’10 to Track’ soccer games for weekend! 2/3-4: post-Deadline Premier League leads the way

“Candy is dandy, but liquor is quicker.”  Globetrotting Friday was sweet.  But now we can get downright bacchanalian on the weekend’s ten most worthwhile matches for us, the newish American fans!

Tip of the day:  Check back to any previous T2T to see the post-match results.

Saturday, 2/3

  1. Arsenal vs. Everton – English Premier League

Noob normally avoids getting in the weeds on specific players.  We are Noob and Noobite, and our focus for newish American fans like us here is teams and leagues.  But —

Trade/Transfer Deadline Day just passed in England, and #6 Arsenal made two big moves.  They picked up offensive superstar Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang from Borussia Dortmund for a massive pile of money.  Noob gathers there was also some question as to whether they would hold onto star Mesut Ōzil.  They did.

6th place is only good for maybe qualifying for Europa League.  They’ve fallen six points behind Noob-reviled Tottenham  Sir Topham Hatt Hotspur for 5th, a slot which would guarantee them that berth.  They’re eight points out of 4th place and a Champions League invite.  Will their new acquisition be enough to get them over the hump?  They should at least be able to keep 9th-place Everton’s weak offense muffled.

RESULT:   Arsenal   5-1

OTOH, some of us don’t want to get over the hump…

B.  Monterrey vs. Leon – Liga MX

In the Apertura half of the 2017-18 season, these two finished #B and #7 respectively.  A few games into the Clausura, they’re in 1st and 8th.  The more things change, the more they stay the same.

RESULT:   Monterrey   5-1

Image result for hip hop letter B

 

 

Old school!   Graffiti font Number B.

  1. FC Porto vs. Braga – Primeira Liga

Portugal’s top league has slipped just enough in the FIFA rankings that they lost a Champions League berth, so now only get two teams in.

Porto is #B right now, but have played one less game than 1st-place Sporting and only trail them by a point.  Defending league champ Benfica are hot on their heels, just two points back.  4th place-Braga will remain such to the end, Europa-bound.

Honorable mention today:  Borussia M’Gladbach vs. RB Leipzig, Sampdoria vs. Torino, Eibar vs. Sevilla, Benfica vs. Rio Ave

RESULT:   Porto   3-1

Sunday, 2/4

  1. Liverpool vs. Tottenham Sir Topham Hatt Hotspur – English Premier League

First Liverpool traded their offensive superstar.  Now at the Deadline they’ve been woefully outbid by a bottom-rung team (West Brom) for their own star defender.

Liverpool is tied in the table for 3rd/4th with Chelsea, and the traitorously-named Hotspur club just two points behind them.  Since it’s the top four that get into Champions League, it may not be unfair to say this is the most interesting and perhaps important match of the year so far.

RESULT:   2-2

Image result for cross Fat Conductor

 

 

Would you be less cross with Noob if I paid compliment on your pocket square?

  1. UNAM Pumas vs. UANL Tigres – Liga MX

UNAM finished last in the Apertura, but look at the Pumas now!  Sure, it’s just four games into the Clausura, but tied for 1st is shiny just the same.  Los Tigres finished 2nd, but are in 6th now, have had a tough defensive start to the second half.

RESULT:   UNAM   2-0

  1. AS Monaco vs. Lyon – Ligue 1

Monaco is in 4th, on the outside looking in for a Champions League berth.  But they’re only a single point behind #B’s Lyon and Marseille.

Lyon just lost 3-1 to Bordeaux, a missed opportunity to create some space for themselves.  But they beat Monaco 2-3 in the Coupe de France just over a week ago.  Noobstradamus knows the limits of his prognosticating power, is staying clear of all this madness.

RESULT:   Monaco   3-2

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Wouldn’t touch this one with a 10-meter baguette.

  1. Atlético Madrid vs. Valencia – La Liga

Atlético is #B and has enough points to feel safe in their Champions League quest, as the top four Spanish clubs get invited.

Valencia is in 3rd, and it’s a good bet that defending league champ Real Madrid will right their ship soon and pass them.  Can Valencia stay clear of Villareal would be the real question.

RESULT:   Atletico   1-0

  1. Club Brugge vs. Sporting Charleroi – Belgium First Division A

The top six teams here make the league championship playoffs.  Club Brugge have all but won the league already.  Will Charleroi be able to hang on to #B and the other bye in the playoffs?  Anderlecht trail them by just a point in the table.

RESULT:   3-3

Image result for hang on funny

 

This is so close to feeling relevant.

And yet so far…

  1. Macabbi Tel Aviv vs. Hapoel Be’er Sheva – Israeli Premier

Same deal in Israel as in Belgium – top six make the league playoffs.  #B hosts league #1.  Can Tel Aviv hold off Beitar Jerusalem for a bye?   They are about identical to Be’er Sheva in record and stats, so should hold serve today at least.

RESULT:   Tel Aviv   1-0

  1. San Lorenzo vs. Boca Juniors – Superliga Argentina

We finish strong, Noobites!  Three in a row where a #B faces off against  numero uno.   They’re not much more than a dozen games into the season there, but Juniors are already starting to get some distance from the field, and their goal differential proves it can last.  Unstoppable offense.

RESULT:   1-1

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Grabber-armed t-rex returns!

 

 

 

 

Honorable Mention matches:   Augsburg vs. Eintracht Frankfurt, Udinese vs. AC Milan, Olympiacos vs. AEK Athens, Plateau United vs. Sunshine Stars

’10 to Track’, weekend edition – hating Hotspur, exalting Amuricuh

Saturday, 1/20

1.  Burnley vs. Manchester United – English Premier League

How are Burnley still in 7th?   They haven’t won a match since 12/12.  Man Utd may be in comfortable shape at #2, but even if they come in relaxed they should house Burnley in front of their own fans.

RESULT:   Man Utd   0-1

Image result for soccer losing funny

 

 

Burnley will try anything to end this skid…

B.  Cruz Azul vs. Leon – Liga MX

Leon is one of only two teams to win their first two Clausura (second half-season) matches.  Cruz Azul is just behind them at 1-1-0.  If Leon can shore up their defense some, they have the offense to stay up in the table.  These two finished 6th and 7th respectively in the Apertura (first half-season).

This game will have America’s attention, as Leon just signed all-time great Landon Donovan out of retirement.

RESULT:   0-0

  1. Coleraine vs. Crusaders – Northern Irish Premier League

Yellowman for everyone!   It’s #2 v #1 and Noob brings the celebratory snacks.   It’s also best defense versus best offense.  Semiprofessional league or not, this is the best matchup today.

RESULT:   3-3    Crusaders had this one in hand 3-1 when they went down to ten men after a red card.

Image result for yellowman food

 

 

Like honeycomb, but more Northern Irish-y

 

 

Sunday, 1/21

Image result for America freedom awesome

 

Freedom survey, Amuricuh–

Hot or horrifying?

RESULT:   5-1    USA      And horrifying.

  1. USA vs. Denmark – women’s international friendly
  2. Santos vs. Morelia – Liga MX

Santos finished way down in the Apertura standings, courtesy of an astonishing nine draws.   They only play 17 matches each half season.

In Noob’s book, the Monarchs of Morelia can stow it.   Mexico has no kings or queens.   You’re a federal republic.  Get it together and make some sense!  But I’m just warming up…

RESULT:   Santos   1-0

  1. Southampton vs. Tottenham Sir Topham Hatt Hotspur – English Premier League

Southampton are just one spot out of the Relegation Zone.   Here’s to hoping they can improve on that, since that would be done by beating loathsome Hotspur!

They should never have made Tottenham namesake Harry “Hotspur” Percy a Knight of the Garter.   He was a traitorous villain and cretinous yahoo to boot.  Scorn!  Bile and vitriol!

RESULT:   1-1

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Dan “the Intern-o Inferno” thinks a chill, roller skating turtle can quell Noob’s rage?

  1. Lyon vs. Paris-Saint Germain – Ligue 1

PSG may have nearly a double-digit lead on the pack, but this match is HYOOJ.

Lyon is in 3rd, in line for France’s last 2018 Champions League berth.  They’re nipping at Marseille’s heels for #2, which would allow them to skip a CL qualifying round and enter right into the Group Stage.  But in turn, underachieving AS Monaco is breathing down their necks.

RESULT:   Lyon   2-1

  1. Inter Milan vs. AS Roma – Serie A

The top two in Italy have all but bronzed their Champions League berths.  These two and Lazio are battling it out for the last two CL spots.

5th place Roma hasn’t shown the offense to move up, but Inter aren’t tons better in that regard.  This may end up a defensive slog, but it will be a highly-competitive one.

RESULT:   1-1

Image result for bronzed Italian

 

Signore grasse italiane abbronzate

What’s Italian for “ewww”.

  1. Antwerp vs. Club Brugge – Belgium First Division A

Brugge already have enough points to qualify for the end-of-season six-team league Championship Playoff.  Antwerp is in 4th, fighting for seeding.  They lead KAA Gent by just two in the table.  Even at home, they’ll be doing well to even earn a draw here.

RESULT:   2-2      Antwerp blew this one.   Brugge got their goals in the last two minutes.

  1. APOEL Nicosia vs. AEK Larnaca – Cypriot First Division

With seven games to go, APOEL has already guaranteed themselves a spot in the postseason league championship playoffs.  But there are three teams not far off their pace, so they’ll be playing hard to maintain #1 seed.

Larnaca is tied for 2nd, and in a dogfight.   APOEL is better on both sides of the ball, but Noob’s still predicting that when all the kicking is done, Larnaca will have that #2 seed.   They have too much offense for their current peers to keep up.

RESULT:   APOEL   3-1

Image result for top gun dogfight quotes

 

Despite Noob’s best efforts, I’m not sure we can count on Anthony Edwards-intervention here.

’10 to Track’ for midweek 1/16-18 — from FA Cup to the intern’s Swede fetish

Time to bear down on the ten most important games to follow, for us, the newish American soccer fans!

Relegation Monday was a rousing success for the underdogs, as three Drop Zone-sides found ways to win.  But now is the time of week for mostly Cup tournament action.

And to see how Noobstradamus, The Management, and Dan “the Intern-o Inferno” are faring in their Prognostication Challenge (*echo* challenge..challenge..)

Tuesday, 1/16

  1. Mansfield Town vs. Cardiff City – English FA Cup

Excellent League Two (fourth tier) Mansfield earned a 0-0 draw in the match in Cardiff.   So now they Replay it, but this time on their own pitch.  Cardiff is a top-notch EFL Championship (second-tier) club.

Fun Fact:  Mansfield’s Town was first “Mansfield Wesleyan”.  The church abandoned the team when they turned professional.

RESULT:   Cardiff   1-4

Image result for god hates soccer

 

 

Thou shalt NOT play for money.

B.  AS Monaco vs. Nice – Ligue 1

Nice isn’t bombing by any means, being in 6th.   But they’re 11 points out of even 4th place and a Europa League berth, so this match is all about Monaco.

The hosts are in second, but lead Lyon by only a single goal on differential, and Marseille by just one point in the table.  Nice can’t score, so Monaco should be fine.  For the moment.

RESULT:   2-2

Image result for French letter BVintage French painted metal marquee sign…

Number B!   

tres chic

  1. Zacatecas vs. Santos – Copa MX

This is the Clausura (“closing”) Copa.  Just as the Mexican season is divided into two halves, so there are two Copas. This is in the Group Stage.  The top two leagues’ teams are divided into Groups of three for a single Round Robin.  Winners of each advance.

Zacatecas is the only second-division team in their Group.  But the got a draw against Toluca in their first match, and Santos isn’t nearly as good.  Noobstradamus is calling this one for the host Miners.

RESULT:   Santos   0-1     Turns out the egg was on Noobstradamus’ face

Image result for noobstradamus

 

Yo pronostico juevos en mis pantalones.

 

Juevos por todas las personas.

  1. Club Brugge vs. Sporting Charleroi – Belgian FA Cup

It’s a shame these two are meeting in the Quarterfinals, given that they’re #1 and #2 in Belgium’s top league.  That said, Brugge will win.   They score half again as many goals as Charleroi, and boast the league’s second-best defense as well.

RESULT:   Brugge   5-1

Wednesday, 1/17

  1. Wigan Athletic vs. AFC Bournemouth – FA Cup

For those who love underdogs, Wigan is your team today.  They’re in 1st place In third-tier League One, kicking tail and taking names.

For Noob, it’s all about the Fighting Cherries.  Bournemouth are my first Adopted team.  They’re coming off a sweet upset of Arsenal a couple days ago.  Here’s to hoping that confidence carries over now.  They tied 2-2 in their first meeting, so this is another Replay.

RESULT:   Wigan   3-0     Sadness reigns!   Noob’s fave goes down

Image result for fighting cherries

 

Fighting cherries.  Right.

  1. Oldham Athletic vs. Leicester Academy – EFL Trophy

A reminder of what this event is:  While FA Cup, has hundreds of teams from many levels of English football, EFL Trophy is a tournament just for the third and fourth-tier leagues, plus the Youth teams of clubs from the top two leagues.

The winner here gets the last Quarterfinal slot.  Oldham play in third-tier League One, and are barely above the Relegation line there.  Noob would have no idea how to handicap them against a U21 squad, so we’ll all learn together, Noobites.

RESULT:   Oldham   4-2

  1. Dorados de Sinaloa vs. Monterrey – Copa MX

Dorados lost their first Group Stage match to a fellow Ascenso league side.  At home or not, Apertura Copa champion Monterrey are going to swallow them whole.

RESULT:   Monterrey   1-2     The Albiazules come back with goals at 75′ and 90′.

  1. Espanyol vs. Barcelona – Copa del Rey

Spain’s FA Cup is down to 16 teams.  Unlike a lot of these sorts of events, they’re play two-legged ties (two games) to determine who advances.

And so, good news, La Liga 14th-place Espanyol!  You’ve overachieved.  Bad news.  You drew league-undefeated Barcelona as your opponent.  Good luck with that.  Here’s creepy shite to help…

RESULT:   Espanyol   1-0      Holy mackerel!

Image result for good luck charm soccer

  1. Morocco vs. Guinea – African Nations Championship

You’ll find this event frequently abbreviated as “CHAN” many places, Noobites.  It’s early in its Group Stage.

This event is a tough one for Noob to handicap.  FIFA rankings for national teams just don’t seem likely to be applicable here.  Players are only eligible if they are both from and play in a league IN their respective countries.  No expatriates allowed.

RESULT:   Morocco   3-1

Thursday, 1/18

  1. South Africa vs. Sweden – women’s international friendly

Dan the Intern-o Inferno has made it clear to me he will always pick the lady Swedes in the ongoing Midweek Prognostication Challenge (*echo* challenge..challenge..) below.

Who can blame him for this bias?  They’re sure to be lovely, and they carry a superior FIFA ranking to that of the South Africans (who are also lovely and kick-ass Noob is certain).

RESULT:     ppd

**PROGNOSTICATION CHALLENGE**

(*echo* challenge..challenge..)

WEEK 3 PICKS

Dan the Intern-o InfernoMansfield, Monaco (“you try living in a country the size of a thumbnail”), Sporting Charleroi, Santos, Wigan, Oldham, Espanyol, Guinea, Dorados, and (of course) Sweden

The ManagementMansfield, Nice, Brugge, Zacatecas, Bournemouth, Leicester Academy, Espanyol, Morocco, Dorados, South Africa

Noobstradamus:  Cardiff, Monaco, Brugge, Zacatecas, Bournemouth, Oldham, Barcelona, Morocco, Monterrey, Sweden

–Every Midweek, we pick the 10 midweek Tracked matches.  Pick a winner, get a point.  Pick a predesignated heavy underdog, get two points. —

Week Two Results:    The Management = 3;  Dan = 7;  Noob = 7

OVERALL:   Dan = 11;  Noob = 10;  The Management = 7

’10 to Track’ for Friday, 1/12 — from Liga MX to…Myanmar??

TGIGF!    Noob always endeavors to Track with Noobites the ten most important soccer games from around the world.  On Fridays, our perspective – that of the newish American soccer fan – has to be broadened.

The “big” leagues are gearing up for their weekend slates.  But we never rest!  We start with locales more known, but then whisk away to all parts of the planet.  Come, it’s a footyball adventure.

  1. Bayer Leverkusen vs. Bayern Munich – Bundesliga

How dominant is Munich?   4th-place Leverkusen haven’t lost since September 20 and yet trail the league leaders by 13 points in the table.

This match is still really important despite Munich’s unstoppability.   Four teams get berths into the next Champions League, and Leverkusen is actually tied with two other teams for that last one.

RESULT:   Munich   1-3

Image result for unstoppable funny

 

 

But could Bayern contend with T-Rex with attached grabber-arms?

B.  Tijuana vs. Necaxa – Liga MX

Neither of these two made the league postseason Liguilla for the Apertura (first half).  They’ll both be looking to capitalize on not starting off the Clausura against a league powerhouse.   Based on recent results, this should be perhaps the closest Tracked match of the day.

RESULT:   Tijuana   1-0

Image result for get out number two funny

 

You creep Noob out, Number Two.   

Bring on Number B.

  1. Sheffield United vs. Sheffield Wednesday – EFL Championship

Noob’s been referring to this as the “English Championship League”, but this seems to be more correct for the second-tier league there.

7th vs. 16th might not always catch Noob’s wandering football eye, but intracity rivalries always have a certain cache.  Plus, 3rd through 6th place play off at season’s end to determine a team that gets promoted to Premier.

RESULT:   0-0

  1. Real Oviedo vs. Rayo Vallecano – Segunda B

In Spain’s second division, we get two teams that are vying to be promoted.  Just like in EFL Championship, the top two automatically move up, and the next four determine one more with a playoff.  These two are in 3rd and 5th respectively.

Fun Fact:  The city of Oviedo was featured in the Woody Allen movie “Vicki Cristina Barcelona”.

RESULT:   2-2      had the home and away sides turned around

Image result for cassandra's dream

 

Noob may stand alone, but Woody Allen’s worst received movie – “Cassandra’s Dream” – was his best.

  1. Fortuna Sittard vs. Jong Ajax – Eerste Divisie

Only one club in the Netherlands’ second division gets promoted to top-flight Eredivisie, and right now that’s Sittard.  By a point.  Ajax’s reserve squad is in 3rd, ineligible for promotion.

RESULT:   Sittard   2-1

  1. Al-Wasl vs. Al-Ain – Arabian Gulf League

Why U.A.E.?  One of the best leagues in the region.  And these two are tied for 1st place.

In addition to getting the best seeding of all teams entering the next AFC Champions League from this country, the winner will also make the next Club World Cup as the nation-host representative.

RESULT:   Al-Ain   1-3

Image result for uae funny

 

 

Why else U.A.E.?

  1. Al Ahed vs. Al Shabab Al Arabi – Lebanon Premier

Al Ahed only lead Al Nejmeh by a single point in the table for 1st place.  The defending champs should have little trouble against second-to-last place Shabab.

RESULT:   Al Ahed   1-0

  1. Senglea Athletic vs. Lija Athletic – Maltese Premier

These two were promoted from the second division last year.  Lija’s going right back down.  They get outscored by nearly a 3:1 pace.  Senglea’s only a few spots up the table, but clear of the Relegation Zone at least.

RESULT:   Senglea   2-0

Image result for you suck funny

  1. Zwekapin United vs. Shan United – Myanmar National League

Welcome to the Track, Myanmar!

The season is just getting going here.  Shan Utd. are the defending champions, while Zwekapin finished 8th last year.

Fun Fact:  Though it developed in Sri Lanka, the majority of Kayin State’s (where Zweakpin is) people are Theravada Buddhists.

RESULT:   0-0

  1. Al Ahli vs. Al Gharafa – Qatar Stars League

8th place hosts 6th here.

Fun Fact:  Al Ahli is one of eight teams from Doha, Qatar.  They only share their stadium, though, with one other top-flight team (Al-Sailiya).

RESULT:   Al Gharafa   1-2

Image result for camel racing qatar

 

Qatari camel racing at Al Shahniya.

Is making them try and beat cars fair?  Dammit, PETA!

’10 to Track’ for midweek 1/2-4 – Premier League meets Thomas the Tank Engine-edition

The ten most important soccer matches of the midweek, they await us, Noobites!  We get a spicy mix of league and Cup matches, a Premier League team gets a new name, I scare my volunteer with a thinly-veiled maiming threat, and so much more..

NEW FEATURE:  Staff seer Noobstradamus – who may or may not be merely an alter ego of Noob’s – is challenging The Management and Dan-o “the Interno Inferno” to a contest of prognostication.

We’ll all pick winners and losers for all games except Monday’s.  We won’t pick draws, because Amuricuh!   One point is earned for getting a game right, two for picking a big underdog to win in games I’ll designate with a “u”.

Monday, 1/2

  1. Manchester City vs. Watford (u) – English Premier League

The City train just keeps rolling, seemingly unstoppable.   Noob’s Tracking them because there’s talk about this being a Greatest Ever-sort of team.  And they won’t be sleeping on 10th-place Watford, since they don’t have another League match for two weeks.

RESULT:   Man City   3-1

Image result for watford fc crest

 

Watford, your crest still looks like an upside-down PSA for reminding people to use a licensed doctor for vaginoplasty.

B.  Napoli vs. Atalanta (u) – Coppa Italia

Number B.!  Italy’s FA Cup has reached its Quarterfinals.

League #1 Napoli plays host.   They’ve won four matches in a row.  #9 Atalanta has been rolling for a while, but got ambushed at home by lowly Cagliari in their last match.  The winner will get league #2 Juventus in all likelihood.

RESULYT:   Atalanta   1-2    Noobstradamus succcess!  Not that, you know, I’m surprised or anything  *cough*

Image result for noobstradamus

 

Napoli is in a dogfight for the league lead.  They will let their focus slip today.  Atalanta shall win.  Noobstradamus has bespoken!

Bespake.  Bespeaked?    Blaargh.

 

  1. Iraq vs. U.A.E. – Arabian Gulf Cup

Reminder:  Seven Gulf area teams, plus Yemen.  These two both rate in the 70’s in FIFA rankings, should be the higher-quality of the Semifinals.

Iraq looks like the class of the field.  U.A.E. somehow finished 2nd in their Group scoring only one goal in the three games.  (They gave up none.)  The winner likely gets Oman in the Final.

RESULT:   U.A.E.   0-0  /  2-4  pk      The Emirates’ shutout streak continues.  On to the Final to face Oman.

Tuesday, 1/3

  1. Arsenal vs. Chelsea – English Premier League

This should be the match of the midweek!  Neither club has lost since early last month.

Chelsea is in 3rd.  Arsenal stands at 5th place, a guaranteed 2018 Europa League slot.  They’re well behind 4th-place Liverpool, but could use some space against hated rival and all-around scorned 6th-place Tottenham.

New Year’s resolution!   Noob will now regularly refer to accursed, named-for-a-traitor Tottenham more regularly as “Tottenham  Sir Topham Hatt Hotspur”.

RESULT:   2-2

Image result for sir topham hatt thomas the tank engine

 

He’s a much more palatable figure than dastardly Henry “Hotspur” Percy.

 

 

Hello, Noobites- The Management here.  The Management would like to apologize for Noob’s incessant ranting on this topic.  He’s had his head med upped recently, but the hoped-for effect can take weeks to show up.  Thank you for your time and patience. – The Management.

Hey, The Management.  Noob doesn’t remember signing away his HIPAA privacy rights.  But let’s move on.

  1. Sydney FC vs. Newcastle Jets – Australian A-League

#1 vs. #2!   Noob’s always down for it.   Even if barely more than a dozen games into the league season Sydney is up eight points on Newcastle, who are in turn up seven on 3rd place.

These are the only two finishing positions that are AFC Champions League slots.  Sydney leads the league in scoring and defense.

RESULT:   2-2      Sydney salvages a point with a goal in the 87′

  1. Formentera (u) vs. Alavés – Copa del Rey (Spain FA Cup)

This is the Round of 16.  Unlike with many FA Cups, teams here play two-legged ties (two-match series).

Formentera is our pececillo – Minnow.   They’re a so-so third-tier team that have made it a long way.   Their guests are a poor La Liga team, and they’ve already beaten much better Atletico Bilbao.  Noob’s got a thing for island teams, and Formentera are based in the Balearics.  Gofightwin!

RESULT:   Alavés   1-3

Image result for formentera

 

Someday Noob’s ashes will be scattered in that lagoon.  Heaven.

  1. Juventus vs. Torino (u) – Coppa Italia

This is not the Quarterfinal matchup league 10th-place Torino was hoping for.  They’re defense is pretty suspect, and Juventus are the goal-scoring monster of Serie A.

  1. Benfica vs. Sporting CP – Primeira Liga

Porto leads Portugal’s top league, but Sporting Lisbon is tied with them.  Benfica is close behind in 3rd.  This league only gets to Champions League spots this year.  Torcida importante!

RESULT:   Juve   2-0

        Um, Mr. Noob, sir?   I don’t mean to interrupt.

Yet here you are, doing just that, Dan-o the Intern-o Inferno.

        Are you trying to write “important match” in Portuguese?  

I’m not “trying”.  I did.

        Er, that’s actually “important candle-wick”.

I once took a man’s eyeball out with a mellonballer.

        Right.  Carry on!

  1. Apollon Limassol vs. AEK Limassol – Cypriot First Division

The battle for Cyprus’ second-largest city is ON.  Intracity rivalries reign supreme for Noob!

3rd hosts 5th place here.  The top six will have a postseason tournament for the league title and Champions League berth.   Apollon are the best team in the league and are undefeated.  They’ve played three fewer league games than the others because of their international competition play.

RESULT:   1-1

Wednesday, 1/4

  1. Tottenham   Sir Topham Hatt Hotpsur vs. West Ham United (u) – English Premier League

Sir Topham Hatt is in 6th place.   Feels good to use the new moniker in a sentence.  Not that Noob’s bile and vitriol for the Traitorous Ones will ever diminish!   But it is nicer.

West Ham suck out loud and need to knock that crap off, get the big upset here.

RESULT:   1-1

Image result for misplaced anger funny

Prognistication Challenge

Noobstradamus:   Man City, Atalanta, Iraq, Arsenal, Sydney,  Formentera, Juventus, Benfica, Apollon, West Ham

The Management Watford, Atalanta, Iraq, Chelsea, Newcastle, Alavés, Torino, Benfica, AEK Limassol, West Ham

Dan the Interno Inferno:   Man City, Atalanta, I-Rock (the name is sheer bravado), Arsenal, Alaves, Sydney (“the thunder from down under”)*, Apollon, Torino, Benfica,  “I -Tottenham- some good learnins’ so they’d better score some of them goals -Hotspur-“.

*Noob points out the intern unintentional comedy:   1)  “thunder from down under” could, of course, refer to either or any Australian team, and B) would be less likely to refer to Sydney FC since they are nicknamed the “Sky Blues”.   🙂   (Now watch him win.)

’10 to Track’ for wknd 12/30-31 – a double dose of Premier League

The weekend – when 10 to Track gets serious on the league action.  The most important matches of the weekend await us, newish American soccer fans!  Let’s finish 2017 strong, and even with a nostalgia-link at the end.

Saturday, 12/30

  1. Liverpool vs. Leicester City – English Premier League

The EPL sends four teams to Champions League next season.  The two Manchester clubs and Chelsea are going to be there.  The most serious question regards that fourth slot.  Liverpool hold it now, but Burnley and accursed Tottenham are breathing down their necks.

Leicester, meanwhile, sits in 8th.  And a they’re a far cry from 7th, the lowest position in the table that might get a Europa League berth.  They haven’t won in their last three league matches.  The home draw against Man Utd. was solid enough, but the preceding loss to Crystal Palace was putrid.

RESULT:   Liverpool   2-1     They remain in 4th and 8th.  Liverpool gets some breathing room from Tottenham though.

B.  Bristol City vs. Wolverhampton Wanderers – English Championship League

Since scouting this game a few days ago, Bristol have moved up from 4th into a tie for 2nd.  Since Wolverhampton are dominantly in 1st place, we’re treated to the sweetest of matchups!

The top two from ECL are automatically promoted to Premier League at season’s end.  Wolverhampton’s built themselves a nice cushion in the table.  They score more and give up fewer goals than all other league teams.  Meanwhile, Bristol’s in a dogfight for that second slot.

RESULT:   Wolverhampton   1-2

Image result for wolverhampton funny

 

 

Hold on, is Billy Zane at least still doing the Georgia Gold commercials?

  1. Inter Milan vs. Lazio – Serie A

Things are tight at the top of this league’s standings.  Lazio still holds the top spot, having lost only once all season.

3rd-place Inter’s lost their last two league matches, plus their Coppa match to AC Milan.  If “the Big Grass Snake” want to stay in the top four and qualify for Champions League next year, they’ve got to start finding the back of the net again.

RESULT:   0-0

  1. Celtic vs. Rangers – Scottish Premiership

Celtic are doing Celtic things again this year.  Score the most, give up the fewest goals.  One loss.  Eight-point lead in the table.  Even with the second-best offense in the league, this may not be close for 3rd-place Rangers.

RESULT:   0-0

Image result for celtic women funny

 

I re-watched your entire series two years ago!  Doesn’t that earn Noob some pants-leeway?

  1. Motagua vs. Real España – Honduras National League

The Apertura Final!   Real topped Motagua 2-0 in the first leg of this postseason championship tournament.  These teams were 2nd and 4th in the league regular season, but nearly identical statistically.  Two goals are a big deficit to overcome in this setting, even at home.

RESULT:   2-1  (aet)    But Real España is the champion!  After 90 minutes, it was Motagua 2-0.  Since that only tied the score on aggregate, they played extra time, where Real scored the only goal.

  1. Caldas vs. Académica – Portugal FA Cup

This is the last match in the Round of 16 for the Taça de Liga.  And we get treated to a Minnow Watch!

Caldas is a middling team from third-tier Campeonato de Portugal.   They’re matched up against a very successful second-tier side in Académica.  Should Caldas win, a Campeonato team will be guaranteed to make the Semifinals.  Fellow league side Farense will get the winner of this match in the Quarters.

RESULT:   Caldas   1-1  /  4-2  pk

Image result for caldas sc 2017 crest

 

 

All those tiny little castles.  Looks like a Lego set.

  1. Feirense vs. Oliveirense – Portugal League Cup

This is not the same event as above.  This, the Taça de Liga, only includes teams from the top two leagues in the nation.  Only the top team from each Group of four in this event will advance.

LigaPro (second-tier) Oliveirense are tied for 1st  in their Group, but they hold the goal differential-tiebreaker.  Win and they’re probably in the Semis.   Stunning, given that they’re having an awful year in their league.   The Primera hosts here need to win big and get some help from another match result.

RESULT:   2-2    And so Oliveirense advance!

Image result for you need help funny

  1. Al Ahly vs. Atletico Madrid – international friendly

Egyptian and Spanish giants face off in a charity match, with the proceeds going to the families of Egyptians killed by terrorist acts.  It’s hard to imagine either team using starters for very long, but “peace against terrorism” as a theme makes this a worthwhile Track for Noob.

RESULT:   Ateltico   2-3

Image result for coming off the bench funny soccer

 

 

…for the cause of peace against terrorism.

 

 

Sunday, 12/31

  1. West Bromwich Albion vs. Arsenal – English Premier League

Arsenal is all the way up to a tie for 5th after a poor start to the season, haven’t lost since 12/2.  But only the top four will get into next season’s Champions League.

West Brom have as few losses as 10th-place Watford, yet are in 19th.  Soooo many draws.  They have trouble scoring, but hosting makes this intriguing.  Arsenal don’t play nearly the defense as other clubs near the top of the table.

RESULT:   1-1  

  1. Grenades vs. Parham – Antigua and Barbuda Premier

3rd hosts 2nd place in a paradise.  Here’s what you need to know about Parham FC.  Ah, sweet revisiting of a classic D-Twosday Interview.

RESULT:   Parham   0-1

http://www.soccernoob.com/2017/11/07/d-two-sday-interview-judge-margo-k-brodie-nasl-ruling/

’10 to Track’- Fri 12/21 – Premier League soccer to hitting on Betty White

TGIGF — Thank goodness it’s Globetrotting Friday!  With T2T, Noob daily points out the best matchups from top leagues of the world.  They glisten like dewdrops on a spring morn.

Fridays, we wax a different kind of poetically.  With “big leagues” not offering as much, we go in search of diamonds in the rough.  Noob always starts us off with more familiar locales, but then we jet off to parts less known and heralded.

Come, Noobites, let’s safari into the footyball jungle.

  1. Arsenal vs. Liverpool – English Premier

EPL sends its top four to next year’s Champions League.  With Manchester City nearly running away with the title now, top four is the goal.

These two are in 5th and 4th place respectively, separated by just one point in the table.  Arsenal haven’t lost in their last four league matches, but Liverpool better than doubles that.

There’s a rumor that the winners will get to feast on unlimited figgy pudding.   That rumor exists because Noob just started it.

RESULT:   3-3

Image result for world record figgy pudding

 

We don’t need no water, let the figgy pudding burn.

 

Burn figgy pudding, burn.

 

B.  Vitoria de Setubal vs. Braga – Portugal League Cup

The remaining 16 teams in this event are divided into Groups of four, where they play a round-robin.  Only the winners of each Group advance.

Even though they’ve only played one of their three games, if VdS can win today, they win their Group.  This would be a nice salve on a awful league season.  They’re in dead last.   Braga is in 4th in the Primeira Liga.

RESULT:    Setubal   2-1      VdS will advance!

  1. Lugo vs. Rayo Vallecano – Spain Segunda Division

4th place hosts 5th in Spain’s second division.   The top two from this league are automatically promoted to La Liga.  The next four play in a mini-tournament for a promotion.

The top seven in this league are in an absolute dogfight in the table.  Just second division?  Sure.   But the chance to get moved up into arguably the world’s best league make this intense.

Fun(ny) fact:  Lugo is nicknamed O xogo bonito – “the Beautiful Game”.  You know, what soccer itself is nicknamed.  Noob thinks you need to be a LOT higher in world stature to hold that moniker down.

RESULT:   Vallecano   1-2

Image result for bad nickname funny

 

Betty!!  

(Care to “Track Noob’s ten”?)

 

  1. Telstar vs. De Graafschap – Dutch Eerste Divisie

This Netherlands league only auto-promotes its champion into the top tier, the Eredivisie.   Eight teams from here, plus to in the top-flight, have a postseason playoff to see which two teams move/stay up.

These two are in good shape so far, in 4th and 5th place.  More, one of the teams ahead of them is an ineligible-for-promotion reserve team.   Telstar actually have a negative goal differential, however, could be a candidate to start falling.   Noobstradamus smells a road win in the works.

RESULT:   Telstar   3-2

  1. Cerezo Osaka vs. Vissel Kobe – Japan Emperor’s Cup

This is essentially Japan’s FA Cup, and it has reached the Semifinals.

Presumably C.Osaka is hosting by virtue of its higher league finish this season (3rd).  Kobe finished in 9th, so this has been a surprising run for them.  It likely ends here.  The hosts were better in league by nearly a goal per game, and beat them 3-1 a month ago.

RESULT:   Cerezo   1-3 (AET)     What a match!   Each team scored in at 90′, and then C.Osaka added two more in extra time.

Image result for beat you again

  1. Kuwait vs. Saudi Arabia – Arabian Gulf Cup

Noob previously labeled this “Gulf Cup of Nations”.  The above appears to be the more official name.  This confederation includes seven Gulf nations, plus Yemen.  The event is just starting its Group Stage – two groups of four each.  The top two finishers from each will advance.

After much political to-do, they finally decided to hold it in Kuwait this year.   Despite getting to play this match at home, Kuwait is in trouble here.  They are three times farther down the FIFA rankings than the Saudis.

RESULT:   Saudi Arabia   1-2

  1. United Arab Emirates vs. Oman – Arabian Gulf Cup

UAE should definitely be favored, but this one should at least be more competitive.  They are FIFA-ranked #73 and #101 respectively.

RESULT:   UAE   1-0

Image result for oman funny

 

 

 

With some sports, everyone’s a loser.

 

 

  1. Pirae vs. Dragon – Tahiti Ligue 1

Yep!   They run around and sweat profusely, even in paradise.  This match up features #2 hosting #1.  Looking at GD and with Pirae hosting, this looks to be a very even matchup.  Dragon lights it up, scoring at a four games per goal pace.   I don’t care what nation league it’s in, that’s incredible.

Fun fact:   Pirae were the first French Polynesia Club to ever win the OCF (Oceania) Champions League, back in ’06.

RESULT:   Dragon   2-5

Image result for tahiti soccer

 

The only soccer that should be allowed in Tahiti.  

 

  1. Jinja SSS vs. SC Villa – Uganda Super League

This doesn’t seem to be a very high-scoring league.   Villa is on top of the table, but doesn’t average even two goals per contest.   Jinja sits in 9th.

Fun Fact:  The city of Jinja’s largest employer is a sugar works (Kakira).

RESULT:   1-1

Image result for kakira sugar works

  1. Kamza vs. Flamurtari – Albania Superliga

Back to Europe to close things out!   Noob’s initial scouting had included an Egyptian Premier match, but ENPPI fell too far in the standings for me to give a poop about them now.  Be gone, “the Petroleum Team”!

League #3 hosts #5.  Skënderbeu Korçë is running away with the leagues one Champions League berth.   The Europa League slot the 2nd and 3rd place teams will get an open race though.   Kamza was just promoted from the second-tier First Division last year, so they’re doing well to just be two points out of one of those.

RESULT:   Flamurtari   0-3

Image result for can't unseeNo kidding.  Noob Googled “Team Petroleum”.  

Judgement error.

Midweek ’10 to Track’ – three days of perfectly-mixed league and Cup matches

What is T2T?  The ten goldarn best, most important matches to follow for us, the newish American soccer fans.   And let more-seasoned fans fear us, Noobites!   We’ll end up more knowledgeable than they.  Muahaha.

Relegation Monday was a sweet success, as we witnessed two mighty league upsets.  But now Noob returns us to our regularly scheduled, traditionally-“important” games for Tue-Thurs.

Tuesday, 12/19

  1. Leicester City vs. Manchester City – EFL Cup

So many Cups!   Fear not, Noobites.  This is a safe place.   EFL Cup is one vied for by just the top four tiers in the English football pyramid. It is also often referred to by its sponsor name, “The Carabao Cup”.  Easy peasy.

This year’s is now in the Quarterfinals.   Leicester’s been making moves up the Premier League table in recent weeks, but no one’s been a match for Man City all year.  If L.C. hopes to catch they’re guests napping, they’ll still need to shore up their very dodgy defense.

RESULT:   Man City   1-1  /  3-4 pk

B.  Carlisle United vs. Gillingham – English FA Cup

The FA Cup is the most popular one.  Teams all the way down to the 20th level have been competing.  This one’s in its Second Round Proper (Proper referring to the stage when Premier League teams start playing this even).

This is a Replay.  These two faced off about a week ago and had a 1-1 draw at tier-three Gillingham.  Rather than settle it with penalty kicks, they play again.  But this time, it’s at the tier-four side’s place.   Either way, we’re treated to a Minnow (over-achieving lower-tiered team) in the next Round.

RESULT:    Carlisle   3-1       The tier-four side is through to the Round of 64!

Image result for carlisle united funny

 

 

Those bend-y lights and giant soccer ball are pretty humorous.

  1. Paderborn vs. Ingolstadt – DFB Pokal (German FA Cup)

Round of 16 time.  3. Bundesliga (third tier) Paderborn is your Minnow, facing a top-flight team.

Paderborn have been as high as 2. Bundesliga as recently as two seasons ago.  They would’ve been Relegated last season into the tier-four Regional Leagues, but a team from 2. Bundesliga was sent down two levels instead.  Probably for naughtiness.

RESULT:   Paderborn   1-0      Minnow success!   

Wednesday, 12/20

  1. Bristol Rovers vs. Manchester United – EFL Cup

Bristol is the only non-Premier League team left alive here in the Quarterfinals.  They’re’ in 3rd place in the ECL (English second tier), but facing a Man club is another universe.

RESULT:   Bristol 2-1      Upset!  The Championship League team is through!

Image result for another universe funny

 

 

Wouldn’t you love to see someone try diving into that and finding a stud?

  1. AS Monaco vs. Rennes – Ligue 1

2nd place hosts 7th here.  This one is closer-looking in the table than it will be on the field.  Rennes is having a .500 year.  Monaco is tied for 2nd with Lyon, but nine points in back of Paris-Saint-Germain.  If they dream of a title push, they know they must lock down home games like these.

RESULT:   Monaco   2-1

  1. AS Roma vs. Torino – Coppa Italia (FA Cup)

Italy doesn’t appear to do a random draw for who hosts during the bracketed portion of its FA Cup.  They’re down to 16 teams, and the eight good Serie A teams all get to host these elimination matches.

This game match has at least a fair chance of us seeing an upset.  Torino is in 10th in league play, Roma in 4th.  Roma have given up the fewest goals in league, just ten in 16 games.

RESULT:   Torino   1-2      Best chance realized – upset!

Image result for Torino football funny

 

Utter fear, mild surprise, and– whatever that is…

Torino football fever!

  1. Anorthosis vs. APOEL Nicosia – Cyprus First Division

APOEL is a name tenured Noobites may recognize.   They competed in the Champions League Group Stage.  They didn’t advance, but weren’t expected to.   If they want to make it again next year, they have some work to do, being in 4th place currently.   But they’ve played fewer league games because of their international play, so even travelling to #1 and undefeated Anorthosis isn’t too bleak a prospect.

RESULT:   APOEL   0-3

  1. Union Española vs. Universidad de Concepcion – Chile Premier

The Chilean format is a little blurry for Noob, but we can get this down to brass tacks.   This is the second match of a Runners-Up Playoff for a spot in next year’s Copa Libertadores.   Concepcion had the best second half record of all teams not already qualified for CL next year.   Española had the second-best record for the overall season (and perhaps second-best in the Apertura/first half-season).

It’s two pretty good teams that didn’t quite qualify in other ways for C.L.   There!   Much easier.  Concepcion won the first match of this two-legged tie 1-0.

RESULT:   Concepcion   1-2      And they win on aggregate 3-1, on to next year’s Copa Libertadores!

Image result for clarity in communication funny

Thursday, 12/21

  1. Monterrey vs. Pachuca – Apertura 2017 Copa MX

If this event seems familiar, it may be because it started all the way back in July.  The big earthquake derailed football there for a time.

Mexico is a country that basically plays two FA Cups per season.  Each only involves teams from the top two leagues.

This is a one-off match for the Apertura (first half-season) Copa title, and fittingly between the top league #1 and #2 sides.   Monterrey’s been dominant in league, but Pachuca has been demolishing opponents in this tournament.  Can they go into the lion’s den and rip away the trophy?

RESULT:   Monterrey   1-0      The favorites have done it – Apertura Copa MX chamPEEEEEENS!

  1. Gent vs. Sporting Charleroi – Belgium First Division A

This league likely only gets two berths in next year’s Champions League.  The top six teams here make the league playoffs.

Gent have an excellent goal differential, but apparently have been winning big but losing close, as they’re just in 5th place.   Charleroi won’t catch Club Brugge for the #1 seed, but a big road win would gain them a firmer grip on the #2.

RESULT:   Gent   1-0       Gent move up to 4th place.

Image result for grip strength exercises funny

 

Step 1.)  Do steps 2-4 for a LONG time BEFORE picking up a baby.