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What to Watch This Weekend

June 3, 2011 — by Suman

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, 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,

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:


Two Seleção friendlies, a farewell to Ronaldo, preparations for Copa América 2011, and the accompanying roster intrigue

June 2, 2011 — by Mark

The Brazilian national team will play two friendlies in Brazil over the next week. First, on Saturday in Goiânia, a rematch of the quarter-final game with Holland that ended Brazil’s campaign in last year’s World Cup. And then on the following Tuessday, Ronaldo’s farewell game, against Romania, held at the Pacaembu stadium in São Paulo.

Ronaldo at World Cup 2002
This man really had quite a career. The Seleção has important business to do, but Ronaldo deserves his send-off

On the 19th of May, Brazil coach Mano Menezes announced the roster for those games and gave us a decent idea of the team he’ll use for the upcoming Copa América in Argentina. The list includes 28 players for the two friendlies, plus Ronaldo, who will only play for some part of the first half of the second friendly. The plan is for Ronaldo not to be a starter in that game, but to come on as a substitute some time before the first half ends. There will be some kind of celebration at halftime, and then Ronaldo’s time with the Seleção will be over. Another player will take his place in the second half of the Romania friendly, and the Seleção’s post-Ronaldo era will officially begin.


A Seleção: November 17 vs Argentina

November 1, 2010 — by Sean

From our Senior Correspondent in Brazil, Mark Gannon. Reporting from the trenches deep in the heart of futebol country.

Here is Mano Menezes’s list for the seleção that will face Argentina in Doha on the 17th of November.


Victor (Grêmio)
Jefferson (Botafogo)
Neto (Atlético-PR)

Interesting that all three are playing in Brazil. A lot of people, including me, thought Victor might be the third goalie for the World Cup. Brazil very often takes a young goalie who might become the starter in the next World Cup.


Daniel Alves (Barcelona)
Rafael (Manchester United)
Adriano Corrêa (Barcelona)
André Santos (Fenerbahçe)

André Santos probably owns the left wingback position unless he really screws up. There are other players at his position who would be good choices, but Mano knows and trusts him from their days at Corinthians. Similarly, Daniel Alves seems to be Mano’s guy at right wingback, and deservedly só. He’s very effective and dependable now, and is likely to still be quite good at age 31 in 2014. Rafael is only 20 and already seems to be solidifying his position as Daniel’s backup. His first call-up to the senior team was as part of Mano’s first list, for the friendly against the USA in August.

Central defenders:

David Luiz, capped 24 times for the U20s gets his 2nd call-up to the senior squad under Mano.

Thiago Silva (Milan)
David Luiz (Benfica)
Alex Costa (Chelsea)
Réver (Atlético-MG)

No surprises here. It’s interesting that after a long period of total stability at the center-back position (Juan and Lúcio), Mano already seems to have established who his starters and even preferred backups are at this position. And they seem to be good choices.

When rosters and lineups are listed in Brazil, midfielders are usually separated into “volantes” and “meias.” The basic rule is that meias are offensive midfielders and volantes are more defensive, but there are volantes who can be really important parts of the offense, so I don’t like the term “defensive midfielder” as a translation of “volante.”


Lucas (Liverpool)
Ramires (Chelsea)
Sandro (Tottenham)
Jucilei (Corinthians)

Lucas has been getting more chances with Mano. Ramires was one of Dunga’s best additions to the seleção, and I’m convinced that Brazil lost to Holland in the World Cup quarterfinal basically because Ramires had to sit out that game because of accumulated yellow cards. Brazil had just found what seemed to be the best formula for the team (given that there was no way to sit Kaká, no matter how much he needed it) in the game against Chile. The presence of Jucilei and Elias (see below) is not surprising, not only because Mano remembers the success he had with them at Corinthians, but also because Corinthians is one of the leaders of the Brazilian championship now, in large part because of its excellent midfield (both volantes and meias).

Sandro was an alternate for the World Cup squad and has played for the U-20 and primary national teams.