The five must-watch AFL games in the opening five rounds

The AFL has released its 2020 fixture and we've poured through all of the games in the first five rounds to pick the five must-watch clashes.

As always, there were a few tantalising games which failed to make the cut. Sydney vs. Essendon in Round 2 will certainly be one worth tuning in to, especially if Joe Daniher -- who was seeking a trade to the Swans -- lines up for the Bombers.

The Eagles could have had a whole host of matches in this list. Tim Kelly facing his old side in Round 4 will be interesting, as will West Coast's opening match against the Demons, who will be eager to bounce back after one of the most underwhelming seasons in recent history.

So, without further ado, here are the five game not to be missed in the opening five weeks of football.

Round 1

Thursday, March 19: Richmond vs. Carlton, MCG

Richmond unfurling its 2019 premiership banner may only appeal to the yellow and black army, but there are plenty of storylines around the 2020 season opener to get excited about.

The Tigers will welcome back star defender Alex Rance from a season-long ACL injury, while the Blues will be boosted by the return of co-captain and running defender Sam Docherty, who hasn't played a game since the final round of 2017.

In addition to these long-awaited returns, we'll be treated to two of the game's four best players with Dustin Martin and Patrick Cripps squaring off in the midfield. Not only that, but we'll get to see how 2019 Rising Star Sam Walsh fares in his first outing of year two.

ESPN's early tip: Richmond by 16 points

Round 2

Thursday, March 26: Collingwood vs. Richmond, MCG

Seriously, what's not to like about this game?

The Round 2 opener at the home of football is the first real blockbuster clash of 2020, featuring maybe the league's two best teams. If the Tigers beat the Blues in Round 1, which they should, Damien Hardwick's side will be looking for a 14th straight win when they face their old rival in the second week.

This game will be the first time we'll see the Pies at the 'G and it's also another chance for us to see the returning Rance in action.

This is a clash which could just about tell us who the team to beat in 2020 is. That's no exaggeration.

ESPN's early tip: Richmond by 10 points

Round 3

Friday, April 3: GWS vs. Western Bulldogs, Canberra Oval

Since the 2016 preliminary final, the Giants and Dogs have forged a great rivalry. Every clash between these two teams has had an enormous amount of heat in it (thank you, Toby Greene) and as a result it's must-watch television.

This Round 3 contest will be a great opportunity for the Giants to rediscover the mongrel which led to so much September success and ultimately a place in the Grand Final. For the Dogs, they were humiliated in the second half of last year's elimination final and will surely be out for revenge.

The thought of watching Greene, Jeremy Cameron, Steve Coniglio, Josh Kelly, Marcus Bontempelli, Josh Dunkley and Jack Macrae all on the same field should have any footy fan excited.

ESPN's early tip: Giants by four points

Round 4

Thursday, April 9: Brisbane vs. Collingwood, Gabba

Remember what happened when these two teams met in Brisbane last year? It was billed as the biggest game the Gabba had hosted in a decade, but it turned out to be a massive flop with the Pies cruising to a 62-point victory.

There's no doubt Lions coach Chris Fagan will be reminding his troops of this and a repeat result is highly unlikely. Brisbane learned plenty from that loss and went on to surpass everyone's expectations, despite a disappointing finals series. There's going to be plenty of fire in this contest as well.

Will the Lions be as good in 2020? I reckon we'll have a pretty good idea after this game.

ESPN's early tip: Lions by 11 points

Round 5

Friday, April 17: West Coast vs. Richmond, Optus Stadium

Could this be an early preview of the 2020 Grand Final?

The Tigers are the undisputed flag favourites heading into the season, while the Eagles have managed to get even stronger with the signing of Kelly. The two teams have combined to win the last three flags and few would be surprised to see that extend to four come the last weekend in September.

The midfield battle will be one to watch in this game but keep an eye on the key forwards. Josh Kennedy and Jack Darling for the Eagles and Jack Riewoldt and Tom Lynch for the Tigers? Yes please!

ESPN's early tip: Eagles by eight points