Bold Predictions for World Football for Weekend of September 5-7
We’re into the thick of September’s international programme, what with a handful of friendlies and Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers already in the books from midweek and more to come over the next few days.
Of course, not every domestic league follows the FIFA calendar, and as a result there will still be top-flight matches in Brazil and the United States over the weekend.
In other words, we have plenty of material on which to prognosticate, which is exactly what we’ll do over the next few slides.
Following are some bold predictions for the weekend of September 5-7.
10. Albania Will Give Portugal a Scare
Portugal will be without the sidelined Cristiano Ronaldo when they raise the curtain on their Euro 2016 qualification campaign on Sunday, and, as a result, what should be a straightforward match against Albania could end up being a close run thing.
Portugal struggled mightily for offense at the 2014 World Cup, and with Albania lining up to defend they could find themselves with precious few goalscoring opportunities.
It’s noteworthy that the last time Portugal hosted Albania the match ended in a scoreless draw.
9. Romania Will Enact a Measure of Revenge on Greece
Last November, Greece and Romania went head-to-head over two legs for a place in the 2014 World Cup.
Greece prevailed 4-2 on aggregate thanks to a 3-1 win at home.
Sunday’s rematch will see Romania return to Athens, and they’ll enact a measure of revenge for their World Cup exit with a win over the 2004 European champions.
8. New York Red Bulls Will Beat Sporting Kansas City in Their Playoff Push
There was nothing to separate New York Red Bulls and Sporting Kansas City when they last met in May and played to a 1-1 draw.
New York, however, are easily the form side at the moment and go into Sunday’s showdown in Harrison, New Jersey on the back of wins in the CONCACAF Champions League against Santenacos and in Major League Soccer against Montreal Impact.
Thierry Henry and Bradley Wright-Phillips are both in great form and should provide enough offense to see off a Sporting outfit that are winless in their last four outings.
If results go their way, New York could find themselves in a playoff spot by Sunday night.
7. Scotland Will Keep to Within a Goal of Germany
Scotland will never have a better chance to get a result against Germany.
On Wednesday against Argentina, Germany looked decidedly behind the pace and uninspired—an understandable by-product of a World Cup hangover.
Scotland, meanwhile, are unbeaten in their last five matches and have kept clean sheets in four of those.
They’ll keep things close in Dortmund on Sunday.
6. Nicklas Bendtner Will Score for Denmark vs. Armenia
Everybody’s favourite striker will get his name on the scoresheet on Sunday.
Denmark’s Euro 2016 qualification campaign will begin with a home match against Armenia, and Nicklas Bendtner, who has 24 international goals from 59 appearances, will score in a win for the Danes.
Bendtner moved to Wolfsburg last month after being cut loose by Arsenal.
5. Alexandre Pato Will Continue His Goal-Scoring Form for Sao Paulo
Don’t look now, but enigmatic Sao Paulo striker Alexandre Pato could be entering a purple patch of form, albeit a modest one.
After finding the back of the net in recent matches against Palmeiras and Santos, Pato will tally once again on Sunday in what should be a straightforward win for his Sao Paulo side against Sport.
4. Mexico Will Topple Chile in California
Both Mexico and Chile progressed to the round of 16 of the 2014 World Cup, and on Saturday they’ll face one another in Santa Clara, California.
This is friendly territory for Mexico, who often contest international matches in the southern United States.
They’ve also won two of their last three matches against Chile and should make it three of four at Levi’s Stadium.
3. Ireland Will Only Draw in Georgia
Tbilisi is a difficult place to pick up points on the best of days, and Georgia have a history of playing well against teams that should beat them comfortably.
The Republic of Ireland are coming off a 2-0 win over Oman, but the victory was their first in five matches.
Call it a sleeper pick, but Georgia should pick up at least a draw against their more high-profile opponents on Sunday.
2. Neymar Will Return to Goalscoring Form Against Colombia
The last time we saw Neymar representing Brazil, he was being carried off the pitch after taking a knee to the back by Colombia’s Juan Zuniga.
Brazil and Colombia will renew hostilities barely two months after that World Cup quarterfinal when they face one another on Friday in Miami.
Neymar, who on Thursday was named Selecao captain for the match by newly-appointed manager Dunga, will continue his march up his country’s goalscoring chart by finding the back of the net against Los Cafeteros.
1. FIFA’s Audit of Voting Processes Won’t Turn Up Anything Meaningful
On Friday, FIFA ethics committee investigator Michael Garcia submitted his 350-page audit of the 2018 and 2022 World Cup voting processes, as per The Guardian.
It is now up to the committee’s adjudicatory chamber to evaluate the document and decide if there was, in fact, any wrongdoing in either of the votes.
Here’s guessing they’ll turn up nothing meaningful.
FIFA, after all, aren’t exactly in the business of losing face over their own processes, especially with regards to their signature competition.
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