Bad blood might characterize this week in soccer.
Geographic proximity, shared history and mutual pursuits of success are among the chief factors that create soccer rivalries. Some of the best rivalries will be on display this week in Mexico, Italy and Germany, as the countries gear up for derbies which might help define the 2017-18 season. One of U.S. Soccer’s showcase games also will take place in the form of the U.S. Open Cup final, and the outcome could give birth to another derby.
Elsewhere, Real Madrid and Manchester United, two of soccer’s giants, are working to bolster themselves on and off the field this week. Read below to see what they’re doing in that regard.
Here are seven things we’re following this week in soccer.
Real Madrid contract renewals
The two-time defending Champions League winner is solidifying its roster by signing seasoned performers to contract extensions. Marcelo and Isco inked theirs last week. Then Dani Carvajal on Monday signed a contract, which will expire in 2022. Karim Benzema likely will re-sign Tuesday on terms which expire in 2021 and include a $1 billion release clause, according to France Football.
FC Schalke 04 vs. Bayern Munich (2:30 p.m. ET on Tuesday)
The Bundesliga (German League) will stage midweek matchups on Gameday 4, and Schalke’s home game against Bayern Munich is the biggest of the bunch. These clubs don’t like each other, and their clashes represent one of Germany’s biggest inter-regional rivalries.
Schalke can assume top spot in the standings by beating Bayern Munich for the first time since December 2010.
We’d like to see highly touted USA prospect Weston McKennie in action for Schalke against the beasts of the Bundesliga.
Schalke academy product Manuel Neuer grew up in Gelsenkirchen, Germany, but he infamously crossed the line by joining Bayern Munich in 2011. He won’t play Tuesday due to injury, but the game won’t lack bite without its biggest lightning rod keeping goal for Bayern Munich.
Copa MX Derbies (Tuesday night)
The Mexican Cup sometimes struggles for attention, but a pair of city derbies could change that this Apertura season. Club America and Cruz Azul will battle for cup supremacy at 9 p.m. ET in Mexico City, while Chivas and Atlas will compete for bragging rights in Guadalajara at 10:30 p.m.
U.S. Open Cup Final (9 p.m. ET on Wednesday)
Sporting Kansas City will host the New York Red Bulls with one of U.S. soccer’s most prestigious trophies at stake. SKC has won the competition three times — 2004, 2012 and 2015. The Red Bulls have never won it.
Manchester United financial results
The Red Devils once again are the soccer world’s wealthiest team, with revenues expected to have surpassed £560 million ($750 million) in their last financial year. We’ll learn exactly the scale of Manchester United’s monetary might Thursday morning when it announces its fourth quarter and fiscal year 2017 results to investors. Manchester United shares are traded on the New York Stock Exchange, so we’ll gain a rare glimpse into the business of soccer.
Turin, Italy, Derby (2:45 p.m. ET on Saturday)
Juventus will host Torino at Juventus Dtadium in a “big brother vs. little brother” matchup that might be worth watching. Can Torino’s hotshot striker Andrea Belotti help his team win the “Derby della Mole” for just the second time since 1995?
America vs. Chivas Clasico (10 p.m. ET on Saturday)
Mexico stops for El Super Clasico, and the soccer world should pay attention when the country’s biggest clubs face off in Liga MX (Mexican League). Club America has fared better than Chivas so far this season. Maybe the Clasico will mark a turning point in the campaign.
Thumbnail photo via YouTube/SeñorGolHD
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