Friday, April 15, 2011

Looking Forward to the Weekend, Weekend

This weekend, there will be a few matches in both La Liga and the Premier League that are sure to entertain. Now, I don't normally cover La Liga, but El Clasico is certainly a great occasion to do so. Let's preview some of these matches, shall we?

Real Madrid v. Barcelona (La Liga): The clash of the Spanish titans. Last time Los Galacticos met the Blaugrana at the Camp Nou, Barcelona completed dominated Jose Mourinho's side with their tiki-taka style of play. However, with this match being at the Bernabeu, things could be a little different. With Barca being 8 points ahead of Real, this could be a pivotal match in the title-race. A win for Barcelona, and they have basically won the league. Unless of course, they have a terrible slump in form. But c'mon, it's Barca. But, a win for Real, and they're only 5 points behind. If that happens, all it takes is a Barca draw or two for Real to be firmly back in it. This will be the first of four matches that these two will play in a matter of 18 days, with the other matches being the Copa Del Rey final and the Champions' League semi-finals. My prediction? A 3-3 draw. I don't think Barca will be able to overcome the atmosphere of the Bernabeu. Heck, they let Arsenal come back at the Emirates. And yes, I did just take that as an opportunity to brag. This game will kick-off at 3 p.m. Central US time on Saturday.

Manchester City v. Manchester United (FA Cup Semi-Final): Anyone remember the gem of a goal above? Of course you do. It's most likely going to be the Premier League goal of the year. And, it was also the winner for the Red Devils the last time they met the Citizens. Did I also mention that Rooney isn't going to be playing. That's right, his ban will keep him out of this match. But, it isn't all bad news for United. City's main man, captain, and goalscorer Carlos Tevez will be out with a hamstring injury. That leaves either Mario Balotelli to start or Edin Dzeko. Balotelli's a little baby and Dzeko's still adjusting to the British style of play. So it looks like a tough choice for Mancini. I just hope that Roberto Mancini doesn't put a defensive-minded squad onto the field, which would ruin what I'm anticipating to be a fantastic match. Hopefully, Mancini will play around with his squad and play both of his center forwards. They'll be looking for a positive result, following their 3-0 defeat at the hands of the rejuvenated Liverpool, who will be facing Arsenal on Sunday. I honestly can't make a prediction for this one. After all, anything can happen in cup matches. This match will kick-off at 11:15 Central US time.

Arsenal v. Liverpool (Premier League): Finally, the third, and final of this weekend's "Clashes of the Giants". With both teams slightly ravaged with injuries, this could be closer than most expect it to be. The players out for Arsenal: defenders Bacary Sagna, Johann Djourou (most likely). But, with Emanuel Eboue having a fantastic match against Blackpool, his presence will be welcomed. What I'm fearing is a Squillaci-Koscielny backline for Arsenal. "Squicielny" as they're affectionately known by the Gooner faithful aren't exactly the best back line in the League. In fact, together, they're pretty terrible. This could be a huge disadvantage for Arsenal, with Luis Suarez and Andy Carroll firing on all cylinders for the Reds. It's kind of a scary situation. But, Liverpool's midfield, atleast in my opinion, pales in comparison to Arsenal's. With Steven Gerrard being out, Lucas, Jay Spearing, and Raul Meireles pitted against the likes of Samir Nasri, Cesc Fabregas, and Jack Wilshere. However, under "King" Kenny Dalglish, the Reds have beaten both Manchester sides by the score of 3-0. But then again, those were home games. Arsenal have looked a bit weak at home lately, but this will be an amazingly crucial game for the Gunners. If they win, they're back in the title race, being only 3 points behind Manchester United. I predict a 3-1 win for Arsenal. I think that the squad will realize that this is the pivotal point of the season, and they'll play their hearts out.

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