A Brief Overview of The Upcoming Events
We head into the weekend with the first foray of European World Cup qualifying fixtures behind us, as well as the first batch of daily Tennis games from the US Open. Most of us were focused on the World Cup qualifying games from South America, with Argentina, Brazil, Peru and Uruguay all featuring.
At the same time, we had a round of qualifiers from North & Central America, with both the USA and Mexico involved. We’ve also had a vast number of Euro U21 qualifying fixtures, together with several World Cup qualifiers from Africa. With the likes of Cameroon, Ghana and Nigeria all playing.
On Saturday, the focus returns on the World Cup qualifiers from Europe, with the match between Ukraine and France the one that pops out in terms of prestige. More games ensue on Sunday with the European heavyweights Belgium, England, Germany, Italy and Spain all taking the field.
From South America, the top event is without a doubt the much-awaited clash between Brazil and Copa America holders Argentina. Unfortunately, this fixture will be missing a few top International players. English Premier League clubs have forbidden players to travel to any red-listed countries by the UK, which forced Brazil manager Tite to recall players that had been out of the national team set-up for years such as Hulk. Meanwhile, the Argentinian Football Federation managed to cut a deal with the EPL clubs, agreeing to release their players prior to the match against Bolivia with all of them getting back to England through flights from Argentina.
This run of fixtures will keep going till early Friday morning of the coming week. Most players are scheduled to be back in time for next weekend’s domestic fixtures with the Bundesliga, Premier League, La Liga and the Serie A, all scheduled to restart on Saturday 11. The exception is Ligue 1, which has the next match scheduled for Friday 10.
As mentioned earlier the main action in other sports will be provided by the US Open, with daily games from both the men’s and women’s competitions. We have no high-profile events in Basketball to look for, with the main events from Ice Hockey provided by the Russian KHL and Champions Hockey League. In other sports, the attention is expected to fall on the MLB, with games scheduled daily as well.
Picks of the Week
04.09.21 – Ukraine vs France – World Cup Qual. Europe
France’s unexpected home draw against Bosnia-Herzegovina on Wednesday still left them 4 points clear off Ukraine, but a loss here would see the Ukrainians just a point adrift with 5 games played. Didier Deschamps has seen his squad fall prey to complacency once again, a pattern clearly evident in the Euros. Perhaps something that he needs to eradicate before the next World Cup. The French tactician usually likes to stick with his established 11 but given the performance in midweek and the closeness of the games he might be tempted to ring the changes, showing everybody that their place in the squad is not a given.
05.09.21 – Switzerland vs Italy – World Cup Qual. Europe
Euro 2020 champions Italy are favourites to top the group with Switzerland expected to follow suit in Group C, which highlights the importance of this match particularly for the Swiss. A win here could send be a statement of intent, showing the Italians that they mean business. And that they want to challenge them for the first place in the group knowing they have to face them again in Italy before the end of the qualifiers. On the other hand, Roberto Mancini will be expecting his side to continue where it left off and dispatch the Swiss with relative ease. This way, cementing their reputation as one of the top nations heading into the next World Cup.
05.09.21 – Brazil vs Argentina – World Cup Qual. South America
Regardless of their position in the standings, the competition or the occasion, whenever these two nations meet this fixture always produces fireworks given the history and prestige it carries. The last time they met was the final of the Copa America, which saw Argentina come out on top with Lionel Messi lifting his first-ever senior international trophy for his country. Since then the Argentine has joined Neymar in Paris, with the latter expected to feature for Brazil as Ligue 1 has not restricted its players to travel to Brazil. Unlike the English Premier League.
06.09.21 – Peru vs Venezuela – World Cup Qual. South America
For the rest of the world, this fixture might not be of particular importance given these are the two lowest-ranked teams in the CONMEBOL qualifying group. But given our recent growth in South America, with Peru at the forefront, for us it represents a very important event. Betting trends have so far shown us that the bulk of our customers in Peru usually back their home nation. Especially against the other similarly ranked sides. Thus we expect the bulk of the bets backing Peru, which means we’ll be rooting for Venezuela or a low score draw at best. Hopefully, the new Everton signing Rondon will have a very good game for the away nation.
07.09.21 – Netherlands vs Turkey – World Cup Qual. Europe
Luis Van Gaal started his latest tenure as the Netherlands manager with a score draw against Norway away from home, playing Montenegro on Saturday before facing Turkey on Tuesday to close off this International break. He reverted to the 4-3-3 system which previous manager Frank De Boer had abandoned in favour of the 3-5-2 formation, with the former system much more synonymous with the Dutch. The return of Virgil Van Dijk surely helped in reverting to a back 4, with Barcelona’s new striker Memphis Depay leading the line as usual. The only real surprise so far has been in goal, with Feyenoord’s Justin Bijlow starting ahead of Tim Krul.
Week’s Fun Fact
With Cristian Ronaldo’s return to Old Trafford breaking the internet last week and him becoming the all-time leading scorer in International Football on Wednesday with an astonishing 111 goals, a new interesting fact emerged on the Portuguese’s now famous fitness regime. Nick Littlehales, a sleep guru who worked with him both at Man United and Real Madrid, revealed that Cristiano takes 5 naps a day (90 minutes each) in addition to a minimum of 8 hours of full night’s sleep to help his body recover better and faster.