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World Cup 2014: Fixture List and Viewing Guide

June 3, 2014 — by Suman

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Nine days until it all starts. In case you haven’t bookmarked this (or an equivalent), here is ESPNFC’s table of all 48+16=64 WC2014 fixtures (group stage+knockout rounds), including kickoff times, venues, and (US) TV coverage:
http://www.espnfc.com/fixtures/_/league/fifa.world/fifa-world-cup?cc=5901

Actually we’ve copied and pasted the table in below, but we’ve also done you the service of choosing one match per day (from the group stage) that you should plan your day around:

(all times ET, and all games on ESPN unless otherwise noted)

Thursday, June 12: Brazil-Croatia (4pmET)

Friday, June 13: Spain-Netherlands (3pm)

Sat, June 14: England-Italy (6pm)

Sun, June 15: Argentina-Bosnia (6pm)

Mon, June 16: Germany-Portugal (and also Ghana-USA later that day, at 6pm)

Tues, June 17: Brazil-Mexico (3pm)

Wed, June 18: Spain-Chile (3pm)

Thurs, June 19: Uruguay-England (3pm)

Friday, June 20: Switzerland-France (3pm)

Saturday, June 21: Germany-Ghana (3pm)

Sunday, June 22: USA-Portugal (6pm, again on ESPN–why not put this one on ABC??)

 

For the last 4 days of the group stage, there are 2 games played simultaneously at 12pmET and 4pmET each day. Which ones to actually watch will eventually depend on group standings and scenarios for who advances; here are some preliminary picks:

Monday, June 23: any/all?

Tuesday, June 24: Italy-Uruguay (12pm)

Wednesday, June 25: Nigeria-Argentina (12pm)

Thursday, June 26: USA-Germany (12pm)

 

Tell your wives, hide your kids, plan your long lunches, clear your DVRs. it’s going to be busy month.

ESPNFC’s full fixture list:

EuropePreviewScheduleThe Americas

CF Preview: Dutch De Klassieker & Argentine Superclásico

October 27, 2012 — by Suman

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Usually our attention is focused on the “big” European leagues–English, Spanish, German, Italian–but this weekend features two big rivalry matches elsewhere, both on Sunday: the Dutch De Klassieker, with Ajax travelling to Rotterdam to take on Feyenoord at De Kuip; and down in Buenos Aires, the first Argentine Superclásico in 17 months this weekend, with River Plate hosting Boca Juniors at the Estadio Monumental.  Both matches will be available for viewing in the US: Feyenoord-Ajax on ESPN Deportes & ESPN3.com (7:30amET), River Plate-Boca Juniors on GolTV (1:30pmET).

We didn’t realize the Superclasico was happening this weekend til we happened to catch Jonathan Wilson’s tweets on Friday, upon his arrival in Buenos Aires.  Via a match preview he wrote for BetFair:

Argentina has been waiting for this fixture for a long time, longer than anybody in any previous era would ever have believed possible. Sunday sees the first superclasico for 17 months as River Plate face Boca Juniors at El Monumental.

It’s fifth against 11th and, unless Boca win and somehow haul themselves back into the title race – at the most they trail Newell’s Old Boys by five points – it means nothing in terms of silverware. Yet it means everything in terms of prestige. The superclasico dominates Argentinian football to an extraordinary extent, no matter where the teams are in the league – which is perhaps understandable given 70 per cent of the country support one team or the other. It’s the game everybody has been focused on since River responded to relegation with promotion at the first attempt – which is just as well, because neither side has been playing particularly well.

And a preview of De Klassieker via Orange.co.uk:

Feyenoord will face an Ajax side brimming with confidence after their Champions League humbling of Manchester City when the sides meet in the first Eredivisie Classic of the season on Sunday.

The sides sit fourth and fifth in the table, with the Amsterdam side ahead on goal difference. But Ronald de Boer’s team will go into the game on the crest of the wave following their 3-1 win over the big-spending Premier League champions. De Boer admitted his team’s performance had been outstanding and he will be hoping for more of the same at De Kuip on Sunday. The former Dutch international said: “I know what we are capable of. I think we saw a good Ajax that wanted to show something good. “We played quite well and City didn’t have an answer to our play.”

His opposite number Ronald Koeman will at least be boosted by the return to training of Reuben Schaken and Sekou Cisse after their respective injury lay-offs.

Champions LeaguePreviewSchedule

Champions League: Tournament Calendar, Fixtures, Preview Links

September 18, 2012 — by Suman

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With the 2012-2013 UEFA Champions League kicking off in a matter of hours, it feels like the European club season really gets started in earnest today.  Scroll down for all eight of today’s fixtures (with eight more matches tomorrow).

For an overview of the tournament (and to help you plan your next two months of relevant Tuesdays & Wednesday), see UEFA’s fancy interactive tournament calendar.  Here is a screengrab of the top half (Groups A-D, the ones in action today), but click thru for the full thing, plus the interactivity (e.g., rolling over a club highlights their fixtures, such as with Real Madrid shown below):

 

A few links, all from the Guardian, to get you ready for this week’s fixtures:

Yes, Real Madrid hosting Manchester City is without a doubt the match of the day–two of the handful of squads whose legitimate goal is to win the whole tournament. Both won their leagues last season, but stumbled in Europe–and have stumbled already in their leagues.

Here are all today’s fixtures via uefa.com:

18 September 2012
Dinamo Zagreb Dinamo Zagreb Porto Porto
Referee: Daniele Orsato (ITA) – Stadium: Stadion Maksimir, Zagreb (CRO)
PSG PSG Dynamo Kyiv Dynamo Kyiv
Referee: Björn Kuipers (NED) – Stadium: Parc des Princes, Paris (FRA)
Montpellier Montpellier Arsenal Arsenal
Referee: Carlos Velasco Carballo (ESP) – Stadium: La Mosson, Montpellier (FRA)
Olympiacos Olympiacos Schalke Schalke
Referee: David Fernández Borbalán (ESP) – Stadium: Georgios Karaiskakis Stadium, Piraeus (GRE)
Málaga Málaga Zenit Zenit
Referee: Mark Clattenburg (ENG) – Stadium: La Rosaleda, Malaga (ESP)
Milan Milan Anderlecht Anderlecht
Referee: William Collum (SCO) – Stadium: Stadio Giuseppe Meazza, Milan (ITA)
Dortmund Dortmund Ajax Ajax
Referee: Paolo Tagliavento (ITA) – Stadium: BVB Stadion Dortmund, Dortmund (GER)
Real Madrid Real Madrid Man. City Man. City
Referee: Damir Skomina (SVN) – Stadium: Estadio Santiago Bernabéu, Madrid (ESP)

 

PreviewSchedule

What to Watch This Weekend: Aug 24-26

August 25, 2012 — by Suman

Second round of Premier League and La Liga matches this weekend, while Bundesliga and Serie A are also getting underway:

Friday, Aug 24

2:30pmET, Borussia Dortmund vs Werder Bremen (GolTV USA): Dortmund begins its quest for a 3rd consecutive Bundesliga title. For the 2nd straight year, they’ve lost a star to a bigger and richer club abroad–this summer it was Shinji Kagawa to Manchester United, the previous summer it was Nuri ?ahin to Real Madrid (although looks like he will end up in England as well, at least for a season, on loan–to Liverpool?). But Dortmund are looking to pick up where they left off, with young star Marco Reus newly arrived from Borussia Mongengladbach.

 

Saturday, Aug 25

10amET, Manchester United vs Fulham (FSC, Fox Deportes): Two teams that got off to surprising starts last weekend, in opposite directions. MUFC lost at Everton 1-0, despite bringing on Robin van Persie as a late substitute. By all accounts, Kagawa was impressive, while Wayne Rooney was not. Fulham were impressive in a 5-0 demolition of , despite missing Clint Dempsey, whose situation is still unresolved.

12:30pmET, Chelsea vs Newcastle United (FSC, Fox Deportes): The match of the weekend. Chelsea expects to be challenging for the title, after big spending in the offseason and two straight wins to start this campaign. But although they’ve got plenty of talent going forward–new arrivals Edan Hazard and Oscar joining Juan Mata behind Fernando Torres–there are questions further back, in defensive midfield and in defense. Newcastle are looking to build upon last season’s impressive campaign and challenge for a spot in the top four.

 

Sunday, Aug 26

8:30amET, Stoke City vs Arsenal (FSC, Fox Deportes): Arsenal failed to score last weekend at home versus a Sunderland side that parked the bus. This match presents a clash of

11amET, Liverpool vs Manchester City (FSC, Fox Deportes):

 

EnglandPreviewSchedule

Kicking Off 2012-13: What To Watch This Weekend

August 17, 2012 — by Suman

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Another season of European club football is upon us, and so we here at CultFootball are back from a couple-month hiatus. Over at PoliticalFootballs, John Lally has a Premier League preview which runs to a few thousand words. And here on CultFootball, Rob Kirby devotes almost as many words to just Arsenal’s chances this season.

Without further preamble, here are our picks for opening weekend in the EPL–plus one match from the opening weekend in La Liga:

As usual all times ET, and all listing from (and links to) the very useful livesoccertv.com:
Saturday, August 18:
Sunday, August 19:

 

(*) Note that the US TV right to La Liga (and Serie A, which kicks off next weekend) have been snapped away from GolTV by the new “beIN“ network–a venture of Al-Jazeera Sports. Check your local listings to see if you can get it on your cable lineup.

Euro 2012PreviewSchedule

Euro 2012: Quarterfinals Fixtures

June 21, 2012 — by Suman

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The group stage is behind us–60 goals in 24 matches over 12 days–and now the quarterfinals of Euro 2012 are upon us. Four matches in four days, starting with the first kicking off in a few hours.  Here are your fixtures, along with a link for each:

 

Thursday, 21 June 2012
Czech Republic Czech Republic Portugal Portugal
Referee: Howard Webb (ENG) – Stadium: National Stadium Warsaw, Warsaw (POL)
  • Zonal Marking’s Czech Republic v Portugal preview: “The key battle is likely to be down the left flank. This is Portugal’s biggest strength going forward – they have the goalscoring potential of Ronaldo coming inside, and the overlapping threat of Fabio Coentrao bombing down the outside. But this means they’re also weak defensively down that side: all four goals they’ve conceded have originated from that side of the pitch, and Ronaldo’s non-tracking against Denmark was a problem Paulo Bento should have resolved earlier. As it happens, the right has been the strongest area of the Czech side…”
Friday, 22 June 2012
Germany Germany Greece Greece
Referee: Damir Skomina (SVN) – Stadium: Arena Gdansk, Gdansk (POL)

 

Saturday, 23 June 2012
Spain Spain France France
Referee: Nicola Rizzoli (ITA) – Stadium: Donbass Arena, Donetsk (UKR)
  • Jonathan Wilson poses The Question: position or possession?: “The flaw of Spain’s tiki-taka is that a team can control possession or it can control position, but it can’t do both.”
Sunday, 24 June 2012
England England Italy Italy
Referee: Pedro Proença (POR) – Stadium: Olympic Stadium, Kyiv (UKR)

Euro 2012PreviewSchedule

Euro 2012 Matchday 12: Last Day of the Group Stage – Sweden-France & England-Ukraine

June 19, 2012 — by Suman3

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We’ve nearly reached the end of the Group Stage. Two matches to go in Group D today: Sweden-France and England-Ukraine, which will determine the final two quarterfinalists. Already in the final eight: Czech Republic, Greece, Germany, Portugal, Spain, and Italy.

The latter two claimed first and second in Group C with tense victories yesterday. Spain beat upstart Croatia 1-0 off a 88′ tiki-taka type goal: Cesc Fábregas with a looping lofted ball over the defense to Andrés Iniesta, who was just barely onsides, and who then played a square ball to substitute Jesús Navas, allowing him to blast it home unopposed.  But there were tense moments for Spain before that–most memorably, Spanish captain and goalkeeper Iker Casillas denying Croatia’s Ivan Rakitic when it was still scoreless.  It was a crucial save, since a Croatia win, combined with an Italy win, would have see Spain shockingly eliminated.  As it is, Croatia goes home, but they certainly impressed in this tournament.

Italy finally won a game, 2-0 over Ireland, though it was also a tight game. Mario Balotelli added a spectacular insurance goal in the 90′–after which he was spectacularly gagged by his teammate Leonardo Bonnucci.

On to Group D.  Sweden is out, so it’s France, England, or Ukraine for the final two spots in the last eight. France or England advance with at least a draw–hence, Ukraine need to win in order to advance.  I’ll be wearing my Shevchenko jersey and rooting for them to do so.

Today’s fixtures, current group standings, and scenario matrix:

19 June 2012
Sweden Sweden France France
Referee: Pedro Proença (POR) – Stadium: Olympic Stadium, Kyiv (UKR)
England England Ukraine Ukraine
Referee: Viktor Kassai (HUN) – Stadium: Donbass Arena, Donetsk (UKR)

 

Group D

Teams P W D L F A +/- Pts
France France 2 1 1 0 3 1 2 4
England England 2 1 1 0 4 3 1 4
Ukraine Ukraine 2 1 0 1 2 3 -1 3
Sweden Sweden 2 0 0 2 3 5 -2 0

Scenario matrix via wikipedia:

Sweden have been eliminated.

On the last match day (19 June) the teams advancing from this group (winner; runner-up) will be:

If: France win draw Sweden win
England win England and France1 England; France England; France
draw France; England France; England England; France
Ukraine win France; Ukraine Ukraine; France Ukraine; England or France2
  1. England win the group if either of the following (otherwise, France win the group)
    1. England’s winning margin is greater than France’s by at least 2 goals
    2. England’s winning margin is greater by 1 goal and France do not score at least 2 goals more than England
  2. England are runner-up if either of the following (otherwise, France are runner-up)
    1. England’s losing margin is less than France’s by at least 2 goals
    2. England’s losing margin is less by 1 goal and France do not score at least 2 goals more than England

Euro 2012PreviewSchedule

Euro 2012 Matchday 11: Will Croatia Send the Azzurri Back to Italy (and/or La Furia Roja Back to Spain)?

June 18, 2012 — by Suman2

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Though yesterday’s Group of Death final day had the potential to surprise like Group A’s did on Saturday, it ultimately worked out according to form. Germany finished off the group with 3 victories, while Portugal showed how pathetic this edition of the Oranje were–sending them to their third straight defeat, and back to a very unhappy Holland.

On to Group C. Ireland is out of contention, but any two of out of Spain, Italy, and Croatia could advance.  Remarkably, Croatia advances with a win or a scored draw–and a Croatia win combined with an Italy win would send defending World Cup and Euro 2008 champions back to Spain.

Here are today’s fixtures, current group standings, the scenario matrix, and some preview notes:

18 June 2012
Croatia Croatia Spain Spain
Referee: Wolfgang Stark (GER) – Stadium: Arena Gdansk, Gdansk (POL)
Italy Italy Republic of Ireland Republic of Ireland
Referee: Cüneyt Çak?r (TUR) – Stadium: Municipal Stadium Poznan, Poznan (POL)

 

Group C

Teams P W D L F A +/- Pts
Spain Spain 2 1 1 0 5 1 4 4
Croatia Croatia 2 1 1 0 4 2 2 4
Italy Italy 2 0 2 0 2 2 0 2
Republic of Ireland Republic of Ireland 2 0 0 2 1 7 -6 0
Scenario matrix via wikipedia:

Republic of Ireland has been eliminated.

On the next match day (18 June), the teams advancing from this group (winner; runner-up) will be:[1][2]

If: Croatia win draw Spain win
Italy win Croatia; Italy Spain, and Croatia or Italy1 Spain; Italy
draw Croatia; Spain Spain; Croatia Spain; Croatia
Ireland win Croatia; Spain Spain; Croatia Spain; Croatia
  1. Positions determined by game scores:
  • if Croatia-Spain draw 0–0, Italy; Spain
  • if Croatia-Spain draw 1–1
    • AND if Italy wins by one goal or 2–0, Spain; Croatia
    • OR if Italy wins by two goals and scores at least three goals, Spain; Italy
    • OR if Italy wins by three goals or 4–0, Spain; Italy
    • OR if Italy wins by four or more goals and scores at least five goals, Italy; Spain
  • if Croatia-Spain draw 2–2 or higher, Spain; Croatia

The match to watch is Croatia-Spain. It will be a huge surprise if Italy doesn’t beat an Ireland squad that doesn’t have anything to play for (and hasn’t played well at all in their first two matches).

For Spain, it looks like Fernando Torres has solidified a spot as striker in Spain’s starting XI.  Here’s how Vincente del Bosque lined them up (and the subs he used) in their 4-0 roll over Ireland:

Iker Casillas, Gerard Piqué, Jordi Alba, Sergio Ramos, Álvaro Arbeloa, David Silva, Xavi, Xabi Alonso (Javi Martínez, 65), Andrés Iniesta (Santiago Cazorla, 80), Sergio Busquets, Fernando Torres (Francesc Fábregas, 74)

We were heartened to see Javi Martínez and Santi Cazorla get some minutes. The next generation of Spanish football, and playing outside the Madrid-Barcelona hegemony (Javi Martínez at Athletic Bilbao, Santi Cazorla at Málaga; read this piece in Run of Play comparing Martínez to the incomparable Redondo). We’d also like to see Fernando Llorentealso of Athletic Bilbao, get in the game and lead the line. See below for video of El Rey León.

For Croatia, we wrote up the following sketch of their squad prior to their 1-1 draw against Italy last week:

For Croatia, most of the focus is on Tottenham Hotspurs midfield playmaker Luka Modri?. But their squad is peppered with players who have made names for themselves at relatively “big” clubs abroad: strikers Nikica Jelavi? (Everton), Mario Mandžuki? (Wolfsburg), and Eduardo (now Shakhtar Donetsk, previously Arsenal); midfielder Niko Kranj?ar (also Spurs), Ivan Periši? (Borussia Dortmund), Ivan Rakiti? (Sevilla), and Danijel Pranji? (Bayern Munich); and defenders Darijo Srna (also Shakhtar) and Vedran ?orluka (Bayer Leverkeusen).

The standout performer has been Mandžuki?, with three goals in the first two games. Cf. “Mario Mandzukic masks madness to strike right for Croatia.”