The time has come again for another day of international soccer as CONCACAF World Cup qualifiers commence while the rest of the world takes part in some good old fashioned friendlies. Ives will be down in Guatemala for the USA vs. Guatemala fixture, but in case you missed it, I’ve compiled a list of all the other games going on that day.
World Cup Qualifying – CONCACAF
- Group 1: USA vs. Guatemala, 10 p.m.; Cuba vs. Trinidad & Tobago, 8 p.m.
- Group 2: Canada vs. Jamaica, 7:30 p.m.; Mexico vs. Honduras, 9 p.m.
- Group 3: Haiti vs. Suriname, 6 p.m.; Costa Rica vs. El Salvador, 10 p.m.
The games to keep an eye on will occur in Group 2, undoubtedly a "group of death" if there ever was one. All four teams will be in contention to make it out and it will be interesting to see how Sven-Goran Eriksson’s Mexico squad handles their first test. Don’t discount Amado Guevara’s squad, and if Honduras pull the upset, it would put Mexico into a major hole.
On the European front, I’ve come up with eight games to keep an eye on:
- England vs. Czech Republic
- Russia vs. Netherlands
- Sweden vs. France
- Norway vs. Ireland
- Ukraine vs. Poland
- Germany vs. Belgium
- Denmark vs. Spain
- Italy vs. Austria
England should have the slight edge against the Czech Republic and it’ll be interesting to see how hard they go for it as the embarrassment of Euro 2008 still sits in the back of every English player’s mind. Watch out for the Czech Republic though as they may be bent on a good result after crashing out of Euro 2008 so disastrously against Turkey. The other marquee match-up is Russia against the Netherlands. The odds-on favorites to win Euro 2008, the Netherlands were thwarted by Russia’s Dutch manager Guus Hiddink and his attack of Andrei Arshavin and Roman Pavlyuchenko. We’ll see if they can firm up their new reputation even more with a repeat performance.
Next up, are the thirteen games to keep a wandering eye on. By this, I mean it’s worth a look at the scoring summary and not much more unless you’ve got a rooting interest.
- Turkey vs. Chile
- Colombia vs. Ecuador
- Finland vs. Israel
- Argentina vs. Belarus
- Portugal vs. Faroe Islands
- Slovenia vs. Croatia
- Japan vs. Uruguay
- Scotland vs. Northern Ireland
- Slovakia vs. Greece
- Switzerland vs. Cyprus
- Iceland vs. Azerbaijan
- Romania vs. Latvia
- Bolivia vs. Panama
- Wales vs. Georgia
It’s always interesting to check out how badly the world powers thrash their opponent when they play a tune-up against a lower level team. I’m putting my money on Portugal to score at least five goals. It should be fun to see if Alexander Hleb will have any effect against Argentina (who won’t be full strength because of the Olympics). The match-up I’m keeping the firmest wandering eye on is Wales vs. Georgia. Wales isn’t half bad, but it will certainly be a story line if a small embattled nation like Georgia can unite to muster an uplifting result.
Lastly, are eight games that involve mostly bottom feeders. Sorry if you’re a fan of one of these nations, but the interest in these friendlies will be minimal.
- Tunisia vs. Angola
- Estonia vs. Malta
- Hungary vs. Montenegro
- Albania vs. Liechtenstein
- Luxembourg vs. Macedonia
- Lithuania vs. Moldova
- Saudi Arabia vs. Paraguay
- Bosnia-Herzegovina vs. Bulgaria
What do you think the best match-ups for tomorrow are? Will you focus your attention on CONCACAF or is the lure of European soccer too much to pass up? Share your thoughts below.