The Armchair Fan has had a tough week. The international break is its own novel form of torture.
Luckily this week is easier to deal with than last. Last week AF was forced to go outside and make plans with real life people.
But social life is overrated. And this week AF will be back in front of the TV with some premium snacks and a couple of beers to wash them down.
There’s a small helping of international football left, before the build up to top flight football all over Europe this weekend, including club football’s greatest show and some classic Premier League fixtures to go alongside your Clásico. What a time to be alive.
The final day of the international break is music to all of our ears, but tonight sees actual good football return to our screens. After England’s heroics in Berlin at the weekend, the conquering heroes march triumphantly into Wembley where all of that flattery over the weekend will turn to deception as they lose disappointingly at home to the Netherlands, who didn’t even manage to qualify for the tournament. Talk about back to Earth with a bang.
Although AF wonders whether if England were to be defeated, would it be such a bad thing? Two victories over Germany and the Netherlands in friendlies at a time when all eyes are firmly focused on club football and the season run-in does not a tournament-winning team make. Maybe it’s the media, the fans and the whole country who should keep their feet firmly on solid ground.
Elsewhere, if England isn’t your thing, Scotland face Denmark where, rather than watch the football, two sets of fans can console each other over missing out on a tournament with the easiest qualification process in history. That’ll surely involve beer. And world champions Germany face Italy in another of world football’s most iconic matches.
You can watch:
England 0-2 Netherlands – 8:00pm – ITV 1
Germany 2-1 Italy – 7:45pm – BT Sport Europe
Scotland 0-0 Denmark – 7:45pm – Sky Sports 1
Wednesday is where the week starts to get tough if your life revolves around football. Usually we have the Champions League or even a helping of League Cup nectar to keep us from having to make real plans with real people. This week, if you want to relax in front of the TV, maybe you should be looking to download that documentary on Maradona.
If you do decide to watch football on TV, you’ll have a choice between the Women’s Champions League quarter final between Frankfurt and Rosengard or a midtable League One clash between Southend United and Sheffield United.
Frankfurt are defending champions of the Women’s Champions League, so if you’re new to continental women’s football, then a quarter final involving the defending champions looks like a good place to start. It does, at least, seem infinitely better than watching a battle between two teams who both feel like they have a shot at the League One playoffs, but really really don’t….
You can watch…
Frankfurt 1-0 FC Rosengard – 5:00pm – British Eurosport 2
Southend United 0-1 Sheffield United – 7.45pm – Sky Sports 1
It’s back!! Top quality club football is back. Sort of. Friday night in front of the TV plans are sorted as Germany, France, and er, the Championship come to AF’s rescue. Just as we were all beginning to think that football had completely stopped holding any interest for anyone.
Friday night is a good one to ease you back into club football. Kick back, crack open a bottle of Germany’s finest wheat beer and watch the battle for Germany’s Champions League places recommence.
Admittedly, though, Bayer Leverkusen and Wolfsburg both look like they need snookers in order to qualify for next season’s tournament – Wolfsburg especially – but the winner of this Friday night feast will gain some confidence. It’s a crucial game, though most must-not-lose more than must-win.
If Germany – or wheat beer – doesn’t interest you, then grab a bottle of the finest Merlot that creepy Persian corner shop across the road has to offer and sit down to watch Monaco shore up a Champions League place and Bordeaux nervously look over their shoulders.
You can watch…
Bayer Leverkusen 1-1 Wolfsburg – 7:30pm – ESPN
Monaco 2-0 Bordeaux – 7.30pm – BT Sport 2
QPR 0-3 Middlesbrough – 7.45pm – BT Sport 1
Here’s where it gets interesting again. It’s true that we’ll take almost anything at this point, however. Anything that doesn’t involve meaningless friendlies or disinterested lower league players fighting midtable battles, but Saturday night is a special one. Yes club football returns with a vengeance with – probably a meaningless given the table – El Classico!
First, though, Saturday kicks off with Chelsea’s last league visit to Villa Park for quite some time in a battle to find out just who the most disappointing of the season really is. Chelsea are on the up, even if all they have to play for is a push for Europa League football next season. Villa are on the down in almost every conceivable way.
The late Premier League fixture sees Tottenham travel to Liverpool in a battle of attrition between two of the most relentless teams in the league, but this time it’s a pressure game for Spurs. A win for Spurs, however, would transfer all that pressure onto Leicester before their game on Sunday.
If the Premier League isn’t your thing, however, you can get your fill of Scottish Premier League action as Celtic face Hearts in the afternoon or Borussia Dortmund take on Werder Bremen instead of the late English game.
But then it’s the big one: El Clasico, live from the Nou Camp! If you only watch one match on Saturday, make sure it’s this one. Barcelona look to have the title almost sewn up, barring a stunning collapse by one of the best teams ever assembled. But if nothing else, Real Madrid will want to knock the reigning champions down a peg. Expect needle and top quality football, something the international friendlies will simply never provide.
You can watch…
Aston Villa 0-1 Chelsea – 12.45pm – BT Sport 1
Las Palmas 4-0 Gary Neville’s Valencia – 5.15pm – Sky Sports 5
Liverpool 1-0 Tottenham Hotspur – 5.30pm – Sky Sports 1
Borussia Dortmund 2-0 Werder Bremen – 5.30pm – BT Sport Europe
BARCELONA 6-6 REAL MADRID – 7.30pm – Sky Sports 2
After the excitement of a hopefully-pulsating Clasico, Sunday gets underway very early. What better way to nurse that hangover than by gearing up for your roast and extra gravy with some early continental football.
Napoli look to keep up their title charge with a trip to Friuli to face Udinese in the morning, before Leicester continue their inexorable march towards their first ever Premier League title by beating Southampton, followed by the Marouane Fellaini derby between Manchester United and Everton – a classic Premier League fixture, but one that’s probably seen better days.
But if the theatrics of the Premier League interest you, then you can get your fix of maliciousness and anger in the Rome derby between Lazio and Roma instead. Then wash that down with your choice of Champions League chasing continental teams try to keep their hopes of hearing that anthem next season alive: Lyon, Sevilla and Inter Milan are all in action on Sunday night, so choose your league, relax in front of the TV with a chicken sandwich and thank God for the return of club football.
You can watch…
Udinese 0-2 Napoli – 11.30am – BT Sport Europe
Leicester City 1-0 Southampton – 1.30pm – Sky Sports 1
Lazio 2-2 Roma – 2.00pm – BT Sport Europe
Man Utd 0-0 Everton – 4.00pm – Sky Sports 1
Sevilla 1-0 Real Sociedad – 7.45pm – Sky Sports 5
Inter Milan 1-0 Torino – 7.45pm – BT Sport Europe
Lorient 0-0 Lyon – 8.00pm – BT Sport Extra