In most years, Spain’s La Liga would be in its winter break right now. But with a condensed schedule due to the coronavirus pandemic, the only break the players got was having Christmas weekend off. So there are games to watch this week in Spain and England. There’s also the start of a new women’s soccer season in Australia.
Here’s your viewer’s guide to the top action to check out on TV and online.
Tuesday, 12:35 a.m. (ESPN+)
A new season in Australia’s W-League kicks off this week, and ESPN+ will carry games regularly throughout the campaign. Almost all of the Matildas’ stars now play abroad, either in England or the United States, but there are still some familiar faces — including some who used to play in the NWSL.
Brisbane has defender Claire Polkinghorne (ex-Portland Thorns and Houston Dash), midfielder Katrina Gorry (FC Kansas City and Utah Royals), and forward Emily Gielnik. Melbourne City, the reigning champion, has defender Sam Johnson (Chicago Red Stars and Utah Royals), and a marquee prospect in former UCLA goalkeeper Teagan Micah.
Tuesday, 1 p.m. (NBCSN)
Arsenal delivered its biggest win of the season on Boxing Day by upending Chelsea 3-1. Was it a real statement or was it a mirage? After all, the Gunners are still in 15th place. This matchup might tell us something. The Gunners haven’t beaten Brighton in their last five meetings spanning nearly three years. Their last win over the Seagulls was on Jan. 10, 2017.
Tuesday, 1:15 p.m. (beIN Sports, beIN Sports Español)
Is Barcelona finally up off the mat? A four-game winning streak in La Liga has vaulted Lionel Messi’s team up to fifth place. Of course, that hasn’t stopped any of the drama surrounding Messi’s potential exit from the team next summer. On Sunday, Spanish TV channel La Sexta aired an interview with Messi in which he said not only does he want to leave, but he dreams of playing in the United States someday.
For now, Messi can only focus on the current season. This should be another win, since Eibar is in lowly 17th place. And thanks to Messi’s blossoming partnership with 18-year-old Spanish playmaker Pedri, the Argentine star and his club have reasons to be happy right now.
Wednesday, 1 p.m. (NBCSN)
Tottenham threw away two points on Sunday by surrendering an 86th-minute equalizer in a 1-1 home tie with Wolves. Now a team that was in first place two weeks ago is in fifth. This should be a win, but Fulham is coming off a creditable scoreless tie with Southampton. American defender Antonee Robinson played all 90 minutes as a left wingback.
Wednesday, 3 p.m. (NBCSN, Universo)
Liverpool suffered the upset of the weekend, a 1-1 tie with woeful West Bromwich Albion. Semi Ajayi — no relation to Jay Ajayi, if you’re wondering -- scored for West Brom in the 82nd minute, and Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp conceded that the Baggies’ defensive tactics paid off. Expect Klopp’s team to be fired up for a matchup that used to be fun but is now lopsided. Newcastle hasn’t beaten Liverpool in five years.
Wednesday, 3:30 p.m. (beIN Sports, beIN Sports Español)
Riding a six-game winning streak, Real can take over first place in La Liga with a win over 16th-place Elche and any slip-up by Atletico Madrid, which hosts 12th-place Getafe at 1:15 p.m. (beIN Sports, beIN Sports Español).