Post World Cup blues? City, Liverpool, Man United, Porto, Atletico Madrid all play this week!
No sooner does the curtain come down in Doha but thoughts turn to domestic matters as the Carabao and Spanish Cup resume this week.
It literally never stops, football is relentless and as Qatar waves farewell to the World Cup jamboree, thoughts turn to domestic affairs with the return to action in European major leagues just a matter of days away.
In the interim, fans looking for a football fix this week to fill the gap left by the World Cup don’t have to look too far with cup action at the forefront this week in England, Spain, Turkey and Portugal.
The Carabao Cup Round of 16 gets underway on Tuesday with the likes of Wolves, Newcastle and Leicester in action. Erik ten Hag’s Manchester United will be have to get use to life without Cristiano Ronaldo as they welcome Burnley to Old Trafford in the pick of Wednesday’s games. The standout tie however of the fourth round is scheduled for Thursday as Liverpool also travel to Manchester to face the Sky Blues with Klopp and Guardiola going head-to-head again with City looking to avenge their earlier Premier League defeat to the Reds at Anfield in October.
Copa del Rey
The Spanish Cup is at the second round stage as 28 games are scheduled for Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday of this week. Real Madrid, Barça, Betis and Valencia join the competition at the next round and have a bye due to their involvement in the Spanish Super Cup as LaLiga 2021-22 winners and runners-up respectively with Betis and Valencia winners and beaten finalists in the 2022 Copa del Rey final.
This week the likes of Sevilla, Atletico Madrid and Real Sociedad all face lower league opposition (the draw is structured so teams from lower leagues face top flight sides at home) and Sampaoli, Simeone and Imanol will want the ignominy of falling to fourth tier sides Juventud Torremolinos, Arenteiro or Coria respectively.
The second round is the notorious ‘banana skin’ round in Spain and at this stage of the competition last season, Celta, Levante, Alaves, Granada and Getafe were all dumped out of the cup by lower league sides.
Taça de Liga/Allianz Cup (Portugal)
The Portuguese League Cup has been active during the World Cup and has reached the quarter-final stage with the surprise of the group stage being the elimination of league leaders Benfica. The Eagles could only muster a 1-1 draw away to Moreirense last weekend and the result was good enough for the ‘green and whites’ to progress to the final eight.
Taça de Liga: Quarter final
Other major sides in action this week.....
The Scottish Premiership is also back in action with both Glasgow giants in midweek action. Aberdeen welcome Rangers on Wednesday with league leaders Celtic face sixth placed Livingston on Wednesday night.
The Turkish Cup also restarts this week with all the major sides (Besiktas, Fenerbahçe, Galatasaray, Trabzonspor) all involved in midweek games.
The 23rd all sees the restarts for top flight leagues in Belgium, Turkey and Portugal...