Archive | August, 2014

English Premier League, Week 3 Game of the Week

26 Aug

Recap: Manchester City thoroughly dominated Liverpool from start to finish at the Etihad. Stevan Jovetic scored a brace, while Sergio Aguero needed less than 30 seconds off the bench to score his first goal of the season. Liverpool managed to get on the board late thanks to an own goal by Pablo Zabaleta.

 

This Week:

Tottenham Hotspur vs Liverpool FC

Tottenham Hotspur vs Liverpool FC

Sunday, August 31st, 7:30am (CST) White Hart Lane

Why This Game is Intriguing: Because Tottenham Hotspur are in first place in the Premier League, and one of just 4 teams unbeaten through 2 games of the regular season (the others being Chelsea, Manchester City, and Swansea). The Spurs welcome Liverpool to their home in North London after Liverpool were crushed severely by defending champions Manchester City at the Etihad. Tottenham seems to have a flair about them that they did not have last year, and the major reason why is their new Argentinian manager Mauricio Pochettino. Pochettino’s primary strategy is to high press- constant pressure on the ball, rarely sitting back and waiting for the opponent to attack. He requires his center striker (using a 4-2-3-1) to rush the opposing defenders and goalie when they have ball as a means of keeping a fast tempo and ultimately winning back possession.

Other Reasons to Watch This Game: Massive changes at Liverpool for a club that finished a close 2nd in the Premier League last year. Mario Balotelli, Italian striker who just joined the club from AC Milan may be available to play in this match- but at this point his status is up in the air. Alberto Moreno, Spanish defenseman and transfer from Sevilla, showed flashes of brilliance (and some mistakes) against Manchester City, so expect him to not only play, but to improve upon his first performance in the Premier League. Rickie Lambert and Emre Can also made cameos in the game against Manchester City, but all eyes will still be on Daniel Sturridge and Steven Gerrard- Liverpool’s two most impressive playmakers. This has been a dramatic overhaul in a short amount of time for the Merseyside club- meaning it might take time, perhaps a couple of months, for Brendan Rodgers to fully understand how best to utilize and build chemistry with his new roster.

Soccahaus Prediction: 1-1 Draw.

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La Liga, Week 2 Game of the Week

25 Aug

Recap: Sevilla and Valencia drew 1-1 at Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan. 10-man Valencia scored an equalizer late, while Sevilla did its best to overcome an early injury to its goal keeper, Beto. Both clubs need to show a lot more if they wish to be contenders for a top 4 finish.

This Week:

Villarreal CF vs FC Barcelona

Villarreal CF vs FC Barcelona

Sunday, August 31st, 12PM (CST) El Madrigal

Why This Game is Intriguing: Though it is still an early match in the season, this is a good test for Barcelona on the road. Villarreal looked mighty impressive against Levante- a club that is usually very tough to beat at its home ground. Goals by Uche and Russian and Real Madrid loanee Denis Cheryshev sealed the deal in a 2-0 shutout over the Valencian club. The Yellow Submarine, who not long ago were relegated to the Segunda, look to be a club poised give Barca, Atleti, and Real Madrid a run at a top 4 finish. Giovani dos Santos is a terror moving forward, and the Yellow Submarine plays with great spirit under new manager Marcelino Garcia Toral.

Other reasons to Watch this Game: A new era of FC Barcelona is upon us, and if there was ever a time to tune into what’s brewing in Catalonia, now is the time. New manager Luis Enrique steps into one of, if not the most pressure-packed jobs in the sport- and his style already seems to have impacted the first team squad. Leo Messi looked like vintage Messi against Elche last week, and Andres Iniesta and Dani Alves continue their excellence along with newcomers Ivan Rakitic and Munir El-Haddadi. Despite finishing 2nd in La Liga last season, FC Barcelona is on a mission after going trophyless last season. At a club where expectations are through the roof, expect this Barcelona team to combine substance with flair all season long.

Soccahaus Prediction: Villarreal 2, Barcelona 2

La Liga Week 1, Game of the Week

20 Aug

And The La Liga Season is Officially Under Way!!

 

Sevilla FC vs Valencia CF

Sevilla FC vs Valencia CF

Saturday, August 23rd, 2pm (CST) Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan

Why This Game is Intriguing: These are two of the best clubs in Spain, outside of the Big 3 in Real Madrid, FC Barcelona, and Atletico Madrid. I’ve always said that La Liga is deeper than a two team race, and last year’s performance by Atletico proved just that. Both of these clubs have given Real Madrid and FC Barcelona problems in the past- and both of these clubs will be looking to make a push to finish in the top 4 and earn a Champions League bid. Sevilla is coming off one of its best seasons in club history, finishing 5th last season in the league and winning the Europa League over Portuguese champions Benfica. Valencia had a rather disappointing season, finishing 8th in the league while losing to to Sevilla in the Europa League semifinals.

Other Reasons to Watch This Game: Old and new talent. Valencia recently acquired Spanish striker Rodrigo Moreno (Rodrigo) on loan from Portuguese side Benfica. The forward is a playmaker with great skills in front of goal, scoring 11 in the Primera Liga last season and 4 more in the Europa League. Algerian midfielder Sofiane Feghouli is Valencia’s best all around player, and is entering his 3rd season for Los Che. Regulars Pablo Piatti, Jonas, GK Diego Alves, and defender Joao Pereira will look to thrust Valencia back into the Champions League. Sevilla might have lost its best player in Ivan Rakitic last season to FC Barcelona, but this squad has made enough acquisitions to adequately match last years success. Raktic’s replacement will be Denis Suarez, on loan from Barcelona who plays the Croat’s same position, but is arguably more adept at scoring. Sevilla also acquired young Catalan and former Everton player Gerard Deulofeu who is dangerous running into the box.

Soccahaus Prediction: Sevilla 2, Valencia 1

English Premier League, Week 2 Game of the Week

18 Aug

Recap: I expected Manchester United to come out firing considering the club hadn’t lost a home opener since 1972. United’s preseason form I believed had bolstered their confidence- but in their opening game to Swansea, fell 1-2. Rooney scored United’s only goal in the 53′, while the Swans had goals in the first half (28′ Ki Sung-Yueng) and second half (Sigurdsson 72′).

This Week:

Manchester City FC vs Liverpool FC

Manchester City FC vs Liverpool FC

Monday, August 25th, 2pm (CST) Etihad Stadium

Why This Game is Intriguing: Because these teams finished 1st and 2nd respectively in last year’s Premier League final standings. Last year’s Premier League race was very tight all year long between Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, and Manchester City. While Liverpool will be disappointed with coming so close to winning the league last year and just falling short, you can be assured that they were pleased with their overall performance last season and making it back to the Champions League. Manchester City is out to not only defend it’s Premier League title, but to prove itself as one of the best clubs in Europe.

Other Reasons to Watch This Game: Talent. Even though Liverpool’s best player, and the league’s best player in Luis Suarez last season has gone to FC Barcelona, both of these clubs boast an incredible array of talent all over the field. For Liverpool, captain Steven Gerrard and forward Daniel Sturridge lead the way offensively,  along with creative playmakers Philippe Coutinho and Jordan Henderson. Manchester City is a club with depth at every position, led by Yaya Toure, Sergio Aguero, Vincent Kompany, Pablo Zabaleta, and many more. Without question these are two of the best clubs in England right now, and it is a treat to see them matched up against one another this early in the season.

Soccahaus Prediction: Manchester City 3, Liverpool 2

English Premier League, Week 1 Game of the Week

10 Aug

WELCOME TO SOCCAHAUS! We are excited for another season of previewing matches!

Swansea City vs Manchester United

Swansea City vs Manchester United

Saturday, August 16th, 6:45am CST, Old Trafford

Why This Game is Intriguing: The Louis van Gaal era is officially under way at Old Trafford, and the Dutch manager will look to make a statement against a solid team at home. Unlike his predecessor David Moyes, van Gaal will look to attack, attack, attack, only using a backline of 3 defenders- much like he did with The Netherlands in the World Cup. New acquisition from Athletic Bilbao, Ander Herrera has looked sensational in the preseason, and Wayne Rooney definitely comes into this game with a chip on his shoulder after the way last season went, and the way his English national team underperformed in Brazil. Manchester United went from Champions of the Premier League to coming in 7th place last year- and missing out on European competition.

Other Reasons to Watch This Game: Louis van Gaal isn’t the only manager with something to prove in this game- Swansea’s Garry Monk was permanently named manager this past May, a promotion from his interim status last season after the club fired Danish manager Michael Laudrup in February. Monk captained Swansea for much of the last decade, and has a good squad this seasion to boot. Swansea’s best players are captain Ashley Williams, midfielder Nathan Dyer, and center forward Wilfried Bony. Ivorian Bony is an exceptional talent, scoring 16 goals last season and 2 goals in the World Cup in Brazil. Swansea underachieved finishing in 12th place last season. With more stability in the club this season with regards to the managerial situation, expect the Swans to be in contention for a top 10 finish. Michu has been sold to Serie A side Napoli, but Bony is more than capable of filling the void.

Soccahaus Prediction: Manchester United 4, Swansea City 1