Tag Archives: World Cup

Premier League Week 36 Game of the Week

4 May

Recap: Sunderland took a major step towards avoiding relegation with their 2-1 home win against the Southampton Saints. While it does look like Burnley and QPR will be dropping, with 4 matches left to play, Sunderland must fend off the likes of Hull City, Leicester City, Newcastle and Aston Villa.

This Week: 

Chelsea FC vs Liverpool FC

Chelsea FC vs Liverpool FC

Sunday, 10am CDT, Stamford Bridge

Why This Game is Intriguing: Because the Champions of the Premier League, Chelsea FC, will be deservedly honored and celebrated in this home match against Liverpool FC. Last season, these two clubs finished in the top 4, with Liverpool coming within a Steven Gerrard slip of winning the league against this same Chelsea team. Now, in this match this Sunday, the Liverpool players will be standing lined up outside of the tunnel to give Chelsea a guard of honor as they come onto the pitch. Say what you want about Chelsea’s style- and I have often been critical of it many times on this site- they won the league not just fair and square, but in a prolonged, dominating fashion. 13 points ahead of 2nd place Manchester City is a sign of the clinic these Chelsea players put on all season long, from start to finish.

Other Reasons to Watch: There is still much to play for if you are a Liverpool player and/or fan. Just 4 points behind arch rival Manchester United for 4th place- Liverpool will do everything they can to get a string of wins and earn a Champions League bid. They will need some help from the Red Devils, who have 3 very tricky games remaining: at Crystal Palace, vs Arsenal, and then at relegation fighters Hull City. If Liverpool can qualify for the Champions League over Manchester United, that would be considered a huge victory, and to some extent, a successful season for Brendan Rodgers’ club. Liverpool has had an up and down season, in large part due to the departing player of the year Luis Suarez who bolted to Barcelona after the World Cup. Liverpool can salvage a lot, in particular the likelihood of retaining Brendan Rodgers, if they can finish 4th in this year’s Barclays Premier League table.

Prediction: 1-1 draw

 

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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.

Why Spain got Knocked out of the World Cup

20 Jun

Furia_Roja_by_akative

 

1. Inability to score first: Back in South Africa in 2010, Spain won each of their knockout round games against Portugal, Paraguay, Germany, and then finally the Netherlands in the Final by scores of 1-0. Spain never won by putting the ball in the net time and time again- they used possession as their defense- wearing the opponent down in the midfield. Players like Xavi, Xabi Alonso, and Iniesta were constantly on the ball, moving it around. This tiki-taka, total football strategy only works if the score is 0-0, or if Spain is leading. Spain never was in the position where they had to come back from being more than a goal down. This time around in 2014 in Brazil, Spain found themselves down early against the Netherlands, and then to Chile. Spain does not have the offensive firepower, nor the counterattacking ability to overcome deficits.

2. Awful Goal Keeping: Iker Casillas, the captain of this team and of his domestic club Real Madrid, had two of the worst games of his career against Netherlands and Chile. There were opportunities for huge saves- saves which he made in 2010 and in the Euro 2012- but Iker lacked the ability (physically and mentally) to get it done. In order for a soccer team to win a game, the winning goal keeper must makes at least 2 huge saves in the game. Iker didn’t show up, and never looked sharp. Part of this can be attributed to his lack of playing time at Real Madrid this past season- as his full time goal keeping duties were split, primarily in league games, with Diego Lopez.

3. Awful Defending: Sergio Ramos, widely regarded as one of the best defenders in the world, looked absolutely awful in these 2 games. His communication with Pique in the first game was horrid- the two of them ran into each other, and seemingly loss site of the ball on several occasions. In the second game, he was way too aggressive, overcompensating and over-pursuing the ball rather than staying at home in the center of the goal. This Ramos was different than the one who was arguably the best player in the UEFA Champions League Campaign. There is a very good chance Ramos in named captain for Spain at the next major international tournament (Euro 2016 in France), but this most recent performance is definitely a concern for the player, and the future of Spain.

English Premier League, Week 34 Game of the Week

31 Mar

Recap: I thought Arsenal would get blown out by Manchester City, but I failed to acknowledge City’s struggles on the road this season. The end result was a 1-1 draw at the Emirates- a reasonable result from the Gunners’ perspective- as just last week, they had been blown out 0-6 at Chelsea.

This Week:

Everton FC vs Arsenal FC

Everton FC vs Arsenal FC

Sunday, April 6th, 7:30am (CDT), Goodison Park

Why This Game is intriguing: Because Arsenal is just 4 points ahead of surging Everton for 4th place in the table. Everton FC dreams of playing in the UEFA Champions League next season, and in order for them to qualify, a win here at home against the Gunners would give them a very solid chance of achieving that goal. Everton has won its last 5 matches in a row, and a lot of that has to do with the return of the injured young English superstar Ross Barkley. After this match, Everton has a few very tough games remaining on the schedule including vs Manchester United, at Southampton, and then vs Manchester City. If Everton can take care its business at home, they’ll have a great chance of usurping the Gunners for 4th place in the league.

Other Reasons to Watch this Game: Everton is a club stacked with talent- talent that this offseason, you can bet Arsenal will try to pry down to North London. Arsenal will be clamoring to sign Romelu Lukaku, though his parent club Chelsea very well could want him back for next season. Lukaku is a matchup nightmare at striker, scoring 12 goals and earning 6 assists with his enormous, powerful frame. Kevin Mirallas is another player Arsenal would love to have, for his consistency in attack and particularly in front of goal is something the Gunners have lacked all season. Leighton Baines and Seamus Coleman are two stud defenders who pick their spots when it comes to involving themselves in the attack. Baines is a sure-fire starter for England in this upcoming World Cup.

Soccahaus Prediction: Everton 2, Arsenal 2

Other Games this week worth Watching: Manchester City vs Southampton, Newcastle vs Manchester United, Chelsea vs Stoke City, West Ham vs Liverpool

La Liga, Week 29, Game of the Week

17 Mar

Recap of Last Week: Atletico Madrid notched a much needed victory over RCD Espanyol by a score of 1-0 at the Calderon. Diego Costa’s game winner in the ’55 was his 22nd La Liga goal this season- just 3 behind Cristiano Ronaldo’s league leading 25. Atletico remains in 2nd place in La Liga after both Barcelona and Real Madrid also notched wins this past weekend.

This Week:

Real Madrid vs FC Barcelona

Real Madrid CF vs FC Barcelona

Sunday, March 23rd, 3pm (CDT) Estadio Santiago Bernabeu

Why This Game is Intriguing: Although Xabi Alonso might disagree- this game very well could decide the La Liga title. Real Madrid’s form is second to maybe only FC Bayern Munich in European Soccer- Madrid’s last loss in any competition was way back in October when these two clubs last met at the Nou Camp- a 2-1 drubbing on the part of the Catalans. Neymar got on the board early, while Gareth Bale looked incredibly sluggish before being subbed off in the 61′. Another questionable move was Carlo Ancelotti’s conservative, defensive gamble to start Sergio Ramos as a defensive midfielder. Xabi Alonso was injured at that time, but considering playmakers Angel di Maria and Karim Benzema were on the bench to start the game- it was clear Carletto made a grave mistake- one he definitely won’t be making again.

Other Reasons to watch this game: The best players on the planet, both past and present, have featured in this game. Maradona, Zidane, Ronaldo Nazario, Ronaldinho, Luis Figo, Romario, Roberto Carlos- the list of greats to have donned the classic whites of Real Madrid and the Blaugrana of Barcelona is endless, and is what makes the El Classico a timeless event. Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo- the world’s two greatest players, once again are featured on the same field. The Santiago Bernabeu is a stadium that recognizes and loves its Spanish National team heroes, and this game features several of them on both sides of the pitch, including World Cup Final 2010 savior, Andres Iniesta. Forget the rivalry. Forget the politics. The entire world will look up at the Bernabeu lights on this Sunday evening ready to be entertained by the Spanish Giants.

Soccahaus Prediction: Real Madrid 3, FC Barcelona 1

Other Games This Week Worth Watching: Athletic Bilbao vs Getafe, Osasuna vs Sevilla, Real Betis vs Atletico Madrid, Valencia vs Villareal

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