Soccer on TV: The Premier League is getting hammered by COVID-19 cases
But there will be games, at least for now, and big games in Germany, Spain, Italy, France, and Mexico. Plus a U.S. men's national team friendly with some interesting young players.
Note to readers: As many of Europe’s big leagues prepare for their traditional winter breaks, Soccer on TV is taking a winter break for the rest of the month. It will resume in January. Enjoy the holidays.
Bayern Munich vs. Wolfsburg
Friday, 2:30 p.m. (ESPN+)
The wheels are coming off at Wolfsburg, mired in a six-game losing streak across all competitions. The heat is on American centerback John Brooks in particular, with German tabloid Bild reporting discontent over Brooks at the club — and potentially with the U.S. national team. Now here comes a trip to Bayern that will likely extend the misery.
Monterrey vs. Tigres
Friday, 10 p.m. (Fox Deportes)
After Monterrey hosts the first game of the series, Tigres will host the decisive second game on Monday (9 p.m., TUDN). It’s already sold out, with a capacity of around 40,000. In addition to crowning the champion, it will be Sánchez’s last game before leaving to join the Houston Dash.
Tunisia vs. Algeria
Saturday, 10 a.m. (FS1)
The championship game of the Arab Cup will feature two North African rivals with big fan bases in host nation Qatar, and plenty of history between them. Tunisia beat Egypt, and Raïs M’Bolhi’s Algeria beat Qatar in the semifinals. The latter game featured a 97th-minute Qatari equalizer and a 107th-minute Algerian winner — and that was in second-half stoppage time, not extra time.
Real Sociedad vs. Villarreal
Saturday, 10:15 a.m. (ESPN2, ESPN Deportes, ESPN+)
If you want to see big stars in a big TV slot, you might not like this matchup. But if you like quality soccer, know that this game will be stacked with skill. Sociedad’s Mikel Oyarzabal and Alexander Isak and Villarreal’s Gerard Moreno are worth the price of admission, whether you pay it through a cable bill or a streaming service.
Leeds United vs. Arsenal
Saturday, 12:30 p.m. (NBC10, Universo, Peacock)
The Premier League has been hammered by COVID-19′s Omicron variant. As of Friday morning, five games this weekend have been postponed. No one will be surprised if that number grows. League officials have resisted calls to temporarily halt the season, but the busiest stretch of the campaign kicks off with Boxing Day next weekend. As with the NBA, NHL and NFL, things could get worse before they get better.
Sevilla vs. Atlético Madrid
Saturday, 3 p.m. (ESPN+)
The second big game of the day in La Liga is the biggest of the weekend: second place hosting fourth place Atlético. Both teams are defense-first, but have their share of dynamic attackers too. Sevilla’s Rafa Mir and Atlético’s Rodrigo de Paul are especially worth watching.
Sevilla has another big game coming after this one, too, hosting Barcelona on Tuesday (3:30 p.m., ESPN+).
» READ MORE: The rest of this weekend's La Liga schedule
United States vs. Bosnia & Herzegovina
Saturday, 8 p.m. (FS1, UniMás, TUDN)
The U.S. men’s national team’s December training camp for reserve players wraps up with a game that is pretty meaningless, but still has some players worth watching.
Six young Americans are at their first senior camp: Bayern Munich reserve squad midfielder Taylor Booth, New York Red Bulls forward Caden Clark (who’s soon to join RB Leipzig), Louisville City defender Jonathan Gómez (who’s soon to join Real Sociedad), Orange County SC defender Kobi Henry, Sporting Kansas City goalkeeper John Pulskamp, and Chicago Fire goalkeeper Gabriel Slonina. Gomez and Henry are rare call-ups from clubs in the second-tier USL Championship.
There are two more players on the U.S. squad to watch. The first is right back Bryan Reynolds, who has had an awful time at AS Roma since the Italian giant signed him from FC Dallas in February for $8.5 million. It was surprising that Roma let him go to this camp, but also a sign of how little they expect of him right now.
The other name is plenty familiar: Jordan Morris. The Seattle Sounders veteran is finally back to health after a long absence due to an ACL injury, and is likely to earn his first U.S. cap in over two years. If he looks good, expect to see him on the squad when World Cup qualifying resumes late next month.
Bosnia’s squad all comes from its domestic league, and is heavy on new players. Fourteen of the 19 players have yet to earn a senior cap.
Chelsea vs. West Ham United
This game was postponed because of a COVID-19 outbreak in Chelsea’s squad.
Feyenoord vs. Ajax
Sunday, 8:30 a.m. (ESPN+)
De Klassieker is the Netherlands’ biggest soccer rivalry, with a century of history between the top clubs from Rotterdam (Feyenoord) and Amsterdam (Ajax). Right now, both teams are a point behind first-place PSV Eindhoven in the standings.
» READ MORE: The rest of this weekend's Eredivisie schedule
Tottenham Hotspur vs. Liverpool
Sunday, 11:30 a.m. (Peacock)
Tottenham’s last three games were postponed because of COVID-19, and Liverpool now has big names out in Virgil van Dijk and Fabinho. So don’t be surprised if this game gets called off. But if it happens, know that it’s on Peacock instead of regular TV.
» READ MORE: The rest of this weekend's Premier League schedule
AC Milan vs. Napoli
Sunday, 2:45 p.m. (CBS Sports Network, Paramount+)
Here’s the big game of the weekend in Italy, especially for Napoli. After spending over two months atop Serie A, the club has won just one of its last five games and has fallen to fourth place. Milan is in second, one point behind crosstown rival Inter. The game is so big that CBS is sending its Serie A broadcast crew of Andres Cordero and Matteo Bonetti to the famed San Siro stadium for the occasion.
» READ MORE: The rest of this weekend's Serie A schedule
Feignies vs. Paris Saint-Germain
Sunday, 3:10 p.m. (beIN Sports USA, beIN Sports Español)
Feignies is a fifth-tier amateur team from a part of northeast France near the Belgian border, not far from the famed Ardennes forest. PSG is, well, you’ve heard of them. Which is why this game will be played at the pro stadium in Valenciennes, about a half-hour from Feignies’ usual home at a municipal sports complex.
» READ MORE: The rest of this weekend's Coupe de France schedule