On Thursday, Spain’s La Liga becomes the second major European league to resume playing games after the coronavirus pandemic began.
Here’s a viewer’s guide to how to watch Real Madrid, Lionel Messi’s Barcelona, and the rest of the action, plus the big games this weekend in the Bundesliga.
Thursday, 4 p.m. (beIN Sports, beIN Sports Español)
The Spanish league is the network’s marquee property. If you can watch, you’re in for a feast. La Liga has scheduled games every day through July 19, as it tries to jam 110 matches into five-and-a-half weeks.
First up on the calendar is one of Spain’s classic rivalries, the Seville derby. Sevilla are in third place in the standings, led by Argentine winger Lucas Ocampos and veteran Spanish right back Jesús Navas. Twelfth-place Betis’ biggest names are French playmaker Nabil Fekir and Mexican attacking stars Diego Lainez (though he’s injured) and Andrés Guardado.
Friday, 2:30 p.m. (Fox Sports 2, Fox Deportes)
(Last week’s viewer’s guide had the wrong date for this game. Apologies.)
Leipzig manager Julian Nagelsmann makes his first trip back to the stadium where he became one of global soccer’s hottest coaching names. He was in charge of Hoffenheim from February of 2016 through last summer. He was first brought to Hoffenheim in 2010 by Union sporting director Ernst Tanner, who was in charge of Hoffenheim at the time.
Also Friday: Granada vs. Getafe, 1:30 p.m.; Valencia vs. Levante, 4 p.m. (both on beIN Sports and beIN Sports Español)
Saturday, 9:30 a.m. (Fox Sports 1, Fox Deportes)
It would be great if Coatesville-born Düsseldorf goaltender Zack Steffen was back from injury to play in this game, but he’s not yet. So the entertainment will likely be one-sided, as Dortmund’s Erling Haaland and Gio Reyna take aim at a Fortuna team currently in the relegation zone.
9:30 a.m. Saturday (Fox Soccer Match Pass)
Josh Sargent’s Bremen are in next-to-last place and really must beat last-place Paderborn if they’re to have any hope of a miracle escape from relegation.
Saturday, 12:30 p.m. (Fox Sports 2, UniMás, TUDN)
Mönchengladbach is a team that has really benefited from the Bundesliga being the first major European soccer league to return to action. The club has made worldwide headlines in two big ways: putting thousands of cardboard cutouts of fans in the stands at its stadium, and forward Marcus Thuram’s taking a knee after scoring a goal two weeks ago.
A spokesperson told The Inquirer this week that the team has added nearly 100,000 social media followers since the season resumed. The number of cardboard cutouts has risen from an initial total of 12,000 to now more than 16,000 with a total of 21,000 ordered. The spokesperson also said jersey sales to foreign fans have “increased noticeably."
Saturday, 4 p.m. (beIN Sports, beIN Sports Español)
Lionel Messi hasn’t played a soccer game since March 7. The wait to see the world’s best player again will hopefully end this weekend. Barcelona are in first place by two points over archrival Real Madrid, and Messi has 24 goals in 31 games across all competitions this season.
Sunday, 1:30 p.m. (beIN Sports, beIN Sports Español)
This probably goes for Barcelona, too, but it especially goes for Real Madrid: You either love them or you hate them. And Real relish playing the villain. They also relish being a soap opera, and right now they’ve got a big one in Welsh winger Gareth Bale. Despite his goal-scoring talents — including the title-winner in the 2018 Champions League final — he’s widely disliked in Madrid.
Of course, there’s also piles of talent elsewhere on the field, from Eden Hazard to Luka Modric to 19-year-old Vinícius Júnior. And the title race is far from over. But as often happens with this team, off-the-field drama threatens to overshadow on-the-field success.