Preview: Ukrainian players will have a lot on their mind
Wednesday’s match will be a stern test for the Ukrainian players. With all that is happening off the field, the sound of their national anthem will provide a very emotional moment for some.
The protests in Crimea have forced officials to move the match from Ukraine to Cyprus. Originally the president of Ukraine’s Football Federation was not interested in taking part in the match, but he quickly changed his mind.
"After announcing our intention to cancel the flight to Cyprus for a friendly against the U.S. soccer team and with regard to the military aggression of Russian Federation in Ukraine's autonomous region of Crimea, I received numerous phone calls from public and football representatives who expressed various views on this decision," Konkov said, according to Reuters.
Preview: A lot of new faces, but neither side will want to lose
Carson, California will be the setting for an international friendly between the USA and Korea. The StubHub Center will welcome Korean coach Hong Myung-Bo for the first time, since he announced his retirement in 2004.
Neither side will have their usual lot of players available for this match.
The visitors arrive with a number of players who are employed in the domestic South Korean K-League. Myung-Bo has also called on three players who play in the Japanese J-League, and one other player who represents Chinese club Beijing Guoan.
All eyes will be on the big event at Costa do Sauipe in Bahia this Friday. World Football will finally get to know how the 32 qualified nations will be grouped at the 2014 FIFA World Cup next summer.
Indeed, the Final Draw is an extremely big event in itself as 2,000 reporters will deliver live coverage in 193 countries worldwide. The ceremony will have as many as 1,300 guests including legends of the Beautiful Game.
During the draw, one team from the all-European Pot 4 will randomly be selected and fall into Pot 2. This process is to avoid having more than two European teams in a same group at the World Cup.
A host of celebrities are expected to be at the venue with Brazilian actors Fernanda Lima and Rodrigo Hilbert lined up to host the show. Football legends Sir Geoff Hurst, Zinedine Zidane, Cafu and Fabio Cannavaro will have the task of plucking out the balls which will decide the destiny of every participating nation.
The draw will be conducted in the same manner it has been for a number of decades. The 32 teams who have qualified for the World Cup finals will be divided into eight groups labelled A-H. Each section will consist of four teams.
Preview: Barcelona will want to bounce back after their mid-week defeat
It is not often that Barcelona lose, and when they do, fans will sit and pick apart that defeat, in order to figure out what caused it. The Blaugrana's mid-week match against Ajax did not go well, as the Spanish side came up short, but the defeat was well deserved.
That defeat can come as somewhat of a wake-up call for Tata Martino's men.
Preview: Pep Guardiola wary of a Bayern upset
FC Bayern barely have enough players to compete for spots in the lineup. Bastian Schweinsteiger, Claudio Pizarro, Xherdan Shaqiri, Franck Ribery and Holger Badstuber are out for this one. In midweek, Philipp Lahm added himself to the injury list when he hurt his thigh. He has been ruled out for the next two matches at least. Bayern made little work of CSKA Moskva in midweek.
They put three past the Russians in a clinical display. The defense did not have a good day but Manuel Neuer did. Keisuke Honda had a few chances to score but did not take them. Eventually, a handball by Dante resulted in a rather harsh penalty decision. Honda halved the deficit from the spot; Arjen Robben and Mario Götze had earlier given Bayern a 0-2 lead. A few minutes after Honda’s penalty, Robben earned Bayern a penalty at the opposite end which Thomas Müller converted.
Preview: Old Lady looking to leapfrog Serie A leaders Roma
The Turin based club will be hoping to take advantage of Roma’s dip in form by taking the top spot in Serie A. A win for the Old Lady, coupled with a draw or loss for Roma will see Juventus finish the week on top.
The bianconeri put up an impressive showing in their last Serie A encounter when they thrashed Napoli 3-0 in a very dominant display, in doing so Juventus maintained their perfect home record and ensured that the gap between them and league leaders Roma was narrowed down.
Preview: A case of "Bayern Dusel"?
Jürgen Klopp’s grey hairs are at an all-time high. Tactics are perhaps not exactly his concern at this point. He has to find a back line to field first. Lukasz Piszczek is only starting to regain match fitness following hip surgery after the Champions League finale. Marcel Schmelzer succumbed to injury in his country’s friendly against England and is set to miss out along with Mats Hummels, who is set to be out for the rest of the year. Neven Subotic is out for the entire season.
As far as the midfield is concerned, Ilkay Gündogan, who was also injured in a friendly, is still out. Returning to the defense, the injuries prompted Klopp to sign the former Leverkusen defender, Manuel Friedrich for the whole season. Friedrich has not played competitively this season. Whether he is match fit is a big question.
The match is scheduled to take place at the Toyota Stadium in Texas on January 31, 2014. The home crowd will be looking forward to another terrific display from USA’s female soccer stars. The last meeting between the two rivals produced a 3-0 result with Sydney Leroux and Alex Morgan getting the goals.
The Canadians have bad memories of their last international game at Toyota Stadium. That was back in May 2007 when they succumbed to a 6-2 loss to the United States. Neutrals will be hoping for a much closer contest this time round although records recall that the hosts have won all games in Texas.
However, odds are totally against Canada who have lost 46 out of 54 encounters against the USWNT. Tom Sermanni’s ladies are flying high with a year-long unbeaten record (13W-3D-0L). The coach told the press:
Preview: Austria will be a tough test, after a scoreless draw in Scotland
Austria came up just short in Group C, as they finished three points behind Sweden. With 17 points from 10 matches, the Austrians will not have been too upset, considering they had Germany, Sweden and even the Republic of Ireland in their group.
Having to turn the page and look at their future beyond next year's World Cup, Austria has failed to qualify for a World Cup since 1998. They will now need to put all their focus on the upcoming European Championship in 2016, which will be held in France.
The United States’ agenda in the last six months has been dominated by CONCACAF opponents due to the Gold Cup and the 2014 World Cup qualifiers. The idea of playing European sides is to prepare for a higher level of football ahead of next year’s tournament.
Jurgen Klinsmann is yet to finalize his 2014 World Cup squad so friendly matches appear as a good opportunity for players to justify their inclusion. Friday’s friendly encounter against the Scots will go on without Clarence Goodson, Edgar Castillo and Landon Donovan.
These three players, along with goalkeeper Brad Guzan, are sidelined with injuries. The USMNT has however been boosted by the return of Michael Bradley. The AS Roma midfielder had to miss last month’s World Cup qualifier against Mexico.
Preview: Gordon Strachan is still trying to find the right balance
Since taking over in January, Gordon Strachan has done a good job working with what he has at his disposal. He walked into the Scottish National Team with a tough task of qualifying for the World Cup, something his country has not done since 1998, but unfortunately they fell just short.
One positive for the Scotland fans will be their countries two victories to end their qualification campaign.
They defeated Macedonia, but the confidence boosting victory will have been their 2-0 triumph over Croatia. Now Scotland will turn their attention to a USA squad that will be present in next year's World Cup.
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: Bayern primed to take the honors and keep Bundesliga table top spot
FC Bayern München has not lost a Bavarian derby in almost even years now. The final derby of the past season is a memory which the Bavarians surely store with plenty of fondness. Bayern was presented the shield they longed for that day. They struggled to get out of the blocks on Match-day 33 in the midst of May. It took a Bayern side filled with confidence 69 minutes to finally find the back of the net. Rather unsurprisingly, it was Thomas Müller who did so in classic Raumdeuter fashion.
Ahead of this meeting, question marks remain over whether Müller will start; this is down to his poor form of late rather than injuries. The department of health (and injuries) at Bayern has been inundated this season. Bastian Schweinsteiger joined in recently; he is set to have ankle surgery to be able to play “completely free of pain” by his own admission.
Preview: A tricky test awaits Los Blancos at the Bernabeu
Real Sociedad put in quite a good show against Manchester United but came out with nothing more than a point from a goalless draw. With only one point in their group, they could still reach the 2013/14 UEFA Champions League Last 16 of the UEFA Europa League but this would require them to grab maximum points against Bayer Leverkusen and Shakhtar Donetsk. At this point, it looks like La Real’s European adventure is coming to an end.
Manager Jagoba Arrasate will want his men to react to his predicted disappointment by getting a result on Saturday. However, the Santiago Bernabeu is a tough venue.
Preview: Bayern look to regain one point lead at the top of the Bundesliga table
FC Bayern München will look to bring down Hoffenheim when they travel to the Rhein Neckar Arena for a Saturday afternoon duel. Pep Guardiola will be without the injured Xherdan Shaqiri and Claudio Pizarro.
In his previous match, he had to make a double substitution in the first half due to suspected injuries. The victims, Toni Kroos and Arjen Robben, are both both deemed doubtful for this encounter. However, Guardiola does not seem convinced enough to risk them in this one.
Preview: BVB to continue perfect home start to the season
Dortmund will be hoping for another win on home surface which could take them to the top of the league for a day at least when they face Stuttgart today. Die Borussen have won all seven matches they have played on home soil this season, including a 4-2 victory over defending champions Bayern Munich in the DFL-Supercup.
They will be buoyed by their 3-1 victory over Schalke in the Ruhr derby last time out and also by the fact that manager Jürgen Klopp has extended his contract which will keep him at the club for the next five years.
Preview: Schalke to continue their good form in Ruhr Derby
The Gelsenkirchen club got the better of their rivals last season when they managed to get maximum points in both the matches. Even though they are not in the best if the runs, Schalke will hope to get the better of Dortmund once again. Dortmund coach Jurgen Klopp recalled the incidents of the past year and claimed that the two defeats at the hands of their rivals were difficult to take.
"When you sign a contract at Borussia Dortmund, the first thing you learn is that there are 32 Bundesliga games and two derbies," he said according to ESPN.
beIN Sport to broadcast El Clasico to USA viewers on October 26, 2013
On October 7, the LFP announced the timing of this huge rivalry match set to take place at the Camp Nou. LFP president Javier Tebas confirmed the 18:00 local time which is a result of marketing factors. La Liga has a huge amount of followers in Asia and America and the decision was made to attract the largest viewing figures possible for this Barcelona vs Real Madrid fixture on 26 October 2013.
It will be the 166th El Clasico in the history of the Spanish La Liga. Current head-to-head results put the Spanish giants on top of the Cules with 70 wins – six more than Barca – with the other 32 games ending all square.
In terms of goals, the Catalans have progressively been closing the gap during the last few years. They have scored 259 goals in El Clasico in La Liga, only 11 less than Real Madrid. Gerardo Martino will be looking to offer the club’s fans their 48th Primera Division home win over Real Madrid at the Camp Nou come October 26, 2013.
Preview: Napoli looking to ruin Roma’s perfect start
If there is one side which can be deemed to outclass Rudi Garcia’s high flying Roma side, it is the team from Naples led by Rafa Benitez. Like Roma, Napoli have been unbeaten in Serie A so far but unlike their counterparts Partenopei have dropped points this season owing to their draw against newly promoted side Sassuolo.
But Roma are now set to face arguably their biggest challenge of the season coming against a side which has done ever so well in the recent past. Napoli have come in leaps and bounds over the years and have earned European spots in each of the last four seasons.