Archive | October, 2014

English Premier League, Week 9 Game of the Week

27 Oct

Recap: Manchester United, in dramatic fashion at the Theater of Dreams, drew league leaders Chelsea thanks to a goal by Robin van Persie in the waning seconds of extra time. While Chelsea was clearly the favorite, and looked like the better team for much of the game- it is moments like the one RVP had that make playing at Old Trafford one of the more unique experiences in all of world soccer.

This Week:

Manchester City vs Manchester United

Manchester City vs Manchester United

Sunday, November 2nd, 7:30am (CST) Etihad Stadium

Why This Game is Intriguing: Because of the results for each of these teams last week, and the emotional aftermath of those results and how they effect the mindset of the players heading into this match. As mentioned in the recap, Manchester United is coming off of an elating draw vs Chelsea; while some could argue that Manchester United is better than that, to celebrate a tie at home, irregardless of the opponent- considering how the last 2 seasons have gone for the Red Devil’s, this was arguably the most impressive, positive game they’ve played in a season and a half. Manchester City lost at West Ham United 1-2, despite outshooting and outpossessing the Hammers. West Ham, currently in 4th place, is a very good English club and should push for a Europa league spot- but no doubt this was a let down for the Citizens.

Other Reasons to Watch this Game: Manchester City has dominated this rivalry as of late- winning the 5 of the last 6, and both league matches last season by a combined score of 7-1. The last match these 2 played at Old Trafford resulted in a 3-0 win for the Citizens, and you can bet the Red Devils still have a bitter taste in their mouths from such an embarrassing result. Compared to last season, Manchester United seems much improved- with the additions of Angel di Maria, Marcos Rojo, Ander Herrera, and Daley Blind. Sergio Aguero has 9 goals in 8 games, while United’s top goal scorer is RVP with just 3 so far. Expect City to reassert itself and prove once again, despite the recent shortcomings against CSKA Moscow and West Ham, that the club is capable of being the best in England.

Soccahaus Prediction: Manchester City 4, Manchester United 2

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La Liga, Week 10 Game of the Week

27 Oct

Recap: Real Madrid beat their El Clasico rivals 3-1 at the Bernabeu, thanks to goals from Cristiano Ronaldo, Pepe, and Karim Benzema. Barcelona scored first, in the ‘4, when Neymar sidestepped on the edge of the box, beating Ramos and Pepe for the goal. Cristiano Ronaldo now has 16 goals in 9 games.

This Week: 

FC Barcelona vs Celta Vigo

FC Barcelona vs Celta Vigo

Saturday, November 1st, 2pm CST, Camp Nou

Why This Game is Intriguing: Despite the crushing loss at the Bernabeu, FC Barcelona still leads La Liga, and will look to bounce back against a very solid Celta Vigo team. Barcelona has some glaring holes in the defense: Gerard Pique has struggled mightily, particularly in the past couple of years, Jeremy Mathieu is good, but needs to play in his natural position at centerback, and Dani Alves, while still effective, has clearly lost a step. Everyone knows the strengths of this team in attack with Neymar, Messi, Iniesta, Rakitic, and now Luis Suarez- but the defense is a glaring weakness that was exposed not only against Real Madrid, but also so far in the Champions League against PSG, Ajax, and APOEL.

Other Reasons to Watch This Game: Like Barcelona, 6th place Celta Vigo only has 1 loss. With 4 wins and 4 draws (including a draw at the Vicente Calderon against Atletico Madrid) the Galician Club has had a great start to the season, and shouldn’t be taken lightly by the Catalan Giants. Luis Enrique knows this club well- before he was hired by Barcelona, he managed Celta last season to a 9th place finish in La Liga. Celta is led by Argentine center forward Joaquin Larrivey and Spanish midfielder Nolito, who combined have scored 11 goals. These 2 are talented and patient moving forward, and will look to dissect this shaky Barca defense. Nolito also has 4 assists to his name, and Danish midfielder Michael Krohn-Dehli is an experienced, solid player as well.

Soccahaus Prediction: Barcelona 3, Celta Vigo 1

English Premier League Week 8 Game of the Week

21 Oct

Recap: Manchester City beat Tottenham Hotspur at the Etihad 4-1, with all 4 goals coming from none other than Argentinian forward Sergio “Kun” Aguero. Aguero’s performance was one of the best of his career, as City continues to chase Chelsea in standings.

This Week:

Manchester United vs Chelsea FC

Manchester United vs Chelsea FC

Sunday, Oct 26th, 11am CST Old Trafford

Why This Game is Intriguing: Because the Blues are in 1st place in the Premier League and are undefeated as they make their way to the hallowed ground that is Manchester United’s Old Trafford. The 6th place Red Devils have won each of their first 3 home matches this season by a combined score of 8-2. While this club gets a lot of criticism for the way they have performed, particularly under managers David Moyes and Louis van Gaal- Manchester United is a whole different beast when they play at home. Coming off a short week in an ugly draw to lowly West Bromwich Albion, look for United perform well, and upset Chelsea in front of a sold out Theater of Dreams crowd.

Other Reasons to Watch This Game: Expectations for the Red Devils ought to be very high for this game, despite their recent draw to West Brom? Why? Since Manchester United does not participate in European competition, and Chelsea does- the Red Devils have a huge advantage here. They have more preparation time, they have more time to rest players that might be slightly injured, and they can take advantage of some of Chelsea’s fatigue and player rotation. Even though Chelsea’s Champions League game is against Slovenian champions Moribor, because Chelsea drew to Schalke, every point in the group matters. Manchester United, because aren’t playing in European Competition, lives for these games- these massive league games against England’s best. This game, right here, is their Champions League final- while next week against arch rival Manchester City, is of equal importance.

Soccahaus Prediction: Manchester United 3, Chelsea 2

La Liga Week 9 Game of the Week

20 Oct

Recap: Messi scored his 250th goal as FC Barcelona crushed the overmatched Basque club 3-0. Neymar and Xavi also scored in the game which saw the Catalans maintain 75% possession, and outshot the opponent 27-4. Barca’s next game will feature Luis Suarez, against Real Madrid, at the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu.

Real Madrid vs FC Barcelona

Real Madrid vs FC Barcelona

Saturday, October 25th, 11am CST, Santiago Bernabeu

Why This Game is Intriguing: El Classico. Over 1 billion people around the world will tune into watch. Everyone knows the political noise surrounding this rivalry- so for this Classico, i’m going to concentrate on the only thing that really matters in soccer- goals. Cristiano Ronaldo and Leo Messi. In this match, Messi has the opportunity to become the most prolific goal scorer in the history of top flight Spanish soccer. He scored his 250th La Liga goal last week against Eibar- the record is currently at 251 held by Telmo Zarra, who played for Athletic Bilbao in the 40’s and 50’s. The significance of Messi passing Zarra, in El Classico at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium would be one of, if not the most memorable moments of Messi’s illustrious career. Cristiano Ronaldo on the other hand has 15 goals in just 8 games, and has as many goals as the 2nd and 3rd top scorers in La Liga (Messi and Neymar) combined.

Other Reasons to Watch This Game: New faces in this rivalry will look to make an impact on the world’s biggest stage. Luis Suarez is a major wild card in this fixture- how much will he play? What will his impact be given the fact he hasn’t played a competitive game since the World Cup in July? Not to mention, he is going against a formidable Real Madrid defense in Pepe, Sergio Ramos, and Raphael Varane. Also Barcelona will feature a goal keeper who hasn’t experienced a game such as this- whether it be Claudio Bravo or Marc Andre ter Stegen. For Real Madrid, Toni Kroos and James Rodriguez will surely start, and look to make a difference in their first El Classico. James Rodriguez has improved with every game he has played, and his spot on passes will cause Barca problems. Last but not least, this will be Barca manager Luis Enrique’s first El Classico as manager- he participated in this rivalry as a player for both Real Madrid and FC Barcelona.

Soccahaus Prediction: Draw, 2-2.

La Liga, Week 8 Game of the Week

13 Oct

Recap: 2 weeks ago, I boldly (and albeit, stupidly) predicted surprise team Rayo Vallecano to dethrone the current La Liga leaders- but in no way did the club from Vallecas looks threatening. Barca won this game handily, thanks to goals by Leo Messi 35′, and Neymar 36′. Barca was more efficient in every aspect of the game, and continues their clean sheet streak in every La Liga game they have played thus far. El Classico looms- Real Madrid hosts Barcelona in 2 weeks on October 26th.

This Week:

FC Barcelona vs SD Eibar

FC Barcelona vs SD Eibar

Saturday, October 18th, 1pm (CST) Camp Nou

Why This Game is Intriguing: Before Barca plays arch rival Real Madrid at the Bernabeu, they play host to S.D Eibar, a newly promoted side and champions of the Segunda Division last season. Eibar currently sits in 9th place, with 9 points. Through 7 games, Eibar has 2 wins (against Elche and Real Sociedad), 3 draws (against Levante, Athletic Bilbao and Villarreal), and 2 losses (against Deportivo and Atletico Madrid). Barcelona’s offense primarily comes from the scoring prowess of Messi and Neymar, who have combined to score 13 goals through 7 league games. Newcomers Ivan Rakitic and Jeremy Mathieu continue to impress for the Catalan Club.

Other Reasons to Watch This Game: Eibar is a tiny club, with a tiny stadium (Ipurua seats less than 5,500 people), in the tiny Basque region of Gipuzkoa (population of just over 27,000). Eibar is a picturesque, blue collar town that rallies around their football club. The notion that this club is capable of competing with the Leo Messi’s and Andres Iniesta’s of the world, in the world’s most grandiose soccer only stadium in the Camp Nou in the Catalan Capital, speaks to the significance of this little town that up until 6 months ago, no one outside the soccer world had ever heard of. No single player on Eibar has more than 1 goal, and only Raul Redal has more than 1 assist.

Soccahaus Prediction: Barcelona 3, Eibar 0

English Premier League, Week 7 Game of the Week

13 Oct

Recap: 2 weeks ago, prior to the International Break, Chelsea defeated Arsenal 2-0, after a scuffle between managers Arsene Wenger and Jose Mourinho. The 2 rivals squared off, but it was the Blues who looked the better side, with goals from Hazard (penalty in the ’27) and Diego Costa in the ’78.

This Week: 

Tottenham Hotspur vs Manchester City FC

Tottenham Hotspur vs Manchester City FC

Saturday, October 18th, 6:45AM (CST) Etihad Stadium

Why This Game is Intriguing: These teams are both in the top 6 in the current Premier League table, and both are currently involved in European competition (City in the Champions League, Spurs in Europa League). Manchester City hasn’t lost a Premier League match since August 30th (Stoke City at home), and has 2 wins (on the road against Hull and Aston Villa and 2 draws (Chelsea at home and Arsenal on the road) since then. Despite their inconsistent play, the Citizens are in second place, and only 5 points behind league leaders Chelsea. A win at home against the extremely talented Tottenham Hotspur would give Manuel Pelligrini’s men a boost of confidence heading into another week of Champions League play.

Other Reasons to Watch this game: The 6th place Tottenham Hotspur have just 2 wins in their last 6 games, but their most recent victory was by far their biggest of the season. Their home win against 3rd place Southampton, manager Mauricio Pochettino’s former team, was incredibly significant. The Spurs played a complete game against a very good team, and the goal came from none other than their star player, Dane Christian Eriksen. Nacer Chadli has been a beast thus far for the Spurs, scoring 4 goals already, and seems to be improving each game.

Prediction: Man City 2, Tottenham 0