The football season is back! And with it, so is Three to See on Just Football, previewing three must-see games of the weekend. This week, Ebrahim Sadien previews games in France, Spain and England as the new Premier League season begins….
Monaco v Montpellier
Ligue 1 – Sunday 18th August 2013, Kickoff 13:00 BST
In round two of Ligue 1, Montpellier travel to the Stade Louis II to take on the newly promoted aristocrats AS Monaco. After taming one of the big boys, PSG, in their opening fixture, Montpellier will be hoping to take points off Monaco as well.
Monaco celebrated their return to top flight football with a 2-0 victory away to Bordeaux last weekend. Claudio Ranieri’s expensively assembled team left it late to secure victory but were ultimately happy with a win against a good Bordeaux side.
Radamel Falcao who bagged the second against Bordeaux will once again provide the main attacking threat against Montpellier. Another big money signing, João Moutinho did not feature in the opening game due to injury and could make his debut in front of the home supporters.
Montpellier will enter the tie with some confidence after holding current champions PSG to a 1-1 draw in their opening fixture. They showed no fear by imposing themselves on PSG, particularly in the first half and will be hoping for a similar performance against Monaco. Jean Fernandez’s side will however have to do without the services of Moroccan Abdelhamid El Kaoutari. The central defender picked up two yellow cards and was dismissed in the second half against PSG.
Despite being one of the promoted sides, Monaco is widely expected to be the closest challenger to PSG this season. After PSG dropped points in their opening encounter, a second successive victory will help Monaco apply some early season pressure on the defending champions. Much like in the game against Bordeaux however, they will have to work hard against a well organised Montpellier outfit.
Chelsea v Hull City
English Premier League – Sunday 18th August 2013, Kickoff 16:00 BST
The 2013/2014 English Premier League campaign kicks off this weekend with three of the big four teams under new management. Chelsea who have welcomed back Jose Mourinho for a second stint with the club are the bookie’s favourites for the title. The addition of Mourinho to a host of quality players as well as a few further exciting signings has undoubtedly made Chelsea the team to watch this season.
Mourinho and Chelsea could not have asked for a better start to the campaign either. They host newly promoted Hull City in front of their home crowd at Stamford Bridge. Chelsea come off an impressive pre-season campaign having finished runners up to Real Madrid in the International Champions Trophy in the United States and also beating Roma 2-1 last weekend.
Perhaps the only blemish on Mourinho’s preparations thus far, has been Chelsea’s inability to sign a big name striker. Romelu Lukaku who has been called back from loan at West Brom could get the nod to lead the attack against Hull.
Hull City has been rebranded Hull City Tigers and manager Steve Bruce will be hoping his charges sharpen their claws and pull out all the stops against Chelsea. Hull have just recently managed to strengthen their squad by signing Spurs duo of Tom Huddlestone and Jake Livermore on a season long loan. Both are likely to feature against Chelsea.
They will however be without midfielder Stephen Quinn who damaged his hamstring and has been ruled out for up to four weeks. Quinn has impressed during preseason and was expected to start in midfield.
The last meeting between these two sides was in February 2010 and ended 1-1. Steve Bruce would gladly take a point this time around but his charges may find themselves in for a difficult afternoon. Mourinho has a star studded squad and will be hoping to find the right combinations to kick off the campaign on a promising note.
Sevilla v Atletico Madrid
La Liga – Sunday 18th August 2013, Kickoff 16:00 BST
With the race for the Spanish title once again expected to be between Barcelona and Real Madrid, the race for two remaining Champion’s League spots will also again provide an interesting sub plot in La Liga. Sevilla finished a disappointing 9th last season and despite the loss of Jesus Navas and Alvaro Negredo will be pushing for a top four finish this time around. They kick off their campaign against Atlético Madrid in the pick of the opening round of La Liga fixture’s.
Sevilla have brought in a host of new players as they attempt to rebuild after a disappointing 2012/2013 campaign and to cope with the loss of Negredo and Navas. Included in the new additions are former PSG striker Kevin Gameiro as well as Marko Marin on loan from Chelsea. Both are expected to start on Sunday.
Geoffrey Kondogbia who was one of the stars of the recent U-20 World Cup is on the wanted list of many clubs but Sevilla are keen to hold onto the midfielders services. Sevilla have come off an impressive pre-season campaign which included a 3-1 victory over Manchester United. They will be hoping to carry this form into their tie against Atlético Madrid.
Atlético Madrid will be bolstered by the fact that Liverpool target Diego Costa has put pen to paper on a new contract extension. Costa was instrumental in Atlético’s 2013 Copa Del Rey success finishing as the tournament’s top goal scorer. This included three goals in the two semi-final legs against Sevilla and Atlético will be hoping that he can once again provide the difference in this weekend’s encounter. Atlético will also look to new signing David Villa who has stepped into the massive void left by the departure of Radamel Falcao to Monaco.
See also: David Villa – From the mines to Madrid
Diego Simeone’s men enjoyed a flying start to the previous campaign and will endeavour for the same this time around. Sevilla on the other hand, will not only want revenge for last season’s Copa Del Ray semi-final elimination but will want to prove their top four credentials with a victory over their rivals.
Which games will you be watching this weekend? Predictions? Comments welcome or follow us on Twitter @JustFootball.