Bayern Munich v Hamburg (FSNs, FS2, YouTube and FS2GO, 2 p.m. ET, Friday)
The champions face a scrappy Hamburg side desperate to regain their footing. Die Rothosen were forced to survive a playoff just to remain in the top flight, and preserve their status as the Bundesliga’s only constant member since the division’s foundation in 1963. But Bruno Labbadia’s troops face a tall order against a Bayern side that is loaded with talent. Even with Franck Ribery and Holder Badstuber out, they are clearly more than a match for this weak Hamburg side, which crashed out of the DFB-Pokal earlier this week to fourth-tier Carl Zeiss Jena. Can Hamburg recover from that humiliation? Don’t bet on it.
Bongarts/Getty ImagesAlexander Hassenstein
Aston Villa v Manchester United (NBCSN, 2:45 p.m. ET, Friday)
United have not dropped a game at Villa Park for almost 20 years, and this rare Friday night game should preserve their streak. Moved forward due to a right-wing political march in Birmingham on Saturday, the match features two teams going in opposite directions. The Red Devils were poor in their opening-day win over Tottenham and still don’t know when, or if, David De Gea will take the field. The keeper has been strongly linked with Real Madrid and is understood to want to move. He’s also not in the game-day squad for the second straight game. Another question is whether anyone in a red shirt can find the back of the net: United won their opener on an own goal and managed just a single shot on frame. Still, that should be enough against a desperate Villa side that looks pretty impotent.
Getty ImagesMatthew Ashton - AMA
Borussia Dortmund v Moenchengladbach (FS2, FS2GO, 12:30 p.m. ET, Saturday)
The game of the weekend in Germany sees a rebuilding Dortmund side take on a very tough Gladbach team, in what should be an all-out attacking game. Thomas Tuchel hasn’t changed many of the key players who disappointed last year under Jurgen Klopp, but has injected some of the go-go action he brought to Mainz. BVB have real glitter in Marco “Rolls” Reus, Kuba and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, but questions remain about their mentality after last year’s swan dive. Neven Subotic is likely out, recovering from injury. Lucien Favre has made Gladbach one of the teams to watch, offsetting the transfer of Max Kruse with the pickup of Lars Strindl. Josip Drmic, who was terrible at Leverkusen last year, will look to recover the form he showed at Nuremburg. American Fabian Johnson is likely to get a start.
Bongarts/Getty ImagesThomas Eisenhuth
LA Galaxy v FC Dallas (MLSLive, locals, 9 p.m. ET, Saturday)
Two of the best teams in the league square off in a match with Supporters’ Shield implications as the red-hot Galaxy try to avenge their May loss in Frisco, Texas. The Galaxy have been scoring at will, rolling past Seattle last week thanks to new signing Gio Dos Santos and the ageless Robbie Keane. They seem to be getting goals from everywhere on the field, with rising starlet Gyasi Zardes a consistent threat and young Sebastian Lletget enjoying a torrid start to his MLS career. But Dallas –who saw a five-game winning streak snapped in the Brimstone Cup – have been nearly unbeatable at Toyota Stadium, dropping just one game this year. The Galaxy have been statistically poorer on the road this year, so look for Fabian Castillo and Blas Perez to have another joyful night.
Getty ImagesKevork Djansezian
Crystal Palace v Arsenal (NBCSN, 8:30 a.m. ET, Sunday)
Will another London derby, mean another panicky performance from the Gunners? After last week’s lame show against West Ham, this match, against a far-better Palace team, might have alarm bells ringing at Colney. Petr Cech must shake off a nightmare debut for the Gunners, while Arsenal have to get their attack going against a smart and organized Palace team that have top-ten ambitions. Alexis Sanchez is available to start, but Olivier Giroud is going to have to show far more than he has. The result in this one may tip Arsene Wenger’s hand in the mooted bid for Real Madrid’s Karim Benzema. Alan Pardew has put together the best Palace side in recent memory, with the skilled Yohan Cabaye joining Wilfried Zaha and Mile Jedniak in the heart of the park. Don’t be shocked if Palace stun the Gunners here.
Getty ImagesMike Hewitt
Manchester City v Chelsea (NBCSN, 11 a.m. ET, Sunday)
This one feels like an early-season referendum, with a reeling Chelsea side squaring off against an energized and potent City team that blew away West Brom on Monday. Chelsea, embroiled in an ugly row over their medical staff, are suffering from some stale play and some unfit players. Diego Costa is not 100 percent, and while Eden Hazard is among the league’s best, he can be contained. Loic Remy and Radamel Falcao have yet to impress. Thibaut Courtois is suspended for this match, meaning a big test for backup Asmir Begovic. For City, David Silva will pull the strings with Sergio Aguero, Yaya Toure and Wilfried Bony forcing the issue. Raheem Sterling is still waiting for his first league goal with City. Chelsea are likely to try and disrupt and destroy; City can prosper if they can avoid getting sucked into the mire.