10 Bold Predictions for World Football, Weekend of August 15-17
There’s plenty of football to go around this weekend, what with the start of both the Premier League and Primeira Liga and countless other matches of significance throughout Europe and South America.
The approaching transfer deadline also means the rumour mill is working overtime, and a sudden resignation has left one English club reeling at a crucial moment.
It’s a lot of meat to chew, but that’s what’s great about this time of year.
Over the next few slides, we’ll highlight some of the various storylines and matches you’ll no doubt be hearing more about in the next few days, and, for better or worse, we’ll offer our thoughts and predictions.
If you disagree (and here’s guessing you might), feel free to voice your opinion in the forum below.
Let’s get to it.
Porto Will Win Their First League Match En Route to the Title
FC Porto were well off the pace last season, finishing 13 points behind Primeira Liga champions Benfica.
They’ll get their 2014-15 campaign underway on Friday at home to Maritimo, and a victory will be the first step toward regaining the title.
Despite losing a handful of players during the summer, including Eliaquim Mangala, they’ve managed to keep the cupboard stocked and have more than enough talent to lift the trophy in the spring.
San Lorenzo Will Suffer a Copa Libertadores Hangover
San Lorenzo beat Nacional of Paraguay to win the Copa Libertadores on Wednesday, and on Sunday their attention will turn back to their domestic programme.
Opponents Racing are coming off a 3-1 win away to Justicia and should be able to take advantage of the South American champions' Copa hangover.
Crystal Palace Are in for a Hiding
Tony Pulis has left Crystal Palace in a lurch.
On Thursday, the 56-year-old resigned as club manager—a decision that came just two days before the Eagles’ Premier League opener away to Arsenal.
Writing for The Guardian, Ed Aarons argued that Pulis' strong reputation should not be affected by the sudden departure. He was not so certain about Palace co-chairman Steve Parish, however:
He clearly has the club’s best interests at heart and has developed a reputation as a shrewd negotiator in the transfer market – as shown by the £15m deal to sell Wilfried Zaha to Manchester United in January 2013 which saw the player loaned back until the end of the 2012-13 season.
However, with Palace’s loyal fans left in a state of bemusement by Thursday’s events, it will take some explaining to justify the latest twist in south London’s real-life soap opera.
Given the uncertainty at Palace, they’re likely to be on the wrong side of a lopsided scoreline against a Gunners outfit with serious title ambitions.
Spartak Will Win Their Second Straight Moscow Derby
Spartak Moscow defeated Dynamo Moscow in last weekend’s derby, and on Sunday they should win another local showdown against champions CSKA. This despite a midweek defeat away to Krasnodar.
Artyom Dzyuba has been in terrific form so far this season with a pair of goals from three matches.
Bordeaux Will Spring Ligue 1 Upset
With James Rodriguez off to Real Madrid and Radamel Falcao rumoured to be following him to the Spanish capital, as per Inside Spanish Football's Tom Conn, AS Monaco slumped to a 2-1 defeat in last week’s Ligue 1 opener against Lorient.
The principality side are there for the taking at the moment, and Bordeaux, who are coming off a 1-0 win over Montpellier, will take advantage when they host Les Rouges et Blanc on Sunday.
United Captaincy Will Revitalise Rooney
Wayne Rooney scored 19 goals last term, but his campaign was mostly viewed as a disappointment. Ditto the one before that, when he managed just 16 goals in all competitions.
But after being handed the Manchester United armband ahead of the 2014-15 season, the time has never been better for the England attacker to remind everyone of his worth.
"It is a huge honour and a role I will perform with great pride," Rooney said, per BBC Sport. "I am very grateful to the manager for the faith he has shown in me."
The captaincy will restore the edge to his game that he’s recently been lacking, and he’ll return to previous heights over the next few months.
Diego Costa Will Score in Premier League Debut
Diego Costa helped lead Atletico Madrid to the Primera Division title this past season, and he could be poised to do the same at Chelsea.
The Spain international will make his Premier League debut against Burnley on Monday, and it says here he’ll find the back of the net at Turf Moor.
Bendtner Will Light It Up at Wolfsburg
Nicklas Bendtner spent much of his time at Arsenal being lampooned, but there’s nothing funny about his proposed move to Wolfsburg, as reported by The Guardian.
The Bundesliga side are much improved to begin the upcoming season, and with new surroundings and something to prove, the 26-year-old could be set for a memorable campaign—memorable for all the right reasons.
West Ham Will Take Points off Spurs
West Ham have had a busy summer, acquiring the likes of Mauro Zarate, Carl Jenkinson and Enner Valencia.
It’s yet to be seen how the makeup of the team will be handled by manager Sam Allardyce, but in the short term they might just cause an upset or two.
Look for the Hammers to take a draw from their Premier League opener away to Tottenham on Saturday.
Southampton Will Stun Liverpool
Given the high-profile exits of Luke Shaw, Dejan Lovren, Adam Lallana and Rickie Lambert, more than a few pundits have been quick to sound the alarm bell regarding Southampton’s future as a top-tier side.
But they’ve also brought Fraser Forster, Shane Long, Ryan Bertrand, Dusan Tadic, Saphir Taider and Graziano Pelle into the squad, and everyone will have a point to prove against Liverpool on Sunday.
It was the Reds, after all, who poached three of their players. Look for the Saints to take a draw from Anfield.