Terry Duffelen
Sun 16 August 2009

Midweek TV Preview: 18 - 20 August 2009

(All Times - UK)

Monday 17th August

9:45 Dundee Utd v Hearts, Scottish Premier League, ESPN
Only Hamilton failed to score in the opening round of the SPL season. While the old firm tend to operate in a league of their own, the rest of the league is set to be pretty finely balanced this season. Football junkies could do worse than spend their Monday settling down to a keenly contested season opener.

Tuesday 18th August

19:45 Celtic v Arsenal, UEFA Champions League Play-off 1st Leg, Sky Sports 2/HD2

Any question marks surrounding Tony Mowbray's managerial credentials have been laid to rest after Celtic's impressive defeat of Dinamo Moscow in the previous Champions League qualifying round. While Arsenal will be the bookies' favourites to progress, you can be certain that the Glasgow club will prove stiffer competition than the abysmal Everton on Saturday.

19:45 Copenhagen v Apoel, UEFA Champions League Play-off 1st Leg, Sky Sports Red Button
This fixture is one from the Champions Route that was introduced for this season's Champions League qualification, the idea being to allow champions of poorer leagues to avoid the runners-up of richer leagues in the hope that this provides a more balanced group stage. FCK are coming into this game off the back of a rare home defeat in the Superliga. The Cypriot domestic season is yet to get underway so there is no way of gauging their form. Let's just say it's going to be close.

19:45 Sheriff v Olympiacos, UEFA Champions League Play-off 1st Leg, Sky Sports Red Button
Sheriff did well to get past Slavia Prague in the last round and are tearing it up domestically. English football fans may be keen to learn what the situation is with Matt Derbyshire as he doesn't seem to have featured so far. Any Olympiakos fans reading this? Perhaps you could fill us in.

19:45 Sporting Lisbon v Fiorentina, UEFA Champions League Play-off 1st Leg, Sky Sports Red Button
So you see how it works? Either of these teams would fancy their chances against an FCK or a Sheriff but have to play each other to get through. Some may say that the new system stops the best teams from reaching the Champions League proper. Others would argue that teams from the emerging leagues now have a chance to benefit from the Champions League gravy train.

19:45 Timisoara v Stuttgart, UEFA Champions League Play-off 1st Leg, Sky Sports Red Button
Runners up in the Romanian League face the third-placed Bundesliga club from last season. Stuttgart have conceded four goals in the last two league games but will be hoping their scoring power will see them through. Timisoara squeezed past the UEFA Cup holders Shaktar Donetsk in the last round and shouldn't be under estimated by rookie manager Markus Babbel. Could be an upset here.

Wednesday 19th August

11:00 Match Day 22, J-League, British Eurosport 2

Eurosport continue their coverage of the J-League. Kashima Antlers are top by 8 points after 21 games.

19:45 Lyon v Anderlecht, UEFA Champions League Play-off 1st Leg, Sky Sports 2/HD2
Odd to see Lyon having to slum it in the Play Offs. This will be a stiff test for them as the Belgian club have been knocking on the door of the Group Stage for a while now. Good choice as their main game by Sky.

19:45 Panathinaikos v Atletico Madrid, UEFA Champions League Play-off 1st Leg, ITV4/ITV1/ITV HD
As is this by ITV. Spanish clubs are always worth watching which is why their domestic TV rights are being so keenly contested by Sky and ESPN. A lively Greek crowd should make for a watchable game.

19:45 Levski Sofia v Debreceni, UEFA Champions League Play-off 1st Leg, Sky Sports Red Button
The Bulgarians are fairly recent Group Stage qualifiers. There has been no Hungarian team at the top level since 1995 I think? Is that right? Having a bit of a soft spot for Magyar football I'm hoping Debrecini can get the job done.

19:45 Salzburg v Maccabi Haifa, UEFA Champions League Play-off 1st Leg, Sky Sports Red Button

Ah Red Bull. Hijackers of Football Clubs, thieves of football's identity and culture but say what you like about them, they are serious investors in sport and have pumped some fairly serious wedge into the club formerly known as Austria-Salzburg. The responsibility of stemming the corporate tide lies with Haifa.

19:45 Ventspils v FC Zurich, UEFA Champions League Play-off 1st Leg, Sky Sports Red Button
The Latvians conquered the amusingly named BATE in the last round and have scored 11 (eleven) goals in their last two league games to no reply. Zurich have had a more modest start to their league campaign so those hard core enough to select this match may be in for an interesting encounter.

Thursday 20th August

02:00 Chicago Fire v LA Galaxy, MLS, ESPN
ESPN's coverage of David Beckham's MLS may have to take a break if the anointed one is suspended. Still, Galaxy's 2-0 defeat to the Sounders in their last fixture aside, this remains a game between two teams in good touch.

20:00 Dinamo Zagreb v Hearts, UEFA Europa League Play-off, 1st Leg, BBC2 Scotland

The Stasi meet the Romanovs... sort of. Viewers in the rest of the UK should check their red buttons. They may find the game covered on interactive.

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