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: 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: 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 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.
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.
Preview: Much more than just a friendly between two rivals
The German camp is currently trying to fully absorb the loss of one of their own to an ACL injury. Sami Khedira is set to miss the next six months of competitive football and might not be match fit ahead of the World Cup. Joachim Löw, while unhappy, is not too worried. He sent both Philipp Lahm and Manuel Neuer home from the camp to Bayern so as to experiment with the rest of the squad members.
The defensive midfield combination he will try will thus be devoid of both the stalwarts from the past three years, Bastian Schweinsteiger and Sami Khedira. Löw has also sent Mesut Özil back to Arsenal. He has been criticized for favoring the Bayern players ahead of Dortmund’s players as he has allowed the Bayern players additional rest by sending two of them back before the crunch fixture against BVB on Saturday. Löw replied in a rather straightforward manner. This is what he had to say according to ESPN:
Preview: South Africa's final match in 2013 will be a tough test
Spain will return to Johannesburg, where they lifted the World Cup trophy in 2010. This time the match will not be as important, but Vicente del Bosque's side will want to come away with another victory.
Both countries will be taking part in their final match in 2013, and neither will want to end things on a negative note.
For the current World Champions, they have continued their dominance in world football, as they claimed the top spot in their World Cup Qualification group. In a group that included France, La Roja were able to take first place, giving them yet another presence in a World Cup.
Preview: Argentina hoping to get the job done in the absence of Leo Messi
The Barcelona man has been ruled out for up to six weeks with a hamstring injury and will not be able to take part in Argentina’s tricky fixture against Bosnia-Herzegovina. Javier Mascherano who will be the stand in captain in the absence of the mercurial number 10 has lamented the loss of the most important player of the team, but has insisted that the injury is not very severe and that Messi is focused on getting back as early as possible.
“Not having Messi in the team is never a positive thing,” he said.
“Leo is fine now. He has passed the stage of logical bitterness that you get when you are injured and is now focused on getting better. It is just a muscle injury, so nothing too severe.”
Preview: The Azzurri and the Super Eagles – two confident sides
These are the sort of games that Nigeria must win. Regardless of the fact that this clash is not a competitive one, playing four-time World Cup champions Italy is always big. It is an opportunity for the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations titleholders to test their metal following their short adventure at the FIFA Confederations Cup earlier this summer.
As the first African team to book tickets to Brazil 2014, the Super Eagles feel proud and have set their eyes on lifting the golden trophy next year. Lille-based Nigerian veteran goalkeeper Vincent Enyeama was quoted by BBC Sport as saying:
Preview: La Roja under fire for scheduling this friendly match
Spain's presence in Equatorial Guinea has been considered the most important day in their sporting history by the government's official press bureau. But for others, Spain's visit to the once Spanish colony in West Africa has generated a lot of buzz.
The disparity in wealth between rich and poor is shocking. While some live a lavish lifestyle, others suffer to live their lives, earning less than $1 a day.
Preview: German nightmares to be revived in Milan?
Germany will be without Mario Gomez going into this one. Bastian Schweinsteiger underwent ankle surgery recently and is set to be out as well. Miroslav Klose is a doubt after sustaining a shoulder injury for Lazio against Parma. Mesut Özil and Per Mertesacker are both trying to recover from illnesses to get themselves ready for this match. All permutations concerned, young Max Kruse might lead the line in this friendly for the Germans. Other alternatives would include starting Mario Götze or Thomas Müller as a falsche neun.
Preview: Hodgson set to experiment as injuries pile up
Roy Hodgson is set to be without a number of star players as injuries continue to stack up at the England camp. Captain Steven Gerrard has been ruled out with a hip injury, whereas his club teammate Daniel Sturridge who has been on an impressive scoring run in the league will also miss the fixture.
Manchester United duo Danny Welbeck and Michael Carrick who has been ruled out for at least six weeks will also not make the squad, whereas first choice right back Kyle Walker has also been declared as unavailable.
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.
Preview: Perfect rehearsal for both World Cup participants
Belgian and Colombian football fans are enjoying the time of their lives and Thursday’s matchup will surely produce pure entertainment. The current generation of Belgium’s national football team players forms an enviable line up for any coach – with Romelu Lukaku, Christian Benteke and Eden Hazard constituting a terrifying attacking trio while Thibaut Courtois and Liverpool’s Simon Mignolet provide headaches to opposite strikers.
In the UEFA World Cup qualifying campaign, Les Diables Rouges proved too fierce for Group A’s five other contenders. They notched in a decent amount of 18 goals in 10 matches and conceded only four times. The road to Brazil was an enjoyable one for Belgium and the time has come for them to build up on what they have already achieved.
Preview: Seleção hoping to extend win streak at the expense of Zambia
The five time World champions have been mesmerising upon Luiz Felipe Scolari’s second coming only losing twice in 2013 against England and Switzerland. With the World Cup drawing closer, Seleção have hit form at the right time and the football-mad Brazilian fans are hopeful of their side once again revelling on the international stage.
If they beat Zambia on Tuesday, it will be Brazil’s fourth consecutive victory. Last time out Scolari’s side defeated South Korea 2-0 courtesy of a sublime free kick from Barcelona man Neymar and a second half strike from Chelsea playmaker Oscar.
Preview: Neymar set to star in South Korea friendly
The Barcelona man reportedly injured his hip during training after colliding with teammate Hernanes and was expected to be rested for the match against The Reds. However manager Luiz Felipe Scolari speaking to a press conference revealed that his star forward is fit to start in Saturday’s encounter.
"Neymar’s fully recovered. There will be no problem with him starting tomorrow," assured Scolari.
Scolari also claimed that he is willing to offer chances to other players who prove their worth and singled out Liverpool midfielder Lucas Leiva who was assured of opportunities in the first team.
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.
Preview: A good test for two potential World Cup 2014 participants
Chile should take this friendly match very seriously. It is an excellent opportunity for them to check their flaws and test their strength in depth. Playing against La Furia Roja is never an easy task. Over the past five years, very few teams have managed to defeat the 2010 FIFA World Cup and two-time European Championship winners.
The Chileans enter Tuesday’s encounter in great shape, having hit Venezuela with three goals to nothing in the South American World Cup qualifiers last Friday. With this straightforward victory, they secured themselves a position in the Top Five of the CONMEBOL standings.
Preview: Both teams prepare for a good World Cup 2014 tourney
Almost exactly two months after kicking off their 2013 Confederations Cup campaign with a promising 3-0 victory over Japan, eventual tournament champions Brazil are back on the field of play. On Wednesday night, the Samba Boys will be at the St Jakob-Park to face Europe’s Switzerland.
World Cup winning manager Luiz Felipe Scolari has formed a stable squad this summer. With Neymar leading the attack and David Luiz’s enviable partnership with Thiago Silva in defence, the Brazilian squad looks good enough to dismantle any team.
Scolari is looking to stick with his Confederations Cup squad. PSG’s Maxwell could clinch his first international cap as he is the team’s only new inclusion ahead of Wednesday’s friendly match against the Swiss.
The latter are enjoying a good run in the UEFA World Cup qualifiers. They occupy the top spot in Group E with a four-point advantage over second-placed Albania. The Euro 2008 co-hosts are yet to lose, having won four of their six games so far.
Beating Brazil is not the main objective of Ottmar Hitzfeld’s side although the intent to create an upset is there. Bayern Munich’s Shaqiri is expected to play along with Senderos. For Switzerland, the road to the 2014 FIFA World Cup continues later this year against Iceland and Norway.
Where to watch the match – live stream, start time, TV channels
Preview: Old rivalry will take center stage, with two key figures missing out
Italy and Argentina used to be a big rivalry, but considering they have not locked horns in over a decade, that flame may have burned out. Their last meeting came in a friendly in 1991 when the Albiceleste defeated Italy 2-1. Having been eliminated by Argentina a year earlier at the 1990 World Cup, the Azzurri can now try to seek revenge.
Much to the disappointment of the spectators, Lionel Messi and Mario Balotelli will likely miss this match. Missing these two in a match like this was like missing Maradona, but regardless of their absence, this match should be one of the more interesting matches to be played on Wednesday.