On Tap (Dec 11th-17th)

With the Champions League group stage completed, midweek will be turned over to the leagues for something approaching non-stop club football. Before that, it’s a weekend of two major derbies and the winding down of 2020 in the major CONCACAF leagues. That pretty much sums up what’s on show for the coming weekend and week. Hope you find something you like.

As always, times are CST. Add an hour on the East coast and subtract two on the West.  Add 6-8 hours in Europe.

Friday the 11th – 2:00 PM Leeds United – West Ham United (NBCSN): People may say it’s my West Ham bias here, but honestly, why would you ever miss Bielsa’s Leeds at the moment? Especially when the next best option is Wolfsburg – Eintracht Frankfurt (ESPN+).

Saturday the 12th – 6:30 AM Wolverhampton Wanderers – Aston Villa (Peacock) or 7:00 AM Valencia – Athletic Bilbao (BeIN Sports): Aston Villa’s star has dimmed just enough to make this match against Wolves something of a toss up. Valencia and Athletic are two talented and storied clubs that are currently struggling, at 13th and 14th in the table respectively.

  • 8:30 AM Borussia Dortmund – Stuttgart (ESPN+): Dortmund have struggled domestically in the last few weeks, and will be hoping that the end of the group stage will allow them to focus in on chasing Bayern. Stuttgart, though, should be a solid test of their ability to turn things around.
  • 10:00 AM Olympique de Marseille – AS Monaco (BeIN SportsXTRA): While the earlier games may leave something to be desired, this showdown between 4th and 5th in Ligue 1 should be a proper opening act for the main events to follow. Rebroadcast on Tuesday at 10:00 AM.
  • 11:30 AM Manchester United – Manchester City (NBC): It’s been a rough week for Manchester United heading into the derby, with Paul Pogba’s manager announcing the player’s desire to leave immediately right before a loss to RB Leipzig that saw them eliminated from the Champions League. Hopefully, the game will be a good one–Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has a surprisingly good record against Pep Guardiola’s City–but the talk will all be about a new manager.
  • 2:00 PM Real Madrid – Atlético Madrid (BeIN Sports): While this weekend’s Derbi Madrileño won’t be as significant as their 2014 and 2016 Champions League finals meetings, it could be absolutely critical for the title race. A loss for Real will put a significant damper on their chances of catching front-runners Atlético. But given the history of the squads, a win is probably at least as important to prove that Atlético’s early dominance of the league is not a mirage. Unquestionably, the match of the weekend (and of the week as a whole).
  • 7:00 PM Columbus Crew – Seattle Sounders (FOX): While I’m mostly European over here, North American soccer is reaching its finale this weekend. The first act of the process came last night, in the opening leg of Liga MX’s Apetura Final (of which, more in a moment). But Saturday brings the MLS Cup final between defending cup-holders Seattle and a club that only 2 years ago were set to be moved out of existence. Saved by the intervention of a local investment group, founding MLS side Columbus remained in Ohio, hired Caleb Porter (long-time manager of the Portland Timbers, Seattle’s top rivals), and made it to the Cup final. Porter should know how to make the game competitive.

Sunday the 13th – 6:00 AM OGC Nice – Stade Rennais (BeIN SportsXTRA): Honestly, this is a good day to sleep in, as there isn’t a really important game on until the final slot of the day.

  • 9:15 AM Real Betis – Villarreal (BeIN Sports): Villarreal are one of the upstarts trying to challenge Atlético in taking advantage of the current stumbles by La Liga’s traditional duopoly. Betis are a solid side, and should provide offer a good game.
  • 11:00 AM Bayer Leverkusen – TSG Hoffenheim (ESPN+): Leverkusen are having a fantastic season so far, currently in 2nd and just a point off perpetual leaders, Bayern. If you haven’t seen them this season, they are well worth your time. Hoffenheim are solidly mid-table, but should produce an entertaining opponent for Peter Bosz’s men.
  • 2:00 PM Paris Saint-Germain – Olympique Lyonnais (BeIN SportsXTRA): Ligue 1’s Champions League sides from last year face off in the best game of the day. PSG have regained first place after a Covid-disrupted start to the season, but Lyon are only two points behind them in 3rd place. It’s pretty clear who neutrals should be rooting for. If you can’t watch it live, BeIN Sports is offering a 5:00 PM rebroadcast.
  • 8:30 PM León – Pumas UNAM (TUDN): One night after the MLS Cup final, the 2nd leg of the Liga MX Apetura final will finish off the North American soccer season for 2020. The first leg between 2nd place Pumas UNAM and 1st place León was last night, and you can watch the highlights above. A late equalizer from León’s Emmanuel Gigglioti, against the run of play and after his side had gone a man down, sets the stage for a fantastic 2nd leg well worth watching.

Monday the 14th – 2:00 PM Celta de Vigo – Cádiz (BeIN Sports): La Liga is the only show in town as the rest of Europe rests for a mid-week gameday following last week’s conclusion of the Champions and Europa League group stages.

Tuesday the 15th – 12:00 PM Wolverhampton Wanderers – Chelsea (Peacock): While Aston Villa may be slipping, Chelsea are not. This should be a great way to spend your lunch break.

  • 3:00 PM Real Madrid – Athletic Bilbao (BeIN Sports): . . . and if your lunch break turns into a happy hour, this is probably the best game to have on in the background. But unless you have A LOT of happy hour credit stored up, you may want to hold off for a day . . .

Wednesday the 16th – 11:30 AM Juventus – Atalanta (ESPN+): Though it’s the late slot where all the best midweek action will be happening, this early game from Serie A isn’t a bad way to kick things off. Though unbeaten in the league, Juventus sit at 4th as a result of 5 ties; while Atalanta are languishing in 9th. But this should still be an exciting and interesting game.

  • 2:00 PM Liverpool – Tottenham Hotspur (NBCSN): Who cares about Guardiola? Instead, this match features his German bete noire, Jürgen Klopp, facing off against his rejuvenated Iberian bete noire, José Mourinho. Frustratingly, the other two most exciting games of these midweek fixtures–Internazionale – Napoli (1:45 PM on ESPN2) and Barcelona – Real Sociedad (2:00 PM on BeIN Sports)–are scheduled at the same time. Plan your DVR schedule accordingly.

Thursday the 17th – 12:00 PM Aston Villa – Burnley (Peacock): It’s the only game in town, folks.

  • 1:45 PM AS Roma – Torino (ESPN+) or 2:00 PM Sheffield United – Manchester United (Peacock): In the late slot, you get to choose which game you’d rather not be watching between a relegation side and one likely to just miss out on the Champions League.

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