The Weekend: Five To Watch

Your top 5 games for Americans to watch this weekend:

(And when we say to watch that doesn’t mean an American has to be playing just that we’re suggesting you check out the game if you’re around some HD in the States.)

Will Cesc give the thumbs up again on Twitter and be good to go?

5. Carling Cup Finale: Will Professor Emirates Cesc Fabregas Teach A Lesson?

The skinny: Arsenal skipper Cesc Fabregas skipped out at the 14th minute–actually more like stumbled out with a hamstring ailment–of Arsenal’s 1-0 war of attrition win over Stoke City on Wednesday.

The midfield maestro has vowed to make every effort to be fit for the final at home.

Same story for Birmingham. Stout at home alone, minimal use of offense to achieve maximum gain on the season.

This will be a defensive struggle with Birmingham closing up shop for long stretches. It makes the top five solely on the oft-chance that Zigic can deposit one early for the visitors and make Arsenal truly play for it.

And who knows, maybe we’ll get a Beckham-esque shot of Brum trialist Ale Bedoya in the stands. That’d be nice.

4. La Liga Must-Win: Atletico Madrid vs. Sevilla

The skinny: It’s been “pile on” Sevilla lately and rightfully so.

WCJD: What Can Jesus Do.....to prevent Sevilla from sliding?

Last year’s Copa Del Rey champs got bounced from the competition by Real Madrid a few weeks ago. This week, despite a 1-0 win away at El Porto, Sevilla is out of the Europa Cup.

Los Rojiblancos are reeling and (courtesy Sid Lowe’s excellent article here) far off the pace that made them the winningest team in Spain from 2005-2008 and….a joy to watch.

This weekened? Against the team just below them at #8 in the table: Madrid.

Next week? The other Madrid at home.

Big game for Sevilla if they hope to hold on their slim Champion’s League dreams. They’ve got the veterans in Kanoute and Fabiano and then young heir apparent in Jesus Navas to make a run. Can they do it?

This weekend? Foes....

 

3. Saturday: Tete-a-Tete: Aston Villa v. Blackburn

The skinny: Obviously, the story Stateside will be the marquee match-up in the midfield between Jermaine Jones and Michael Bradley, however the bigger story might be the entrance of Mauro Formica on the Barclays scene.

The Argentine was purchased by Blackburn in January of this year after moves to Genoa and Monaco fell through. While he’s been compared to “a young Batistuta” by Blackburn manager Steve Kean, the 22-year-old is really more a true #10 playmaker in the vain of a Kaka, something the Rovers could sorely up top (as evidenced by erroneous rumors at a pursuit of the original Brazilian man).

With players out on both defensive sides–Carlos Cuellar for the home side Villians and Phil Jones still for Rovers–look for some scores in this one as Villa haven’t kept a clean sheet in more than 15 games and the Rovers have conceded–I believe–in every away game of the campaign.

1. Holy Meatballs: Napoli clash with Milan for the right to the top of the table

Cavani, with 20 deposits, for Napoli...

The skinny: The Foodies vs. The Fashionistas

TSG’s team du jour, Napoli, who as I write this find themselves down 2-1 in the Europa Cup having rested Cavani for the bulk of the match, take on Milan at the San Siro in another battle of two versus one.

Lot of tangents in this one, not least is which will Milan deploy their “Thug Life” midfield in a hope to slow the Napoli attack.

The Azzurri will want to press the attack, but by the same token they’ve conceded nearly two-thirds of all their goals away from home this year.

A battle of styles and wills and Cavani looks to bundle on to his league leading twenty goals on the campaign and a win away from home means things are even up for the teams in the race for the Scudetto.

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16 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by John on 2011/02/25 at 8:46 AM

    I feel very confident in expressing my current “rooting” strategy for Serie A:

    That is “ABN”

    Anybody But Napoli

    Thanks.

    Reply

    • Posted by matthewsf on 2011/02/25 at 8:46 AM

      They are a pure joy to watch on the pitch. HA!

      Reply

      • Posted by matthewsf on 2011/02/25 at 8:46 AM

        Flavor of the month/year for TSG though. Once they sell Hamsik things will change.

        Reply

        • Posted by John on 2011/02/25 at 8:52 AM

          Indeed, no hard feelings against the team actually. However their ultra fans/local thugs took to have a little “stab” party during the last Liverpool group Europa League game in Napoli. People assaulted, stabbed, chased, beaten….

          so yeah…. no love lost for Napoli.

          Reply

    • Posted by EFG on 2011/02/25 at 8:59 AM

      Stabbings happen to all English teams in Italy, and part of it has to do with the behavior of the English on their travels to Italy for matches.

      Reply

      • Posted by matthewsf on 2011/02/25 at 9:05 AM

        I doubt there is any situation ever….that I can think of…that warrants stabbing. The precursor behavior probably isn’t warranted either.

        Reply

      • Posted by John on 2011/02/25 at 9:07 AM

        There is no rational for stabbing people that you disagree with.
        I don’t care what the societal norm is in another place.

        Reply

        • Posted by John on 2011/02/25 at 9:14 AM

          to further disprove your point… From the news of that day.

          “Police held a press conference earlier on Thursday in which they admitted Ultras had gone looking for Liverpool fans. It was initially reported five English and one Italian had been injured but two more were added to that list as the day went on.”

          Reply

        • Posted by EFG on 2011/02/25 at 9:23 AM

          I was never condoning the stabbings. I was merely illustrating the fact the stabbings, while terrible things, have unfortunately become commonplace in Italy on European nights. Some of the problem stems with English hooligan supporters traveling to Italy and acting disgraceful with their “We’re English hooligans and we are the baddest in Europe” tendencies that some are prone to do abroad. Again, not saying I agree with it what happens, but there must be a reason why you don’t hear of other traveling fans being attacked.

          Reply

        • Posted by John on 2011/02/25 at 9:30 AM

          The NAPOLI police admitted that the Ultras went after the Liverpool fans with no provocation. They went so far as to attack restaurants where “anglo” looking people were eating, despite it being a local restaurant. The owner (an Italian) was beaten for trying to intervene.

          I just illustrated above that this was not a case of “we’re english hooligans and we are the baddest in Europe”. As a matter of fact this was Napoli ultras and gangs intentionally targeting people who looked like they might be fans.

          Reply

      • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2011/02/26 at 10:39 AM

        The ‘behavior of the English on their travels to Italy for matches’ as a reason is nonsense. Yes, there was a large element of hooliganism in the 70s and 80s across Europe, but with the increase of CCTV and other technology, the trouble that still exists, is usually away from the stadium.

        “Real” hooligans have a code – they don’t start shit on non-hooligans, they’re only after other hooligans to have a scrap with, sort of like hooligan bragging right. After all, where’s the satisfaction of beating up a couple of civilians? It’s a cowardly act. It’s a honour amongst thieves type thing.

        I have travelled a decent amount to watch England and have never had any trouble – but I have also been sensible as to where I stayed and went…

        Reply

  2. Posted by dth on 2011/02/25 at 11:16 AM

    Also of slight interest, perhaps: 7 PM U.S. u-17s take on Jamaica u-17s in the CONCACAF semifinals. Probably not as good as the last group to come through, the team has probably been overly criticized and has some worthwhile talent. The game is in Jamaica (on one of the worst fields I’ve ever seen), so the atmosphere should be heavily pro-Jamaica.

    Reply

  3. Posted by dth on 2011/02/25 at 11:32 AM

    From YA action: Bobby Wood just got subbed in for his first extended run in the 72′.

    Reply

  4. Posted by philipp on 2011/02/26 at 12:08 PM

    Dortmund at Bayern is surely a good game to watch, but you’re wrong about almost everything else:

    1) “The two teams at the top of the Bundesliga square off” — actually, Bayern were third before this weekend. Bayer Leverkusen are in second place — I suppose it’s tough to distinguish Bayern from Bayer …

    2) “Dortmund’s surprising 10-point campaign lead” — their lead on Munich is 13 points and will be 16 soon

    3) it’s van Gaal, not van Gael

    4) “Dortmund goes charged from going through in the Europa where they’ll face Villarreal (now thatwill be a match-up.”
    This is a real whopper! You’re thinking of Bayer Leverkusen again. Dortmund were eliminated at the group stage …

    I hate to be nitpicking, but you could be a bit more careful if you actually want people to take your writing seriously.

    Reply

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