Ajax vs PAOK
Ajax went all the way to the Champions League semi-finals last season and they were unlucky to lose to Tottenham. They were 3-0 up on aggregate with just 45 minutes to go, but a second-half hat-trick from Lucas Moura saw them crash out on away goals. Winning the domestic double was a great consolation prize and Ajax should be strong again this season, despite losing key players Matthijs de Ligt and Frenkie de Jong. They still have a very strong team, featuring the likes of Donny van de Beek, Hakim Ziyech, Dusan Tadic and Kasper Dolberg. They could only draw 2-2 away at PAOK in Greece in the first leg of this Champions League qualifier, but they should be stronger on their turf. They beat FC Emmen 5-0 at Amsterdam Arena on Saturday, with legendary striker Klaas-Jan Huntelaar coming off the bench to score twice, so that should give them plenty of confidence ahead of this clash.
Liverpool vs Chelsea
Tuesday, August 13, at Vodafone Arena
Champions League winners Liverpool and Europa League winners Chelsea will lock horns in the UEFA Super Cup in Istanbul on Wednesday. The Champions League is a far more prestigious competition, and Liverpool are the clear favorites to secure victory in this game. They kicked off the new Premier League campaign with a 4-1 win over Norwich on Friday night and they should be well-rested ahead of this clash. Chelsea lost 4-0 to Man Utd on Sunday, and that could drain their confidence levels. It has been a tough summer for the Blues, who lost star player Eden Hazard to Real Madrid and manager Maurizio Sarri to Juventus. They were unable to replace Hazard due to a two-window transfer ban for regulation breaches, so new boss Frank Lampard has had to put his faith in young players. It worked out disastrously on Sunday and his troops may be somewhat beleaguered on Wednesday, where they face arguably the most terrifying attack in world football.
Minnesota United vs Colorado Rapids
Both of these teams went goal crazy over the past week. Minnesota beat Portland 2-1 in the US Open Cup semi final and then slumped to a 5-3 defeat away at FC Dallas, as they were undone by a late brace from Brandon Servania. Struggling Colorado surprised everyone by thumping Montreal Impact 6-3 a week ago, and then they followed it up with a 2-1 victory over San Jose at the weekend. We should therefore be in for an open, entertaining game between two teams that look tired.
Athletic Bilbao vs Barcelona
The new La Liga season begins in the Basque Country on Friday as Athletic Bilbao host reigning champions Barcelona. These teams drew both meetings last year – 1-1 at the Nou Camp and then 0-0 at San Memés in February. However, Barca won their previous nine games against Athletic Bilbao, and they will be keen to return to winning ways on Saturday. Lionel Messi is pushing hard as he bids to regain full fitness in time for the match. He tore his calf muscle in training, but he could play some part against Bilbao. They looked pretty devastating without him at the weekend, as they beat Napoli 4-0 in a friendly. Forwards Luis Suarez, Ousmane Dembele and new signing Antoine Griezmann were all on target in the game, and that bodes well for Barcelona.