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Gold Cup Preview

Posted in Football, Internationals with tags , , , , , , , , , on July 3, 2009 by kemgooner

Gold Cup

This weekend marks the start of the Concacaf Gold Cup with two matches today and two more on Saturday and Sunday.  As usual the two top contenders for the trophy are going to be the United States and Mexico.

The United States are the defending champions of the Gold Cup, and are coming off a Confederations Cup performance that saw them beat then World number one Spain and get into the final, which they lost 2-3 to Brazil, the team which took Spain’s number one ranking. However, coach Bob Bradley has elected to bring very few  members of that squad to the Gold Cup, opting to give chances to more domestic based players instead.

Players to Watch:

Goalkeeper- Brad Guzan– a member of the Confederations Cup squad that beat Egypt 3-0 to shock everyone and make it out of their group, Guzan plays his club football at Aston Villa and will be looking at the Gold Cup as an opportunity to show he can do more than just back up Tim Howard.

Midfielder- Benny Feilhaber– another member of the Confederations Cup squad, Benny scored the winner in the last Gold Cup final against Mexico. Currently playing for Aarhus in Denmark, he will be looking to perform well to perhaps make a move back to a bigger league.

Forward- Freddy Adu– while Jozy Altidore is another US attacking player to watch, Freddy Adu is the player who needs to perform in this tournament.  Adu went as an unused substitute at the Confederations Cup and is coming off two disappointing club seasons at Benfica and Monaco.  A good performance in the Gold Cup could go a long way to seal his spot in the US team ahead of the World Cup and also put pressure on his club side to play him more in the future.

Mexico is coming into the Gold Cup after two warm up friendlies against Venezuela and Guatemala, the first of which they won 4-0 and the second they drew 0-0.  Before this Mexico were going through a challenging period of internationals which means they are just fourth in their World Cup Qualifying group.  A win in the Gold Cup could go along way to boast the team’s and their fans confidence ahead of next summer.

Players to Watch:

Goalkeeper- Guillermo Ochoa– the talented young Mexican keeper who plays for Club America in the Primera Division of Mexico is going to be hard to beat in the Mexican goal.

Attacking Midfielder– Giovani dos Santos- dos Santos scored his first two goals for the Mexican national team in their friendly against Venezuela and will look to continue scoring in the Gold Cup.

Forward- Carlos Vela– the  forward became just the second Mexican player to score in the Premier League when he scored for Arsenal against Portsmouth in May, he will look to add to his 5 international goals playing aside Omar Bravo up front.

While no non-North American team has ever won the Gold Cup there are several other teams to watch that are going to hope to change that.

Costa Rica– Los Ticos are leading their World Cup qualifying group and have recently defeated the United States showing they have what it takes to cause an upset.

Honduras– Another team putting in a strong WCQ campaign, they will hope to use a strong Gold Cup performance to keep in them in the hunt for South Africa.

Matches:

The Gold Cup kicks off today with Canada taking on Jamaica and Costa Rica facing off against El Salvador. The following games this weekend are:

7/4

Honduras vs Haiti

Grenada vs United States

7/5

Panama vs Guadeloupe

Nicaragua vs Mexico

The full Gold Cup schedule can be found here.

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Weekend Preview

Posted in Football with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 29, 2008 by kemgooner

Premier League

Arsenal v Aston Villa

Arsenal face a very good Aston Villa team in what is a huge match for them to keep ahead of Manchester Utd in the title race. Arsenal are now down to only one experienced striker after the injury to Eduardo last week and Robin van Persie’s continued absence, so either Theo Walcott or Nikolas Bendtner will be pairing Emmanuel Adebayor up front or the 4-5-1 formation will be used, with Alexander Hleb most likely playing in the hole behind Adebayor. Tomas Rosicky is also out along with Kolo Toure, but aside from that Arsenal should be at almost full strength. Aston Villa are coming into this match after two consecutive wins and are going to be pushing hard for victory themselves to help keep their Europe dream strong.

Players to Watch

Emmanuel Adebayor-Arsenal-Adebayor is the leading scorer for Arsenal and is most likely the team’s best shot at getting on the score sheet. After to somewhat disappointing scoreless matches he will surely be looking to get back on the score sheet.

Gabriel Agbonglahor-Aston Villa-the speedy Villa striker already has 7 goals and will be looking to add to his total at the Emirates.

West Ham v Chelsea

Chelsea will have a tough task defeating West Ham away from home, but we all know if anyone can grind out a result, its Chelsea and they will be looking to rebound from their Carling Cup defeat last weekend.  If Chelsea loses this match and Arsenal and Utd win they will fall 12 points behind first place and will most likely be out of the race. Chelsea have a full strength squad and fans will probably be wondering who Avram Grant will be playing in this match, after leaving Michael Ballack, Joe Cole, and Salomon Kalou on the bench last weekend.  West Ham are looking to get their first win against Chelsea in 6 matches and are coming off a 1-0 win away to Fulham. Bobby Zamora and Henri Camara are both in contention to be in the squad after coming back from injury.

Players to Watch

John Terry-Chelsea- the Chelsea captain is going to be a key player in stopping the West Ham attack and leading the team to victory, and it’s going to be interesting to see how he will do as he is still coming back from injury and had an alleged fallout with manager Avram Grant.

Freddie Ljungberg-West Ham- West Ham is going to be relying on Ljungberg’s experience to help lead the attack on the Chelsea defense, his runs and crosses could be the key to grabbing a goal.

Everton v Portsmouth

In what is looking to be an exciting encounter in the race for European football fourth place Everton take on seventh place Pompey.  Both teams are coming off wins, Portsmouth a 1-0 victory over Sunderland and Everton a 2-0 win against Manchester City.

Players to Watch

Yakubu-Everton- Harry Redknapp has said that the Everton striker is back to his best, and he will have to be in order to help Everton to victory against a Pompey side that has an impressive away record.

Niko Kranjcar-Portsmouth-the Pompey midfielder is going to have to be on top of his game in order to change the result from the last time Pompey visited Goodison Park, which led to a 3-0 defeat.

La Liga

Atletico Madrid v Barcelona

This match seems to be the biggest match of the weekend in Spain, as Atleitico look to regain form after a string a disappointing results while Barcelona are looking to keep up their good run and gain more points on Real Madrid. As of now it is not sure whether Kun Aguero will be fit for Atletico, which would be another blow to an already injury hit side still missing goalkeeper Leo Franco and midfielder Simao.  Atletico captain Maxi Rodriguez has come out in an interview and spoken about how important the match was, stating that “we have to come out to look for the game using our heads, without getting thrown off. They have players that can make things complicated for you at anytime, so we have to be strong, united, and patient. “He also stated that the team does not depend on Sergio Aguero to win. Barcelona, while having relatively good form coming in from the league, will want to make up for their disappointing midweek draw to Valencia in the Copa del Rey and get back to the form that crushed Levante 5-1.

Players to Watch

Kun Aguero-Atletico Madrid- whether he plays or not it will surely have an impact on Atletico’s ability to win this match, whether Maxi says they don’t depend on him or not.

Lionel Messi-Barcelona-Messi is always a threat for Barcelona, and he scored the last time these two teams met, in which Barca won 3-0.

  Recreativo Huelva v Real Madrid

This usually would not be one of the biggest matches of the weekend, but with Madrid’s loss to Getafe anything seems possible in this match. While it is doubtful that Madrid will fail to gain three points again, Huelva will surely come into this match with the confidence that they too can get a result, especially after their 1-1 draw with Valencia at the Mestalla as their last result.  The return of Robinho to the Madrid squad is a welcome return, while Sneijder, Salgado, and Marcelo are back in training but don’t seem quite ready to rejoin the squad. Guti and Cannavaro, who both picked up niggling injuries in the match against Getafe, were also in training are working hard to be fit for the match Saturday. Madrid has beaten Huelva five out of the seven times they have faced each other previously.

Players to Watch

Sorrentino-Recreativo Huelva- the Huelva goalkeeper will surely be under a lot of pressure facing Madrid’s relentless attack and if they are going to earn a result he will have to be on top of his game, and then some.

Robinho-Real Madrid-the Brazilians return will be a boost to the already dangerous Madrid attack, and it will be interesting to see how fit he is in preparation for Madrid’s huge Champions League clash with Roma.

Serie A

Roma v Parma

Roma will be looking to get a win this weekend at the Stadio Olimpico after their frustrating midweek draw with Inter. Parma currently sit 14th in the league and are coming into this match full of confidence after a big 2-0 win against Udinese. Roma while being back to full strength attack wise, will be playing without three key members of their defense, Juan and Marco Cassetti are both seem to be out due to injury, though Juan might be able to return, and Philippe Mexes is suspended after picking up two yellow cards against Inter.

Players to Watch

Francesco Totti-Roma- Totti seems to be gaining form after being plagued with injury and sickness, and after his goal against Inter it wouldn’t be hard to see him scoring again, especially since he scored twice when these teams met earlier in the season.

Cristiano Lucarelli-Parma-the veteran Italian goal scorer will be one of Parma’s best chances of grabbing a goal.

 AC Milan v Lazio

Milan could have grabbed fourth place during the week, but because of their draw to Catania they are still in fifth. However, because Juventus and Fiorentina are playing each other a win would go a long way to get them into position for European football. Lazio are coming off a win, but will not gain confidence from the fact that they have not won in the San Siro (against Milan), since 1989. Milan may choose to rest some players in anticipation for their Champions League match Tuesday, but they still have to play a strong enough squad to produce a victory.

Players to Watch

Pato-AC Milan- Pato scored a great goal midweek and will be looking to add to his total for the season.

Tommaso Rocchi and Goran Pandev- Lazio- between the strike partners are 17 goals, and together they will be looking to punish the Milan defense for any mistakes and both are more than capable of producing a moment of magic.

Juventus v Fiorentina

The match of the weekend in Serie A, this match will prove the legitimacy of each team’s European hopes. Juve are coming off a draw in the Torino derby, and a loss to Reggina and need to get back to their winning ways in order to challenge Roma for second, while Fiorentina are coming off a 1-0 win to Livorno and are looking to stay ahead of AC Milan. Both teams have a trio of key players out, with Fiorentina missing Mutu, Semioli, and Liverani due to injury and Juve missing Zanetti, Chiellini, and Nedved.

Players to Watch

Giampaolo Pazzini-Fiorentina- with Mutu out, the scoring responsibility falls on Pazzini’s shoulders and if Fiorentina are going to get points Pazzini will have to be on top of his game.

Alessandro del Piero-Juventus- while Trezeguet is the leading scorer for Juve, del Piero also has 11 assists to add to his 11 goals and will likely have a hand in any goal Juve are to score this weekend.

German Bundesliga

Schalke 04 v Bayern Munich

Bayern Munich currently have a four point lead over second place Werder Bremen but have let challengers off the hook recently with draws to Bremen and Hamburg. Schalke look to get their big week off with a win to gain momentum to take to Portugal.

 Werder Bremen v Borussia Dortmund

Werder Bremen is hoping to gain ground on Bayern, but will have to play without play maker Diego who is suspended. Dortmund is looking to keep of their good form and continue moving up through the standings.

French Ligue 1

Lille v Lyon

Lyon is only 3 points in front of Bordeaux and need to win to keep that lead intact. They also are looking ahead to a Champions League match midweek and a trip to Old Trafford.

Portuguese Liga

Sporting Lisbon v Benfica

While Porto has all but wrapped the title, this match still promises to entertain, as both teams will be fighting for a place in Europe next season.