Soccer – Arsenal vs. Leicester City

Arsenal vs Leicester CityThis is the opening weekend of Premier League soccer. The Foxes are opening up the season against Arsenal at the Emirates. Fireworks are expected to fly in this first Premier League match of the season. This English Premier League duel will go down Friday, August 11, 2017, at 2:45 p.m. ET at Emirates Stadium. The match will be broadcast on NBC Sports Network.

Arsenal and Leicester City are two of the more offense oriented teams of the season in England. Seeing these two teams going against each other to kick off the season should make for some entertaining soccer. The Gunners have to be the favorites of this match, merely because they’re Arsenal. This is a big, strong Arsenal team in the midfield and at the back, and we just aren’t sure the speedy, finesse game that Leicester City is bringing to the table is going to play in North London on Friday night.

Women’s Soccer – United States vs. New Zealand

United States vs New ZealandUnited States Women’s National Team will face off against New Zealand for RIO Olympics 2016 on Wednesday

The United States Women’s National Team will be playing against New Zealand on Wednesday night in their first match for the Summer Olympics. The USWNT has looked sharp this season, sweeping through the World Cup with relative ease. The United States is the big favorite in this fixture. The match between the United States and New Zealand will take place on Wednesday, August 3, 2016, at 3:00 p.m. ET at the Estadio Governador Magalhaes Pinto in Belo Horizonte. The fixture will be broadcast on NBC Sports Network.

New Zealand will be a longshot to score a goal in this fixture. The team has two wins this year. They have one win on the road over Portugal and one win against Papua New Guinea. The the Football Ferns did put up good fights in a 1-0 loss to Brazil and a 1-1 draw in Melbourne against Australia. The one New Zealand woman to watch out for will be Hannah Wilkinson. She is 24 years young and has 23 goals in 74 soccer games for her country. She did go to college at the University of Tennessee, so many of the Americans are familiar playing against her.

The United States Women’s National Team has been in good form and is 14-1-0 so far this year. Also, the USWNT has posted shutouts in five of its last six matches and 13 of the 15 in 2016. Thus far, the US women have outscored their opponents by a 23-0 margin. Head coach Jill Ellis will be playing Hope Solo in the pipes as usual. Also, forwards Alex Morgan and Carli Lloyd will be the attacking options for the team. Christen Press will likely start up front alongside Morgan, while Tobin Heath will join Lloyd, Rapinoe and likely Lindsey Horan in the midfield. Becky Sauerbrunn, Ali Krieger and Kelley O’Hara will be three of the four defenders, though the fourth choice for Ellis will be interesting between Julie Johnston and Meghan Klingenberg. Top Sports Blog thinks that the Americans will use defensive tactics and overwhelm the New Zealand team. We don’t see New Zealand scoring a goal in this fixture.

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Women’s Soccer – United States vs. Costa Rica

United States Women’s National Team vs Costa RicaUnited States Women’s National Team prepares for Olympics against Costa Rica on Friday at Sporting Park

The United States Women’s National Team will be playing their last tune-up match against Costa Rica before heading out to Brazil for the Summer Olympics. The USWNT has looked sharp this season and has defeated Colombia, Japan, and South Africa so far. The US women are heavy favorites to win this soccer match against Costa Rica. The fixture between United States and Costa Rica is scheduled to start on Friday, July 22, 2016, at 9:00 p.m. ET at Sporting Park in Kansas City, KS. The matchup will be televised on ESPN.

The Costa Rica women’s national football team will have Dinnia Diaz defending the goal against the USWNT.  Her performance will be the most crucial part of the game for the Ticas. Diaz was solid in net for Costa Rica during the Women’s World Cup last year.  There was 55 shots and 24 shots in goals, but she only allowed four to get past her.

The United States Women’s National Team have outscored their opponents 21-3 this season. Japan was soccer team that scored all 3 goals. The USWNT has dominated CONCACAF and should not have much trouble against Costa Rica. The USWNT striker Alex Morgan has not put up the numbers she usually does for her NWSL club. She has two goals in 10 games this season. Morgan has played four games with the USWNT this year.  She has four goals and an assist in those games, including three goals in two games against Japan. Goalkeeper Hope Solo should have no problem in defending her goal as the USWNT continually finds the back of the Ticas net. Top Sports Blog thinks head coach for USWNT, Jill Ellis won’t look to run up the score. This could be a subdued affair with the side just wanting to avoid injury and get a win before heading off to Brazil.

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Montreal Impact vs. New York City FC

New York City FC+Montreal ImpactNew York City FC are in search of a victory against Montreal Impact at Saputo Stadium on Sunday

The New York City FC and the Montreal Impact are both  threatening to win the Eastern Conference regular season title. The combination of both of these teams are averaging over three goals per game. The Montreal Impact should be favored in this fixture because they’re at home and are near the top of the chart. The fixture between the Montreal Impact and New York City FC is scheduled to start on Sunday, July 17, 2016 at 5:00 p.m. ET, at Saputo Stadium. This matchup will be broadcast on ESPN.

The Montreal Impact have been in good form as of late and have gone five straight matches without a loss. The last time the Impact were beaten at home was back in April.  However, this year the Impact are only 4-3-1 at home. Midfielder Marco Donadel is out for now, but should be back at some point in the future from his ankle injury. Also, it is questionable if forward Didier Drogba will be back in full form from a thigh injury. There are some concerns at the back for Montreal. The goalkeeper Evan Bush hasn’t been good in the net this season. Montreal also has problems on finding center backs to help him out.

The New York City FC are in great form and has been a bib surprise this season. The City has a great 5-1-3 record on the road. Last weekend, the City did loose a match on the road to Sporting Kansas City by a score of 3-1. The City has had a lot of success this season due to a relatively healthy lineup. The City are without midfielder Connor Brandt and forward Steven Mendoza, both who have long-term injury problems. Top Sports Blog doesn’t like the vulnerability which the Impact have shown. We think that City has a great chance to win this match on the road against a top contender in the East.

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Women’s Soccer – United States vs. South Africa

United States forward Abby Wambach (20) runs down a  ball in the box against Colombia defender Angela Clavijo (13) United States prepares for Olympics in a game against South Africa on Saturday at Soldier Field

The United States Women’s National Team are going to be the huge favorites against South Africa this Saturday afternoon at Soldier field. The USWNT has only two matches left before they compete at the Olympics in Rio. The South Africa women’s national football team isn’t used to competing at this sort of level in women’s soccer quite yet. The Americans have only given up goals in two matches out of 13 this year. The fixture between the United States and South Africa is scheduled to take place on Saturday, July 9, 2016 at 1:00 p.m. ET at Soldier Field . The matchup will be broadcast on FOX Sports 1.

The South Africa team is going to have problems in producing attempts at goal. The USWNT goalkeeper Hope Solo rarely lets a kick get past her into the back of the net, and rarely needs to make much of a save either. The South African forward Portia Modise does have 114 Caps in her career. Aside from that, the South African team just doesn’t have any experience whatsoever.  The South African team hasn’t challenged itself against any of the top competitors in the world in recent years. The entire team plays at home in a weak South African league, and their captain, Janine Van Wyk will be trying to keep things together at the back.

The USWNT head coach Jill Ellis has put together a lineup that has a familiar look to it. Defender Becky Sauerbrun will captain of the team for this match. Midfielder Carli Lloyd is potentially out due to a MCL injury. Heather O’Reilly, Tobin Heath, Alex Morgan, Christen Press and Ali Krieger will all surely be in the side, while Meghan Klingenberg and Kelley O’Hara are likely going to be starting at the back.  Top Sports Blog believes the Americans are one of the best in the world and would’t expect anything but a win against South Africa. This should just be another successful tune-up for the United States on the road to the Olympics.

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Germany vs. Italy in Euro 2016

Germany+Italy+Euro+2016Germany to play Italy in Euro 2016 quarterfinal

The Germany national football team is the top team at Euro 2016 and the World Cup holder. They are also the huge favorites in this match.  The Italy national football team is picking up some steam in this competition. The Italians beat Belgium and Spain, but the task isn’t getting any easier in the quarterfinals against Germany. The fixture between Germany and Italy is scheduled to start on Saturday, July 2, 2016 at 3:00 p.m. ET. This matchup from the Nouveau Stade de Bordeauxin Bordeaux will be broadcast on ESPN.

Italy, comonly known as  Azzurri, were the better team against Spain for the full 90 minutes. Azzurri did suffer a 1-0 loss to Ireland, but the match was meant nothing to Italy so we consider that result rather harmless. There is plenty of offensive talent on both of these teams, but its the defense that deserves a lot of credit. Italy has only allowed just that one goal to Ireland in this tournament.

Germany looked to be in good form against Slovakia in the Round of 16. The German defender Jerome Boateng opened up the scoring in the 8th minute against the Slovaks. The Germans continued to score in the 43th and 63rd minutes for a 3-0 victory. The only stumble for the Germans was a scoreless draw against Poland. Germany has yet to give up  a goal at Euro 2016. Top Sports Blog thinks the matchup will end up being rather cautious. If German goalkeeper Manuel Neuer and Italian goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon are in good form, then neither team may find the back of the net. There isn’t a lot that separates these teams at this point and the match could end up a draw at the end of 120 minutes.

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England vs. Wales in Euro 2016

England vs. WalesEngland meet Wales in Lens for Group B clash on Thursday

England and Wales are two Group B rivals that will face off on Thursday after two contrasting opening games. Few fixtures between these two will be as important as this one coming up on Thursday morning. England is favored and needs all three points after only drawing against Russia on Saturday. Wales has a slight chance to get the three points which could win them this group if Russia and Slovakia draw in a match played on Wednesday. The matchup between England and Wales will take place on Thursday, June 16, 2016, at 9:00 a.m. ET at the Stade Bollaert-Delelis in Lens, France. The fixture will be broadcast on ESPN.

Wales had a good match in its’ 2-1 win over Slovakia in the opening match in Group B. The Dragons midfielder Gareth Bale who scored a goal in the 10th minute, was the man of the match for sure but he wasn’t alone. The Welsh team were moving the ball up and down the pitch very well. The great defensive play in the dying moments of the match had something to do with the 2-1 victory also. Goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey has a back problem and Danny Ward had to replace him at the last moment. Goalkeeper Danny Ward has never started for the Dragons until now. Ward did pretty good in dealing with what came his way. He allowed one goal to Slovakia, didn’t make any big errors and made one save.

England needs to score early in this match and put this one away.  The Three Lions were in good form heading into Euro 2016. Top Sports Blog thinks if England gets back on track they will finish the job they started and couldn’t complete against Russia. If the Three Lions can find a way to score early that could put doubt into the minds of the Welsh team which has had problems against England over the years.

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United States vs. Paraguay in Copa America

Paraguay+v+United+StatesUnited States vs. Paraguay – Saturday night in the Copa America at Lincoln Financial Field

The United States Men’s National Team head coach Jurgen Klinsmann used the same Starting XI he used in the opening Copa America match. This team was beaten by Colombia soundly, however they just blitzed Costa Rica with a 4-0 win. Qualification for the last eight of the tournament seems like a given now. They will have to make a point or better against Paraguay on Saturday to finish the job. What’s forgotten is  a win for the Paraguay team will send then into the last eight instead of the United States. Paraguay knows it needs to go for the win, and that’s why a draw is a very unlikely result between these two teams. The USMNT are the favorites to win this match. The match between the United States and Paraguay will take place on Saturday, June 11, 2016, at 7:00 p.m. ET at Lincoln Financial Field. The fixture will be broadcast on FOX Sports 1.

The USMNT played their best match under head coach Jurgen Klinsmann on Tuesday night with a spectacular 4-0 win. Clint Dempsey who is a forward and captain of the team was in good form that night. Midfielder Jermaine Jones scored his first goal in two years for the USMNT. Also, forward Bobby Wood scored a gorgeous goal to put the men’s national team up 3-0 just before halftime. Top Sports Blog believes if the Americans have repeat performance, they’ll surely be into the last eight. However, we still see problems in the midfield and at the back which could get the USMNT eliminated from this tournament. We’ve already seen the Americans get themselves in trouble off of corners and free kicks in this tournament.

Paraguay was really hurt in its hopes of advancing after losing to Colombia, 2-1. Paraguay played well for much of the match, but midfielder Víctor Ayala scored their lone goal. Paraguay isn’t going to score many goals and not having the suspended Oscar Romero won’t help their cause. However, Romero’s likely replacement, forward Nelson Valdez of the Seattle Sounders, can be tremendously dangerous. It’s often up to 38-year-old goalkeeper Justo Villar to keep the team in games. Paraguay’s top goal scorer, forward Roque Santa Cruz, is 34 and will no doubt struggle with a schedule that has Paraguay making two cross-country trips in one week. Opportunities for Paraguay to strike will be there if the Americans don’t play disciplined ball for the full 90 in this one.

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England vs. Russia – Euro 2016 Finals

England vs RussiaEngland open up their Euro 2016 against Russia

England will face Russia in their Euro 2016 Group B opener. England has played well over the course of the last year and a half. Expectations are high and they have to be odds-on favorites in this match. Russia does have the ability to come from behind  if England fails to put this match away.  The match between England and Russia will take place on Saturday, June 11, 2016, at 3:00 p.m. ET at the Stade Velodrome in Marseille. The fixture will be broadcast on ESPN.

The Russians underwhelmed in their first six matches of qualifying going W2-D2-L2 and looked in serious danger of missing out on a play-off spot. Their form has improved dramatically since the sacking of Fabio Capello in favor of CSKA Moscow boss, Leonid Slutsky, last August. Russia won each of their last four group games by an aggregate of 12-1 under Slutsky.  This allowed them to secure automatic qualification to the Euro finals behind Austria and ahead of Sweden. Russia does have forwrd Aleksandr Kokorinwho has scored at least one goal for his team in three straight matches. Kokorin now has 13 goals in 40 matches in his career, and he’s the man who can bust this game open.

England comes into this tournament high on confidence. England were the only team to have progressed into the Euro 2016 Finals with a 10 for 10 winning record in qualifying. The Three Lions have not lost over 90 or 120 minutes in 22 Euro fixtures. Since then, England’s Euro record is W17-D5 in regulation-time and they have reached two quarter-finals and a semi-final through their last four appearances in the tournament finals.

Top Sports Blog is concerned that England’s defense hasn’t always been top notch in these international tournaments. The Brits have allowed eight goals in their last seven matches.  It only takes one moment of lapse at the back to spring Kokorin, a man who is one of the deadliest strikers in the tournament. We think England will win this one.  However, the fact that Russia have scored in each of their last 10 consecutive fixtures leading into the competition indicates that Hodgson’s side’s vulnerable looking defense may be breached in the process. One miscommunication at the back for England, and this goes from three points for England to just one.

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United States host Colombia in Copa America

USMNT vs ColombiaUnited States vs. Colombia – Kick Off Copa America in Santa Clara

The Copa America Centenario begins on Friday in Santa Clara with Group A action. The hosts, USA, will face off against Colombia. The United States played well in the lead-in matches to Copa America, but this is a much different challenge than matches against Ecuador, Bolivia and Puerto Rico. Colombia is the world’s No. 4 ranked team for a reason. Los Cafeteros have one of the best sides in the world, and they have a real chance to win Copa America. The match between United States and Colombia will take place on Friday, June 3, 2016, at 9:30 p.m. ET at Levi’s Stadium. The fixture will be broadcast on FOX Sports 1.

The United States men’s national soccer team comes into the tournament with a five-game winning streak. The USMNT will be counting on forward Clint Dempsey to have a big performance. The 33-year-old scored 10 goals for his country last season. His teammate forward Jozy Altidore is out with a hamstring injury so the USMNT is counting on Dempsey for a stellar performance.

Colombia has won all three games they’ve played in 2016.  Colombia actually has comparable matches to the United States at this point. While the U.S. was playing against Bolivia and Ecuador in friendlies in May, Colombia faced off with both in March in World Cup qualifying. The final scores might not have been as impressive, but Los Cafeteros still took both of them with 3-2 and 3-1 results  respectively. Colombia is counting on their star  midfielder James Rodriguez, who is coming off a Champions League win with Real Madrid. Rodriguez didn’t perform as well as expected for his club, so Colombia is hoping Rodriquez will replicate his 2014 World Cup performance. If he can, Colombia has the ability to win the entire tournament.

The United States and Colombia have met four times since 2005. Columbia won two games, and the teams drawing once. They also met in the 2007 Copa America group stage, where Colombia won 1-0. Their last meeting was in a 2014 friendly and resulted in a 2-1 win for Colombia. Top Sports Blog thinks the best case result here for the United States is a draw, however we suspect Colombia will get the job done.

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