5️⃣ spicy fixtures you must watch this weekend 🌶 | OneFootball

5️⃣ spicy fixtures you must watch this weekend 🌶 | OneFootball

Icon: OneFootball


Padraig Whelan·9 September 2023

5️⃣ spicy fixtures you must watch this weekend 🌶

Article image:5️⃣ spicy fixtures you must watch this weekend 🌶

It may be the international break but that doesn’t mean the footballing calendar doesn’t have some tasty matches ahead.

Here’s what to look out for this weekend.

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Wrexham v Doncaster

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While the majority of action may come from international outfits, there is still some domestic football taking place.

And what better chance than this, if you haven’t already, to check in on the Hollywood story that is Wrexham’s attempt to scale the pyramid while there is little other action taking place in England (or Wales, in this case).

Backed by actors Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney, they were the talk of the National League last season and the spotlight has only increased with their promotion to League Two.

They’ve had a whirlwind start to life in the fourth tier with former England goalkeeper Ben Foster retiring after four games, Ireland international James McClean joining and a club record transfer for Luke Armstrong of Harrogate Town, which was agreed on deadline day, rejected by the EFL.

Wrexham currently sit mid-table but face bottom side Doncaster Rovers this weekend who are chasing a first win of the season.

Spice rating: Mild 🌶

Romania v Israel

Article image:5️⃣ spicy fixtures you must watch this weekend 🌶

Romania are chasing what would be just their second European Championship qualification of the past 14 years.

Israel have never contested the competition and in fact have just one World Cup adventure to show for themselves.

But both have started their Euro 2024 groups strongly and face off in a potential qualification six-pointer in Bucharest this weekend.

Romania sit second (two points behind leaders Switzerland) with four games played but Israel are just a point behind ahead of their trip west.

Israel’s task has been made harder by the FA’s self-imposed exile of star man Eran Zahavi but after strong recent showings from the U2o side (at the World Cup) and U21s (who clinched an Olympics berth), there is hope that an exciting new era is on the horizon – which could be kickstarted with a positive result in Romania.

Spice rating: Medium 🌶 🌶

Arsenal Women v Paris FC Women

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The somewhat convoluted qualification process for the Women’s Champions League group stages continues with Saturday’s big day of knockout fixtures across the continent.

Those who were victorious in their round one semi-final fixtures on Wednesday advance to a final which will seem them seal progress and move to within one more round of reaching the group stage.

Headlining those sides are Arsenal, record signing Alessia Russo among the squad, whose second half surge against Linköping proved too much for the Swedes to handle as they set up a winner-takes-all clash with Paris FC which they are favourites for.

They aren’t the only major name bidding to advance this weekend though as Juventus also face a tough task against Eintracht Frankfurt in Germany, although they did impress in their 6-0 demolition of Okzhetpes.

Benfica thrashed Cliftonville to set up a meeting with Riga, while Scotland are aiming to make history by having two sides advance as champions Glasgow City take on Gnitra after beating Shelbourne, while Celtic’s reward for upsetting Brøndby is a meeting Valerenga.

Spice rating: Hot 🌶 🌶 🌶

North Macedonia v Italy

Article image:5️⃣ spicy fixtures you must watch this weekend 🌶

Italy’s trip to Skopje on Saturday is all about revenge.

In March 2022, it was North Macedonia who stunned the defending European champions with an injury-time winner in their World Cup play-off in Palermo to ensure they would sit out international football’s biggest tournament for the second straight edition.

With both on the same number of points (three), things could get feisty again this time, although Italy have played one game fewer than their hosts.

Most intriguingly of all, this marks the first step in a new era for the Azzurri as last season’s Scudetto-winning coach Luciano Spalletti takes charge for the first time.

He did a u-turn on his decision to take a year out after leading Napoli to that stunning success and after Roberto Mancini’s surprise departure last month to take over Saudi Arabia, there is a new wave of excitement and optimism around Italy again. Can Spalletti start by righting one of Mancini’s biggest wrongs?

Spice rating: Fire 🌶 🌶 🌶 🌶

Turkey v Armenia

Article image:5️⃣ spicy fixtures you must watch this weekend 🌶

One of the most politically-charged fixtures in UEFA’s calendar takes centre stage in Esiksehir on Friday night.

Tensions between the nations are entirely unrelated to football and stretch back to genocides from over a century ago and there are no diplomatic relations between them, instead there is a historically hostile and volatile relationship.

That means whenever they meet on the field of play, things can understandably get heated, although football has been used as an attempt at peace in the past where these countries are concerned and they did meet in home and away friendlies in 2008 and 2009.

Their earlier meeting in this campaign did largely pass without serious incident, as Turkey fought back from an early deficit in Yerevan to claim a 2-1 victory, although much of that was helped by the ban on away fans, something which also extends to this return meeting.

Although neither football association requested such a measure, UEFA stepped in to implement it citing serious security concerns but even without an away presence, history ensures that this will be another very heated affair.

Spice rating: Insane 🌶 🌶 🌶 🌶 🌶