What to Watch This Weekend – Interlull Edition, Pt 1 (Friday March 25)

March 24, 2011 — by Suman2

The Interlull is upon us.  Just when the domestic and Champions leagues are hurtling towards their conclusions, getting us all hot and bothered…they take a break so the best players can fly all over the world to risk injury playing for their respective national teams in largely meaningless international games.  (Full disclosure: we picked up the “Interlull” terminology from the indispensable Arseblog.)

That said, some of these games aren’t completely meaningless–included on this weekend’s are a handful of Euro 2012 and African Cup qualifiers featuring some nations/players we like to watch. And some of the meaningless international friendlies shouldn’t be completely uninteresting–particularly USA hosting Argentina at the (New) Meadowlands (Saturday), Brazil playing Scotland at the Emirates (Sunday), and Ghana playing England at Wembley (Tuesday).

But you’ll have to come back for our previews of the latter matches.  There are so many fixtures (over 100) spread out over so many days (Friday thru Tuesday) that we’ve been forced to split up this weekend’s viewing guide into a multi-installment day-by-day affair.   As in the past, we’ve relied upon WaPo’s Soccer Insider for a complete listing of matches, times, and US television options.  Here our choices for…

Friday, March 25

Hungary-Netherlands in Budapest (3:30pmET,; 7pm on ESPND): A Euro 2012 qualifier between the two teams at the top of the Group E standings.

For the Dutch, no Arjen Robben nor Huntelaar due to injuries.  But still plenty of talent to watch in midfield, on the wings, and up front: Schneijder, van der Vaart, van Persie, Kuyt, Elia, Affelay.  Plus watch for up-and-coming right wingback Gregory van der Wiel. Barcelona was said to be keeping an eye on him in case they were unable to resign Dani Alves.  Now that Alves has turned his back on a potential big money transfer to Man City and signed on for a few more seasons in Catalonia, Man City has apparently shifted their focus to van der Wiel.

We’re really not sure who to watch for on the current Hungarian squad–but after watching this match we should know for the return fixture in Amsterdam on Tuesday (see below).


Dembele & Dempsey: Too Many Cooks at Fulham

August 23, 2010 — by Sean

Fulham 2 – 2 Manchester United

Moussa Dembele, a Belgian striker 23 years of age who played for AZ Alkmaa in the Eredivisie, made his first run out for the Cottagers this weekend, replacing Clint Dempsey in Fulham’s attack. Dempsey looked lively through the first half, finding space and playing clever balls quickly around the Man United players. He made a couple of poor passes, but his creativity made up for them. Then he was brought out in the 60th minute, replaced by the much, much quicker Dembele.

Dempsey has always been a collected player with the ability to continue an attack with some smart passing and intelligent movement in the final third, but compared to many of the athletes around him on the pitch, he’s just plain slow. Dembele has speed in abundance, and a fine touch to go along with it. He turns well when receiving the ball with his back to goal, and for not having played with this squad much at all, he already seems to sense where his teammates are around him.

Dembele was courted by both Milan sides after scoring a double against Italy in a 2008 Olympic quarter-final match, so it’s a bit of a shock to see him entering the Prem for a mid-table team. What shouldn’t be a shock is the eventual moving on of Dempsey, who will certainly find it more difficult to book steady minutes with Mark Hughes’ younger and faster signing quickly settling in. Might “Duece” follow Hodgson to Liverpool, where he could find playing time in the Europa league at the very least?