Good grief the International week has come and gone; let me say here once again, I do not like the International break and would never like it; what an absolute waste of an entire week; but then relief is finally here as club football returns with some mouth watering encounters to keep us all clued to our television sets over the course of the weekend.
We start our trip around Europe by first and foremost considering that a number of Players would be making their debuts for their new clubs; the International break rob us of this chance but then they say better late than never. All across the leagues their debuts to savour; in Spain, Javier Hernandez would be looking to make his debut for Los Blancos (Real Madrid) in the Madrid Derby whilst in Italy, Fernando Torres would be seeking to make his Milan debut and in England; debuts are all over the place; especially at Old Trafford where four players are expected to make their debuts; then there’s Danny Welbeck at Arsenal (which I have made my last comment on his matter).
To the big games; it doesn’t come bigger than the Madrid Derby; a repeat of the Champions League Final from last season. A game that would have crowned Diego Simone’s Legend; but then it doesn’t in any way diminish the achievements of Diego Simone. At the Bernabeu last season, Atletico Madrid truly showed their title credentials with a win; that victory was their first at their neighbors in ages; though this is a much changed Atletico team, they have done some fabulous business and also defeated the same Real Madrid team in the Super Cup. Real Madrid are also looking like a different side since the departure of Xabi Alonso and Angel Di Maria as well as the damaging loss to Real Sociedad which demonstrated that all may not be well with Carlo Ancelotti and his wards especially with the expensive acquisition of James Rodriguez. Just as the case was last season that Ancelotti took time to settle on a formation or approach last season; this time around there is no time because any slip or delay may have Real far from title consideration than they can afford.
At the Nou Camp, with new management on board, two wins on the bounce even though the second victory was done the hard way; Luis Enrique seems to have settled well and of course the Catalans still have Luis Saurez on the wings. This weekend, the Catalans welcome the Basque club; Atletico Bilbao to the Nou Camp; in all competitions Barcelona have only lost once in their last 6 games against the Basque side; who will be a hard note to crack; the Bilbao side continues to be a compact, resolute and well oiled machine; they will prove quite diffcult to beat.
In France; there is a Friday game with the once mighty Lyon taking on a depleted Monaco side suffering from the personal issues of their owners and the loss of two of their best players to two of Europe’s more illustrious clubs. However, that doesn’t take the shine off this tie as it remains one of the premier games on the calendar. Les Gones are a complete shadow of the team that dominated French football for seven years and are currently struggling in Ligue 1 with three defeats in their last three games; so this is definitely a most win game for Lyon; this is made a lot more difficult by the huge injury list at the Stade Gerland. Monaco are seeking to come to terms with the loss of their best two players and will be reeling from the loss last season against Lyon; both teams need this result and confidence booster badly; as both continue to struggle.
England has a host of debutants to look forward too not least the debut of Danny Welbeck at the Emirates against Champions, Manchester City. Arsenal have another chance to show that they can mix it with the big boys; as the only top 4 team that failed to record wins off the top four teams (a damning stat states that Arsenal have only acquired 26points from a possible 90points); it is imperative that the Gunners get a result here. Manchester City on the other hand are still smarting from their loss to Stoke City before the International break and have had the break to get over that loss; yes City may be somewhat depleted upfront, but their team is still strong and a bounce back win is all they require to get things back to normal at the Etihad.
So with all said and done, this weekend promises to be an explosive one and their is no better place to be than in front of your TV sets.