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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Soccer – United States Women vs. Japan

United States Womens National Team vs Japan United States WNT headed to Denver for friendly games against Japan

The United States Women’s National Team are playing a very competitive Japan in a pair of matches.  The United States women are going to be busy first in Denver, then in Cleveland. The USWNT beat Japan women’s national football team to win the 2015 World Cup. the American women are favorites in this fixture, but aren’t necessarily the better team by a massive margin. The game between the United States and Japan is scheduled for 9:00 p.m. ET on Thursday, June 2, 2016 at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park. The fixture will be televised on FOX Sports 1.

Japan women’s national football team has disappointing of late.  Japan really struggled in Olympics qualifying, losing to Australia and China while drawing against South Korea. They didn’t qualify for the Olympics, but this Japanese team is quite good. Japan have veterans midfielder Mizuho Sakaguchi and striker Yuki Ogimi both having scored against the United States in past games. Ogimi is quite dangerous up front with 57 goals in 130 fixtures for her country. The Japanese defensive team has a lot of experience with four players that have at least 70 Caps. If the Japanese are lacking somewhere, it’s in the goalkeeper position. Last year in the World Cup Final, goalkeeper Ayumi Kaihori allowed five to get past her.  She’s not guaranteed to play in this match, however there isn’t a goalkeeper for Japan with more than 20 matches of experience.

The United States Women’s National Team is having a great year so far. They’re 11-0-0 and have conceded exactly one goal in those matches. They just ripped through Colombia by an aggregate of 10-0 in two matches in April. The USWNT should have a great team once again for this fixture. The USMNT defender Becky Sauerbrunn has turned out to be a good captain for this team. Midfielder Heather O’Reilly has a lot of experience and will be playing in her 230th career game in an American uniform on Thursday night. Forward Alex Morgan is up front as well, though the hole here could be to her opposite side.  Rodriguez and Leroux are not playing due to pregnancies so forwards Christen Press has stepped in along with Crystal Dunn. The chemistry for these players isn’t quite there yet, but they are very talented and should work it out.

Top Sports Blog noticed even though Japan has been disappointing, the Americans have a lot of really close wins against the elite teams in the world of late. In the SheBelieves Cup in March, the USWNT three wins against England, France and Germany were by a single goal. Japan has a way of breaking down this American defense which most haven’t seen in recent years. We do think Japan will not win, but will manage to get one goal in this first of two matches.

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Soccer – United States vs. Bolivia

United States v BoliviaUnited States’ final chance to tune up for the Copa America Centenario on Saturday’s friendly against Bolivia

The United States Men’s National Team win against Ecuador on Wednesday night showed that they really have a shot of competing in Copa America Centenario. The match could have ended in a draw if not for Darlington Nagbe’s late show. The USMNT had a sound defensive performance and suggests that they might finally have their act together. The midfielder newcomers, Darlington Nagbe and Christian Pulisic left a good impression in the 1-0 win against Ecuador. The the U.S. as a small odds favorite against a weaker Bolivia side. The game between the United States and Bolivia is scheduled to take place on Saturday, May 28, 2016, at 8:00 p.m. at Children’s Mercy Park. The fixture will be televised on FOX Sports 1.

The U.S. Men’s National Team has finally put together a sound defensive match for a full 90 minutes against a legitimate foe. There was no question that defender DeAndre Yedlin at right back was always in form. The questions were about the rest of these players on the back line for years. They now have five clean sheets in seven matches for the Americans.  The United States are at home and Top Sports Blog believes it would be tough to pick against the United States in this match. Head coach Klinsmann still has some injury concerns to worry about. Defender Geoff Cameron is still out with a hamstring injury. He is on the 23-man roster for Copa America and there could be problems at the left back spot if he doesn’t get better. Klinsmann is still searching for the exact right pairing up front with forward Jozy Altidore not fit enough to play in Copa America.

Bolivia has a weak team at this point and the results in World Cup qualifying are showing just that. The Bolivians have lost three straight matches and eight of their last nine. Their only victory since Copa America last year came against Venezuela in La Paz. The team has allowed at least two goals in 10 straight games. We suspect we’ll see more goals on Saturday than we saw on Wednesday against Ecuador.

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Soccer – United States vs. Ecuador

jozy-altidore-usmnt-ecuador-friendlyU.S. MNT VS. ECUADOR at Toyota Stadium

U.S. Men’s National Team head coach Jurgen Klinsmann has added FC Dallas defender Kellyn Acosta to the roster for the USA’s friendly against Ecuador on May 25 in Frisco, Texas. USMNT are sure to be the favorites in this match, but this is going to be a much tougher match than the 3-1 victory over Puerto Rico last weekend. The roster which the United States used in Puerto Rico looked nothing like the Copa America roster. The Starting selection by Klinsmann will look a lot like the roster which he’ll want to use in Copa America next week. The game between United States and Ecuador is scheduled to take place at 8:00 p.m. ET on Wednesday, May 25, 2016 at Toyota Stadium. The fixture will be televised on ESPN2.

Top Sports Blog believes the USMNT  is not looking in good form as of late and could be in a lot of trouble here.  USMNT defender John Brooks has played at the back both in the Stars and Stripes and for his club Hertha Berlin in the Bundesliga.  Klinsmann just doesn’t have an answer right now in defense, and we aren’t sure he’s going to find one for Copa America next week. Forward Bobby Wood played well against Puerto Rico, and he might in a starting position for the Copa America roster. Forward Jozy Altidore is out battling a hamstring injury.

It has been a tough year for Ecuador and they are trying to use this match to get its problems up front corrected. Jaime Ayovi, Enner Valencia and Fidel Martinez are all potential options up front, and these men and midfielders Jefferson Montero and Antonio Valencia will be playing key roles here for La Tri. The team was beaten 3-1 on the road by Colombia in World Cup qualifying a couple months ago, and they also had a draw at home against Paraguay. Prior to that the Ecuadorians had won six straight matches. We expect a high scoring match on Wednesday, and not surprised if Ecuador wins this one.

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Puerto Rico FC vs. USA

usa-puerto-rico-friendlyPuerto Rico FC host United States Men’s National Team for first time in history

The United States Men’s National Team (USMNT) will face Puerto Rico FC for the first time in team history. The match will be the first of three warm-up games for the U.S. heading into the Copa America Centenario in June. The United States Men’s National Team know the importance of these lead-up matches to Copa America, and will try to go all out for the three points. Puerto Rico FC isn’t a particularly deep team.  This first game on the road against Puerto Rico could be somewhat a tricky one for the Americans. The matchup between Puerto Rico and United States is scheduled for 12:00 p.m. ET on Sunday, May 22, 2016 at Juan Ramon Loubriel Stadium. The fixture will be televised on FOX Sports 1.

Puerto Rico FC have only played six matches against fellow countries since the beginning of 2015, and their record is just 2-1-3 in those games they have not come up against a team anywhere near as good as the USMNT.  The Puerto Rican team’s only big threat for the Americans to worry about is the up and coming star midfielder Joseph Marrero.

The USMNT head coach Jürgen Klinsmann knows this is a really important match knowing that the U.S. hasn’t won an away match since last June against Germany.  The U.S. had a draw with Trinidad & Tobago and lost to Guatemala, in which they didn’t score a goal in either match. Top Sports Blog thinks Klinsmann is going to be looking for the time of possession to be quite high for his team in this match. We think this will give his different players a good chance to score. Since this fixture is going to be on the road for the USMNT we think the score will not be that big for the Americans, however a comfortable win will be the final result.

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Manchester United FC vs Crystal Palace FC – FA Cup final

Crystal-Palace-vs-Manchester-UnitedManchester United FC vs Crystal Palace FC in FA Cup final this Saturday

Now the Premier League season is over, all Manchester United and Crystal Palace eyes will be on Wembley Stadium and the FA Cup final this Saturday. Crystal Palace has taken a relatively tough road to reach the FA Cup final. It started in the third round at Southampton and then the Eagles disposed of Stoke City at home and Tottenham away before beating Reading away in the quarterfinals and Watford at Wembley Stadium in the semi finals. Manchester United road to the FA Cup final was less complicated. The Red Devils faced just two Premier League teams, Everton and West Ham in the semis and quarters respectively, Before that, they had to beat Shrewsbury Town, Derby County and Sheffield United. The match between Manchester United and Crystal Palace will take place on Saturday, May 21, 2016, at 12:30 p.m. ET at Wembley Stadium. The fixture will be broadcast on FOX.

Chrystal Palace may not have the horses it needs for the final. The big question for the Eagles is whether midfielders Wilfried Zaha and Joe Ledley will be available for the final. They’re both out with leg injuries right now and missed out on the last day of the Premier League season. We already know Chrystal Palace will be without forward Marouane Chamakh which is a huge loss up front. The Eagles three defenders, Scott Dann, Damien Delaney and Papa Sourae haven’t been great in big matches when it’s mattered most. Top Sports Blog gives the edge in this match to Manchester United which looks to be in good form up front. The Red Devils forward Wayne Rooney has been here before and scored goals on the highest level. Forward Anthony Martial is playing at the peak of his career and seeking a spot on the French national team for Euro 2016. Forward Marcus Rashford could prove to be a very good sub as well, and Juan Mata is playing at a high level as an attacking midfielder.

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Southampton FC vs. Crystal Palace FC

southampton-fc vs crystal-palace-fcSouthampton FC will try for Europa League berth for next season as they face Crystal Palace FC

Crystal Palace has enough points to secure a spot in the EPL next season. The Eagles did that last week with their Stoke City match.  Crystal Palace does have another important game next weekend against Manchester United for their FA Cup Final match. If the Eagles win the match against Manchester United, they’ll be playing in European soccer next year. Southampton is having its’ best season ever and is looking to return to the Europa League next season. The Saints have already tied last season’s record of 60 points in the top flight, and it really should better that on the last day of the campaign against Crystal Palace with a shot at European soccer looming. In order to do that, the Saints have to finish at least seventh.  Also, Manchester United would have to beat Crystal Palace next week to open up that seventh slot in the Europa League. To remove all doubt, the Saints will need a win on the last day of the year coupled with a loss by either Manchester United or West Ham. That would move them into sixth spot and would be good enough. The matchup between Southampton and Crystal Palace is scheduled to take place at 10:00 a.m. ET on Sunday, May 15, 2016 at St. Mary’s Stadium.

Southampton has been magical down the stretch and it would be disappointing for the team to fail now. It’s not for sure that striker Graziano Pelle, midfielder Sadio Mane and forward Shane Long, all with 10 goals each this season in the EPL will get to the Europa League again next season. The Saints have been in great form as of late, and Top Sports Blog can’t see them loosing this match to the Eagles.

Crystal Palace won against Stoke last week to move away from being dropped. The Eagles manager Alan Pardew has admitted that his team is more concerned with the FA Cup. The Eagles at this point can only finish as high as 12th  and at worst in 16th place.

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