Soccer fans can fill themselves with the beautiful game this week.
European competitions will kick off, with the first gamedays of the UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League providing some enticing midweek matchups out of the starting gate. Fans then can look forward to some important domestic-league action over the weekend. And it’s not all fun and games, as storylines will emerge to generate headlines and debate in the coming days.
Here are seven things we’re following this week in soccer.
Crystal Palace wields the ax
Frank de Boer’s reign as Crystal Palace manager ended Monday after just five games and 77 days in charge. The Dutchman now holds the record for shortest managerial stint for any full-time appointment in Premier League history, and many wonder if his firing was too harsh, knee-jerk or for the greater good at Selhurst Park.
Former England manager Roy Hodgson is expected to replace de Boer.
Is Carlo Ancelotti havings second thoughts at Bayern Munich?
The Italian tactician might walk away from the German giant to coach a Chinese team halfway through the season, according to former Bayern Munich player Mario Basler.
Ancelotti won’t leave this week, but the rumor will be one worth following, since the Bayern Munich job is one of the toughest and most prestigious in the soccer world. Let the jockeying begin.
Champions League: Barcelona vs. Juventus
We don’t have to wait long for one of the marquee games in the group stage, as the European giants will meet Tuesday in Barcelona in a rematch of the 2015 Champions League final. Much has changed since then, and we’re keen to see whether Barcelona is in as much trouble or Juventus is as good as some speculate.
Champions League: Tottenham vs. Dortmund
If Spurs are to progress from Group H, the Champions League’s “group of death,” they’ll have to reverse their home form at Wembley Stadium and start winning on English soccer’s hallowed turf. Dortmund will pose Tottenham’s first big test Wednesday.
MLS: Atlanta United vs. New England Revolution
The Revs are one point out of the final playoff spot in Major League Soccer’s Eastern Conference and they’ll face Atlanta United on Wednesday at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. It’s New England’s first visit to a new facility that has the sports world buzzing.
Europa League: Arsenal Vs. Cologne
The Gunners will play Thursday soccer for the first time in ages this week when they host Cologne in their Europa League opener. We’ll learn how seriously Arsenal is taking this competition when the lineups are announced.
Premier League: Arsenal Vs. Chelsea
London rivals will clash Sunday at Stamford Bridge when Chelsea, the Premier League’s defending champion, hosts Arsenal.
Thumbnail photo via Gary A. Vasquez/USA TODAY Sports Images
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