Between the Posts weekend preview: a look at the games we picked for the upcoming weekend!
Welcome to the weekend primer of Between the Posts. Here, you can find out on Friday which games are going to be featured on our site during the weekend, including a little preview of these matches. (Game times are in CET.)
Friday (September 21st)
Sassuolo – Empoli (Serie A), 19:30 CET
Italian top flight football used to be all about catenaccio, but nowadays it is a league stacked with coaches that like to attack and press high up the field. One of the youngest exponents of this culture change has been Sassuolo’s 39 year-old manager Roberto De Zerbi. There are plenty of people with opinions on De Zerbi, who never watched one of his teams actually play. Make sure you are not one of them: go watch this game and read the report on Between the Posts afterwards! Against Juventus, Sassuolo narrowly lost 2-1, showing that they can play out from the back against the best of opposition. Their opponent Empoli has started the season quite average, racking up four points from four games. They currently rank sixteenth.
Match report to be written by Erik Elias
Saturday (September 22nd)
TSG 1899 Hoffenheim – Borussia Dortmund (Bundesliga), 14:30 CET
Good results, a somewhat shaky process. That has been the story of the first weeks of Borussia Dortmund under new manager Lucien Favre. Dortmund won its season-opening cup tie against Greuther Fürth in extra time, got seven points from three league games and were victorious on the road in the opening group match of the Champions League (0-1) against Club Brugge on Tuesday. But in fairness, Dortmund has so far only played really well for two thirty minute stretches this season, in the first half against RB Leipzig in its Bundesliga opener, and the final thirty minutes against Eintracht Frankfurt in the last league match. Not only is Favre introducing a wholly different playing style than his predecessors, but he is doing so with a bunch of new faces in the squad. Dortmund will face its toughest league test yet on Saturday, when it travels to Hoffenheim to take on Julian Nagelsmann’s team, whose squad rebuild should not distract from the fact that it is still tactically able of being a very tough opponent.
Match report to be written by Sam Planting
Manchester United – Wolverhampton Wanderers (Premier League), 15:00 CET
This Saturday, against Wolverhampton Wanderers, José Mourinho will wonder if he is still coaching in the Premier League or in his home country Portugal. The Wolves are expected to start five Portuguese players and have an exclusively Portuguese coaching staff. As Portuguese coaches are known for their tactical knowledge, this has the makeup of a well thought-through clash. With the key question being if Wolves opt to press United high up the field. They play in a 3-4-2-1 formation that very easily transforms in a 5-4-1 if manager Nuno Espírito Santo wants his team to defend deep. Wednesday, Manchester United notched a comfortable 0-3 win over Swiss champions Young Boys. Mourinho did not rest a lot of his players, which is clearly an advantage for the away side.
Match report to be written by Sergio Sampaio
Schalke 04 – Bayern München (Bundesliga), 17:30 CET
A look at the Bundesliga league tables of the current and last season tells you a lot about this game. This is, in fact, a clash between the runner-up and champion of last season. While Bayern have looked nothing short of dominant in the first months and has taken place at their usual spot atop the league table, Schalke 04 is still looking for its first points of this Bundesliga season. Domenico Tedesco’s squad eked out one close win after another in the young manager’s first season in Gelsenkirchen, and were thus able to finish above teams with more talented and deeper squads than Schalke’s. This year, luck has turned a bit. The first encouraging sign of the season was their midweek performance against Porto in the Champions League, where Schalke managed to draw 1-1 against the Portuguese champions.
Match report to be written by Abel Meszaros
Sampdoria – Internazionale (Serie A), 19:30 CET
Sampdoria is one of the most interesting tactical sides in the Serie A. Manager Marco Giampaolo sets them up in a 4-3-1-2 system. Because most teams in Italy try to build up with two central defenders and one or two dropping midfielders, Sampdoria are perfectly set up to press the opponent high up the field and are flexible in doing so. Their diamond in midfield usually features a range of talent, even though the architect of past seasons, Lucas Torreira, was sold to Arsenal last summer. Internazionale was fortunate to get three points last Wednesday, in their Champions League group game against Tottenham Hotspur. With only one win in league play this year, the pressure will be on for manager Luciano Spalletti, who has been tinkering with the attack and midfield of his 4-2-3-1 setup a lot.
Match report to be written by Peter M.
Real Madrid – Espanyol (La Liga), 19:45 CET
The last ten years have yielded only two domestic league titles for Real Madrid. As we all know, they have thrived in Champions League matches, and seem to be a team that’s perfectly suited to beat any team in the world over 180 minutes of football. Real has sometimes struggled to beat packed defenses in domestic week-in-week-out play. During last week’s La Liga match they lost two points against a very aggressively pressing Athletic Club, while Wednesday’s Champions League match against AS Roma saw them gather an easy 3-0 win. Espanyol’s trainer Rubi, who earned a promotion to La Liga with Huesca last season, is a more offensively-minded manager than his predecessor Quique. The question will be how brave Espanyol can be in Santiago Bernabéu.
Match report to be written by Om Arvind
Sunday (September 23rd)
Arsenal – Everton (Premier League), 16:00 CET
What is Arsenal in the Unai Emery era all about? We still don’t really know, right? After getting outplayed and beaten by Man City and Chelsea in the first two gameweeks of the Premier League, Arsenal seems to have righted the ship against lesser competition, consecutively winning its league fixtures against West Ham, Cardiff and Newcastle. The Gunners will look to stretch this Premier League winning streak to four against Everton, who have already looked pretty good and pretty bad this season. The absence of newly-signed Richarlison, who will serve the last game of his suspension this weekend, and a whole host of injured players have not helped new Everton manager Marco Silva find his ideal starting eleven yet.
Match report to be written by Josh Manley
Barcelona – Girona (La Liga), 19:45 CET
Because the other match between these two clubs from Catalonia is the subject of heavy discussion and criticism – there is a proposal to play it in Miami – it is almost forgotten that this will probably be a highly interesting tactical clash. Girona is one of the most effective teams in La Liga in terms of transitioning from defense to attack. Captain Álex Granell has one of the finer left feet of LaLiga, while Portu, Borja García and Cristhian Stuani are dangerous attackers. Combine that with Barcelona’s structural counter-pressing problems, which were on show against PSV Eindhoven as well, and Girona might have a chance to score a goal or two. Add in the fact that Barcelona played in midweek, plus this is a regional derby, and this really might be a cracker of a game.
Match report to be written by Simon Harrison
Olympique Lyon – Olympique Marseille (Ligue 1), 20:00 CET
On Sunday night, it is time for the Choc des Olympiques, the ‘clash of the Olympics’. If we are being truly honest with each other, this fixture is about deciding who is the ‘best of the rest’ in the Ligue 1. PSG is still, eh, PSG, and Marseille and Lyon are already five and eight points behind the reigning champs in the league table, respectively. That does not mean that this game won’t be really, really fun to watch. Lyon might be the most ‘high variance’ team in European football: after a home loss to Nice and a draw at Caen, l’OL beat mighty Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium on Wednesday. Lyon is the definition of a hot-and-cold team. With Memphis Depay, Nabil Fekir, Bertrand Traoré, Houssem Aouar and Tanguy Ndombele, Lyon has loads of special talent in its squad. Marseille will look to bounce back from a loss to Frankfurt in the Europa League, a competition it reached the final of last year.
Match report to be written by Tristan Thomas