This weekend sees some of the domestic leagues from across Europe kick off for a new season of proceedings, and with some of the world’s best players turning out for the first competitive fixtures of a gruelling season it’s finally time to say bye-bye to the summer break. While these are early days of course, and results here are unlikely to have an ultimately direct result come May, it should give us all some sort of idea about where each side is at in relation to competition, and there are some intriguing fixtures which are likely to highlight this. The games may also help fantasy managers decide on one or two previously unconsidered faces to include in their squads.
Let’s first take a look at the action in France, with Ligue 1 having been the first of our featured leagues to kick off just last weekend. That round of games indicated where each side may be at, though of course it is difficult to say for certain after only one fixture. One thing that may not have come as too much of a surprise is that Zlatan Ibrahimovic got his season off to a cracker with two great goals, though a booking took his points tally down a touch. His club, Paris Saint-Germain host Bastia on Saturday afternoon, and the visitors showed some solidarity last season with a decent 10th placed finish, though just a couple more wins would have seen them rise a bit higher – fans could have been forgiven for hoping for a finish around 7th.
Bastia striker Christopher Maboulou is one of the few to have gone above Ibrahimovic on the opening weekend, having also bagged a brace but avoided a special mention in the referee’s book. He will be hoping to continue that form in front of goal, but PSG are no pushovers – defensively the champions were by far the best side on the league last season, and breaking them down will be far from a formality. Ibrahimovic, however, will be looking to this game to grab himself another goal or two – Bastia conceded more than twice as many goals as PSG last year, so expect a tough afternoon for the guests.
Finally, the Premier League also returns Saturday lunchtime with Louis van Gaal’s Man Utd kicking things off at home to Swansea. The Swans have retained the services of coveted striker Wilfried Bony thus far, and will be looking to him as their main source of hope, but van Gaal will settle for nothing short of a win for the Red Devils as they bid to take yet another Premier League crown following last season’s worst campaign since the league’s formation.
Arsene Wenger will be looking to start the season in style with new signing, World Cup star Alexis Sanchez joining the North London club, while rivals Tottenham face a tough task away from to West Ham, a side they lost to four times last season.
Monday evening sees the first round of games come to a close when newly promoted Burnley host Chelsea, and new Blues faces will be looking to make an instant impact at Turf Moor. Diego Costa, should he feature, will be hoping to get his season kicked off well too and prove that he can live up to his asking price.