World cup qualification: Saturday preview

28 03 2009

Messiah

Very little club football this weekend, it’s all about World Cup qualifying. There will be a lot of matches around this weekend. So I have made my pick and will preview 3 matches that I’ll be watching on Saturday. And I dare you – make that double dare you – to leave your own predictions in the comments.

Argentina vs Venezuela (Buenos Aires)- A new era beckons!!!!

Maradona

Diego Maradona started with friendly wins over Scotland and France. Which are all well and good… but now it’s time for the real deal. This is El Diego’s first “proper” game in charge – a World Cup qualifier – and also his first game on Argentinean soil.

The albiceleste sit third in the CONMEBOL Word Cup qualifying table. Top four make it, fifth goes to a playoff. So Diego’s team are in a decent position, but after his very public row with Juan Roman Riquelme he needs a performance to convince everyone it’s all good. If this doesn’t go well, questions will be asked.

As for Venezuela? Fifth place isn’t impossible (only three points out) but it doesn’t look all that likely either.

I personally would like to see a big Argentina blowout…A bit of a rout over Venezuela. It has been a while since Argentina has done that in a qualifier. They need to start scaring opponents again just by having their famous shirt on. I think this might be possible again with Messi. I also think that Messi should be given the #10. It wouldn’t surprise me if he comes out with the #10 shirt on Saturday. Wouldn’t that be something special?

A new era awaits! So guys let’s have it!

Spain vs Turkey ( Madrid) – Is Spain the world’s best side?????

David Villa

Del Bosque has lead Spain to victory in all six games since taking over from Luis Aragones last July – and has kept “La Roja” at the top of the FIFA rankings. Spain has scored an average of 2.5 goals and have not conceded in a home game yet!! They will be without the creative talents of Andres Iniesta, who was injured during Barca’s win over Malaga. David Villa and Xavi also have niggles but they should be fine to play.

The Turkish squad has been in Madrid since Monday, keeping the media at arm’s length. Practically the only thing to be heard from veteran coach Fatih Terim is that “Spain is one of the best teams in the world.” Turkey have played 2 World Cup Qualifying matches away from home. Away from home Turkey have a win and a draw.

This one has all the making of a classic encounter as Turkey can be quiet a handful on their day. But I would go with Spain ( after all they are the Euro champions).

Portugal Vs Sweden (Porto)- Its Do or die ( or dive?????)

Ronaldo

Big game in UEFA World Cup Qualifying this Saturday. Portugal and Sweden are the type of teams that can reasonably expect to qualify for the World Cup, or at least come very very close. But it’s not looking good for either of them in Group 1, where they’re fourth and fifth respectively. All respect to Albania, but you can’t finish below them in a qualifying group and expect a trip to the World Cup.

The two teams meet in Portugal this Saturday (March 28th) and defeat for either would be a disaster. A draw wouldn’t be great either, since surprise group leaders Denmark have an easyish game against Malta (and second place Hungary also play Malta three days later).

Zlatan Ibrahimovic is suspended for Sweden, but his replacement will be a 37 year old Henrik Larsson. And the formerly dreadlocked striker must have one eye on a managerial career, because he’s already started with the mind games.

“I intend speaking with the referee before the match to warn him about Ronaldo diving,” Larsson told the Daily Mail.

“We must be careful, as a team, not to get caught out by that, but so must the referee. I will be having a word with him and telling him to keep an eye out for it.”

Larsson has seen Ronaldo up close and personal while on loan at Man Utd in 2007, but that was 2007. It’s now 2009, and even the harshest C-Ron critics will have to admit that his diving has improved.!!!!!

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