On Tap (Oct 23-29)

It’s a big week for Barcelona and Real Madrid, and a great Saturday of football. Here’s a complete viewing guid for the week ahead, with the top 5 picks marked in red. Enjoy.

All times are listed CST.

Friday, Oct. 23rd
2:00 PM Aston Villa – Leeds United (Peacock) – The best of the five(!!!) Friday evening games, one from each of the big European leagues. If you don’t have Peacock, ESPN+ has Torino – Sassuolo (1:45 PM), while BeinSportsÑ has Elche – Valencia (2:00 PM). BeinSports is also offering a delayed broadcast of Rennes – Angers (live 2:00 PM on BeinSportsXTRA) at 8:00 PM. But Aston Villa is one of two undefeated teams in the top five European leagues, while Marcelo Bielsa’s Leeds is one of the most exciting. A good way to start off your weekend.

Saturday, Oct. 24th
6:30 AM Manchester City – West Ham United (Peacock) – The only lunchtime game. West Ham has had a good run against similarly heavy opposition of late, so this game may be more interesting that it initially seems.
9:00 AM Barcelona – Real Madrid (BeinSports) – 7 other games, but no actual competition for El Clásico when both teams are in crisis. A loss here would make this one of the worst weeks in Real Madrid’s history, following embarrassing losses to Cádiz CF and Shakhtar Donetsk; but Barcelona is also coming off a loss to Getafe and needs a win to secure confidence under new coach Ronald Koeman following a tumultuous end to the previous campaign. The game should have dramatic consequences whatever the results. It’s worth noting that if you need a Bundesliga fix this weekend, your best bet is probably RB Leipzig – Hertha Berlin at 8:30 AM on ESPN+, but available for replay whenever you find a spare 90′.
11:30 AM Manchester United – Chelsea (NBC) – You don’t even need a sports package to watch this one. United and Chelsea should be a barnstormer from two teams hoping to push their way into a top four finish. Defensive liabilities at both ends of the pitch make it a tantalizing prospect for neutrals.
2:00 PM Atlético Madrid – Real Betis (BeinSportsÑ) – Unless you’d rather watch Liverpool or PSG dominating inferior opponents (Sheffield United on Peacock or Dijon FCO on BeinSports), this is probably the game for you. Alternately, ESPN+ is offering Lazio – Bologna.

Sunday, Oct. 25th
7:00 AM RC Lens – Nantes (BeinSportsXTRA) – Lens is back in Ligue 1, as befits a club with its history and support, and currently in 5th place. But since both Bein networks are running infomercials at this hour, you might check out Cagliari – Crotone (6:30 AM) if you have a subscription to ESPN+. Or just get some extra beauty sleep.
9:00 AM Southampton – Everton (NBCSN) – There are lots of options in this slot, but this is probably the best of them. If you’re not turned on by Carlo’s Hah-mes and Ah-lan show, you might check out Cádiz CF – Villarreal (10:00 AM on BeinSports), at least for the first half.
11:00 AM OGC Nice – LOSC Lille (BeinSportsXTRA) – Lille currently top the Ligue 1 table, while Nice are in 4th. There are four other options starting between 11:30 AM and 12:30 PM for Ligue 1 haters, the best of which is probably Wolverhampton Wanderers – Newcastle United (11:30 AM on NBC).
2:15 PM Arsenal – Leicester City (Peacock) – There’s serious competition in the late evening slot this Sunday, so if things are looking dull through the first half, you may want to be ready for a switch to either Juventus – Hellas Verona (2:45 PM on ESPN+) or even better to Olympique Lyonnais – AS Monaco (3:00 PM on BeinSportsXTRA). Though both sides are currently mid-table, Lyon has managed to retain the core of their Champions League side, while Monaco has had a reasonable start under former Bayern Munich boss, Niko Kovač. Having said that, the Premier League tilt between Mikel Arteta and Brendan Shanahan’s respective sides may have a slight edge in terms of glamour. BeinSports is rebroadcasting is rebroadcasting the Lyon-Monaco game at 6:00 PM.

Monday, Oct. 26th
12:30 PM Brighton & Hove Albion – West Bromwich Albion (NBCSN) – The only option is the best option; but this should be a lively match.
2:45 PM AC Milan – AS Roma (ESPN+) – Three other options between 2:30-3:00 PM, but this is the one to watch. Milan are one of the two remaining undefeated teams in Europe and look rejuvenated behind 39 year-old Zlatan Ibrahimović.

Tuesday, Oct. 27th
12:55 PM Shakhtar Donetsk – Internazionale (TUDN) – Also available on CBS All Access, as are all Champions and Europa League games, this is a much more interesting game with the Ukrainian underdogs topping Group B. A second win would really bolster their chances of advancing to the knockout stage at the expense of either Inter or Real Madrid.
3:00 PM Borussia Mönchengladbach – Real Madrid (TUDN) – Were Madrid to lose this game, they would face the real possibility of not advancing to the group stage for the first time since they failed to qualify for the Champions League in 1996-97. Gladbach are coming off tying Inter-Milan in last week’s opening round of games. Also worth considering is Olympique de Marseille – Manchester City on CBS All Access, or the Golazo Show on CBSSN, which offers a fairly well-managed wrap-around coverage of all six Champions League games in the prime time slot.

Wednesday, Oct. 28th
12:55 Krasnodar – Chelsea (CBS All Access) – This is not a marquee attraction, but it will probably be a better game than İstanbul Başakşehir – Paris Saint-Germain, which is the game offered on TUDN.
3:00 PM Juventus – Barcelona (TUDN) – This is clearly the match to watch, but with Manchester United – RB Leipzig and Sevilla – Stade Rennais at the same time, the Golazo Show is not out of the question.

Thursday, Oct. 29th
12:55 PM LOSC Lille – Celtic (CBS All Access) – If you’re still game for Europa League football at this point in the week, you’re stronger than I am. This is my best guess as the most promising game of the early ones, but AC Milan (on TUDN), Tottenham Hotspur, Villarreal, and Hoffenheim also play.
3:00 PM Real Sociedad – Napoli (CBS All Access) – No question about this time slot. La Real and Napoli looks more like a Champions League fixture than a Europa one. Arsenal (on TUDN), AS Roma, OGC Nice, and Bayer Leverkusen also play.

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