Chile – Uruguay Preview: Copa America hosts dodge tough ties

Chile-vs-Uruguay-Quarter-Final-Preview-2015-Copa-AmericaArgentina and Brazil cannot be faced until the final of the tournament but first Jorge Sampaoli’s side must beat the reigning champions after finishing top of Group A

Chile will be relishing the relatively straightforward path to the Copa America final they have been handed ahead of Wednesday’s quarter-final against Uruguay.

Should La Roja defeat the Celeste – who do not look like the side who conquered the competition four years ago – then they would face Bolivia or Peru in the last four, dodging Brazil, Argentina, Colombia and Paraguay until at least the final.

Host nation Chile are the competition’s top scorers with 10 from their three games as Jorge Sampaoli’s side booked their place in the last eight by topping Group A.

Having taken four points off Ecuador and Mexico, Sampaoli’s men hammered Bolivia 5-0 to set up a quarter-final tie with a Uruguay team yet to hit such heights, claiming just four points in their group campaign.

The defending champions have only scored twice – the long-term absence of suspended striker Luis Suarez undoubtedly a contributing factor – although captain Diego Godin returns from suspension for the match in Santiago.

While Tabarez can welcome back influential skipper Godin into his back line, full-back Alvaro Pereira will serve a suspension after accumulating two yellow cards.

It is up front where Tabarez has problems, with Edinson Cavani struggling to fire in a central position. Reports suggest that the Uruguay boss could opt for a three-man defence with Cristian Rodriguez used as one of two full-backs.

The city of Santiago was shut temporarily on Monday due to smog concerns, although things have since improved in the capital, with Godin playing down any fears over the pollution.

“We saw on TV about the pollution but we have not discussed anything with the doctor,” Godin said, before turning his attentions to the pressures that Chile may face.

“Chile are favourite. They are local and want to win the title for the first time, they are with their people and have that pressure. We know it is their opportunity to earn a historic title.”


As at this post Chile has 1.76 odd to win the match on NaijaBet while Uruguay  has 5.07 odd to win the match also, while the odd to draw the match is 3.57.

England U21s – Italy U21s Preview

England-vs-Italy-702x336The Young Lions looked lethargic against Sweden despite securing a 1-0 win that puts them close to qualification, and their manager admits he wants to see more from his team

England Under-21s manager Gareth Southgate admits his side must improve as they strive to secure a place in the semi-finals with a positive result against Italy.

The Young Lions lost their opening game to Portugal and then narrowly overcame Sweden thanks to Jesse Lingard’s late volley.

Despite claiming an important three points, England looked unconvincing and struggled to break down Hakan Ericson’s resolute and well-organised side for long periods.

Southgate praised his team for ultimately getting the job done, but he believes they are capable of much more.

“We had faith that we had the players on the field that could get the goal. We started to create more chances as the game went on and we had to hold our nerve,” he told reporters.

“In the end it was a wonderful piece of skill that wins us the game, but we had dominated possession.

“Sweden are always a threat because of the way they work, but today I thought we deserved the victory, although maybe we weren’t as fluid as we were the other night.

“We take it to the third game now and after the game against Portugal that was the first objective – now it is in our hands. We can be better, but it has given us a good chance of going through.”

Alex Pritchard was forced off 10 minutes into the second half after picking up an ankle injury and will play no further part in the tournament, but John Stones looks to have recovered from the head injury he sustained in training last week.

Italy boss Luigi Di Biagio, meanwhile, believes his side can still progress to the last four despite currently sitting at the bottom of Group B.

The Azzurrini battled back from an opening game defeat to Sweden to draw 0-0 with Portugal, a result that still gives them a chance of finishing in the top two.

Whereas a draw could be enough to see England advance, though, Italy must claim all three points from their final encounter to stand any chance of making the semi-finals.

Di Biagio nevertheless remains upbeat about his team’s chances, and has praised the attitude shown by his players.

“We played a good game but we didn’t score. The team had the right mentality, and they did exactly what we prepared over the last few days. I can’t blame them for anything,” he told reporters.

“Portugal are a team that let us play more than Sweden did, and this aspect was better for us. But we missed chances and that’s our regret, as it was against Sweden when we didn’t kill the game.

“It’s time to focus on England now. We have to stay hopeful because we still have a chance of going through. I’m always confident, even when something is impossible to pull off. I’ll be confident ahead of our last game.”

Stefano Sturaro is Italy’s only absentee, the Juventus midfielder serving the second game of a three-match ban following his sending off against Sweden.

NaijaBet Odds

As at this post England has 2.45 odd to win the match on NaijaBet while Italy has 3.09 odd to win the match also, while the odd to draw the match is 3.19.

England U21 v Portugal U21 – Preview: Hopes v Expectations

and begin their European Under-21 Championship campaign on Thursday evening as they face off in a Group B encounter at the Stadion Miroslava Valenty in Uherske Hradiste.

Both sides qualified for the tournament in fine fashion going unbeaten in qualifying before letting their guard slip a little in post-qualifying friendlies.

The Esperancas topped Group 8 and scored 22 goals as they won all eight of their qualifiers, conceding just six times – and half of those in a pulsating 4-3 win in Israel.

In the six team Group 1, the Young Lions drew an early away game 1-1 in Finland, before pushing on to win nine of their ten qualifiers. The Three Lions scored at a rate of more than three goals a game and conceded just one more goal in their group.

However, since securing their place in the Czech Republic, both sides have lost one of their friendlies; indeed earlier this year, England triumphed against their Iberian opponents at Turf Moor, with Danny Ings scoring twice. A few days after that match, Gareth Southgate’s side were defeated, losing a close encounter in France.

In eight previous U21 Euros meetings between the two sides, Portugal have a slight edge, having won four to England’s three – those three have been the most recent meetings, though Portugal did emerge triumphant in the Toulon Tournament last summer.

England will go into the game expecting for fireworks from their potent strike force, which contains West Bromwich Albion’s , scorer of 10 goals in qualifying. However, he faces a battle to be selected in a likely 4-2-3-1 formation with of Tottenham.

Kane’s rise has been meteoric, and he netted six times in his eight qualifying appearances. Berahino’s current tally of 10 goals leaves just him three behind the national record held jointly by Alan Shearer and Francis Jeffers (13) going into the tournament.

Meanwhile, Portugal’s qualifying goals were spread around the team, with Porto’s Ricardo Pereira top scoring for Rui Jorge’s side with five. Ivan Cavaleiro of Benfica offers a different threat; a magician when the mood takes him, and Ben Gibson will have to pay the wideman close attention.

Form Guide: England (W-W-W-W-W-W), Portugal (W-W-W-W-W-W)

Expected Starting XIs

England: Butland; Jenkinson, Moore, Gibson, Garbutt; Ward-Prowse, Carroll; Redmond, Hughes, Pritchard; Kane

Portugal: Jose Sa; Esgaio, Oliveira, Guerriro, Ilori; Neves, Carvalho, Bernardo Silva; Cavaleiro, Ricardo Pereira, Mane

NaijaBet Odds

As at this post England has 2.64 odd to win the match on NaijaBet while Portugal  has 2.80 odd to win the match also, while the odd to draw the match is 3.23.

Copa American Preview: Argentina – Uruguay

ageArgentina has been urged to replicate its first-half showing against Paraguay when it faces Uruguay on Tuesday.

Sergio Romero says Argentina can take positives from its Copa America opener, despite dropping points from a winning position, as the side prepares for this week’s Group B clash against Uruguay.

Gerardo Martino’s side threw away a two-goal lead in La Serena, as Nelson Valdez and Lucas Barrios scored in the final half hour to salvage a point and frustrate the World Cup finalist.

Argentina had led thanks to goals from Lionel Messi and Sergio Aguero, with both Martino and captain Messi left frustrated by their second-half collapse.

Uruguay was also unconvincing in its opener – a 1-0 win over Jamaica – but Romero says both sides will take positives from their first Copa outings.

“Uruguay will not give away anything and although they had a tough match against Jamaica, they played their game and their style,” he said. “They also have dangerous strikers such as Cebolla [Cristian Rodriguez] and Edinson Cavani.

“On Tuesday, hopefully we can play our game and if we play like we did in the first half [against Paraguay] I think it will be alright. The first half against Paraguay was not good, it was excellent. Argentina had the ball, kept it on the floor and generally played the game the coach wants.”

Defending champion Uruguay looks on course to move into the knockout stages after Rodriguez’s winner ensured the side of top spot in the group at the end of the first round of matches.

Jamaica had more than enough chances to take something from the game but failed to break down a stubborn defense well marshaled by the likes of Diego Godin and Jose Maria Gimenez.

Uruguay won the most recent instalment of this famous rivalry – a 3-2 success in qualifying for the 2014 World Cup – with Tabarez backing his side to grow into the tournament.

“We will continue to work in these few days,” Tabarez said on Sunday. “We were not at our best but that’s not the case just for us, not many teams arrive in their best form and it is widely expected that teams improve.”

The sides meet after Paraguay takes on Jamaica, with the picture of the group set to look a lot clearer after close of play on Tuesday.

NaijaBet Odds

As at this post Argentina has 1.69 odd to win the match on NaijaBet while Uruguay has 5.53 odd to win the match also, while the odd to draw the match is 3.69.

Sweden VS Nigeria Match Preview

desire-oparanozie-asisat-oshoala-ngozi-okobi_1lioo3uuzbulk1m2n95pp98fc6The young sensation returns to the country where she won top awards at the U20 World Cup in 2014 seeking victory with the senior side

Nigeria Women open their Fifa Women’s World Cup campaign against Sweden at the Winnipeg Stadium on Monday night, with Asisat Oshoala set to return to familiar grounds.

The 21-year-old was named best player at the 2014 Fifa U20 Women’s World Cup in Canada and has not relented since. She was named best player at the African Women Championship late last year and moved to Liverpool in England early in 2015.

Personal accolades have come with delivering top notch performances that have propelled the national teams to glory.

She failed to deliver the U20 World Cup last year, narrowly losing to Germany in the final, but helped Nigeria regain the African title in Namibia as they defeated Cameroon 2-0.

The former Rivers Angels star insists she is under no pressure to set the stage alight not minding the opponent.

“For us, we do not know the word pressure. We do our best and just pray for mother luck. We have all it takes to go all the way and take the Cup back to Nigeria,” Oshoala told Goal.

“I was expecting any [oppostition] because it’s called draws – anything can happen. The teams [USA, Sweden and Australia] are no threat to us all.

“We have more than enough good players who will make Nigeria progress from the group stage. I believe we have the capacity to advance and nothing to fear.

“We can’t go to the World Cup to merely add to the numbers, but we’re going there to participate and to prove a point.

“I can’t say right away how far we’ll go at the World Cup, but I’m positive we won’t disappoint Nigerians when hostilities start in Canada,” she said.

Pia Sundhage’s side holds the edge over the Africans with Nigeria losing four of their last five successive World Cup games. They last won 1-0 against 2015 hosts Canada in 2011. While Sweden only lost one and won four of the last five.

The African champions boast of a well-built, formidable attack and physical defensive unit with Desire Oparanozie expected to lead the frontline with Oshoala, Francisca Ordega and Ngozi Okobi just behind in attacking midfield positions as part of coach Edwin Okon’s settled line-up.

The Super Falcons bring an even stronger team to this year’s World Cup. Oshoala, the BBC women footballer of the year, has established herself as a star for Liverpool in England, while 21-year-old Oparanozie is coming off an 11-goal season for Guingamp in France.

Washington Spirit attacker Ordega (21) and Oklahoma State University striker Courtney Dike give the team enviable depth going forward.

The Falcons’ defence will undoubtedly have more to do in Canada than they did in Namibia and coach Okon can depend on veteran Onome Ebi and Osinachi Ohale to marshal the defence.

Sweden on their own part staged a return to the competition with a number of stars performing at their peak.

Lotta Schelin’s precision leading the attack makes her a prototypical number nine. Kosovare Asallani provides a creative element in midfield, while Caroline Seger provides both resilience and goals.

Nilla Fischer is considered by many to be the world’s best in central defence.

Nevertheless, the African powerhouse will seek to upset all odds to record an epic opening at the Fifa Women’s World Cup by conquering the European giants to win their first match in Canada.

Korea Republic referee RI Hyang Ok will be assisted by Hong Kum Nyo, Kim Kyoung Min, Abirami Apbai Naidu to officiate the match.

The encounter between Nigeria and Sweden comes up on Monday, June 8 at 9pm Nigerian time.

NaijaBet Odds

As at this post, Sweden has 1. 48 to win the match on NaijaBet, while Nigeria has 6.60 to win the match also, to draw is 4.60.