U.S. manager Jurgen Klinsmann is just guessing like the rest of us in terms of offensive inclination from Guatemala, although it certainly fits the Guatemalan MO to set up more defensively, doggedly determined to be tough to break down.
They’ll play direct balls into Carlos Ruiz and depend on his hold-up ability to bring others slowly, cautiously into the attack, and to draw fouls that put Marco Pappa into dangerous free kick shooting spots.
But the U.S. coach knows one thing for certain about how Tuesday’s night’s match will unfold. Said Klinsmann at his news conference Monday about Guatemala’s mindset:
“It could be a defensive one. It could be that maybe they come out a little more offensively. No matter what shape they play, they will be very physical. They will run and fight for every ball. It is the game of their lives, really.
“The way they played their [previous World Cup qualifier, last week] with Jamaica, the first 20 minutes they ran out after everything on the field, every ball. So we are prepared for that. We respect them, but I expect, and we expect from ourselves, that we take care of the game. That we control that game, go forward and score, sooner rather than later.”
It’s an important point, because this has been an issue for the team under Klinsmann. Earlier this year Klinsmann admonished his team for not being “nastier” in a 4-1 loss to Brazil. (It was a choice of words the U.S manager most likely regretted.)
Ruiz is one of the most physical, frustrating forwards a defender will ever face. He’s a master of initiating contact first, then hunting for the ball. So, that’s the place to start when dealing with a physical game ahead.
PRAGUE (AP) Czech champion Viktoria Plzen is close to signing Austrian midfielder Andreas Ivanschitz.
Plzen says Ivanschitz agreed terms for a contract lasting 1 + seasons and will sign it when the team returns from a training camp in Spain. Ivanschitz has already joined the squad at the Oliva Nova resort, the club says.
Ivanschitz helped the Seattle Sounders win their first MLS Cup in December.
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No financial details were given.
The 33-year-old Ivanschitz also played for Rapid Vienna and Red Bull Salzburg in Austria, Mainz in the Bundesliga, Levante in Spain and Panathinaikos in Athens.
Ivanschitz played 69 games for Austria in 2003-14, scoring 12 goals.
Joel Matip is going to get to play for Liverpool during AFCON after all.
The center back had turned down the chance to represent Cameroon at the Africa Cup of Nations, and Liverpool was forced to apply to FIFA for a waiver.
[ PL PREVIEW: Swansea vs. Liverpool ]
Matip suffered an ankle injury in December, adding to his desire to stay at Anfield. He declared himself internationally retired and was one of six Cameroon players who refused call-ups for AFCON.
He last played for the Reds on Dec. 11, and can be selected by Jurgen Klopp against Swansea City on Saturday.
MANCHESTER, England (AP) Manchester United captain Wayne Rooney says he raised 1.2 million pounds ($1.5 million) from a friendly game against former club Everton last year.
That represents the profits, after operational costs, from August’s sellout match at Old Trafford and goes toward the Wayne Rooney Foundation’s target of raising 5 million pounds for children’s charities.
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Rooney said: “I’d like to thank all the fans who came to the testimonial and made it such a special night. They’ve raised a huge amount of money for children who are disadvantaged and it will make a real difference to their lives.”
Rooney is one goal from breaking Manchester United’s scoring record, with the striker currently tied with Bobby Charlton on 249 goals.
Rooney joined United from Everton in 2004.
Robert Lewandowski picked up where he left off.
The Polish striker scored twice for Bayern Munich, once in stoppage time, as the Bavarians improved their Bundesliga lead to six points after toppling Freiburg 2-1 on Friday.
[ MORE: Bundesliga second half preview ]
And what a winner it was, Lewandowski taking a Douglas Costa cross with two juggling touches before hitting an offspeed bouncer inside the post.
It was the league’s first match following the winter/holiday break, giving Bayern a cushion before RB Leipzig takes the pitch against Eintracht Frankfurt in a Top Five tilt on Saturday.
Lewandowski moves closer to Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang on the goal scoring chart. His 13th and 14th goals have him two back of Borussia Dortmund’s striker, as Lewandowski pursues a third Golden Boot in four seasons.
Full Weekend Schedule
Freiburg 1-2 Bayern Munich — Friday
Augsburg vs. Hoffenheim — Saturday
Schalke vs. Ingolstadt — Saturday
Darmstadt vs. Borussia Monchengladbach — Saturday
Werder Bremen vs. Borussia Dortmund — Saturday
Wolfsburg vs. Hamburger SV — Saturday
RB Leipzig vs. Eintracht Frankfurt — Saturday
Bayer Leverkusen vs. Hertha Berlin — Sunday
Mainz vs. Koln — Sunday