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The pick of Premier League matches this weekend sees Chelsea host Tottenham Hotspur at Stamford Bridge on the evening of Sunday 14 August for what promises to be a thrilling London derby.
Both the Blues and Spurs are hoping to step up their games and challenge Manchester City and Liverpool at the top of the log, making this clash a real six-pointer and a chance to send a statement early in the campaign.
Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel will be hoping that new signings Raheem Sterling and Kalidou Koulibaly can make a major impact in this clash against Tottenham.
“[Sterling] had chances, very heavily involved in other chances, it was a good performance,” the German said of the player signed for £47.5m from Man City. On Koulibaly, Tuchel added: “He is a very, very good signing. A strong personality, a strong player. I am happy that he could play minutes now. He’s getting fitter and fitter which is very important for us for the start of the season.”
The round gets underway on Saturday afternoon with Aston Villa hosting Everton, before five games kicking at 16:00 CAT are headlined by a clash between Arsenal and Leicester City, while the late clash comes from the Community Stadium in London and sees Brentford looking to pull off a surprise win at home to Manchester United.
The latter clash is given an added layer of interest thanks to Christian Eriksen’s move from the Bees to the Red Devils in the offseason, with Brentford manager Thomas Frank admitting that the Danish playmaker is irreplaceable.
“I’ve said many times I would have loved him to stay,” Frank said, when asked if the current squad can fill the void left by Eriksen’s departure. “He obviously brought a lot of quality to us, we can’t replace that, that’s impossible. But we can hopefully replace it with something different so when a player goes out and another comes in you tweak things that create other relations, other dynamics.”
Sunday, aside from the Chelsea v Tottenham clash, also features Nottingham Forest at home to West Ham United, while the round is closed out on Monday night with Liverpool hosting Crystal Palace.
SuperSport is the only place where you can get English commentary on the legendary La Liga, where the headline fixture sees Real Madrid begin the defence of their title with a trip to Estadio de los Juegos Mediterraneos (also known as the Power Horse Stadium) to face newly-promoted Almeria on Sunday night.
Los Blancos manager Carlo Ancelotti has already identified Barcelona as likely title rivals this season, and has urged his team not to rest on their laurels after a brilliant 2021-22 season in which they captured both La Liga and UEFA Champions League crowns.
“In football, I’m not surprised at all,” said the Italian tactician. “Barca are building a fantastic team, but I’m interested in my team. You always have to respect Barca.”
Barcelona’s continuing evolution under manager Xavi Hernandez, which has seen them bring in Andreas Christensen, Raphinha, Franck Kessie, Robert Lewandowski and Jules Kounde, will have its first competitive test when they face Rayo Vallecano at home on Saturday night.
“I want to have two starting players for every position,” said Xavi. “That is a good problem to have. Last year, we had a small squad. We’re happy to have a more complete squad now.”
Another team to watch this season is Sevilla, who couldn’t quite challenge for the title last season, but remain a resourceful and ambitious club. Los Nervionenses will open the new La Liga season with a clash away to Osasuna on Friday night.
“We have to draw conclusions from our pre-season, we have had some tough games, but we were able to learn lessons that will be important for the start of the season,” said manager Julen Lopetegui.
The opening round also features Villarreal away to Real Valladolid, Valencia at home to Girona, Athletic Bilbao welcoming Mallorca to the Basque region, and Atletico Madrid with a derby clash away to Getafe at Coliseum Alfonso Perez on Monday evening.
The new Serie A season opens on the early evening of Saturday 13 August with defending champions AC Milan welcoming Udinese to the San Siro. The Rossoneri will be looking to get off to a flying start in the 2022-23 campaign.
Milan fullback Alessando Florenzi, whose efforts on loan last season helped earn a permanent move from Roma, believes the team spirit and belief gained from winning the Scudetto will help the team in red and black.
“The coach [Stefano Pioli] told us something, ‘success changes people.’ We have to make sure that it doesn’t happen to us,” said Florenzi. “The coach is very good at this. The Scudetto magic is there, I feel it, however, it must be nurtured. Otherwise it’ll go out.”
One of Milan’s main rivals for the title will be Internazionale, who will be away to Lecce later on Saturday night, while capital city clubs Roma and Lazio will be looking to make strong statements on Sunday with their matches against Salernitana (away) and Bologna (home) respectively.
Roma boast an exciting attacking line-up, with Tammy Abraham joined upfront by Paulo Dybala, who was signed as a free agent. Abraham believes his decision to join the Giallorossi a year ago was the best of his career thus far.
“The best decision of my life was coming here. No rush to get back into the Premier League. I want to score one more goal than last season,” said the English striker. “I hope I can beat my personal goal record. Without haste, however, because I don’t feel yet one hundred percent ready. On the other hand, at this point in pre-season, no one is.”
The opening round of Serie A wraps up on Monday with a pair of matches, as Verona host Napoli, before Juventus welcome Sassuolo to the Allianz Stadium in Turin. Bianconeri boss Massimiliano Allegri says his team has a “duty” to win back the title this term.
“Juventus, as always, want to achieve every objective,” the boss explained. “This summer has seen some top players arrive: some with experience, some young. Plus, it’s the second season so we are already starting from a good base. After a trophy-less season, for the first time in 10 years, we have a duty to win the Scudetto.”
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