By ADAM TROXTELL
Manchester City will look to take advantage of Chelsea’s absentee top-scorer when the top two teams meet in English Premier League play.
The FA upheld a three-match ban for Diego Costa on Friday, meaning the league’s leading scorer will miss the crucial matchup at Stamford Bridge. The Citizens sit five points behind first-place Chelsea and have identified this match as a must-win.
Both teams suffered shock defeats in the FA Cup last weekend, placing more importance on league performance as they chase down the title. Last time they met, Man City squeaked out a 1-1 draw thanks to an 85th minute goal from former Chelsea man Frank Lampard.
History favors the home team in this matchup. Out of the last 9 league meetings between the two clubs, six have ended in a win for the hosts.
As if starting the second half of the Bundesliga season in the relegation zone wasn’t hard enough, Borussia Dortmund begin a climb from the bottom with a trip to third-place Bayer Leverkusen. Last time the teams met in August, Leverkusen took a 2-0 win away from Signal Iduna Park when Dortmund’s rough league campaign was only beginning.
Real Madrid will be without the suspended Cristiano Ronaldo when they host Real Sociedad. Elsewhere in Spain, Atletico Madrid look for a win at Eibar to bounce back from being knocked out of the Copa Del Rey by Barcelona.
If you will be watching today’s games, feel free to share your thoughts, opinions, and some play-by-play in the comments section below.
Enjoy today’s action (Today’s soccer TV schedule after the jump):
By IVES GALARCEP
The 2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup might still feel like it’s a long time from now, but the reality is we are only about five months from knowing the team Jurgen Klinsmann will select to try and defending the U.S. team’s title.
Four months will likely fly by, but there will be a plethora of friendlies to bring Klinsmann closer to finding the team he wants, and now that the first friendly of 2015 is in the books, the U.S. coach must have a slightly clearer picture of his options.
What we are still trying to figure out is just how serious is Klinsmann’s commitment to a shift to the 3-5-2 formation. He only used it for the first half of the Chile friendly, but given the personnel in the player pool, we shouldn’t be surprised to see much more of the new formation in the more than half-dozen friendlies between now and the Gold Cup.
The next match is next week against Panama, and that match should help weed out some pretenders and identify some more serious candidates for Gold Cup roster spots.
As we reach the end of the first month of the new year, here is a look at the latest SBI 23 for 2015:
By ADAM TROXTELL
Chelsea hosts Manchester City with English Premier League in a battle of Premier League title hopefuls, a weekend packed with televised soccer.
The recent talk ahead of the one vs. two matchup is concentrated on who will not be on the pitch come Saturday. Man City will be missing Yaya Toure and new signing Wilfried Bony, who are still with Ivory Coast at the African Cup of Nations.
The Blues might also have personnel concerns since Diego Costa now faces suspension for stamping on Liverpool’s Emre Can during their League Cup semifinal on Tuesday. The FA could now suspend the striker for the matchup, which could have title implications in the long run.
Elsewhere, the Bundesliga is back with its own top of the table clash. Second-placed Wolfsburg hosts first place Bayern Munich to start the second half of the season on Friday. Borussia Dortmund’s task of climbing out of the relegation zone contains a difficult start with a trip to third-placed Bayer Leverkusen.
A full Saturday evening of Liga MX starts with America facing Tigres. First placed Veracruz, one of two teams to go unbeaten in their first three games, travels to Monterrey.
An African Cup of Nations quarterfinal between Ghana and Guinea highlights Sunday afternoon’s action.
Here is a full look at this weekend’s soccer on TV (schedule after the jump):
By FRANCO PANIZO
The German Bundesliga returns from its winter break this weekend, and Fabian Johnson is surely hoping that it is the start of a better half-season for him.
Johnson was limited to mostly spot duty off the bench during the opening months of the season, but will now aim to break into the lineup more regularly as Borussia Moenchengladbach attempts to move into a guaranteed UEFA Champions League spot.
That journey starts on Saturday for Johnson and his club, as they visit struggling Stuttgart. Moenchengladbach is just a point off of third place in the table: a win could secure the club second place if Bayer Leverkusen is unable to grab maximum points in its game.
Paul Arriola is also looking to get back into the mix this weekend, but not because he’s been on a brief vacation. Arriola has been away from Club Tijuana during the opening weeks of the Liga MX campaign because of the U.S. Under-20 Men’s National Team’s World Cup qualifying tournament, and he will now attempt to crack the Xolos’ lineup when they take on Morelia on Friday night. Arriola finished the U.S.’s successful qualifying campaign with a goal and an assist in the last two games, so that momentum could carry over as he tries to earn a regular role again at the club level.
Another youngster looking for a steadier dose of minutes in the coming months is Julian Green. Hamburg has seldom used the teenage loanee, but that could begin to change as the club attempts to further distance itself from the relegation zone in Saturday’s clash with Cologne. Green has just five appearances thus far this season, a number that will need to increase exponentially in order for him to have a real case for playing at the Gold Cup this summer.
Here is who the Americans Abroad battle this weekend: Continue reading
By IVES GALARCEP
When Mark Gonzalez buried the winning goal on Wednesday to seal Chile’s victory against the U.S. Men’s National Team, it was easy to come away from that friendly feeling like the U.S. laid another egg. Going five matches without a win and allowing nine goals in three matches will start making everything taste a little sour, but the first U.S. friendly of 2015 still gave Jurgen Klinsmann plenty to ponder.
My latest Goal.com story took a look at some of the key things to take away from Wednesday’s friendly, such as the excellent play of USMNT debutant Steve Birnbaum, who didn’t play like someone making his first national team appearance.
Not on that list was the overall verdict on Klinsmann’s 3-5-2 experiment. I touched on that on Thursday on Goal.com, basically calling it a successful debut marred by the fact Klinsmann only gave the new formation 45 minutes.
Now, with some time to digest the match, and more importantly re-watch it, I present SBI’s USMNT player grades for the Chile friendly:
By DANIEL KARELL
Joe Gyau’s struggle to overcome injuries this season took another turn for the worse this week.
According to a report in Dortmund-based newspaper Ruhr Nachrichten, Gyau injured knee cartilage in training this week and will likely require surgery. Borussia Dortmund II manager David Wagner speculated that it could be a season-ending injury.
Gyau tore the meniscus in his left knee during the U.S. Men’s National Team’s October friendly against Ecuador, and was originally slated to return by January. His return was postponed until February after the 22-year-old strained a muscle in his left leg after making just three substitute appearances for Dortmund II in late fall.
Now Gyau looks to be sidelined for the foreseeable future. In his first season with Dortmund II after signing a one-year contract last summer, Gyau has played in 11 games, making eight starts and scoring two goals. He also has one substitute appearance for Borussia Dortmund’s first team.
What do you think of this report? Disappointed to hear of another Gyau injury? Do you see him returning to Dortmund next season?
Share your thoughts below.