Sport on Sofa: Messi v Guardiola isn't the only star-studded encounter - Celtic and Rangers take note

There’s a fairly strong Hollywood element to sport on TV this week – and that’s not just because some movie classics were dug out over a particularly damp holiday weekend for some of the country.

Pep Guardiola and Lionel Messi will be re-united in the Champions League (FRANCK FIFE/AFP via Getty Images)

The Ryder Cup’s golf commentary emenated from Sheboygan – otherwise famous for John Candy’s mention in Home Alone and there will be some big stars of screen and sport on the golf course this week.

No, the movie notion emanates from the Old Firm’s forays into European competition on Thursday – they’re going ‘Back to the Future’ in each.

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Take Rangers, since they’re on BT Sport 3 first with one of the Europa League early tea-time kick-offs. We’ll be watching Steven Gerrard’s team back in Prague, playing in front of depleted stands – pretty much like they did a few months ago last season.

Jeremie Frimpong is expected back in Glasgow. (Photo by Craig Foy / SNS Group)

Sounds familiar, only this time it’s city rivals Sparta who are the hosts, and not last season’s opponents Slavia. And, like the ten-match ban handed out to Ondrej Kudela over racist comments made to Glen Kamara, Sparta too are subject to punishment over racism, hence the capacity reduction.

On a much more savoury note, there’s a familiarity in the second fixture of the evening with Celtic following Rangers on the same channel.

Bayer Leverkusen – again, remember them – are in town but, like Rangers, they too will be facing a different club than that which prompted their visit last year – they were Rangers’ final opponents before the pandemic hit in 2020.

With them, they bring Jeremie Frimpong back to Celtic Park and the smiling full-back is sure to receive a warm Parkhead welcome.

Both have moved on but Guardiola and Messi spent many successful days in Barcelona (JAVIER SORIANO/AFP via Getty Images)

That all comes on Thursday which is also the day the Alfred Dunhill Championship tees off on Sky.

Bill Murray, Jamie Dornan and Samuel L Jackson joined the pro-am in the past, and Celtic shareholder Dermot Desmond is a regular visitor so could be making a cross-country jaunt to take in both events this week, rather than flicking between the channels like the rest of us.

The A-listers of a football kind, Paris Saint-Germain and Manchester City headline the Champions League fixtures between the mega-rich clubs and will pitch Lionel Messi against Pep Guardiola on Tuesday night on BT Sport. They’re followed by the not-quite-so-rich-but-still-pretty-big-spending pair Juventus v Chelsea on Wednesday night and Juve are also in derby action on Saturday against Torino – again on BT.

That’s not the only one this week though and, if mega-money is a turn-off, turn on BBC Scotland for the Fife derby between Raith Rovers and Dunfermline on Wednesday at 7pm.

Bill Murray has frequented St Andrews for the Alfred Dunhill championships in previous years (Photo by Mark Runnacles/Getty Images)

What more could you ask for? Well there’s something for everyone this week – from history buffs to folk who like dressing-up.

Weeks before Hallowe’en, there will be no shortage of costumed fun-runners following the serious athletes around London’s streets in the London Marathon covered, as usual, by the BBC on Sunday morning.

And one momentous moment for TV occurs on Wednesday night when the baseball regular season draws to a close. The final match to decide the play-off schedule will be fronted by Melanie Newman and Jessica Mendoza – a first all-female team for sports telecasts in America. But unlike in Back to the Future, it won’t be the Cubs winning the World Series this year.

David Oliver’s What to Watch and When...

Pulp Fiction actor Samuel L Jackson played the tournament in 2008 (Photo by Warren Little/Gettyimages)

Europa League Football

Rangers and Celtic are in continental competition on Thursday in the Europa League. BT Sport will, as usual, show each consecutively. Rangers kick-off the broadcast on BT Sport 3 (Sky 417/ Virgin 529) at 5.15pm against Sparta Prague, followed by Celtic v Bayer Leverkusen at 8pm.

Baseball

The World Series is in sight as the american season draws to a conclusion and the play-offs begin next week. First though the final placings have to be decided in the regular season which finishes up on September 29 and ESPN will choose games with play-off implications in their Post-Season Impact TV match selections and shows.

Wednesday is a significant date in the baseball calendar for more reasons than one – particularly this year. It’s also the first time, ever, an all-female broadcast team will host a game on ESPN, when Melanie Newman and Jessica Mendoza host San Diego Padres v Los Angeles Dodgers. The little slice of history is on BT Sport ESPN (Sky 423/ Virgin 530) at 0.00am.

Football

European football returns on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday this week and Paris Saint-Germain v Manchester City headlines the Champions League fixtures. It’s a clash of the mega-rich on Tuesday, but there’s little expense spared in Juventus v Chelsea – two more big spenders of recent decades, meeting on Wednesday night. Both are on BT Sport, as is Juventus’ Turin derby with Torino on Saturday evening.

If it’s derby football you’re after BBC Scotland (Sky 115/Virgin 108) also has Raith Rovers v Dunfermline Athletic live from Fife on Wednesday at 7pm.

Athletics

The London Marathon is back and while it’s a fun run for many, there’s a competitive edge to it for the professional runners. It’s on Sunday morning on BBC1 and running through to the afternoon with the usual mix of serious sport and costumed joggers weaving through the city course.

Golf

After the Ryder Cup excitement, it’s back to the home of golf for the Alfred Dunhill Championship. Sky sports will broadcast all the St Andrews action on Sky Sports Golf (Sky 405/ Virgin 515) from 1pm on Thursday through to Sunday’s conclusion.