We took a few weeks off from our guide to the upcoming weekend’s televised matches. It’s perhaps an odd time to resurrect it, just after the climax of the European club season–but actually perhaps it’s more necessary now that we’re asking ourselves–what exactly are we supposed to watch, now that they’re done playing in Europe?
Well, for starters, they’re not done playing in Europe–there’s a full slate of Euro 2012 qualifiers this weekend. Though to be honest none of the matchups qualify as must-see. We’re more interested in a pair of international friendlies that will end up being a tasty doubleheader on Saturday: Brazil hosting the Netherlands in a rematch of last summer’s shock World Cup quarterfinal upset, and USA hosting the World Cup winners, Spain.
(TV listings below pulled from the Washington Post’s SoccerInsider post of comprehensive TV listings for the weekend.)
Saturday, June 4 (all times ET)
England-Switzerland 11:30 a.m. FSC: We thought we should pick at least one Euro qualifier–and although we did have the intention of listing today’s Germany-Austria and Belgium-Turkey matches (both of which turned out to be interesting), we didn’t get around to writing this up in time. So we’re left with Saturday’s slim pickings, and so we’ll go with the cliche: England hosting Switerland. Just check any of the English papers for too much coverage from an Anglocentric perspective. We don’t know too much about the Swiss squad–the two most recognizable names for us are defender Johann Djourou, who really came into his own with Arsenal this past season; and 26-year old Swiss captain Gökhan Inler, who starred in the midfield for the exciting Udinese squad that finished 4th in Serie A.
Brazil-Netherlands 3 p.m. Univision, ESPN3.com: Luckily our man in Sao Paulo has stepped in to our recent posting void with a nicely detailed preview of the Seleção going into this friendly with the Netherlands. No doubt the Brazilians will be looking for revenge after they were dumped out of the World Cup by the Dutch last July. On the other hand, the brilliant Oranje haven’t let up since their run to the final last summer–their currently undefeated in their Euro qualifying group. It seems like the Dutch will be without a number of their established players–Wesley Sneijder, Mark van Bommel, Rafael van der Vaart, Maarten Stekelenburg are all out of the squad, due to injury or just fatigue after the long club campaign. But Robin van Persie, Dirk Kuyt, Nigel de Jong, and Arjen Robben are all in the squad, and we’ll also be looking for exciting up and coming Dutchmen like Ibrahim Affelay (Barcelona), Gregory van der Wiel (Ajax), Eljero Elia (Hamburg), and Luuk de Jong (Twente).
United States-Spain 4:30 p.m. ESPN, Univision, ESPN3.com:
USA hosts world champions Spain in Foxborough, MA–apparently US Soccer is close to selling out the 68,000-seat Gillette Stadium!. For a full preview, we’ll point you over to the Shin Guardian. As they remind us, the last time these two met, in the 2009 Gold Cup, the US shocked with a 2-0 victory; in fact, they include a link to a column from May 2010 by tactical guru Jonathan Wilson praising Bob Bradley’s tactics against Spain in that match.
We’re wondering who Spain will play? Xavi, Puyol, Cesc aren’t in the squad, but the rest of the big names are. Though we can’t imagine Spain will field their top XI, at least not for all that long, or that they’ll be putting forth full effort–especially the Barcelona players that were playing Man U just a week ago in London.
Actually, it will be interesting to see some Spanish players not from Barcelona or Madrid play–we’re pretty sure Joan Capdevila the only such player who featured regularly in the WC last summer. Here is the squad that has travelled to Boston–there is certainly a bit of footballing talent in Spain:
Goalkeepers: Iker Casillas (Real Madrid), Jose Manuel Reina (Liverpool/ENG) and Victor Valdes (Barcelona)
Defenders: Sergio Ramos (Real Madrid), Alvaro Arbeloa (Real Madrid), Raul Albiol (Real Madrid), Gerard Pique (Barcelona), Carlos Marchena (Villarreal), Andoni Iraola (Ahletic de Bilbao) and Joan Capdevila (Villarreal)
Midfielders: Xabi Alonso (Real Madrid), Sergio Busquets (Barcelona), Santiago Cazorla (Villarreal), Andres Iniesta (Barcelona), Bruno Soriano (Villarreal) and Borja Valero (Villarreal)
Forwards: Manu del Moral (Getafe), David Silva (Manchester City/ ENG), Fernando Llorente (Athletic de Bilbao), Pedro Rodriguez (Barcelona), David Villa (Barcelona), Fernando Torres (Chelsea/ENG) and Alvaro Negredo (Sevilla)