Much to the delight of everyone, the international break is over and continental club soccer is back. The UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League both get their group stages underway this week, and we get to watch some fantastic games right away.
Thanks to the way UEFA seeds the Champions League, with winners of the top leagues getting automatic top seeds and everyone else getting judged on five years of cumulative performance, it’s possible to get some serious marquee matchups in the group stage, like Tuesday’s best game — Liverpool vs. PSG.
If you live in the United States, you also have a new rights holder this year. Turner Sports now has the Champions League and Europa League in English, while Univision has taken over the Spanish rights. Take some time to familiarize yourself with your TV guide before games get underway.
And if you’re a cord-cutter, you can now find games on B/R Live. You can buy games individually on a PPV basis, pay $10 for a one-month subscription, or just sign up for the whole year for $80.
Also, there are new timeslots! UEFA figured out that putting every game on at the same time was pretty dumb, and broadcasters weren’t thrilled with paying a ton of money for a product where they could only show two games per week. The games are split up into two timeslots now.
This post is to help American viewers figure out which games to watch and how to watch them, but if you’re not in America, you can find listings for your country at Live Soccer TV.
OK, onto the games.
Champions League: Tuesday, Sept. 18
In this Tottenham supporter’s opinion, the less interesting early game game got the big channel. PSV has Mexico stars Chucky Lozano and Erick Gutierrez, but it’s tough to envision PSV keeping it competitive against Barcelona. Spurs-Inter should be a much more even game.
During the late window, you’ve got some excellent options. Clearly Liverpool-PSG is the marquee matchup of the week, but Monaco-Atléti is worth your time on replay or a second screen.
Champions League: Wednesday, Sept. 19
Day two has a deeper pool of games, and it’s unfortunate that one of the good ones didn’t get moved into the early window. The early TNT game might be the least interesting of the week.
Europa League: Thursday, Sept. 20 early games
The draw didn’t give us a great set of Week 1 games, and the crowds might be more entertaining than the soccer. Chelsea will have to deal with one of European soccer’s most intimidating atmospheres at PAOK, while Rangers should have a ton of traveling support singing as they get whooped by Villarreal.
Europa League: Thursday, Sept. 20 late games
Once upon a time, it wasn’t clear if both Red Bull owned teams were allowed to enter the same European competition. UEFA has apparently decided that Leipzig and Salzburg meet whatever criteria they have for proving no conflict of interest, so they get to play each other.
Arsenal should have an easy time with Vorskla at home, but tune in if you want to see some of their teenage prospects.