Are you wondering what kind of football matches insane people with too much time on their hands watch? Or perhaps you aspire to be one of those people? This is the column for you.
If you're like the people who work here, you find any way to can to watch obscure football matches at 5 a.m. because you have nothing better to do. It's a sad existence we live here at SB Nation Soccer, having nothing better to do than seek out matches to watch at ungodly hours, but we know that there are plenty of folks just like us all over the Internet.
We cover the major leagues in full every week, but if you're looking for some great football that's a little off the beaten path, you've come to the right place. We present: "This week in nerd ish", a weekly rundown of the best games from outside Europe's big four leagues and Major League Soccer. Unfortunately, Europe's second-tier leagues like France, the Netherlands and Portugal (off for cup matches) don't have a ton to offer this week.
Anzhi Makhachkala vs. Spartak Moscow, 5:30 a.m. ET - If you live in the United States and you wake up early for this, you're seriously dedicated. Anzhi's millions have shot them to the top of the table, but it's tough to tell whether or not they have the depth to hang with the likes of CSKA Moscow and Zenit St. Petersburg. Spartak are currently out of European places, but they're just seven points back of first.
Spartak are coming off a derby loss to CSKA, but they'll have numbers in the midfield against Anzhi, and the hosts are also without defender Joao Carlos due to suspension. If Lassana Diarra and Jucilei can make up for Anzhi's numbers disadvantage in the center with their athleticism (a distinct possibility), Spartak's going to struggle. If they can't keep the ball away from Samuel Eto'o, expect an Anzhi victory. Nerd level: Medium if in Europe, astronomical if in the Americas. Seriously, you're waking up before 6 am? That's dedication.
Dynamo Kiev vs. Metalist Kharkiv, 12:30 p.m. ET - The Ukrainian Premier League is getting close to being uninteresting. Shakhtar Donetsk asserted their dominance with a win over Dynamo Kiev back in September, but Dynamo fell further behind with their loss to Dnipro before the international break. Ukraine's real race might be for second place and a chance to play in Champions League, and Metalist is attempting to break into that race.
Metalist currently sits in fourth place, six points back of third-placed Dynamo. Their road record is less than impressive, but they have the attacking talent to score in Kiev. Taison, Jose Sosa ans Cleiton Xavier will terrorize the Dynamo back line, but it's tough to see Metalist coming up with an answer for Andriy Yarmolenko. Nerd level: Elite. Congratulations, you have nothing better to do than watch football. You're one of us.
Club America vs. Club Leon, 6 p.m. ET - Recently promoted Leon have been the surprise team of the Liga MX season, and appear to be in a great position to qualify for the Liguilla playoffs. While they own impressive home wins over Santos, Monterrey, Pumas and Tijuana, they also lost to Toluca on the road. America are coming off a shocking Super Clasico loss to Chivas, and it will be interesting to see if America is still reeling from that loss or if they're motivated to turn around their season. Nerd level: Below average, this ish is on regular American TV.
Racing Club vs. Newell's Old Boys, 7:20 p.m. ET - In the last year, Racing have shunned über-talented locker room cancer Teofilo Gutierrez, while Newell's hired former Paraguay manager Gerardo Martino to lead them. Those moves have propelled these two sides to the top of the table in the Primera, and they fight for first place in Avellaneda on Saturday night.
Martino's fairly rigid, but still entertaining 4-3-3/4-5-1 has brought Newell's out of a dark period and back into title contention. They're led by veteran forward Ignacio Scocco, who is tied for the scoring lead in Argentina. Former Liverpool man Maxi Rodriguez is still missing for Newell's, but they've been able to keep up their undefeated run without them. Martino's impressive defense will have trouble with whichever two of their platoon of forwards Racing picks for the match. Nerd level: High, but this is legitimately one of the biggest matches in world football this fall.
Austria Vienna vs. Rapid Vienna, 10 a.m. ET - Austrian football is about the lowest-level and most obscure stuff we'll touch. Really, I'm not sure these teams could beat top-notch teams from Chile and Uruguay. It's a local derby, however, and it features an American international. We'll be watching just to keep an eye on Terrence Boyd, but you might watch because you're weird. Nerd Level: Disgusting. This doesn't even aid your football knowledge like watching Newell's-Racing, Metalist-Dynamo, or Anzhi-Spartak does. Watching this just makes you dumb. And we're pretty dumb.
Toluca vs. Santos, 1 p.m. ET - Two of Mexico's top favorites for the Apertura title face off in what should be a wildly entertaining game. Santos have slipped down the table a bit and are in danger of missing out on Liguilla, but they can make a serious statement by taking points away to Toluca, where the Red Devils have five wins, one draw and no defeats.
Santos have drawn their last two matches and have spent a lot of the season rotating in some of their young talent, but expect their veteran players to take the pitch in this match. Because of their recent dropped points, they're only inside of the playoff places by three points. Meanwhile, Toluca are very safely in Liguilla, but lost their last match to top side Tijuana. They're without their suspended captain and playmaker, Sinha, for this match. Nerd level: Again, below average because all big Mexican matches are on regular American TV.
Atletico Mineiro vs. Fluminense, 2 p.m. ET - The Brasileirao is going to come to an early end unless Atletico Mineiro can come up with a big win against Flu on Sunday. Flu currently lead the league by nine points after 31 games, and will have the league virtually wrapped up if they're able to defeat or draw second-placed Atletico Mineiro.
You've probably seen Atletico Mineiro most recently in this highlight video, where they get clowned by Neymar. There's not really any shame in getting made to look stupid by Neymar, who was brilliant in his 200th match for Santos mid-week. They did very well to fight from 2-0 down to earn a road point in that match, and they got some help from Flu, who drew Gremio at home and failed to expand their lead in the table.
Atletico Mineiro's Ronaldinho is the obvious spotlight player in this match, while Fred's been brilliant for Flu with his league-leading 15 goals. However, there are plenty of other guys worth watching. The veteran trio of Deco, Thiago Neves and Wagner have done a ton to set up Fred's goals, while Atletico Mineiro's 20-year-old star Bernard has been a pleasant surprise. Nerd level: Above average. The Brasileirao's quality is no secret at this point.
Colo Colo vs. Universidad de Chile, 3 p.m. ET - Why wait until the Copa Libertadores to watch the most entertaining team in the Americas? You can watch Universidad de Chile this weekend, in the Super Clasico of Chilean football. Colo Colo aren't the power they used to be, but they're enjoying a decent season and they're in the playoff places. At home, in a massive derby, they'll provide stark opposition for Jorge Sampaoli's men.
I'm getting excited thinking about what specific 3-4-3 variation and team selection Sampaoli is going to dial up against Omar Labruna's magic box, which should tell you exactly what kind of a sad life I lead. This game is going to be awesome. Seriously, please watch it. Nerd level: Elite, and more obviously worth your time than Metalist-Dynamo. Ukrainian matches, while decent, always have some fairly high potential for being boring. that doesn't really exist here. This match is guaranteed fun.
Looking for previews for football leagues that real people actually watch?