

Sporting Lisbon vs Braga (3rd vs 4th in the Primeira Liga)

Monday, December 19th

Everton vs Liverpool (8th vs 2nd in the Premier League’s Merseyside Derby)

This Football Weekend

European competition has concluded for 2016 and from now until February, the focus will be on domestic football on the continent. This weekend sees some heavyweight clashes across many different leagues. Here are my picks for the games to watch this weekend:

Friday, December 9th

Eintracht Frankfurt vs Hoffenheim (5th vs 4th in the Bundesliga)

Saturday, December 10th

Cologne vs Borussia Dortmund (7th vs 6th in the Bundesliga)

Bordeaux vs Monaco (7th vs 2nd in Ligue 1)

Leicester vs Manchester City (The Premier League Champions in 16th welcome 4th placed City)

Sunday, December 11th

Anderlecht vs Club Brugge (3rd vs 2nd in the Belgian Pro League)

Torino vs Juventus (7th vs 1st in Serie A’s Turin derby)

Manchester United vs Tottenham (6th vs 5th in the Premier League)

Schalke 04 vs Bayer Leverkusen (8th vs 9th, between two of Bundesliga’s European powers)

Benfica vs Sporting (1st vs 2nd in the Primeira Liga)

Paris Saint-Germain vs Nice (3rd vs 1st in Ligue 1)

Monday, December 12th

Villarreal vs Atletico Madrid (6th vs 4th in La Liga)

Roma vs AC Milan (2nd vs 3rd in Serie A)

Champions League Last 16 Draw Permutations

With the group stages of the 2016/17 Champions League now behind us, attention is already turning to Monday’s round of 16 draw. As some of the continents big-hitters came second in their groups, many are anticipating a few tasty fixtures to come out of the hat on Monday. 

There are two well-known stipulations in the draw. Teams from the same country cannot draw each other, nor can teams who played each other in the group stage. With those out of the way, let’s take a look at the possibilities for the 16 remaining teams in the draw. 

Arsenal
Winners, Group A

Possible Opponents:
Benfica, Bayern Munich, Bayer Leverkusen, Real Madrid, Porto or Sevilla

Paris Saint-Germain
Runners-up, Group A

Possible Opponents:
Napoli, Barcelona, Atletico Madrid, Borussia Dortmund, Leicester City or Juventus

Napoli
Winners, Group B

Possible Opponents:
Paris Saint-Germain, Manchester City, Bayern Munich, Bayer Leverkusen, Real Madrid, Porto or Sevilla

Benfica
Runners-up, Group B

Possible Opponents:
Arsenal, Barcelona, Atletico Madrid, Monaco, Borussia Dortmund, Leicester City or Juventus

Barcelona
Winners, Group C

Possible Opponents:
Paris Saint-Germain, Benfica, Bayern Munich, Bayer Leverkusen or Porto

Manchester City
Runners-up, Group C

Possible Opponents:
Napoli, Atletico Madrid, Monaco, Borussia Dortmund or Juventus

Atletico Madrid
Winners, Group D

Possible Opponents:
Paris Saint-Germain, Benfica, Manchester City, Bayer Leverkusen or Porto

Bayern Munich
Runners-up, Group D

Possible Opponents:
Arsenal, Napoli, Barcelona, Monaco, Leicester City or Juventus

Monaco
Winners, Group E

Possible Opponents:
Benfica, Manchester City, Bayern Munich, Real Madrid, Porto or Sevilla

Bayer Leverkusen
Runners-up, Group E

Possible Opponents:
Arsenal, Napoli, Barcelona, Atletico Madrid, Leicester City or Juventus

Borussia Dortmund
Winners, Group F

Possible Opponents:
Paris Saint-Germain, Benfica, Manchester City, Porto or Sevilla

Real Madrid
Runners-up, Group F

Possible Opponents:
Arsenal, Napoli, Monaco, Leicester City or Juventus

Leicester City
Winners, Group G

Possible Opponents:
Paris Saint-Germain, Benfica, Bayern Munich, Bayer Leverkusen, Real Madrid or Sevilla

Porto
Runners-up, Group G

Possible Opponents:
Arsenal, Napoli, Barcelona, Atletico Madrid, Monaco, Borussia Dortmund or Juventus

Juventus
Winners, Group H

Possible Opponents:
Paris Saint-Germain, Benfica, Manchester City, Bayern Munich, Bayer Leverkusen, Real Madrid or Porto

Sevilla
Runners-up, Group H

Possible Opponents:
Arsenal, Napoli, Monaco, Borussia Dortmund or Leicester City

Looking at all the permutations, I am going to have some fun and pick a few possible matchups from the draw that would have fans all over the world excited. The matches are listed, keeping in mind group runners-up play the first leg at home and group winners host the return leg.

Real Madrid vs Arsenal (Sanchez and Ozil vs Ronaldo, Bale and Benzema)

Bayern Munich vs Barcelona (Ancelotti renewing his rivalry with Enrique)

Paris Saint-Germain vs Napoli (The Edinson Cavani derby)

Porto vs Monaco (A repeat of the 2004 Champions League final)

Bayern Munich vs Arsenal (Can Arsenal turn the tables on Bayern with the second leg at home? Also, Wenger vs Ancelotti)

Paris Saint-Germain vs Atletico Madrid (Unai Emery versus Diego Simeone after some great battles in La Liga)

Manchester City vs Borussia Dortmund (Master against disciple and a renewal of Guardiola’s brief rivalry with Tuchel)

Real Madrid vs Juventus (So many classic two-legged battles between these two giants and Zinedine Zidane’s history at both clubs)

Paris Saint-Germain vs Barcelona (Unai Emery’s teams always give Barcelona a very good test)

Sevilla vs Borussia Dortmund (Two of the most intense teams in Europe helmed by cerebral managers in Jorge Sampaoli and Thomas Tuchel)

Manchester City vs Atletico Madrid (Guardiola vs Simeone)

Bayern Munich vs Juventus (Last year was a classic and we also get to see Milan’s two best recent managers in Ancelotti and Allegri)

Real Madrid vs Monaco (Two free-scoring teams and would be their first meeting since the classic 2004 quarterfinal)

Paris Saint-Germain vs Juventus (The most dominant domestic dynasties in Europe against each other)

Sevilla vs Arsenal (A team that has thrived on knockout football against one that gets the jitters)

Manchester City vs Juventus (Guardiola vs Allegri after their classic last year)

Paris Saint-Germain vs Borussia Dortmund (Cavani, Di Maria, Verratti against Aubameyang, Reus and Weigl, to name just a few)

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