Archive | March, 2013

La Liga, Week 29 Game of the Week

29 Mar

Recap of two weeks ago: In what was an exciting Galician derby between the two worst teams in La Liga, I managed to accurately predict the winner in Deportivo, although my predictions was off by 1 goal. Deportivo won the game 3-1. Deportivo la Coruna scored the first 3 goals of the game, while Park Chu-Young notched 1 in the 80′ to get Celta on the board.

This Week: 

Atletico Madrid vs Valencia CF

Atletico Madrid vs Valencia CF

Sunday, March 31st, 2pm (CST) Vicente Calderon

Why This Game is Intriguing: After going a couple of weeks without a victory, Atletico righted the ship Sunday the 17th against a free falling Osasuna team. Atletico Madrid remains in 3rd place in the La Liga table, just 1 point behind city rivals Real Madrid and 13 points ahead of 4th place Real Sociedad. Brazilian striker Diego Costa has really stepped up his game, scoring both goals in that last game against Osasuna. There is no doubt Atletico Madrid is primed for a return to Champions League soccer next season, but questions remain as to how exactly the roster will be looking. Where will Radamel Falcao end up? Rumors are spreading all over the place- some have him staying with Atletico, most in fact have him going to Chelsea. Another key component of Atletico’s core is their outstanding Belgian goal keeper, Thibault Courtois. Courtois is a Chelsea player who is out on loan to Atletico Madrid, and supposedly Chelsea will be bringing him back to London next season- BUT, Chelsea already has one of the elite goal keepers in the world in Peter Czech, and supposedly Atletico will be trying to permanently purchase the rights to Courtois from here on out.

Other Reasons to Watch This Game: Valencia has only lost twice this calendar year, and because of that the club that is used to participating in the Champions League is making quite a push to make sure they are back in the competition once again. Valencia is currently in 5th place in the table, and remain just 2 points behind 4th place Real Sociedad. Valencia’s last La Liga match was an impressive 3-0 home win against Andalusian club Real Betis. Roberto Soldado and Jonas continue to lead the charge up front, and Valencia will be banking on its experience as historically one of the top clubs in La Liga to get them back to the Champions League. While Atletico holds a 15 point lead over Valencia, with a Real Sociedad loss at Espanyol and with a Valencia win in Madrid, Valencia will switch places with Sociedad and earn a top 4 place for the time being.

Soccahaus Prediction: 2-2 draw

Other Games This Week Worth Watching: Espanyol vs Real Sociedad, Rayo vs Malaga, Celta Vigo vs FC Barcelona, Real Zaragoza vs Real Madrid, Levante vs Sevilla, Mallorca vs Deportivo

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English Premier League, Week 29 Game of the Week

26 Mar

Recap of Two Weeks Ago: We are back after a week off because of international play. In what was an incredibly exciting, hard fought game between two teams at the bottom of the EPL, Aston Villa came away with the win, beating last place QPR by a score of 3-2. The back and forth affair was eventually settled by none other than Belgian international Christian Benteke in the 81′.

This Week: 

Swansea City vs Tottenham Hotspur

Swansea City vs Tottenham Hotspur

Saturday, March 30th, 10AM (CST) Liberty Stadium

Why This Game Is Intriguing: I’m going to call this game a must-win for the Spurs if they want to remain in the top 4 and earn a Champions League bid. Why? Not only have the Spurs lost their last 2 games in a row (at Liverpool and vs Fulham), but the upcoming schedule for the North London club after this match against Swansea is absolutely brutal. Now, Swansea is a fantastic club, especially this season, but the next 3 games after this for Spurs are: vs Everton, at Chelsea, and then vs Manchester City. For a club reeling from 2 defeats and clamoring to stay in the group of England’s elite, this game against a high powered Swansea team is huge. In those two losses, Gareth Bale has not scored a single goal. The Spurs are at their best when their superstar Welshman is leading the attack scoring goals.

Other Reasons to Watch This Game: 11th place Swansea is looking for a home win against one of the top teams in England in the Tottenham Hotspur. Like the Spurs, Swansea is on a bit of a losing streak of their own, losing their last two games (vs Arsenal and at West Brom) by a combined score of 1-4. Swansea is led by Spanish international star Michu, who leads the team 15 goals, although he hasn’t scored a goal in the last 4 games. Swansea’s back line is anchored by Ashley Williams, the captain of the Wales National team. Williams is an incredibly athletic defender, and his leadership has propelled Swansea to a solid standing in the Premier League, as well as a victory for the Capital One Cup over Bradford City.

Soccahaus Prediction: Spurs 3, Swansea 1

Other Games This Week Worth Watching: Manchester City vs Newcastle, Arsenal vs Reading, Southampton vs Chelsea, West Ham vs West Brom, Everton vs Stoke City, Aston Villa vs Liverpool

English Premier League, Week 28 Game of the Week

13 Mar

Recap of Last Week: In a matchup between two of the hottest teams in England, featuring arguably the two best players in England in Luis Suarez and Gareth Bale, the home side (Liverpool) came away with the close 3-2 victory thanks to goals by Suarez 21′, Downing 66′, and Gerrard 82′ PEN. Liverpool continues to climb up the table as they are now in 6th place, while Tottenham maintains their 3rd place position.

Aston Villa vs Queens Park Rangers

Aston Villa vs Queens Park Rangers

Saturday, March 16th, 10AM (CST) Villa Park

Why This Game is Intriguing: Believe it or not, QPR is on a winning streak! The London based club has won their last two games, their first such winning streak in the Premier League this season. They beat Sunderland 3-1 at home last week, and beat Southampton 2-1 the week before at St. Mary’s Stadium. QPR is, and has been at the very bottom of the Premier League table for pretty much the entirety of this season, but this last string of wins, combined with the collapses of clubs like Reading (losers of their last 4 games in a row, including a loss to Aston Villa) and Southampton (only won two Premier League games this calendar year), is forcing people around the league to believe that QPR will be remain in the top flight of English soccer next season.

Other Reasons to Watch This Game: Aston Villa is currently just one spot ahead of relegation zone, and based on their recent string of results, are in real danger of being relegated to the 2nd division of English soccer for the 1st time since the late 1980’s. The club from Birmingham is just 3 points ahead of Wigan Athletic, and a win here against QPR would go a long way towards providing some much needed cushion between themselves and the relegation zone. Aston Villa will have the best player on the pitch, regardless of team, in Christian Benteke. The Belgian international leads his team in goals with 12, and is tied for tops on his team in assists with 4. Benteke provides a spark and intimidating flashiness to go along with his natural abilities as an attacking footballer- and is without a doubt the most beloved player on Aston Villa. Look for Benteke to cause some serious problems for QPR’s weak back line.

Soccahaus Prediction: 2-2 draw

Other Games This Week Worth Watching: Everton vs Manchester City, Swansea vs Arsenal, Southampton vs Liverpool, Manchester United vs Reading, Tottenham vs Fulham, Chelsea vs West Ham

La Liga, Week 28 Game of the Week

12 Mar

Recap of last week: In what was a surprising result, Real Sociedad continued their climb towards the top of the La Liga table by handing then 2nd place Atletico Madrid their first home loss of the season. Xabi Prieto scored the games only goal in the 53′ for the Basque club, and with Atletico losing and Real Madrid winning, the two clubs from the Spanish capital switched places (2 & 3) in La Liga. Barcelona still holds a 13 point lead over Real Madrid for tops in La Liga.

This Week: 

Deportivo la Coruna vs Celta Vigo

Deportivo la Coruna vs Celta Vigo

Friday, March 15, 3:45 CST Riazor Stadium

Why This Game is Intriguing: There is a whole lot riding on this game. First and foremost this is the Galician Derby, and Celta hasn’t won a league matchup against Deportivo since the 2006-2007 season. The first matchup between these two clubs this season occurred this past October, with the result being a 1-1 draw in Vigo. These two clubs were also in the Segunda division last year, with Deportivo winning the league outright, and Celta Vigo coming in a close 2nd to ensure their promotion into La Liga. Currently, Deportivo and Celta are at the very bottom of the La Liga table, and face relegation once again unless either of them can turn things around quickly. With a win (and a couple of losses/draws for the teams directly ahead of them) Celta Vigo could move up far enough to avoid relegation. Deportivo la Coruna is in an even more dire situation. They have only 17 points and sit at the very bottom of the table. Deportivo needs a lot more than just this win to ensure their status in the Primera division next season.

Other Reasons to Watch This Game: Celta de Vigo forward Iago Aspas will unquestionably be the best player on the field at Riazor on Friday. The 25 year old Gailician has spent his entire career, including his youth club days, with Celta. He leads his team in goals (10) and assists (6), and had a remarkable 2011-12 season with Celta, scoring 23 goals and leading his team into the top flight division of Spanish football. Pizzi and Riki are the two players to watch for Deportivo la Coruna. Pizzi has 7 goals and 4 assists thus far this season, and Riki leads his club with 10 goals this season.

Soccahaus Prediction: Deportivo 2, Celta 1

Other Games This Week Worth Watching: Real Sociedad vs Valladolid, Getafe vs Athletic Bilbao, Real Madrid vs Mallorca, Valencia vs Real Betis, Malaga vs Espanyol, Osasuna vs Atletico Madrid, FC Barcelona vs Rayo Vallecano.

English Premier League, Week 27 Game of the Week

8 Mar

Recap of Last Week: In what was a relatively clean game, I managed to predict the right outcome in the North London Derby- Spurs 2, Arsenal 1. As we have to come to expect now, Gareth Bale led the offensive charge for Tottenham- scoring off an incredible left foot off a counter attack for what looked like a much easier goal than it actually was. Aaron Lennon scored just a couple minutes after making the score 2-0 before halftime. At that point, many, including myself, thought this game was going to be a blow out- but Arsenal played a very strong 2nd half, and got on the board with a Per Mertesacker goal in the 51′.

This Week:

Liverpool FC vs Tottenham Hotspur

Liverpool FC vs Tottenham Hotspur

Sunday, March 10th, 11pm (CST) Anfield

Why This Game is Intriguing: Tottenham is one of the most exciting teams in the world right now, and they are on quite a run not only in the Premier League, but in the Europa League as well. The last time these Spurs lost was on January 27th in the FA Cup to Championship division team Leeds United. Gareth Bale continues to score goals at an alarming rate, and his goal in last week’s North London Derby put him ahead of Demba Ba of Chelsea and Michu of Swansea as the Premier League’s 3rd top goal scorer, just 3 goals behind Robin van Persie (Manchester United) and 5 behind Luis Suarez of Liverpool. Which leads me to my main point- This game is intriguing because you will be watching two of the top three goal scorers in the Premier League. Gareth Bale and Luis Suarez are sure to put on a show in this game.

Other Reasons to Watch This Game: Both of these teams are looking to make a statement as far as playing in international tournaments next season. Tottenham is desperately doing everything they can to ensure they finish the season in the top 4, and thus qualifying for Europe’s most prestigious tournament, the Champions League. The way Tottenham is playing currently, and given the quality of Gareth Bale’s performances as of late, the Spurs are proving that they belong in the tournament against the best clubs in the world. Gareth Bale is a player who needs to play in the Champions League, particularly because he plays for the Welsh National team- meaning that his chances of playing in the World Cup are slim to none. His opportunities to play on the biggest of stages of soccer are few, so it is vital the Spurs continue this success- or else Bale will probably go elsewhere to ensure he plays Champions League soccer. Liverpool, currently in 7th is also on the upswing. Their steady improvement throughout the season is evident through their climb towards the top of the table. Liverpool seems destined once again for the Europa League, but the following year, Liverpool very well could be in the conversation the Spurs find themselves in now.

Soccahaus Prediction: Tottenham 3, Liverpool 2

Other Games This Week Worth Watching: QPR vs Sunderland, West Brom vs Swansea, Newcastle vs Stoke City

La Liga, Week 27 Game of the Week

6 Mar

Recap of Last Week: After dismantling FC Barcelona for the 2nd time in just 4 days, once at the Nou Camp and once at the Bernabeu- it’s fair to say, at this point in time, Real madrid has the upper hand in El Classico. While the Catalan Giants are still 13 points ahead of Real Madrid in the La Liga standings, when it comes to head to head match ups- there is zero doubt who the better club is right now. Real Madrid won the game 2-1, thanks to goals by Karim Benzema and Sergio Ramos. BUT, the most significant stat is this: FC Barcelona won the possession battle 72% to 28%, yet the Catalans had just 5 shots on goal (2 on target), while Real Madrid had 14 shots (6 on target).

This Week: 

Atletico Madrid vs Real Sociedad

Atletico Madrid vs Real Sociedad

Sunday, March 10th, 3pm (CST) Vicente Calderon

Why This Game is Intriguing: Because Atletico Madrid no longer looks invincible as they play host to one of the hottest teams in La Liga right now in Real Sociedad. Radamel Falcao has 21 goals, and is quickly catching up to Cristiano Ronaldo (24 goals), but is still quite a distance behind Lionel Messi (39 goals). Atletico Madrid has found themselves in 2nd place in the La Liga table for pretty much the entirety of this season, but at this point, Los Colchoneros remains only 2 points ahead of rivals Real Madrid. Atletico hasn’t looked as sharp these past 10 La Liga games as they usually are, winning just 5, losing 3, and drawing 2. Atletico Madrid still is in a great position for 2 reasons: 1. They will qualify for the Champions League, as they will surely finish in the top 4 of La Liga, and 2. They will face Real Madrid for the Copa del Rey. While no one will be catching Barca in La Liga, Atletico Madrid still has much to play for both this season and next season.

Other Reasons to Watch this Game: Because Real Sociedad, the club from San Sebastian in the Basque Country, is in top form as the La Liga season enters its final stretch. Real Sociedad is in 6th place, and are only just 2 points behind 4th place Malaga for the final Champions League spot. No team in La Liga has played as well as Real Sociedad since the start of the year- in fact, in Real Sociedad’s last 10 games, the only loss was to Real Madrid, AND a win in that stretch of games was against league leaders FC Barcelona. Mexican international and former Arsenal player Carlos Vela is unquestionably Real Sociedad’s most valuable player, as he leads his club in goals and assists from his lone striker position. As one of the small handful of non Basque born players on the team, Vela has been a terror- scoring at least a goal in each of the past 3 games. Is Real Sociedad for real? Considering the Basque club does not have to play FC Barcelona or Real Madrid anymore, this will be the toughest remaining game for Real Sociedad.

Soccahaus Prediction: Atletico Madrid 3, Real Sociedad 2

Other Games this Week Worth Watching: Real Betis vs Osasuna, Valladolid vs Malaga, FC Barcelona vs Deportivo la Coruna, Mallorca vs Sevilla, Athletic Bilbao vs Valencia, Celta de Vigo vs Real Madrid