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Soccer on TV: Lionel Messi arrives at PSG, and the Premier League, La Liga, and Bundesliga seasons kick off

It takes something big to overshadow the start of a new season in the world’s most famous soccer league. The world’s biggest soccer player did it.

Lionel Messi (left) waves to fans from the balcony of his hotel room in Paris, watched by his wife Antonella Roccuzzo (center) and one of their children.
Lionel Messi (left) waves to fans from the balcony of his hotel room in Paris, watched by his wife Antonella Roccuzzo (center) and one of their children.Read moreAdrienne Surprenant / AP

Borussia Mönchengladbach vs. Bayern Munich

Friday, 2:30 p.m. (ESPN+)

Bayern Munich begins its quest for its 10th straight Bundesliga title and 32nd overall with an overhauled defense. Veterans David Alaba and Jérôme Boateng have moved on, but Dayot Upamecano is a big-time acquisition from RB Leipzig.

Mönchengladbach’s acquisitions include 18-year-old former New York City FC midfielder Joe Scally, who made his debut in the German Cup on Monday; and former Leipzig playmaker Hannes Wolf. There’s also a new manager, Adi Hütter, who replaced Marco Rose after the Ernst Tanner protégé moved to Borussia Dortmund.

Brentford vs. Arsenal

Friday, 3 p.m. (NBCSN, Universo)

The new English Premier League season kicks off with Brentford’s first game in the top flight since 1947. Based in London’s western suburbs, the Bees lost nine promotion playoffs over the years before finally breaking through this year, fueled by one of the most analytics-minded front offices in English soccer.

Arsenal had another underwhelming offseason, splashing $64 million on Brighton defender Ben White but failing to sign anyone who could lift the team out of its recent mediocrity. At least the Gunners have Bukayo Saka, one of England’s best young players.

Valencia vs. Getafe

Friday, 3 p.m. (ESPN+)

After many years without a mainstream U.S. TV deal, La Liga hits the big time this weekend. ESPN’s new eight-year rights deal for Spain’s top league should bring the competition to its biggest-ever American audience.

Neither of these teams is among Spain’s elite, but Valencia will get attention because of its young U.S. national team midfielder Yunus Musah. Unfortunately, he’s out for a couple of weeks with a leg injury.

Manchester United vs. Leeds United

Saturday, 7:30 a.m. (NBCSN, Universo)

This classic Premier League rivalry is worth waking up early for. There will be added spice this time because it should be the long-awaited United debut of star English winger Jadon Sancho.

Borussia Dortmund vs. Eintracht Frankfurt

Saturday, 12:30 p.m. (ESPN+)

It’s the start of a big season for Dortmund’s American phenom Gio Reyna, who inherits the marquee No. 7 jersey. Previous wearers of that number for the club include Sancho, Ousmane Dembélé, Shinji Kagawa, and Robert Lewandowski.

» READ MORE: The rest of this weekend's Bundesliga schedule

Norwich City vs. Liverpool

Saturday, 12:30 p.m. (NBC10, Universo, Peacock)

Norwich just made big news by signing U.S. national team striker Josh Sargent for $10.45 million, the sixth-highest all-time transfer fee for an American player. And NBC made news by announcing that all Premier League games on the big broadcast network this season will also be live online via Peacock.

Paris Saint-Germain vs. Strasbourg

Saturday, 3 p.m. (beIN Sports, beIN Sports Español)

The entire sports world, not just the soccer world, has been captivated this week by Lionel Messi’s stunning departure from Barcelona and move to Paris. We might not see Messi debut for PSG this weekend, but don’t be surprised if he’s at the Parc des Princes in some form.

And thanks to France’s mandates on COVID-19 vaccines — proof of vaccination or a negative PCR test is required for all ticket-holders — the team is able to welcome a full house for its first home game of the Ligue 1 season.

French soccer desperately needs the lift that Messi’s arrival will bring, even if PSG is splashing cash like only a handful of clubs worldwide can do. The club also signed three other stars this summer: Spanish centerback Sergio Ramos, Italian goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma, and Dutch midfielder Georginio Wijnaldum.

Messi’s arrival might not produce a better TV deal in the U.S., at least not any time soon. beIN owns Ligue 1′s international distribution rights and a TV channel here to put games on. But there should be an influx of sponsorship cash from around the world, and hopefully an increase in global fans’ interest in a league full of young talents.

» READ MORE: The rest of this weekend's Ligue 1 schedule

Minnesota United vs. Los Angeles Galaxy

Saturday, 6 p.m. (Fox29, Fox Deportes)

An evening showcase game for MLS on network TV could be the Galaxy debut of striker Dejan Joveljić, signed from Eintracht Frankfurt for $4.6 million.

Tottenham Hotspur vs. Manchester City

Sunday, 11:30 a.m. (NBCSN, Telemundo)

Of course these teams open the season against each other right as City is trying to sign Spurs star Harry Kane for a whopping $140 million. Will Kane play against what could be his future club?

» READ MORE: The rest of this weekend's Premier League schedule

Barcelona vs. Real Sociedad

Sunday, 2 p.m. (6ABC, ESPN Deportes)

Messi was unquestionably Barcelona’s biggest star, and the biggest reason why fans around the world tuned in each week to watch one of the world’s grand clubs. He certainly was going to be front and center in ABC’s blockbuster coverage of Sunday’s game.

But Barcelona has plenty of other great players, and it’s time for them to step up: Antoine Griezmann, Philippe Coutinho, and especially Dembélé. All three commanded gigantic transfer fees, and only Griezmann really lived up to the billing.

It’s also time for an outstanding group of young players to shine, led by Ansu Fati (though he’s currently injured), Riqui Puig, and Olympic silver medalist Pedri. And it’s time for American outside back Sergiño Dest to take the next step forward in his career.

» READ MORE: The rest of this weekend's La Liga schedule

Atlanta United vs. Los Angeles FC

Sunday, 4 p.m. (ESPN, ESPN Deportes)

Your eyes don’t deceive you: Big-spending LAFC is seventh in the West, and even bigger-spending Atlanta is in 10th in the East.

Gotham FC vs. Racing Louisville

Sunday, 5 p.m. (Paramount+)

It won’t just be a homecoming for Gotham Olympians Carli Lloyd, Kailen Sheridan, and Évelyne Viens. Louisville manager Christy Holly will be back on a NWSL sideline in New Jersey for the first time since he resigned from Sky Blue FC four years ago.

» READ MORE: The rest of this weekend's NWSL schedule

Portland Timbers vs. Seattle Sounders

Sunday, 10 p.m. (FS1, Fox Deportes)

The 113th edition of American soccer’s most famous club rivalry should be another must-watch occasion. Seattle has lost its last three MLS games, but got a boost from a 3-0 rout of Mexican power Tigres on Tuesday in the Leagues Cup. Portland just traded fan-favorite forward Jeremy Ebobisse to San Jose, putting its faith in Felipe Mora to lead the front line.

» READ MORE: The rest of this weekend's MLS schedule

Red Bull Salzburg vs. Brondby

Tuesday, 3 p.m. (Galavisión, Paramount+)

Brenden Aaronson gets his first taste of Champions League soccer as Salzburg enters the qualifying playoffs in the final round, facing last season’s Danish league champion.

» READ MORE: Brenden Aaronson’s U.S. soccer star is on the rise as he elevates his game in Austria

Lyon vs. Barcelona

Wednesday, 8:30 p.m. (ESPNU, ESPN3)

Portland Thorns vs. Houston Dash

Wednesday, 11 p.m. (ESPN2, ESPN Deportes)

This year’s Women’s International Champions Cup will be a feast for fans. The last two UEFA Champions League winners and the last two NWSL Challenge Cup winners make up the field that will play at Portland’s Providence Park, a fitting stage for the big occasion. It’s too bad that these semifinals don’t have one European and one American team in each, but it will still be great to see star-studded Lyon and Barcelona face off.

Watch in particular for Lyon’s young American playmaker Catarina Macario and new Dutch signing Daniëlle van de Donk, and Barcelona’s superb attacking duo of Alexia Putellas and Caroline Graham Hansen.