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.)
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.
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?
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
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.