This ran in Friday's Inquirer and I meant to post it that day, but because I was out of town for the long weekend I wasn't able to get it up here. Fortunately, most of the games still haven't taken place yet, so you haven't missed too much.
Toluca at Cruz Azul
6:00 p.m. Saturday (Univision)
Major League Soccer isn’t the only North American league contesting its playoffs right now. Mexico’s Torneo Apertura playoffs - the season is split in two halves -s are in the second leg of their quarterfinal round. Cruz Azul won the second-half playoffs last spring, and finished fourth in the Apertura regular season.
But for all that success, Los Cementeros suffered a 3-0 rout at Toluca in the first leg of the quarterfinals last weekend. Mexican national team stars Christian Giménez and Gerrrdo Torrado face a huge task in the home leg of the series.
Manchester United at Tottenham Hotspur
7:00 a.m. Sunday (NBCSN, mun2)
After suffering a 6-0 blowout loss at Manchester City last weekend, Tottenham manager Andre Vilas-Boas is under fire.
Spurs are loaded with attacking talent, led by Roberto Soldado and Andros Townsend. But after spending almost $180 million on summer transfer fees, Vilas-Boas is stuck in ninth place in the Premier League. He needs to turn things around in a hurry. If Spurs lose to Wayne Rooney and the reigning English champions, Vilas-Boas could lose his job.
Udinese at Juventus
12:30 p.m. Sunday (beIN Sport)
Juventus, the reigning Serie A champions, are back atop the standings this season. Carlos Tévez and Paul Pogba are two of Europe’s most charismatic forwards, and they’ve led the way to the top. Udinese is led by Italian veteran Antonio Di Natale, the team’s top scorer at age 36.
Barcelona at Athletic Bilbao
3:00 p.m. Sunday (beIN Sport)
Neymar and the rest of Barcelona’s stars visit a team that is unlike any other in Spain, and perhaps the world. For much of its history, Bilbao has only had players on its roster from Spain’s Basque region, where the club is based. That policy has been blamed for a lack of success over the years. Recently, though, a new generation of stars has come along, led by midfielders Ander Herrera and Markel Susaeta.
Everton at Manchester United
2:45 p.m. Wednesday (NBCSN, mun2)
A full slate of midweek Premier League action is highlighted by United manager David Moyes’ first game against the team he left to join the Red Devils.
Moyes’ biggest worry will be containing Everton forward Romelu Lukaku, who has bulldozed his way to seven goals this season. The Toffees also have two rising stars in Englishmen Leighton Baines and Ross Barkley.
Bayern Munich at Augsburg
2:30 p.m. Wednesday (ESPN3.com)
No team in the world right now is playing better than Bayern Munich. The reigning Champions League winners have become even better since manager Pep Guardiola took the helm. Arjen Robben, Mario Götze and Franck Ribéry form one of the most fearsome trios in recent soccer history.
This game, in the German Cup’s Round of 16, should be another display of their attacking prowess.
German games aren’t always easy to find on TV or online. Gol TV, which has Bundesliga rights until 2015, is only available on DirecTV and a few small cable providers. ESPN has online rights to the German Cup, though. So you’ll be able to watch this game, as well as Borussia Dortmund at FC Saarbrucken on Tuesday (2:30 p.m., ESPN3.com).