Worldwide wake up report: The offseason is finally ending
By Daniel Rubens
It’s been a short offseason for European football. The past two months have been filled with massive international tournaments and club friendlies, and some players haven’t really gotten their full rests in. That’s irrelevant now, however, as teams gear up for their regular seasons in most major European countries, with the first pieces of silverware ready to be handed out this weekend.
The first two of those contests take place Saturday morning in Germany and France. At 11:45 a.m. PT, Wolfsburg hosts Bayern Munich in the DFB Supercup, with Lyon and PSG playing for the French Supercup 15 minutes later in Montreal. Both contests should be fiery affairs with trophies on the line, so expect quality football in each. The French match can be seen live in the US on beIN Sports.
On Sunday, the action shifts to the Western reaches of Europe, with England’s Community Shield and Holland’s Supercup set to be contested. First, London rivals Arsenal and Chelsea do battle at Wembley, with new Arsenal keeper Petr Cech likely to feature against his long-time club. That alone is enough to make this fixture fascinating, and the sheer amount of talent on display one last time before the competition ramps up only adds extra luster to it. Though the game kicks off early at 7 a.m. PT, it’s a great chance to re-acclimate yourself to waking up early for football. Shortly after that one ends, the Dutch Supercup begins, with Groningen and PSV facing off before beginning Eredivisie play next weekend.
That’s not all the competitive action in Europe, either, as a handful of leagues continue or ignite the early stages of the season. The Scottish Premier League joins the Belgian, Russian, Ukrainian, and Nordic leagues in the regular season this weekend, with four-time defending champion Celtic hosting Ross County in the season opener early Saturday morning. None of those other leagues have any overly enticing matchups this weekend, but their seasons are still just kicking into gear, and things pick up in the next few weeks.
Lastly, though the offseason is coming to a close, we still have a whole host of club friendlies this weekend as teams make their final preparations for the campaigns ahead. Most top-flight English, Spanish, and German teams without other commitments have matches this weekend, with many facing strong opponents.
It’s hard to pick a single best game of the weekend’s matchups, simply because there are so many teams with intriguing players and storylines going into the season. Saturday’s prime games include two of Portugal’s best teams hosting Champions League-quality sides as Porto faces Valencia and Sporting hosts Roma. Other interesting matchups feature Juventus facing Marseille, Newcastle taking on Borussia Monchengladbach, and Stuttgart battling Manchester City.
Though there are fewer matchups on Sunday, there will still be plenty of skill on display. In addition to teams like Liverpool, Schalke, Porto (again), and Valencia (again) playing, there are two top-notch friendly matchups, with Barcelona and Fiorentina meeting in Florence in the International Champions Cup and Galatasaray and Inter Milan battling in Turkey. Both matchups will feature quality in spades, and, though the games may not matter as much as some of the other ones this weekend, they should put a nice cap on the final weekend before Europe’s biggest leagues return to their regularly scheduled programming.