Preview: Spurs hoping to end 24 year winless streak at Stamford Bridge
Last time Spurs emerged victorious in an away encounter against Chelsea was back in 1990 when a late goal from Gary Lineker earned the North London side all three points against the Blues.
Tottenham have since then failed to get the better of their London counterparts and Tim Sherwood will become the latest manager to try to bring an end to this disruptive streak. However Jose Mourinho’s home record has been impeccable and it will only take a sublime performance from Sherwood’s men to get anything out of the match.
Preview: Both teams looking to respond after defeats
Both sides finished in the top five last season but have been struggling to replicate their form this time around. Milan are positioned 10th in the league table and have lost thrice in their last five outings in all competitions. A Champions League defeat at the hands of Atletico Madrid was followed by a 2-0 win over Sampdoria. But Milan failed to build upon their victory as Juventus subjected them to a 2-0 loss in the subsequent match.
Preview: Can Dieter Hecking’s overcome table topping Bayern München?
Pep Guardiola’s side remains the envy of Europe, especially Germany. Nobody has been able to match Bayern in the Bundesliga this season. Only Freiburg and Bayer Leverkusen (albeit in slightly lucky fashion) have been able to take a point each off of them. The Champions-elect will take on a team which was largely tipped to be this season’s dark horse. Wolfsburg has the money and the players. They are approaching a top four position. Nonetheless, they are not there just yet.
Preview: Barcelona can reclaim top spot with a victory
Barcelona will return to action on Saturday, when they travel to Estadio Nuevo Jose Zorrilla to take on Real Valladolid. With the hosts currently in the relegation zone, any points are always welcome, but they will not have it easy against the Catalans.
Having had 13 members of his first team squad away on international duty mid-week, Gerardo Martino is not willing to use that as an excuse.
From the travel time, fatigue and lack of time to prepare for Saturday’s match, all of that can play into a player’s performance. But one important aspect that should lift the spirits of the visitors should be the fact that they could possibly reclaim the top spot in La Liga if Real Madrid fails to win on Sunday.
Preview: United looking to respond after extended break
The Red Devils were not involved in Premier League last week, with their fixture against Man City postponed due to the Citizen’s involvement in the Capital One Cup Final which they subsequently won.
Man United will now be looking to take advantage of their extended rest and push closer to a top four finish. Since the dawn of the Premier League back in 1992, under Sir Alex Ferguson United never failed to finish outside the top three.
Preview: Everton have never defeated Arsenal at the Emirates
The last time Arsenal took part in a match at Wembley, things did not go as planned. A late miscommunication between Laurent Koscielny and Wojciech Szczesny handed Birmingham the Carling Cup.
On Saturday, the Gunners will get a chance to make their way back to Wembley. But in their way will stand an Everton side that has been impressive under Roberto Martinez.
Everton come in as clear underdogs, but the last time they were at the Emirates, they proved that they are far from pushovers. A 1-1 draw against the North London side had Roberto Martinez happy, considering his fought back after a Mesut Ozil goal gave the hosts the lead.
Preview: Costa Rica hoping to return to winning ways
La Sele have lost all of their last three matches and will be hoping to round off their preparations for the World Cup on a winning note with a positive performance against Paraguay. Costa Rica have failed to score in any of their last three defeats, with their previous encounter against South Korea ending in a 1-0 loss. Their other defeats include a 4-0 hammering at the hands of Chile as well as a 1-0 to Australia who have also successfully qualified for this year’s World Cup to be held in Brazil.
Preview: Herrera to test Mexico's European-based talents
No Joseph Yobo for reigning African champions Nigeria. The captain has been ruled out through injury. This will thus make way for 25-year-old Norwich defender Leon Balogun to make his debut. Speaking about the German-born player, Nigerian official Ben Alaiya was quoted as saying by BBC Sport:
“Balogun has joined the team here in Atlanta. He's very positive and mixing with others players already.
“The game against Mexico is crucial for players like Balogun and others who are keen to make a good impression ahead of the World Cup.”
Preview: Expect a highly entertaining clash between la Furia Roja and gli Azzurri
Spain and Italy are no strangers--with the two sides last meeting up in the Confederations Cup where after a 0-0 stalemate the reigning World Cup and EURO champions emerged victorious after a penalty shoot-out. In fact, la Furia Roja presently hold the better record with three wins out of their last five meetings, with gli Azzurri's last triumph coming back in August 2011 when goals from Riccardo Montolivo and Alberto Aquilani were enough to cancel out Xabi Alonso's equalising spot-kick.
Indeed, so familiar are the duo that Italian national team coach Cesare Prandelli mused that being they are "certain" to meet at some point in Brazil, "it would have been better not to play this game, as I'm sure we'll progress in the World Cup and end up facing off against them anyway. But our organisers wanted it."
Preview: English players will be fighting for a spot in Brazil
Wednesday's match against Denmark will be one of two chances for England's players to prove that they deserve a spot at the World Cup. They will take on Peru at the end of May, with Hodgson making his final 23-man selection on June 2nd.
One new face for the hosts will be Luke Shaw, who will go head-to-head with Ashley Cole for a spot in the squad, alongside Leighton Baines of Everton.
The young Southampton left-back has been impressive over the last two years and could be finally set to enter the big stage at the age of 18. With Ashley Cole's role at the club level becoming a question mark, it could be time for Luke Shaw to shine.
Preview: Can Sweden beat the Turks in this prestigious friendly?
The Swedish were in touching distance of the World Cup. They took on Portugal and had a legitimate chance of qualifying as Zlatan Ibrahimovic took control. Unfortunately, at the other end of the pitch, stood the indefatigable Cristiano Ronaldo. Ibrahimovic, many a time PSG’s savior, struck twice but Ronaldo’s goals at the other end more than made up for the two he scored. Nonetheless, the match showcased his excellence. The Swede put in a brilliant showing against Bayer 04 Leverkusen in the UEFA Champions League to once again lift PSG recently as well.
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: Brazil poised to maintain good form
The Seleção have been in terrific form recently having won all of their last six friendly matches and will be hoping to keep their streak going with a win over Bafana Bafana. Luiz Felipe Scolari's men have not played a competitive match since defeating reigning World champions Spain in the Confederations Cup Final, owing to the fact that they are hosting this year’s tournament.
However their next three friendlies including the ones against Panama and Serbia which follow their trip to South Africa will potentially prepare them for the test they are to face at this year’s illustrious event.
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: Black Stars prepare for upcoming World Cup in a friendly test with unknown opponents
Placed in what has been described as this year's "Group of Death" alongside European heavyweights Germany and Portugal as well as familiar foe United States, Ghana will certainly have a tough task ahead to qualify for the knockout stages in their third World Cup appearance.
Hence, in order to prepare for the eagerly anticipated tournament, the Black Stars will be taking on several European and South American teams over the next few months so as to get a feel of what to expect once in Brazil.
Preview: A good rehearsal for both teams, staged in Barcelona
Tunisia emphatically failed to reach Brazil 2014 last November. The goalless result of the first leg against Cameroon in the playoffs left them hopeful. However, the Indomitable Lions played with a lot of hunger back home and dismantled their opponents 4-1.
For the Tunisians, the 2014 FIFA World Cup will have to be followed on TV but Wednesday will offer them the opportunity to come up against a qualified team, Colombia.
The South Americans had a rather smooth World Cup qualification campaign. To prepare for their clash against African giants Cote d’Ivoire in Group C, Los Cafeteros will want to beat Tunisia without the help of injured striker Radamel Falcao.
Preview: Socceroos to take field without captain Lucas Neill
Despite of signing a short term contract with English side Watford, the 34 year old has failed to make it to Ange Postecoglou’s 23 man squad to face Ecuador. The former Everton man had been without a club after Japanese side Omiya Ardija refused to offer him a contract extension, with incoming manager Ange Postecoglou making his intentions of only including players who feature regularly for their clubs loud and clear.
Apart from the veteran who was axed from the squad, there were some surprise inclusions with all of Curtis Good (Dundee United), Chris Herd (Aston Villa), Massimo Luongo (Swindon Town) and Ben Halloran (Fortuna Dusseldorf) in contention to make their international debuts.
Preview: Can Löw’s charges beat Chile?
Germany does not have a good track record when it comes to friendlies. They just do not seem to take friendlies too seriously. Joachim Löw, the man charged with leading the Germans to their first international trophy since Euro 1996, has chosen four debutants. Matthias Ginter of SC Freiburg is one of them. Andre Hahn of FC Augsburg is another.
Pierre-Michel Lasogga has been named as one of only two strikers in the squad alongside veteran Miroslav Klose. His performances have been impressive despite the overall performance of his fledgling team, Hamburger SV. The more surprising pick is perhaps Skhodran Mustafi considering that rarely does a German who does not feature in the Bundesliga get picked in the national side. The youngster features for UC Sampdoria in Italy’s Serie A.
Preview: Can Austria silence Luis Suarez’s Uruguay?
The Austrian squad has a distinctive Bundesliga flavor to it. Some of its leading men ply their trade in Germany, none so less than David Alaba. Alaba plays a midfield role for the national side but features as a left back for his club. He runs the midfield with power and energy; whereas, he is usually seen motoring down the left for Bayern, he is found calm and composed for country, ready to drive forward when needed.
His supporting cast includes the captain and ex Bundesliga star, Andreas Ivanschitz. Ivanschitz currently plies his trade in Spain where he features for Levante. Christian Fuchs, Schalke’s marauding defender, also features for Austria. Emmanuel Pogatetz, Zlatko Junuzovic and Sebastian Prödl are three more Bundesliga stars who are part of the Austrian setup. Martin Harnik helps Austria get some goals whenever he can. Marko Arnautovic, who used to feature for Bremen and now features for Stoke, shows up with a big performance when he wants to.
Preview: Legends join hands for a good cause
A match which has been billed as Ronaldo, Zidane and Friends vs BSC Young Boys and Friends will see the likes of former Real Madrid legends Ronaldo, Zidane and Figo return to action once again. The event which marks this game is the 11th ‘annual match against poverty’ and this time around the majority of the proceeds will be donated to the people affected from the Typhoon Haiyan which struck Philippines last November.
United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) ambassadors Ronaldo and Zidane are just two of the star players who are expected to play part in the match. The prolific duo will be joined by Italian international Paolo Maldini who after dedicating his entire playing career to one club, has now expressed his delight of returning to the football pitch for a good cause.