Archive | August, 2012

La Liga, Week 3 Game of the Week

30 Aug

Recap of Last week: I predicted that FC Barcelona would beat Osasuna easily by a score of 4-1. In actuality, the final score was very close as Barcelona came from behind and eventually won by a score of 2-1. Barca was down 0-1 at halftime, and it wasn’t until the ’76 and ’80 goals by Lionel Messi that gave Barca its lead for good.

This Week:

FC Barcelona vs Valencia CF

Sunday September 2nd, 2:30PM (CST), Camp Nou

Why This game is Intriguing: Because these are two of the top three teams in Spain. Valencia, like FC Barcelona and Real Madrid, regularly qualifies for the Champion’s League. Unlike FC Barcelona, Valencia is still seeking its first win of the season, as its first two results were ties (1-1 to Real Madrid, 3-3 last week to Deportivo de La Coruna). We all know the talented bunch from Barca, and an argument can be made that these 3 are the best footballers around right now- Messi, Xavi, Iniesta. Roberto Soldado of Valencia has already netted twice this season, and he will continue to make his mark for his club as they move forward. FC Barcelona comes off a rather ugly defeat in the Spanish Super Cup against Real Madrid at the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu. While the final 2-1 loss doesn’t seem so bad, if it wasn’t for Lionel Messi’s magical free kick goal in the ’45 just before halftime, the Catalans very likely would have been shut out. Losing to Real Madrid always hurts, but losing a trophy at the hands of their rivals is excruciatingly painful. Barca defenseman Adriano was given a red card in the first half, making the rest of the match an uphill battle for the Catalans. How do they respond Sunday?

Other Reasons to Watch this Game: Jordi Alba faces his former team for the first time. The left back had a busy summer as he played significant minutes for Spain in the Euro 2012 and transfered from Valencia back to his home club FC Barcelona. A member of the Barca youth system and because of his eye opening performances this summer on the national stage, it was only natural that many of his Spanish teammates who play for Barca pushed for his transfer. Alba played significant minutes against Real Madrid Wednesday, and he will only continue to play more and more for his new club. Barcelona’s defense has looked shaky at times so far this season- Pique and Mascherano have both made mistakes which have led to several goals already.

Soccahaus Prediction: FC Barcelona over Valencia, 3-1.

Other Games This Week Worth Watching: Deportivo de La Coruna vs Getafe, Mallorca vs Real Sociedad, Rayo Vallecano vs Sevilla, Real Madrid vs Granada, Real Betis vs Atletico Madrid

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English Premier League, Week 3 Game of the Week

29 Aug

Recap of last week: I predicted Manchester City to beat Liverpool by a score of 2-1. In the end, the result was a 2-2 tie with Liverpool centerback Martin Skrtel playing a huge role in 2 very important goals. Liverpool led 1-0 at halftime because of Skrtel’s powerful header off a corner kick, but it was Skrtel’s horrible unbalanced miss pass back to goalie Pepe Reina, that ultimately was intercepted by City striker Carlos Tevez for the game tying goal.

This Week:

Liverpool FC vs Arsenal FC

Sunday, September 2nd, 7:30 AM (CST), Anfield.

Why This Game is Intriguing: Both of these clubs come into this game desperately seeking a win. Arsenal will be feeling even more pressure than Liverpool as the first two matches for the Gunners have resulted in 0-0 ties. Without much offensive flow, and with the poor performances of newcomers Lukas Podolski and Olivier Giroud, Arsenal definitely misses the production and consistency of Robin van Persie who bolted for Manchester United just before the start of the season. Liverpool looked very impressive last week, and would have walked away with a home win over the defending champions if it wasn’t for a careless error by Martin Skrtel. While tying Manchester City is not a bad result considering the week before was a 3-0 loss to West Brom, the fact that Liverpool outplayed the champions for most of the game and was leading, a tie certainly did not satisfy new Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers.

Other Reasons to get Excited About This Game: Luis Suarez, Liverpool striker. Say what you want about his antics- and I agree they are disgusting and in no way do I condone what he did last year in the match against Manchester United- but the kid is unquestionably one of the top players in the English Premier League. Few players in the world have the burst and agility that Suarez has, and coupled with his tenacity and competitive drive- the Uruguayan star is poised for another huge year. Despite his 10 game ban last season, the fans at Anfield still have unwavering support for their leading goal scorer. *Last week’s free kick against Manchester City was the goal of the (albeit short) season so far, and we can only imagine what Suarez has left for us during the remainder of the season*. Arsenal’s attack NEEDS to show something, anything at all, to prove that this season can move forward successfully. In the meantime though, keep your eye on #7 for Liverpool- He can play.

Soccahaus Prediction: Liverpool over Arsenal, 2-0. The Gunners continue to struggle offensively as Liverpool wins their first game of the season at home.

Other Games Worth Watching this Week: Swansea vs Sunderland, Tottenham vs Norwich, West Brom vs Everton, Manchester City vs QPR, Southampton vs Manchester United, Newcastle vs Aston Villa.

*Recap of last week’s stellar free kick by Liverpool striker Luis Suarez*

La Liga, Week 2 Game of the Week

23 Aug

Recap of last week: I predicted Real Madrid to beat Valencia easily by a score of 4-1. The end result was actually a 1-1 tie, as Valencia’s goalie Vicente Guaita repeatedly made miraculous save after miraculous save against the Real Madrid attack.

This Week:

CA Osasuna vs FC Bareclona

Sunday August 26th, 12:00 PM (CST), Reyno de Navarra

Why This Game is Intriguing: February 12th, 2012 is a day FC Barcelona and their fans will never forget, and that is what makes this game so intriguing. On that fateful winter Sunday, FC Barcelona lost 2-3 to Osasuna, the La Liga club from Pamplona. It was a night that changed the trajectory of the final La Liga standings; Barcelona’s humiliating loss to Osasuna coupled with Real Madrid’s resounding 4-2 win a few hours later over Levante meant that Real Madrid was now 10 points ahead of their Catalan rivals. It was too great a gap for FC Barcelona to catch up, and that night more or less gave Real Madrid their first La Liga title in 4 seasons, ending Barca’s impeccable run with manager Pep Guardiola at the helm. Another reason why that game was so shocking was because it was the second meeting that season between Osasuna and FC Barcelona- and the first game was an 8-0 victory for Barcelona at the Nou Camp- the largest margin of victory in La Liga in 2011/12.

Other Reasons to get Excited About this Game: Osasuna is coming off a rather embarrassing 0-2 loss to Deportivo de La Coruna, the winners of last season’s Segunda Division, and newcomers to La Liga. Barcelona is coming off a 5-1 romp over Real Sociedad AND an El Classico match will be played today, Thursday, August 23rd for the Spanish Supercup. How will Osasuna bounce back from their opener? How will FC Barcelona continue their success and scoring prowess exhibited against Real Sociedad? Will there be any lingering impact on this weekend’s game against Osasuna from playing Real Madrid just a few days earlier, either in the form of injury or fatigue? This is a revenge game for one of the best clubs in the world- and without a doubt the best club over the span of the last 5 years. As Barcelona welcomes in a new era with manager Tito Villanova, it is their time to prove just how good they are. And it doesn’t hurt that David Villa looks healthy and is back to scoring goals again…

Soccahaus Prediction: FC Barcelona over Osasuna, 4-1.

Other Games This Week Worth Watching: Real Sociedad vs Celta de Vigo, Malaga vs Mallorca, Getafe vs Real Madrid, Granada vs Sevilla, Valencia vs Deportivo de la Coruna, Atletico Madrid vs Athletic Bilbao

English Premier League, Week 2 Game of the Week

22 Aug

Recap of last week: I predicted Newcastle over Tottenham 3-2. The end, correct result was Newcastle over Tottenham 2-1. A late goal by Hatem Ben Arfa in the 80th minute gave the Magpies the lead for good.

This Week:

Liverpool FC vs Manchester City FC

Sunday, August 26th, 10:00 AM (CST), Anfield.

Why This Game is Intriguing: Both of these clubs seem to be heading in opposite directions. Over the past 3 complete EPL seasons, Manchester City has continued to climb up the final standings, finishing 5th in 09/10, 3rd in 10/11, and winning the league this past season. Liverpool on the other hand hasn’t come close to qualifying for the Champions League over the past 3 seasons, finishing 7th, 6th, and back down to 8th last season. Liverpool started this most recent season on a terrible note, getting slammed 3-0 to West Bromwich Albion. Man City came from behind to beat newcomers to the Premier League Southampton 3-2, but lost Sergio Aguero to a knee injury. He is expected to be out for at least the next few weeks, which means more minutes for Mario “Why Always Me?” Balotelli, Eden Dzeko, and Carlos Tevez.

Other Reasons to Get Excited About This Game: Sorry to be redundant, but once again, star power. City is of course loaded with players who have a knack for scoring, including Balotelli, Dzeko, Carlos Tevez, Samir Nasri, Yaya Toure, and the out-of-form David Silva. We can’t forget about their defense either, led by Vincent Kompany, Joleon Lescott, Pablo Zabaleta, Micah Richards, and Gael Clichy. As awful as Liverpool looked last weekend, they still boast a great deal of talent led by Steven Gerrard, Lucas Leiva, Glen Johnson, Luis Suarez, Stewart Downing, Martin Skrtel, and goal keeper Pepe Reina. Given that this game is at Anfield and this is Brendan Rodgers’ second league fixture with his current club, the pressure will be on. As always, expect the Liverpool crowd to be in full force as they welcome in the defending champion visitors.

Soccahaus Prediction: Manchester City over Liverpool, 2-1.

Other games this week worth watching: Manchester United vs Fulham, Tottenham Hotspur vs West Bromwich Albion, Chelsea vs Newcastle United, Aston Villa vs Everton

*And since this is Liverpool, and the game is at Anfield, please enjoy the following video. Truly Incredible.

Liverpool Must Sign Clint Dempsey

21 Aug

Could we be seeing Clint Dempsey don the Liverpool Kit soon?

The opening weekend for the English Premier League was an exciting one. The 2 most shocking end results both involve Clint Dempsey, and it appears that a resolution for this transfer-saga will be ending soon. I started Soccahaus.com July 17th, opening with an article giving 5 reasons why a move to Anfield would be the most logical destination for Clint Dempsey. Little did I know that more than a month later, the Dempsey saga continues on.

Fulham 5-Norwich City 0. Liverpool 0-West Bromwich Albion 3. Fulham came out firing in an impressive romp against 12th place finishers Norwich. Liverpool was stunned by 10th place finishers West Brom at home. Longtime Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard revealed that he was “shocked at the result” after losing to the Baggies on his home turf.

The results of the 2 games prove one point: Fulham doesn’t need Clint Dempsey, and Liverpool could definitely use a scorer like Clint Dempsey. If Fulham was worried that without Dempsey they wouldn’t be able to score, Saturday proved otherwise. Mladen Petric, Fulham’s new transfer from Hamburger, netted twice, and according to an ESPN article “was the star of the show”.

Liverpool struggled mightily, led by several near misses by striker Luis Suarez. Adding Dempsey in there to push the attack forward would not only be a luxury, but after last weekends result, it might just be a necessity. The fans at Anfield know that with a new manager there will be some growing pains, but 3-0 losses to West Brom will not go over well in Merseyside. Change must happen. Clint Dempsey is too good of a player to be holding out, watching games go by. Liverpool must do all it can to get the American on their side.

La Liga, Week 1 Game of the Week

17 Aug

Valencia CF vs Real Madrid CF

Sunday, August 19th, 10:00 AM, Estadio Santiago Bernabeu .

Why This Game is Intriguing: Outside of possibly an opening week El Classico (which will never happen), this game is as good as it gets. Valencia is a perennial La Liga power, as for the past 3 seasons they have finished behind Real Madrid and/or FC Barcelona in the standings, and  therefore they have been regulars in the Champions League. Valencia regularly produces some top talent, and expect them once again to at least be in the hunt for another Champion’s League birth. The biggest La Liga transfer this offseason saw Left Back Jordi Alba of Valencia leave for FC Barcelona for 14 million Euros. While this loss was a crucial one, an under-the-radar move was Valencia’s decision to sign Portuguese back Joao Pereira from Sporting CP as Alba’s replacement.

Other Reasons to get Excited for this Game: Roberto Soldado’s return to the Bernabeu. Soldado, Valencia’s starting striker and leading goal scorer is a terror around the net, as he scored 35 goals in 66 league appearances in the last 2 seasons. Soldado is also a former Real Madrid player and product of the youth system, but unfortunately wasn’t quite good enough to be a regular in the Los Blancos rotation. Soldado always plays with a chip on his shoulder whenever he plays against Real Madrid, and expect him to be particularly active in this game.  The last time these two teams met, the result was a 0-0 draw. Valencia keeper Vicente Guaita really emerged last season as a fulltime starter, and he wowed soccer fans across Spain with his incredible 90 minute performance last season shutting out the Real Madrid attack. Real Madrid will be looking to erase their bad memories from that day, and start the La Liga campaign off with a bang. As the favorites once again to the win the league, a loss or tie here would be somewhat of a letdown to say the least.

Soccahaus Prediction: Real Madrid over Valencia, 4-1.

Other games this week worth watching: FC Barcelona vs Real Sociedad, Levante vs Atletico Madrid, Athletic Bilbao vs Real Betis, Celta de Vigo vs Malaga.

English Premier League, Week 1 Game of the Week

16 Aug

*Soccahaus fans: Every Thursday or Friday I will be going through the schedule for the English Premier League, and deciding on a game (or 2) that are can’t miss fixtures to preview. Once some of the other leagues commence their seasons (La Liga, Serie A, etc) I will also do the same for them as well.

Tottenham Hotspur vs Newcastle United

Saturday, August 18th, 17:30, St. James Park.

Why This Game is Intriguing: The most important reason is standings. While no game this early on in the season means a whole lot in the grand scheme of the overall standings, these 2 teams will be competing for the coveted 4th place spot (and thus Champions League qualifier) in the Premier League behind Man City, Man United, and Chelsea. The Spurs finished 4th in the Premier League last season, but were subsequently forced into the Europa League because of 6th place Chelsea’s miraculous run and 1st place finish in the Champions League. Newcastle on the other hand was the most surprising team in England last season, as they finished 5th ahead of traditional powers Chelsea and Liverpool. While it is a given that Man City or Man United will be winning the league this year, the race for the final two Champions League spots will ultimately come down to a small handfull of teams, and you can bet that Tottenham and Newcastle will be right there (along with Chelsea, Arsenal, and Liverpool).

Other Reasons to get excited for this game: Star power. Tottenham will lose Luka Modric to Real Madrid, but they still boast 2 of England’s best midfielders in Scott Parker and Gareth Bale. Jermain Defoe is still one of the league’s best goal scorers (11 last season), and Rafael van der Vaart is also a consistent threat to score. Newcastle’s 3-headed monster of Demba Ba, Hatem Ben Arfa, and Papiss Cisse combined for 34 goals last season. French Midfielder Yohan Cabaye is one of the more underrated players in the league (4 goals, 9 assists last season), and Newcastle captain and center back Fabricio Coloccini is really the engine that makes this team go.

Soccahaus Prediction: Newcastle over Spurs, 3-2

Other games this week worth watching: Arsenal vs Sunderland, West Brom vs Liverpool, Wigan vs Chelsea, Everton vs Man United