On Tap (Nov 6-12)

Need something to take your mind off the election? Two big games this weekend, with the best sides in the Bundesliga and the Premier League facing off, and then a US friendly on Thursday. Plenty more to see in between as well.

All times are CST.

Friday, Nov. 6th
11:30 AM Brighton & Hove Albion – Burnley (Peacock) – Unless you’ve got Neal Maupay, Tariq Lamptey, or Nick Pope (still?) on your fantasy team, you can probably skip this one. But it’s the only game in its time slot.
1:45 PM Sassuolo – Udinese (ESPN+) – With Atalanta still drawing all the hipster oxygen in Serie A, you might have missed Sassuolo kicking on from last year’s role as the team outside of Bergamo most likely to produce an amazing result. Roberto De Zerbi’s side are currently 2nd in the table and very much worth your time. Udinese are struggling near the bottom of the league, but they gave Zlatan Ibrahimović’s league-leading AC Milan a serious run for their money last weekend. Give this one a chance. You can always switch over to Southampton – Newcastle on Peacock at 3:00 PM if it isn’t delivering.

Saturday, Nov. 7th
6:30 AM Everton – Manchester United (NBCSN)
– The first half of the Mersey-Mancs rival swap weekend is the less interesting one, but it still features two teams that could really use a win. To be sure, a win for cool Carlo Ancelotti’s side would only add to the crisis brewing for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
9:15 AM Barcelona – Real Betis (BeinSports) – Speaking of crises, it’s on like Donkey Kong for Barcelona, following last weekend’s tie with Deportivo Alavés. Real Betis are also struggling under new manager Manuel Pellegrini, so this high anxiety contest between underperforming but talented squads should be a fun one for neutrals.
11:30 AM Borussia Dortmund – Bayern Munich (ESPN+) – Clearly the match of the day between the best teams in Germany, level on points atop the table. Still, this is unquestionably Bayern’s game to lose. Even with Liverpool rounding back into form, Hansi Flick’s men are looking like the best team in the world, which means a win here might signal the end of the Bundesliga title race. Can I also just say, fuck ESPN/Disney/ABC for not broadcasting this match on one of their 150 cable channels? If you’re really sore about that, protest alternatives include Sheffield United – Chelsea on NBC or Sevilla – Osasuna on BeIN Sports. But really, you should probably watch this one instead.
2:00 PM Paris Saint-Germain – Stade Rennais (BeIN Sports) – Rennes seem to be struggling this season with the added strain of Champions League every mid-week, while Thomas Tuchel’s PSG will be eager to make amends for their mid-week loss to RB Leipzig.  Even so, it’s always worth taking the opportunity to see Rennes’ teenage midfield maestro Eduardo Camavinga in action. If that doesn’t appeal to you, you could always opt for Parma – Fiorentina at 1:45 PM on ESPN+ instead, or possibly Atlético Madrid – Cádiz CF on BeIN SportsÑ.

Sunday, Nov. 8th
5:30 AM Lazio – Juventus (ESPN2) – A lot of Covid craziness on here. Lazio will be missing quite a few starters, as the entire team was recently placed in quarantine (and are also facing a probe for Ciro Immobile and Lucas Leiva playing in last weekend’s amazing 4-3 victory at Torino despite testing positive for the Champions League matches on either side of that game). Luis Alberto, at least, has tested negative and will be able to play. But on the other side, Cristiano Ronaldo has finally been cleared to play and will be making his return from quarantine for Juventus. If this one really goes south, you can always switch over to West Bromwich Albion – Tottenham Hotspur at 6:00 AM on NBCSN.
8:00 AM Atalanta – Internazionale (ESPN+) or Leicester City – Wolverhampton Wanderers (NBCSN) – Two good options here, both involving a pair of quality teams. My initial instinct would have been toward the Italians, but I don’t think you can make a wrong choice here.
10:30 AM Manchester City – Liverpool (Peacock) – Even with City wobbling, this is the game of the day, and one of the more exciting Premier League fixtures of the season. With Jürgen Klopp’s men seeming to have rediscovered their relentlessness from last season, the pressure will definitely be on Pep Guardiola to pull out a victory. It will be a tall order–and even if the wheels come off, this should be a good one to watch. Oh, and fuck NBC for following ESPN’s lead and hiding this game away on their streaming service. Not right. You might also want to be aware of Borussia Mönchengladbach – Bayer Leverkusen (11:00 AM on ESPN+) if you have some time later in the day to take in an extra game. These two sides are currently 4th and 5th in the Bundesliga table, and both are playing quite well.
2:00 PM Olympique Lyonnais – AS Saint Étienne (BeIN SportsXTRA) – Claude Puel’s Saint-Étienne are on a five game losing streak (six games winless), but in truth Lyon are only performing a bit better. Even so, this seems the most evenly matched of the games in this somewhat disappointing late slot. If you are disinclined or lack access, other options include Valencia – Real Madrid (BeIN Sports), Arsenal – Aston Villa (1:15 PM at Peacock), AC Milan – Hellas Verona (1:45 PM at ESPN+). In all honesty, this might be a good time to try out one of the seven 2:00 PM MLS games starting at 2:00 PM on ESPN+ (and, for some games, on other outlets as well). It’s worth noting that BeIN Sports is rebroadcasting this game at 5:00 PM. 

Wednesday, Nov. 11th
11:45 AM Turkey – Croatia (ESPN+) – Two days without football seems almost unimaginable in our new, Covid-shaped media landscape, but thankfully ill-advised international friendlies have stepped in to keep that break from extending to FOUR days. While it’s true that watching this game will mark you out as an insufferable football hipster, you should also bear in mind that in their last friendly a month ago, Turkey pushed Germany to an exciting 3-3 draw.
1:45 PM Netherlands – Spain (ESPN+) – This is definitely the pick of this batch of friendlies, most of which are available streaming from ESPN. Even though the upcoming round of Nations League games insures that these will be heavily rotated squads from the outset, Holland and Spain have the depth to keep this one interesting. Neither of these talented sides have looked impressive recently, so Frank de Boer and Luis Enrique both have significant work ahead, and this game may give some insight into their longer-term plans and goals.

Thursday, Nov. 12th
1:00 PM Serbia – Scotland (ESPN2) – All four play-in matches for the 2020(1) Euros are being played on Thursday, but this is probably the best of them. Serbia is the better side, in truth, but what sort of hard heart doesn’t have a soft spot for the nation that invented passing? If you are looking for one of the other play-offs, Georgia (the state Putin lost, not the one Biden won) – Macedonia is at 10:45 AM on ESPN2, while Hungary – Iceland (not a terrible game) and Northern Ireland – Slovakia are both at 1:35 PM on ESPN3 (which is included in ESPN+). But your best bet for the afternoon is elsewhere. . .
1:45 PM Wales – United States (Fox Sports 1) – New Zealand had the good sense to cancel their friendly with England, but why wouldn’t the United States go forward with a meaningless trip to Wales for a game with no paying fans? Advisable or not, this is probably the best friendly of the day, even if you aren’t an American Outlaw. It should be another opportunity for USMNT manager Gregg Berhalter to continue to disappoint, though it’s staging in Europe does make it slightly more likely that a few non-MLS players may crack the starting XI. Ideally, you can finish watching Serbia – Scotland on your tablet or phone with this on one on the big screen.

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