So after such an exciting and action-packed multitude of games last weekend, this weekend is pretty much a snooze-fest. Therefore, I apologize ahead of time for the quality and length of this post. However, out of the few games that are taking place this weekend, I present to you a Confederations Cup final of epic proportions, a couple MLS battles, and a few U-20 World Cup gems to enjoy.
Must Watch Games:
*Brazil vs. Spain
**Sunday, June 30th at 5:00 pm CST on ESPN (Coverage starts at 4:30 pm CST)
***On Thursday, Spain barely escaped Italy in penalty kicks in what was one of the most exciting semi-final matches ever (and if you didn’t watch it, shame on you!). Now they face Brazil in what is to be the dream Confederations Cup final game. Brazil beautifully dispatched a feisty Uruguay side on Wednesday 2-1 thanks to two huge goals from Fred and Paulinho, both resulting from the work of Neymar. However, if Brazil are to win the final against such a dominant Spanish side, it will take the likes of Oscar, Paulinho, Luis Gustavo, and other players to step up and have brilliant games. Both Spain and Italy were hit by the heat and humidity in Fortaleza on Thursday and it showed. Spain looked flat and exhausted for the entire first half in which Italy, to their credit, played some spectacular football. It wasn’t until the introduction of Jesus Navas in the second half that the Spanish started gaining momentum and by the second half of overtime, Spain looked dangerously close to ending the Italians night early. However, the game went into penalty kicks and Spain ended up triumphing 7-6 over the brave and entertaining Italians thanks to Navas’ clinical final kick. IAs is the Spanish weren’t exhausted enough in the semis, they now have a very short turn around as the final is on Sunday night. Brazil have an extra day of rest and have played less minutes in their semi-final, so count on the Brazilians’ blistering pace to be used to expose the tiredness of the Spanish players. It will be an absolute battle of footballing giants on Sunday: will it be the young, fresh, and exciting Brazilian team who take the victory in the final in front of their home fans at the Maracana? Or will the dominant, classy, and experienced Spanish continue their reign in international tournaments?
*Uruguay vs. Italy
**Sunday, June 30th at 11:00 am CST on ESPN2 (Coverage starts at 10:45 am CST)
***As an appetizer to the Confederations Cup final, check out Uruguay and Italy as they battle it out for third place in the tournament. Both teams come into the match with a chip on their shoulder (especially over penalties as Diego Forlan missed an early penalty that could’ve made the difference against Brazil and Leonardo Bonucci missed his penalty that meant Spain advanced over Italy in the penalty shootout). While the Uruguayans have the advantage of more rest, this Italian side is one of the most resilient, strong, and tough squads in the world and have all the talent to overpower the backline of Uruguay.
*New York Red Bulls vs. Houston Dynamo
**Sunday, June 30th at 1:00 pm CST on ESPN2
***To sum up the pros and cons of the scoreless draw against Toronto last weekend, head coach Dominic Kinnear kept it simple: “pros=we got a shutout, cons=we got shutout”. The Dynamo struggled against the heat and humidity and have lacked their usual spark over the last few games but are looking to get back on track by taking on the daunting task of the New York Red Bulls up at Red Bull Arena. The Red Bulls squad will be rejuvenated with the return of Tim Cahill (international duty), Juninho (suspension), and Jamison Olave (suspension) who will look to help the Red Bulls bounce back from their pounding from Philadelphia last weekend after they went down to 10 men.
*Philadelphia Union vs. FC Dallas
**Saturday, June 29th at 4:30 pm CST on NBC Sports Network
***After starting off the season very well, FC Dallas has been in a June slump, winning only 1 of 5 games so far in all competitions (their only win coming against the Dynamo in a US Open Cup match). On the other hand, the Philadelphia Union have been on a thunderous run this MLS season, led by their young clutch goal scoring fiend Jack McInerney. However, the Union will have to find another way to score after this weekend as the 20-year-old striker has been called up by Jurgen Klinsmann to play for the US in the upcoming Gold Cup and will miss a minimum of three games for the Union. Last weekend, the Union put in a commanding performance over the New York Red Bulls, taking the game 3-0 with two strong goals from Connor Casey and one from substitute Antoine Hoppenot, proving that the Union can put goals away even without McInerney.
*Montreal Impact vs. Colorado Rapids
**Saturday, June 29th at 6:00 pm CST on Univision Deportes
***The Montreal Impact have put together a fantastic MLS campaign so far, with their European flavor style of football proving dominant in the American league. Italian superstars Matteo Ferrari, Alessandro Nesta, and Marco Di Vaio have stamped their fingerprints all over this team after arriving a lot more quietly to MLS than some of their other big-name European talents have (David Beckham, Thierry Henry, Robbie Keane, etc.) and have slowly built up a great system of play along with Swiss manager Marco Schällibaum that has steadily gained momentum in this season and will undoubtedly carry on into the postseason. Colorado on the other hand, has unfortunately been the MLS punching bag this month, most recently receiving a 3-0 spanking by a superb Portland Timbers side at Jeld-Wen Field in Portland.
*Mali U20 vs. Mexico U20
**Friday, June 28th at 10:00 am CST on ESPNU (Coverage starts at 9:45 am CST)
***As the young, talented Mexican team is about to make an unexpectedly early exit from the U-20 FIFA World Cup, make sure you catch the current CONCACAF champions as they take on a stubborn Mali squad in their final match in Group B.
*Egypt U20 vs. England U20
**Saturday, June 29th at 1:00 pm CST on ESPNU (Coverage starts at 12:45 pm CST)
***Last but not least, the game I am most intrigued to watched in this weekends final U20 World Cup group play stage is the lukewarm England squad against Egypt. The young Three Lions managed to save themselves a point in a 1-1 draw with Italy and are now desperate to get a win against already out Egypt in order to stay alive in the tournament. I say this England squad is ‘lukewarm’ as they have shown on several occasions that they have more than enough talent to take it far but have yet to find the perfect formula to get all gears clicking together.Hopefully they will get it together on Saturday if they really wish to advance.
Any suggestions on games to watch?
Written by Cari Gelal