Water Under the Bridge
3rd Manchester City 1-Chelsea 3. Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City dominated for most of the game, but in the final third fell prey to Cesc Fàbregas and Diego Costa on the counter, and eventually to their own frustration. Sergio Agüero’s wild tackle on David Luiz–not his first infield assault of the Brazilian–set off an ugly end to the game, regardless of the possible questions to be asked of referee Anthony Taylor.
Barcelona 1-Real Madrid 1. This was a tight game that really came to life after Barcelona’s Luis Suárez headed home a set piece goal in the second half. After that, both Neymar and Lionel Messi had the goal at their mercy (the latter off one of the better passes I have ever seen from Andrés Iniesta) but failed to finish. Then Sergio Ramos headed home an equalizer at the end of regulation. A win would have pulled Barcelona within three points of their table-topping opponents, but they remain six back instead.
10 More to Watch
4th Lazio-Roma. The weekend isn’t over yet. The Rome derby is always a big fixture in the Serie A schedule, and with Roma in 2nd place and Lazio in 4th, this game has added importance. This is a big month for Roma, who also face 3rd place AC Milan on the 12th and then league leaders Juventus on the 18th.
6th Benfica-Napoli (Champions League). Though you’ll be tempted by Bayern Munich-Atlético Madrid in this final round of Champions League group play, don’t be deceived. Not only are both teams through, but Atlético has already secured the top spot. Benfica and Napoli, by comparison, are playing to see who will top the group, and if Beşiktaş manages to win away at Dynamo Kiev the loser of this game will find themselves in the Europa league. A huge decider for a very tight Group B.
7th Real Madrid-Borussia Dortmund (Champions League). If Tuesday’s big names are caught in a dead rubber, Real and Dortmund are still playing for top spot in Group F. Even just for pride, this should be a good game. Do plan on some player rotation.
Legia Warsaw-Sporting Clube de Portugal (Champions League). But get your DVR ready, because only a fool would miss Legia Warsaw. In their last two Champions league games, they have tied Real Madrid 3-3 and kept on attacking in a 4-8 loss to Borussia Dortmund. A win here will see them advance to the Europa. Should be a barn-stormer.
10th Toronto FC-Seattle Sounders (MLS Cup Final). Toronto were down 3-0 to the Montreal Impact in the opening leg of the Eastern Conference Final, but managed to pull 2 back in that game and then win 5-2 at home for a 2-goal aggregate victory. Despite losing Clint Dempsey, Seattle have been one of the strongest teams in the MLS in the latter stages of the season and play-offs. This is undoubtedly the game that the league wanted for its showpiece. If you’re itching for even more American soccer, you might catch the NCAA Final Four for Division I college soccer. Men’s semifinals are on the 9th, University of North Carolina-Stanford University and Denver University-Wake Forest University, with the Final on the 11th. The Women’s NCAA Final on the 4th, West Virginia-University of Southern California.
11th Paris Saint-Germain-OGC Nice. The first showdown of the season between the team that’s supposed to win Ligue 1 and the current table-toppers. Lucien Favre’s Nice are not the punchline to a Mario Balotelli joke. Despite their Europa League troubles, they look to have real chance to become the first team in five years to pip Paris Saint-Germain to the league title (as does Monaco). This will be a test for both Favre’s and Unai Emery’s men, and is a game worth trying to find.
18th Manchester City-Arsenal. Following their loss to Chelsea, City will want to re-establish themselves against Arsène Wenger’s boys. Both Sergio Agüero and Fernandinho will be out with red card suspensions, complicating things for Guardiola’s men. Complicating things for Arsenal will be, well, Arsenal.
21st Bayern-RB Leipzig. Everyone hates Leipzig RB, possibly even more than Bayern Munich. But the team that doubles as an energy drink billboard currently sits at the top of the Bundesliga. Well run, smartly managed, and full of young and exciting players, this team would be everything that could be right with modern football if they weren’t, you know, everything that’s wrong with modern football. If you haven’t seen them play yet, give yourself an early Christmas present.
26th Swansea City-West Ham. The Boxing Day schedule is so bad that your best bet is this relegation six-pointer. You can watch Euro stars like Dimitri Payet and Gylfi Sigurdsson–and American coach Bob Bradley–try desperately to catch up with David Moyes’s Sunderland. I know it’s rough, but the alternative is spending time with your family.
31st Liverpool-Manchester City. If the Boxing Day line-up is mostly a dud, New Year’s Eve delivers the perfect year-end in this huge game. Huge teams, huge coaches, just huge. And if you want more Premier League, don’t forget Man U-Tottenham (11th).