Game On: South American Saturday continues, Colombia vs. Uruguay up next

Leave a comment

Free-scoring Colombia take on Luis Suarez-less Uruguay in Rio de Janiero at the Maracana on Saturday.

Colombia has been one of the best teams of the tournament so far, racking up three wins from three and scoring nine goals in the process. As for Uruguay, Diego Godin’s late header in their final group game vs. Italy sent La Celest through to the last 16 as they recovered from their opening game defeat to Costa Rica.

The two sides have met 38 times in history, with Uruguay winning 18 and Colombia taking 11.

It will be a rambunctious affair in the famous Maracana, as both teams will be supported heavily by a vast army of travelling fans.

This could go all the way to extra time and penalties, so expect a tight and rambunctious affair in Rio.

[ MORE: Colombia hammer Japan | Uruguay beat Italy to go through ]
[ MORE Soccerly: Follow Live ]

LINEUPS

Colombia: Ospina; Armero, Yepes (c), Zapata, Zúñiga; Aguilar, Sánchez, Cuadrado, James; Jackson, Teo.

Uruguay: Muslera, Godin (c), Pereira, Rodriguez, Forlan, Gimenez, Pereira, Arevalo, Gonzalez, Cavani, Caceres

Talking points

How much will Uruguay miss Suarez? 

This is the HUGE question around this game as La Celeste prepare for life after Suarez. Following his bite on Giorgio Chiellini in their final group game vs. Italy, Suarez has been banned for four months by FIFA and is out of the rest of the World Cup. Edinson Cavani has looked a shadow of the player who ripped it up with Napoli in years gone by but now he needs to step up and shine in Suarez’s absence. He is Uruguay’s only hope up top.

Can Colombia score early… and often?

With the likes of James Rodriguez and Jackson Martinez ripping it up for Colombia in the group stages, they are riding a wave of euphoria into the knockout rounds. If Colombia scores early, in front of what is bound to be a huge number of their own supporters, things could get out of hand. Just imagine if star striker Radamel Falcao would have been fit for the World Cup?

Expectations 

If Colombia score early it will force Uruguay to attack and this game could become a real cracker. However, the likelihood is that Uruguay will sit back, frustrate Colombia and try to score on a set piece like they did vs. Italy.

One blogger’s prediction

This will be a close encounter between two teams who know eachother very well. Expect late challenges, heated tempers and some staunch defense. It will be a real clash of styles at the Maracana, one that Colombia should just sneak with their superior attacking talents. Losing Suarez will prove costly for Uruguay.

Milivojevic free kick, Sako deflection lead Palace past WBA

AP Photo/Kin Cheung
Leave a comment

Goals from Luka Milivojevic and Bakary Sako led Crystal Palace to a 2-0 win over West Bromwich Albion in the third place game of the PL Asia Trophy.

Palace had lost 2-0 to Liverpool in its semifinal, while West Brom fell to Leicester City in penalty kicks after trading goals over 90 minutes.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]  

Milivojevic’s free kick, won by Wilfried Zaha, was super. Whipped in with force and a wicked curl, Baggies keeper Ben Foster didn’t have a chance to reach it with his dive.

Sako created his goal with a darting move off a long dribble, though it needed a pair of deflections to get behind Foster.

The Baggies had their chances, and Julian Speroni made an outstanding save on Matty Phillips late in the match.

STREAM LIVE: Liverpool-Leicester duel for PL Asia Trophy

Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Goals from Bakary Sako and Luka Milivojevic spearheaded Crystal Palace’s 2-0 win over West Bromwich Albion in the PL Asia Trophy third place game, and now Liverpool and Leicester City tangle for the title.

The final will be staged at 8:30 a.m. ET, when Liverpool will hope to build on a 2-0 semifinal win paced by Divock Origi and Dominic Solanke goals.

[ LIVE: Stream PL Asia Trophy here ]  

West Brom lost to Leicester City in its semifinal when youngster Sam Field missed the side’s seventh attempt in penalty kicks. Jay Rodriguez scored the Baggies goal in regulation of a 1-1 draw.

Here are the lineups for Leicester City and Liverpool:

Strootman loving life at Roma, aims to keep paying club back

Photo by Duane Burleson/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Kevin Strootman is in love with Roma.

The club, the city, the fans, name it: The relentless 27-year-old has renewed his commitment to AS Roma with a new contract, and understands how players like Francesco Totti and Daniele De Rossi devote their entire careers to i Lupi.

“It’s Rome,” Strootman exclaims, speaking ahead of the club’s second Stateside match of the International Champions Cup.

“You’re not going to leave easy. This is Rome. We all have the ambition to win something here, and to celebrate with the fans. Totti told us when he won the scudetto in 2001, there were parties for three months. If you win something here, it’s going to be really special. About the city you don’t even have to talk, it’s so beautiful you cannot compare it with anything else.”

[ MORE: FIFA’s Infantino in hot water ]

Yeah, the Eternal City is pretty nice, but it’s most celebrated football club is growing in magnitude, too. Roma’s finished second in Serie A three of the past four seasons, and last season came within four points of its first scudetto since the aforementioned win earlier this century.

Strootman was a massive part of the campaign, returning to the elite form displayed in his first season at the club and in previous campaigns with PSV Eindhoven. He scored six times with seven assists between Serie A and the UEFA Europa League, averaging 2.7 tackles per game, 1.7 interceptions, and 1.4 dribbles per Serie A contest.

That his reclamation of that status came after knee surgeries limited him to 18 matches over the previous two seasons was sweet (if nervy).

(Photo by Giuseppe Bellini/Getty Images)

“For me it was like such a relief, especially in the beginning you’d play a game and you’d be happy to play,” Strootman said. “If you won everyone was happy with the win, but I was just happy that I didn’t get injured again. The fitness coaches and technical staff did a great job. I played 50 games, we made the Champions League, and I signed a new contract. I was happy to pay them back on the pitch. I feel good.”

Payback is a theme in our talk with Strootman, who speaks glowingly of club chairman James Pallotta, the American businessman who stood by the midfielder during his injury struggles (NOTE: PST profiled Pallotta in depth last summer).

“He brought me here when he started the project, and he’s always supported me even during my injuries,” Strootman said. “He would call me, and was always there for me. I always told him, when I’m fit I want to pay you back with my play on the pitch. He’s like a president should be.”

It’ll be different from Strootman this season, and not just because of the changes to the Roma roster. Gone are Mohamed Salah, Antonio Rudiger, Leandro Paredes, and retiring Francesco Totti. Arriving are Maxime Gonalons, Hector Moreno, and reports of bids for Riyad Mahrez and the impending arrival of Aleksandar Kolarov excite the fan base.

I Lupi are a club which has been on the precipice of greatness for some time. Now with the Champions League group stage and battles with not just Juve and Napoli but surging AC Milan and Inter Milan, Strootman says it’s time to stop talking big and start acting it out.

[ MORE: Vertonghen says Spurs need to raise game ]

“The last couple years we talked in the preseason about winning the scudetto, winning cups, but we have to show it on the pitch,” he said. “We still need some time, that’s normal, but we need to show on the pitch that we are hungry. We’re a young team with some experienced players. It’s a good mix. We have to show it from the first competition and game by game.”

Strootman also admitted, as many have, that American soccer continues to grow in renown around the Netherlands and Europe in general.

“I think it’s rising,” he said. “A lot more players from Holland are going over to MLS. I don’t see a lot of the games because they don’t show them in Italy. But when you’re here and see the friendly games against the big teams, the level is going up. MLS is getting higher and higher.”

Roma faces Spurs at Red Bull Arena on Tuesday before a July 30 battle with Juventus at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough.

2-year doping ban upheld for Finland, CSKA Moscow player

Epsilon/Getty Images
Leave a comment

LAUSANNE, Switzerland (AP) The Court of Arbitration for Sport has upheld a two-year ban for CSKA Moscow midfielder Roman Eremenko for a positive test for cocaine.

[ MORE: Morata signs five-year contract at Chelsea ]

CAS says the ban imposed by UEFA was “appropriate” and dismissed the Finland international’s appeal.

[ MORE: Vertonghen says Spurs need to “level up” like rest of PL contenders ]

The ban will expire on Oct. 5, 2018, when Eremenko will be 31.

Eremenko tested positive after playing in a Champions League game for CSKA Moscow against Bayer Leverkusen last September. The 2-2 result was not affected despite Eremenko scoring CSKA’s second goal.

Born in Moscow, Eremenko grew up in Finland and has represented its national team 73 times.