Preview: New faces will have to give it their all on Wednesday night
Portugal will welcome two new faces to the squad on Wednesday, with both looking to make a positive first impression. Sporting de Braga’s Rafa and Benfica’s Ivan Cavaleiro were called up for the first time, and they will want to give Paulo Bento a selection headache when it comes to making his final picks for the upcoming World Cup.
Rafa has performed well at the club level this season, despite having only scored three goals in 19 appearances. As for Ivan Cavaleiro, he enjoyed great success with Benfica B, but since breaking into the Lisbon side’s first team, his playing time has been inconsistent.
Preview: Portuguese giants will need a memorable night to go through to the knockout round
Benfica's name has generally been one that is associated with European Football, for many years now. With the UEFA Champions League Final being hosted at their stadium, the Portuguese side's hopes of making it to that final are now in the balance heading into Tuesday night's match.
Jorge Jesus' side has not started the new season very well, despite a number of new acquisitions in the squad. Apart from that, no key figures left from last season's roster, which has caused fans to question the manager.
Preview: Sweden ready to leave it all on the pitch
Friday's match had very little Ronaldo and Ibrahimovic, but it was the Portuguese captain that came out on top at the end of the 90 minutes. A diving header in the final seven minutes of the match gives the Lusitanos a slender lead, heading into Tuesday's second match.
In Sweden, the Portuguese will face a tough test, as Sweden will likely pile on the pressure, looking for a necessary goal. Knowing that they need to score, could give Paul Bento's side a good opportunity to hit the hosts on the counter-attack.
Preview: Ronaldo and Ibrahimovic will have to make the difference
Since the draw dictated Portugal and Sweden would go head-to-head to determine who would be in next year's World Cup, nearly all of the talk has been about Cristiano Ronaldo and Zlatan Ibrahimovic. On Friday, they will both get a chance to to prove their worth at the Estádio da Luz in Lisbon.
The unfortunate part of this highly anticipated match is that one of the world's best players will have to miss out on the World Cup. Will it be Ronaldo or Ibra?
As two of the biggest football stars in the planet prepare to lead their respective nations in the World Cup playoff, it is definitely the time to take out the stats book and have a look at how Ronaldo and Ibrahimovic have terrorised opponents for club and country this year.
Breaking a 24-year record in the Championnat
Despite playing host to some of the most talented strikers in the continent, no French Ligue 1 player was able to break a record set by Olympique de Marseille legend Jean-Pierre Papin in the 1989/90 season.
It’s often said that criticism is the best motivator. In the case of Cristiano Ronaldo, it seems to have spurred him on to new heights that many had not even thought possible, despite his reputation as arguably one of the world’s finest footballers playing today.
The Portuguese attacker has scored 24 goals so far in all competitions and will certainly break the Champions League group stage record of eight goals set by trio Ruud van Nistelrooy, Filippo Ingazhi, and Hernan Crespo. As a result, he’s passed perennial rival Lionel Messi’s previously established haul of 13 European strikes in a calendar year.
Given that he’s scored in every single Champions League game so far this season, it’s probably certain that he’ll add more to that tally before the group stages conclude in December.
Five different ESPN channels – ESPN2, ESPN3, ESPN, Watch ESPN and ESPN Deportes – will combine to feed viewers in the United States with top action from across the globe. It all begins this Wednesday with the thrilling intercontinental playoff between El Tri of Mexico and the Kiwis of New Zealand. The second leg of this tie, scheduled for November 20, will close ESPN networks’ international break coverage.
On Thursday, there will be an enticing friendly between world football’s fourth and fifth-ranked nations – Belgium and Colombia, respectively. This battle should serve as a perfect platform for both teams to test themselves ahead of the 2014 FIFA World Cup.
And it does not stop here as ESPN will mark your Friday with five matches from Europe. This package includes USA’s vital friendly fixture against Scotland and all UEFA World Cup qualifying playoffs.
Preview: Lisbon Derby takes center stage in the Portuguese capital
For years now, Benfica and Sporting CP have been battling it out for supremacy in the Portuguese capital. Unfortunately for the Lions, they have not been able to jump ahead of their same city rivals. On Saturday, they will meet again in the Portuguese Cup, in a match that promises to have a lot of excitement.
Both sides have already met in the domestic league this season, with Benfica grabbing a 1-1 draw at the Estadio Jose Alvalade.
FIFA World Cup – 21 qualified nations as of October 2013
On October 15, seven countries added their names to the list of World Cup 2014 participants. The current 21 contenders are:
- Asia: Japan, South Korea, Iran, Australia
- CONCACAF: United States of America, Costa Rica, Honduras
- CONMEBOL: Brazil, Argentina, Colombia, Chile, Ecuador
- UEFA: Spain, England, Russia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Netherlands, Italy, Switzerland, Belgium, Germany.
Preview: Portugal up against all odds to take the top spot in their group
When Portugal drew at home against Northern Ireland, fans were far from happy with the team's performance. Looking at how much talent they have on paper, in comparison to that of Northern Ireland, it was confusing to figure out how that result even happened, especially at home.
An away match against Israel also looked like a good opportunity for Paulo Bento's side to grab three points, but had Fabio Coentrão not scored a stoppage time goal, the Portuguese would have been in serious trouble.
Preview: Lusitanos still hope to claim the top spot in Group F
Portugal and Israel go into Fridays match looking for the full three points, but for Israel, the victory is a must. With only 12 points from eight matches, Eli Guttman's squad could see their World Cup hopes come to an end with anything other than a victory at the Estádio Alvalade.
The Portuguese are currently second in the group, one point back of Russia, but if they look to earn themselves a direct qualification, they will need to do their job first.
Two home matches to finish off their qualification stage should give Portugal a good shot at six points. But knowing how inconsistent Paulo Bento's squad can be at times, the visitors will know that anything is possible on Friday.
This online streaming service will spoil you during the next few days with its amazing package of 20 international matches – 19 of those being World Cup qualifiers and the other one being a friendly match between Les Bleus of France and the Socceroos of Australia.
Some of the top teams featuring in ESPN3’s selection between October 11 and October 15 are Croatia, Netherlands, Turkey, Russia and of course, America’s very own USMNT. For more information:
A look at the Top 20
The Top 20 has experienced a considerable shake up. Robin van Persie’s Netherlands and Cristiano Ronaldo’s Portugal have both gone four places down and are now ninth and 11th respectively.
Bosnia-Herzegovina, despite enjoying a great World Cup qualifying campaign this year, have gone from 13th to 18th. England’s Three Lions are just above them, having exited the Top 15 to be 17th in the ranking.
There is good news for Mario Balotelli’s Italy, though. The Azzurri are now considered as the fourth best nation in world football. Emerging European force Belgium have moved four places up to sixth – one rank above Luis Suarez’s Uruguay.
Preview: Portuguese and Brazilian fans will fill Gillete Stadium to see their idols
When you hear of a meeting between Portugal and Brazil, you would instantly think of a battle between two football superstars. Whether you are a fan of Cristiano Ronaldo, Neymar, or both, they have both earned their spot at the top of world football's list of great stars.
On Tuesday night, both countries will meet at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, Ma. Due to the large amount of Portuguese and Brazilian fans living in the surrounding areas, this match is expected to have a near full to capacity attendance.
One frustration for Portugal fans will be the exclusion of Ronaldo from the team due to injury, after the Real Madrid star netted a hattrick against Northern Ireland on Friday.
A match between Portugal and Brazil is always guaranteed to bring together a number of world class players, but apart from that, it will bring together two nations who share one language, and a lot of similarities.
The Portuguese and Brazilian have always been a community who interact with eachother a lot. Whether that be in the United States, Brazil, Portugal or anywhere else in the world, these two Portuguese speaking nations tend to be around eachother on a daily basis.
On Tuesday, Scolari will go up against a country that embraced him for a number of years.
The Brazilian manager guided the Portuguese to the Euro 2004 finals, a semi-final match at World Cup 2006, and a quarter-final exit at Euro 2008 against Germany.
The former Manchester United man who never fails to impress was the pick of the players as Portugal took on Northern Ireland in a crucial World Cup Qualification match.
The Seleção who were down to ten men following Helder Postiga’s red card just before half time, were close to tasting defeat at the hands of Michael O'Neill’s men before a brilliant second half hat-trick from Cristiano Ronaldo ensured that Portugal move one step closer to a berth in the World Cup in Brazil next year.
His antics also saw him achieve a remarkable feat as he became Portugal’s second all time top scorer surpassing Eusebio’s record of 41 goals and is now just four goals shy of being Portugal’s joint top scorer with former Paris Saint Germain striker Pauleta.
European World Cup qualifiers: Italy and Bulgaria vie for top spot
Group B of the UEFA qualification campaign has seen Bulgaria offer very stern resistance to the mighty Italians for an automatic berth to Brazil. As things stand, the Azzurri are on top of the table with 14 points from four games, followed by the Bulgarians who have 10 points and lead third placed Czech Republic by only one point.
The Bulgarians drew 2-2 with Italy in the reverse fixture and the two sides are set to lock horns again, this time at Renzo Barbera stadium. A win for Italy will draw them ever so close to an automatic berth while a defeat might spell curtains for Bulgaria if the Czechs manage to beat Armenia at home.
Preview: Northern Ireland's only victory will have them confident
When the Norther Ireland fans looked at their schedule in Group F, they more than likely did not expect to defeat Russia. The truth is that they currently find themselves fourth in the group with six points, having defeated the Russians, along with three draws against Portugal, Azerbaijan and Luxembourg.
The Green and White Army may not have the greatest chances of making it out of their group, but they at least are not going down without a fight.
A one goal draw in their first meeting with Portugal at the Estádio do Dragão was nearly a victory, if not for a late equalizer from Helder Postiga. The Valencia striker saved the day for Paulo Bento's squad in the 79th minute, cancelling out Niall McGinn's 30th minute goal.
On Friday, they will try to make things difficult for the Lusitanos once again, as Paulo Bento's side will try to keep their place in the top spot.
Preview: Star studded squads should put on a dazzling performance
The fifth and seventh ranked nations in the FIFA ranking will go head to head on Wednesday at the Estádio do Algarve in what promises to be a great match.
Portugal will take their three game winning streak into this highly anticipated friendly, while the Dutch arrive on a four match win streak of their own. One of those streaks will have to come to an end, and most football fans will have their eyes set on this match.
Bezsonov won this award for USSR; the Soviet Union were crowned champions that year. He went on to live up to his billing, winning the Ukrainian player of the year award three times. He featured in three World Cups. He won every club honor on offer with Dynamo Kiev and went on to finish finalist in the Euros with his country in…