Summer is over, but a good soccer match is always a good excuse for vacation, and if you can get away from work in September, do it. The weather is better, most tourists are back home, and the season is kicking itself into full gear – here are the best league matches to watch around Europe this September in England, Spain, Italy, Germany and France.
September 12, Manchester – Manchester City vs Arsenal
London – Tottenham vs Manchester United
Big day in the English Premiership on Saturday, September 12 – Arsenal leave London and travel up to Manchester, to face City. Both teams are with six points after two games, with Arsenal looking extremely productive in front of goal, scoring 10 goals in these two games, including the 6-1 win over Everton. Manchester City? Not as shiny and brilliant, but two wins in two games, with ex gunner Emmanuel Adebayor scoring in both wins. Last season Arsenal came to Eastlands and got hammered 3-0 by Manchester City. With Kolo Toure and Adebayor playing for the citizens to add some spice to this match, it’ll certainly be worth watching.
Down south, the champions, Manchester United, already carrying one loss this season (Burnley 1-0), visit red hot Tottenham, who are in the midst of their best league start in nearly 50 years – three wins in their first three games, including beating Liverpool in the opener and Lennon and Defoe looking extremely sharp this season. Can Tottenham avenge that amazing 5-2 comeback win by United for last season? Or the 5-3 comeback win from a few years back? United had an amazing second half against Wigan last week, and despite not playing well, can rip any team apart in minutes if the mood is right.
September 20, Manchester – Manchester United vs Manchester City
Well… there’s not much to do in Manchester for a whole week, but if you want to do a week or two in England, starting with London and working your way up, this game is worth a stop after seeing a London game a week earlier. The first Manchester derby of the year, and after all the words put out by Alex Ferguson this summer about Manchester City and Mark Hughes and Carlos Tevez and… (Alex Ferguson sure does talk a lot doesn’t he?), with City having a nice start to the season, with Carlos Tevez playing for City, with som many great players on the pitch, this should be a great one.
September 20, Barcelona – Barcelona vs Atletico Madrid
Josep Guardiola’s team host the erratic and crazy but always fun to watch Atletico Madrid gang as Sergio Aguero and Diego Forlan lead the team into the dreaded Nou Camp. It will be the new Barca front trio (Henry-Ibrahimovic-Messi) first big test in the 2009-2010 campaign, and with both teams always attack minded and with the memory of last years Nou Camp match (Atletico got crushed) it’ll be a great game to watch.
September 23, Villarreal – Villarreal vs Real Madrid
Never an easy place to play in, the new-era Galacticos arrive at El Madrigal to play the “yellow submarine”, Villarreal. It’s not really clear how Pellegrini will utilize all the players in his squad and what the tactics will be, but every Real game this season will be hugely interesting and hopefully entertaining. Their new manager’s first visit at his former club should make it even more interesting.
September 13, Rome – Lazio vs Juventus
Two years after coming back to Serie A, it’s time Juventus get their groove, title or whatever back. No Nedved, but with Diego, Del Piero, Amauri and Giovinco, Juventus are touted by many to be the favorites this season in Italy. The first game did see them beat Chiveo 1-0, but very impressively. Lazio? The Cup and Supercoppa holders will try and mount a champions league challenge this season with Zarate and Pandev, and I have a feeling they finish above their city rivals AS Roma in the table this year.
September 12, Wolfsburg – Wolfsburg vs Leverkusen
Two great striker duo’s – Dzeko and Grafite for the hosts, Kiessling and Derdiyok for the visitors. Leverkusen still haven’t lost this season, Wolfsburg, despite looking impressive in the first two games, fell to Hamburg at home last week 4-2 after an almost perfect home stand in 2008-2009. Minor glitch or maybe this is more Leverkusen’s year, or Hamburg’s, than Wolfsburg?
September 26, Hamburg – Hamburg vs Bayern Munich
Ivica Olic moved this summer from Hamburg to Bayern Munich, not leading the northern team to a title in recent years. Despite his good form since the season started for the Bavarian side, he hasn’t led Bayern to a win. It’ll interesting to see in what state Bayern will reach this match and will they still be win-less. On the other side, Hamburg are right after an away win at Wolfsburg and lead the table with Schalke and Leverkusen. Is this their year? Or another disappointing finish like last season?
September 19, Paris – PSG vs Lyon
Lyon drew in their first league match of the season, but since then it’s been two league wins and two in Europe, qualifying to the Champions league after easily taking care of Anderlecht. Lisandro Lopez and Michel Bastos have fitted right in, and who can remember Benzema and Juninho. Or is it too soon to celebrate? A game in Paris against Paul Le Guen, who began the whole Lyon dynasty almost a decade ago, who would like to win the league title with PSG as well. I dunno if his team has enough for the whole season against Lyon, Marseille and Bordeaux (perfect so far). This game will be a test for both teams to show where they’re headed this season.