Two of the three begin their group stages at home, with a third traveling to Rotterdam for a De Kuip test at Feyenoord.
Tottenham Hotspur vs. Borussia Dortmund
With apologies to Group C, Spurs drew the stiffest test in Europe with Group G’s tandem of Real Madrid and Borussia Dortmund (in addition to APOEL Nicosia). The group kicks off at Wembley Stadium with a visit from USMNT teen Christian Pulisic and Borussia Dortmund, a side which has yet to concede a goal in Bundesliga play and sits atop the table.
Midfield general Nuri Sahin has been wonderful for BVB this early campaign, and ex-Barca back Marc Bartra joins Greece national team standout Sokratis Papastathopoulos in a stingy defense. Harry Kane, Christian Eriksen and Dele Alli have their work cut out for them, and so does the back line. Here’s BVB boss Peter Bosz:
“We want to press high”, stated Borussia Dortmund’s manager. “It will be an interesting game.” He demands “that we are brave, that we play football, and that we attempt to play our kind of game here at Wembley too.”
It could come down to which Christian is able to work more magic: Pulisic or Eriksen. Pulisic posted a goal and three assists in his first UCL go-round last season, while Eriksen managed just a single assist as Spurs bowed out of the UCL at the group stage. We’ll give Spurs an emotional edge on Wednesday, hopefully ending their Wembley “hoodoo” or at least managing a point. 2-2.
Liverpool vs. Sevilla
Knocked out of the UCL by Leicester City last season, Sevilla is best known for its quintet of Europa League crowns. The last of those came at the expense of the Reds, as Daniel Sturridge‘s 35th minute opener in Basel was canceled out by three second half goals. Coke scored two and Kevin Gameiro the other, but both of those players are gone.
Sevilla signed ex-Man City men Jesus Navas and Nolito this summer, and has a variety of weapons including Wissam Ben Yedder, Steven N’Zonzi, and Luis Muriel. Expect Liverpool to have a heck of a time defending, but also to find some success in the final third. Would Reds fans take 2-2 in what will be the second most difficult game in the group (aside from the return leg)?
Feyenoord vs. Manchester City
The Dutch champions entertain Man City while in the throes of a 4-0 start to the Eredivisie season. Feyenoord lost just four league matches last season and led the table wire-to-wire, the first managerial title for former Arsenal and Barcelona player Giovanni van Bronckhorst.
The club’s most familiar names are former Watford man Steven Berghuis, midfielder Tonny Vilhena, and Danish national team striker Nicolai Jorgensen. Ultimately, this could be a tight win for City. If Pep Guardiola‘s team really wants to make a statement, it’ll be a big win.
Elsewhere Maribor vs. Spartak Moscow
RB Leipzig vs. Monaco
Porto vs. Besiktas
Real Madrid vs. APOEL Nicosia
Shakhtar Donetsk vs. Napoli
Liverpool visits Man City as the league’s five UEFA Champions League sides eyeball their table positioning as well as European group stage debuts next week.
Elsewhere, Europa League entrants Arsenal and Everton have home matches while Swansea City’s big name signings should debut versus Rafa Benitez‘s embattled Newcastle United.
Fireworks exploding in the distance Manchester City – Liverpool (Saturday, 7:30 a.m. ET, NBCSN)[ STREAM ]
Temporary towers soar Saturday at the Etihad Stadium when Pep Guardiola‘s City and Jurgen Klopp‘s Reds bid for second place or better in the Premier League. Both attack-minded sides have seven points, and harbor dreams of a title.
City is off to Feyenoord to start its UEFA Champions League campaign on Wednesday, the same day Liverpool hosts ex-City men Nolito, Jesus Navas, and Sevilla.
The much anticipated Emirates Stadium reception for Arsene Wenger Arsenal – Bournemouth (Saturday, 10 a.m. ET, NBCSN)[ STREAM ]
The Gunners have one win in three matches to start the season, could not land any late transfer targets, and sold neither Alexis Sanchez nor Mesut Ozil. The #WengerOut brigade is at full throat, and who knows what’s cooking from the North London faithful as oft-rumored Wenger replacement Eddie Howe and Bournemouth hit the scene in search of its first points of the season.
Bournemouth broke Arsenal’s four-match Hex in a 3-3 draw at the Vitality Stadium in January. Could this be the day it finds love at the Emirates?
Early separation day for Spurs, Toffees Everton – Tottenham Hotspur (Saturday, 10 a.m. ET, CNBC)[ STREAM ]
On form, Spurs arguably deserve to be 3-0 but have followed up their strong performance at Newcastle with poor finishing days against Chelsea and Burnley. They also can’t afford to look past the Toffees and to their Wednesday’s UCL visit from Borussia Dortmund.
The Toffees have an extra day to prepare for Europa League, where they’ll look to the road and a Thursday trip to Atalanta. Everton received very little love from the Premier League schedule makers, and now face Spurs after a draw versus Man City and a loss to Chelsea leave it level with the visitors on four points.
Chelsea’s ex-Foxes return to the King Power Stadium Leicester City – Chelsea (Saturday, 10 a.m. ET, NBC Sports Gold)[ STREAM ]
Danny Drinkwater and N'Golo Kante will get an interesting reception at the building where they completed one of the biggest surprises in football history, as the Blues’ engine room duo hits Leicester City. Chelsea has two wins from three matches, and would like to keep its title defense aspirations pointed in the right direction.
Breathing room, new additions welcome in Wales Swansea City vs. Newcastle United (Sunday, 11 a.m. ET, NBCSN)[ STREAM ]
The similar vibes between these two clubs begins and ends with acquiring desperately needed wins before the international break. That’s because Swans had big success toward the end of the transfer window in landing a loan of Bayern Munich’s Renato Sanches in addition to buying Wilfried Bony and Sam Clucas. Newcastle’s big 3-0 home win versus West Ham was burnished with… zero additions on Deadline Day. Rafa Benitez has his work cut out for him.
Pep Guardiola gets his second go-around with Manchester City, hoping to improve on a third-place finish that came down to the wire. The Spaniard has done much work this summer to overhaul the roster and get significantly younger in key areas.
Last season’s acceptable finish eased some of the pressure that was mounting on Pep Guardiola, but another finish in the same spot this season won’t be taken so lightly. This team expects much more after such a massive summer investment, and anything less than a title will probably seem like a disappointment.
Best, worst case scenarios – Best-case scenario is clear: win the Premier League championship. With such a prestigious manager plus over $280 million spent this transfer window, there’s a clear target. Should those moves gel quickly, they could be one of the most dangerous teams not just in the Premier League but in all of Europe.
However, should it take Pep Guardiola time to mesh the new players together, an early-season sputter could scuttle the season before it even truly begins. Worst-case, this team finishes outside a Champions League spot, and Guardiola likely wouldn’t last long enough to see it come to a disappointing close.
Star player: Kevin De Bruyne — Sergio Aguero’s rocky relationship with Pep Guardiola and the arrival of Gabriel Jesus has seen the Belgian playmaker rise to the top as Manchester City’s most influential star. He played the most minutes of anyone on the squad last season across all competitions, and he was involved in 30 goals (7 scored, 23 assisted), one fewer than Raheem Sterling‘s team lead. One a team bursting at the seams with both creative and finishing talent, de Bruyne is the glue that holds it all together.
Coaches’ Corner: Pep Guardiola — Despite a solid third-place finish in his first season taking over an aging squad, Guardiola’s first season in charge had largely a disappointing feel to it. The Spaniard brought in players like John Stones and Leroy Sane who either struggled or failed to make a significant impact. After his success at both Barcelona and Bayern Munich made Guardiola one of the most sought-after managers in the world, he must prove he can navigate the Premier League or he may run out his welcome in Manchester.
PST predicts: This team is just flat out too talented to struggle two seasons in a row. Guardiola will figure out how to piece the attacking talent together, rotating Jesus and Aguero through the numerous competitions and working Ilkay Gundogan, Leroy Sane, and Bernardo Silva into the rotation behind them. The central defense is still this team’s weakness, but for all of John Stones’ struggles last season, City still managed the fourth-best defensive record in the English top flight. Kyle Walker is a fantastic addition despite his high price, and Guardiola has managed to get this team significantly younger since he arrived. This is a top-two team, and will challenge for the title.