Category Archives: Soccer

Coverage of various soccer leagues and tournaments.

Infantino’s Re-election Shows Little Has Changed With FIFA

Gianni Infantino at the 2018 World Cup held in Russia. Infantino was re-elected as FIFA president after running unopposed. He will serve until 2023. (Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images Europe )

Infantino’s Re-Election Shows Little Has Changed With FIFA

On Wednesday, Gianni Infantino was re-elected as FIFA president for a second term. He won the bid with no opposition with the FIFA council opting to back him by acclamation. Infantino had this to say as leader of the organization:

…”a new FIFA, an organisation that is synonymous with credibility, confidence, integrity.”

– Infantino during his speech to FIFA’s 69th Congress on Wednesday, June 5, 2019.

Transparency and Voting

A link to FIFA’s key achievements between 2016 and 2019 can be found here. Outside of FIFA tooting their own horn, it is clear little has changed with FIFA from five years ago. Let’s start with this very election.

FIFA, claiming to be “more transparent”, did not even hold a vote for Infantino’s election. Sure, no one ran against him (why not?), but given recent events, holding a vote for this election would seem to be prudent to help build credibility. According to the New York Times (potential paywall), a statute was enacted just this week that allowed for the vote to be bypassed. Pretty convenient for a “transparent and credible” organization.

Speaking of votes, the Congress did test their voting and came up with this gem (per Rob Harris).

Not only did the voting test work improperly for some members (210 members voted, yet only 177 votes were deemed valid), 6 did not even know that this year’s Women’s World Cup was taking place in France. It begins on Friday. One could surmise this is a step towards transparency by even showing this blunder, but it does not really make FIFA look any better.

Alternative Facts

Here is another quote from Infantino’s address to Congress:

“This organization went from being toxic, almost criminal to what it should be — an organization that develops football, an organization that cares about football,” Infantino said. “We have transformed it into a new FIFA — an organization which is synonymous with credibility, trust, integrity, equality, human rights.”

Infantino during his speech to FIFA’s 69th Congress on Wednesday, June 5, 2019.

By “almost criminal” does he mean completely corrupt? Surely, he does. And doesn’t being corrupt mean being criminal? There’s no almost about it.

The part about being “an organization that cares about football” is true. Especially when it comes to money. According to FIFA’s own press release, the reserves increased to $2.745 billion while a new record in revenue was reached in 2018 with $6.421 billion as a result of the 2018 World Cup. If my assets increased by 50% over the previous cycle, I’d definitely care about the sport too.

The last part – the one about synonymity with credibility, trust, integrity, equality, and human rights – is a lot to unpack. FIFA hardly evokes positive thoughts and certainly none of the ones referenced by Infantino will be at the top of the list. One only needs to read through the Wikipedia entry on the 2015 Corruption Case to see how wrong that statement is.

We have now established that credibility, trust, and integrity are, in fact, not synonymous with FIFA. Let’s move onto equality and human rights.


What is FIFA’s definition of equality? The “unprecedented” 20% of FIFA committee members now being women? The requirement that there must be at least 1 woman per confederation on the FIFA Council? Or what about the five games being held in Paris, yet the advertisement shown below is from September 2018 for the men’s French national team?

The 2019 Women’s World Cup features $30 million in prize money distributed to the nations, which is double the amount paid in 2015. $400 million was distributed at the 2018 World Cup.

The world’s top female soccer player, Ada Hegerberg, has not played for Norway in two years as she battles for equality in the Nordic country. She has decided to skip this year’s World Cup, which will take some shine off the upcoming tournament.

Hegerberg’s fight is just one of several around the world for equal pay between the men’s and women’s teams including the United States and Australia.

In fairness to FIFA, the revenues generated from the men’s World Cup far exceed the women’s World Cup, which leads to the observed disparity in prize money. It makes sense from an overall revenue standpoint that men would get paid more. Moreover, the relatively recent introduction of the women’s tournament plays a part in the smaller revenues (2019 will be only the 8th edition of the Women’s World Cup).


Given the surging popularity and growth of the women’s game in the last decade, it would make sense for FIFA to provide more money. In fact, given FIFA’s strong desire to acquire money, they ought to grow the women’s game faster to reap higher revenues sooner.

Furthermore, increasing the prize pool to draw ought to bring more women into the sport with a higher wage. Higher prizes equals more competition, in turn leading to higher quality matches. This results in higher revenues/prize money and (hopefully) a virtuous cycle that leads to equality between the men’s and women’s games.

Human Rights

Finally, we reach the human rights aspect. Minky Worden has a Twitter thread linking articles detailing the failed attempt to expand the 2022 World Cup beyond Qatar’s borders.

Why on earth did FIFA want to expand the 2022 World Cup from 32 to 48 teams given the extensive human rights issues? One can probably figure out the billion$ of rea$on$ to ignore all the crimes.

For those wanting background on the human rights issues plaguing Qatar, Tifo Football has a good video on the topic, which is presented below.

As much as Gianni Infantio would like us to believe that FIFA has evolved, it has not.

10 Winners And Losers From The 2018 Group Stage

Russia were big winners during the group stage of the 2018 World Cup (Matthias Hangst/Getty Images Europe)

10 Winners And Losers From The 2018 Group Stage

48 matches have been played thus far at the 2018 World Cup and there have been plenty of winners and losers. We take a look below at ten winners and losers from the group stage.

1. Winner: The viewers – Anyone who has followed the 2018 World Cup, even from afar, can see there has been quite the amount of drama. Late goals, spectacular performances, shocking upsets, this tournament really seems to have had it all. There was only one scoreless draw (France and Denmark) and every team scored at least two goals in the group stage. What could the knockout stages hold for us?

2. Loser: Pre-tournament favoritesSpain, France, Argentina, Germany, and Poland (at least to get through Group H) all had some hype around them. Instead, Germany and Poland were eliminated in the group with Germany being so for the first time. Argentina needed a late Marcos Rojo goal to finish second. Spain and France have not looked convincing even if they did both win the group. That does make for good drama worth tuning in to.

3. Winner: Peru – Peru were very unlucky to have failed to qualify for the Round of 16. The missed PK against Denmark will haunt them as had that been converted and ended as a draw they would have gone through. Nevertheless, they won a lot of fans for their exciting style of play and would have been deserving of progressing.

4. Loser: Germany – Not to pile on, but this really was a disaster. The 2014 World Cup Winners were eliminated in the group stage, which has happened to four of the last five World Cup Winners. However, this was the first time Germany failed to make it out of the group stage and they did it spectacularly by finishing last.

The only real inclination of possible problems was the lead up to the tournament. The Germans stumbled in their friendlies and looked terrible, but those were just tune up games. They made the semis of Euro 2016 and won the 2017 Confederations Cup, which built up their hype to potentially repeat in 2018.

5. Winner: Russia – The lowest ranked team entering the World Cup started with back-to-back crushing wins to book their place in the Round of 16. Russia had a chance to win Group A had they at least drew with Uruguay, they were outmatched and finished second. Their reward is playing Spain, but the Spaniards have not looked dominant, Russia will have the crowd behind them, and this tournament has produced a few shockers.

6. Loser: Referees – While this author thinks that VAR has been solid, the real issue with its use is down to the referees and length of review.  Whenever VAR is used, it has seemed to take far too long to make a determination. In addition, there are some clear cut calls that could be made on the field, yet referees defer to VAR to bail them out. While VAR is well intentioned and has worked decently, the human aspect needs a bit more fine tuning.

7. Winner: Fox’s commentators and analysts – Everyone has their preferred commentators when they watch sports, but Fox’s roster has been very solid. Anchored by JP Dellacamera and Derek Rae, all the commentators have done a good job calling the games and the analysts have been fantastic to listen to as they break down plays. Stuart Holden has been a bright spot from the viewpoint with his specific breakdowns for the viewers.

8. Loser: United States – Watching Panama and Costa Rica crash out after two games must be bothersome. Seeing Mexico move on to the Round of 16 must hurt more. But the worst part has to be the chaos that has erupted with the upsets and lack of a dominant team. Had they just drawn Trinidad & Tobago, they could be part of this carnage. Then again, who says the US would have advanced to the knockout stages? Overall, the US will be better down the road even if this is tough to watch now.

9. Winner: The last 16 teams – In most years this would be a cliché of “anything can happen.” Well, in 2018, this really is true for the last 16 teams left in the World Cup. There has not been a truly dominant team or any group of teams that have separated themselves. The favorites look vulnerable and upsets that few envisioned are actually happening (see South Korea v Germany). If a 16 can beat a 1 in the NCAA Basketball tournament during 2018, why not a surprise WC winner?

10. Winner: Asian Confederation – Four years ago, the four teams from AFC combined to play 12 games and finished with three draws and nine losses. They scored nine goals, gave up 25 goals, and all four teams finished last in their group.

Flash forward to this year and it has been a different outcome. Five teams qualified with Saudi Arabia, Iran, South Korea, and Japan all recording victories. Only Australia failed to win a game as they finished last in their group. Japan qualified for the Round of 16 as second place finishers in Group H. It has been a much better performance all around from the AFC.

Bonus: Own Goals/Penalties – This could go as a winner or loser depending on your point of view. There have been 9 own goals in Russia, 24 penalties given, and 18 of those penalties have been converted, which are all World Cup records. Some may complain too many penalties have been given, while others may say they were correctly given.

Let’s hope the last two weeks are as entertaining as the first two weeks have been. Enjoy the knockout stages!

10 Predictions For The 2018 World Cup Group Stage

Lionel Messi leads Argentina into the 2018 World Cup. How will the magician continue his majestic ways this summer? (Paul Gilham/Getty Images South America)

10 Predictions For The 2018 World Cup Group Stage

The FIFA World Cup begins on Thursday, June 14 when Russia takes on Saudi Arabia in Moscow to open the month long tournament. We will take a stab at some predictions for the tournament starting with the group stage.

Below, we will make a prediction for each of the eight groups (A to H) and then also make two general predictions for the group stage.

1. (Group A) Uruguay will win all three matches – The first group is a favorable draw for Uruguay against Russia, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia. Uruguay is favored to win the group, but this calls for them to sweep their way to nine points. The biggest threats are Russia and Egypt who will presumably be battling for second.

For Uruguay, they will have to deal with combination of Mohamed Salah and the awesome story of Essam El-Hadary, the 45 year old goalkeeper for Egypt. Salah is nursing an injury going into opening game for the Egyptians, which is against Uruguay. Even without Salah, the challenge is going to be difficult. Then there is Russia playing at home which will give them a boost. Still, Uruguay is in position to not only win Group A, but win all three matches.

2. (Group B) Spain defeats Portugal and wins Group B – Barring a 2014-like collapse, this group is down to Spain and Portugal. No offense to Morocco and Iran for not giving them a chance, but they were dealt a horrendous draw.

This game is on match day one, which means the winner of this game will have one foot in the knockout stage. This matchup between the two neighboring countries will go to Spain as they roll into the tournament looking to avenge the disastrous campaign four years ago.

3. (Group C) France does not win the group – This French team is getting a lot of hype to win the World Cup. They have the talent with the likes of Antoine Griezmann, Paul Pogba, Kylian Mbappe, and N’Golo Kante among many others.

What is worrying about France is their desire and ability to finish games. The Euro 2016 Final against Portugal is exhibit A while poor results against Colombia (lost 3-2 after holding a 2-0 lead) and the United States have not looked good. The latter was particularly striking as the French towered over a young squad and yet only came away with a 1-1 draw.

Les Bleus take on Australia, Peru, and Denmark in this group, which seems like it would be favorable to them winning the group. However, Denmark will be a tough test and the longer France lets Australia and Peru hang around, the more confidence the underdogs get.

France can surely quell the unease with statement wins against all three, but there is something about this team that lingers. We still think France reaches the knockout stages in the end (and probably makes a deep run), but we predict they do not win the group.

4. (Group D) Group D will feature the most entertaining matches – Lionel Messi and Argentina lead this group, but that is not the only reason for this prediction. Nigeria has an odd way of testing Argentina. The Super Eagles have split the last four games against them and all four games featured at least four goals including the 2014 World Cup match Argentina won 3-2.

Then there is Iceland. Iceland has given up at least two goals in their last four international friendlies. This team can also score goals to provide some more excitement including at the end of games (see Euro 2016 against Austria).

Croatia, who got hammered 3-1 against both Brazil and Mexico at the 2014 World Cup, has two players embroiled in a scandal going into the 2018 Finals. One of them is Luka Modric, a man heavily relied upon for the team. Will that negatively affect their play? We shall see, but overall, this group should be fun to watch each match day.

5. (Group E) Costa Rica will get back to the Knockout Stages – Now this would be a surprise. Then again, what they did in 2014 was also a surprise. The Ticos not only made the knockout stages four years ago, but they won Group D by defeating both Uruguay and Italy while drawing with England. 

This year features a group of Brazil, Switzerland, and Serbia. Getting past Brazil will be tough, but the Ticos can get past the duo of Switzerland and Serbia. Keylor Navas will be in the net, but also returning are the four players who scored for Costa Rica at the 2014 World Cup: Bryan Ruiz, Joel Campbell, Oscar Duarte, and Marcos Urena.

This group already knows how to defy the expectations placed upon them. They also know how to handle the pressure of being at the World Cup. We like Costa Rica to get past the group stage once again.

6. (Group F) Germany drops a point – The reigning World Cup winners tower over this group. Mexico, Sweden, and South Korea will be fighting for second. They key for all three is if they can steal a point (or more) from the Germans. On paper, this seems like a stretch. However, if we go back to 1998, only once has Germany won all three games in the group stage. That came in 2006 when they hosted the World Cup. Below is a look back at each game Germany has failed to win at the World Cup since 1998.

2014 – 2-2 draw vs Ghana

2010 – 0-1 loss vs Serbia

2006 – Won all three games; WC played in Germany

2002 – 1-1 draw vs Republic of Ireland

1998 – 2-2 draw vs Yugoslavia

Another reason for this prediction is the lackluster performances from Germany leading up to the World Cup. They survived 2-1 against Saudi Arabia, lost 2-1 to Austria, lost 1-0 to Brazil, and drew 1-1 with Spain. Germany has their weird way of turning it on once they hit the field, but not without a bump in the road. Expect one of those in Group F though the Germans will still cruise into the knockout stages.

7. (Group G) Belgium score at least 10 goals – We really find Belgium’s Group G matchups favorable, aside from the England game. Eden Hazard, Romelu Lukaku, Dries Mertens, and Kevin De Bruyne should create plenty of chances against Tunisia and especially Panama.

This team looks ready to pour in the goals and they finish the group stage against England with the winner of the game most likely to take top billing. A couple goals against England could put this prediction over the top.

8. (Group H) Senegal Finishes Top Two – This group features Poland, Colombia, and Japan so the work is cut out for Senegal to advance. It is crucial they take points from Poland and Colombia (a win against either and a win against Japan should suffice). Sadio Mane will be the focus for them as the Liverpool man is coming of a 20 goal campaign.

Outside of Mane, they have the talent to compete and move past the group stage. Kalidou Koulibaly will be worth keeping on eye on as well. The last game is against Colombia is likely decide which team goes through and which team goes home.

9. (General Prediction) The group stage will see at least 125 goals scored – Let’s be honest: We want to see goals. And a lot of them. That does not mean a 0-0 contest is boring or not entertaining. They most certainly can be, but we are going based on what has historically happened.

Since the World Cup expanded in 1998, there has been an average of 122 goals scored in the group stage. Three have featured more than 125 goals and we look for the same. This is not guaranteed though. Back in 2010, only 101 goals were scored in the group stage thanks to an abnormally low 25 goals on match day one. 2014 saw that total nearly double to 49 for match day one. 2014 was also the highest scoring group stage at 136 since 1998. Let’s hope this continues at the 2018 World Cup.

10. (General Prediction) Asia and Africa have a 2014 repeat – Let’s clarify what we mean here. In 2014, Africa had two teams to make the knockout stages while Asian teams were shutout. In fact, no Asian team recorded a win in 2014. We are predicting that two teams from Africa will go to the Round of 16 while no Asian team will advance to that point.

Let’s start with Africa: We have already called for Senegal to make the knockout stages, but there are other opportunities for the continent. Egypt could slip through Group A with Salah; Morocco has a tough Group B draw; Nigeria might also sneak through if results against Iceland and Croatia break their way; Tunisia faces a daunting task against Belgium and England.

That gives Africa three plausible knockout choices in Egypt, Nigeria, and Senegal. The same cannot be said for Asia. Saudi Arabia is in group A, but considered a serious longshot. Iran is in Group B with Portugal, Spain, and Morocco. Australia has a chance though they need results against European sides France and Denmark. They also face Peru, which will not be easy.

South Korea is in Group F with Germany, Mexico, and Sweden. With the Germans, that realistically leaves one spot open and the Koreans will need results from the other two games. Japan faces a similar dilemma against Poland, Colombia, and Senegal. All five Asian sides are considered the longest shot in their respective group to win.

We expect a good fight from all five Asian countries. However, given their draws, this looks like another World Cup without an Asian side making the last 16.

That concludes our 10 predictions for the 2018 World Cup Group stage. Enjoy the start of the 2018 World Cup!

Euro 2016 Group and Knockout Stage Schedules

The French National Team training in March 2016. Ousmane Dembele is pictured trying to control the ball. Euro 2016 will be held across France in June and July. (AFP / Franck Fife)

Euro 2016 Group and Knockout Stage Schedules

We are just two weeks away from the start of Euro 2016 and the group stage schedule is known along with the composition of the groups. Below are the groups as well as the schedule for each game in that group. Game times are Eastern Standard Time for the United States. The stadium and location of the stadia are also noted below.

Also provided are the daily schedules of the games that can be found near the bottom of this post. TV channels will be provided when they are known. Below the group standings and schedules are the daily schedules

Group A

France (A)32104137
Switzerland (A)31202115
Albania (Elim)310213-23
Romania (Elim)301224-21

DateTime (EST)Team #1ScoreTeam #2TVStadiumLocation
10-Jun-20163:00 PMFrance2:1RomaniaESPN2Stade de FranceSaint-Denis
11-Jun-20169:00 AMAlbania0:1SwitzerlandESPNStade Bollaert-DelelisLens
15-Jun-201612:00 PMRomania1:1SwitzerlandESPNParc des PrincesParis
15-Jun-20163:00 PMFrance2:0AlbaniaESPNStade VelodromeMarseille
19-Jun-20163:00 PMSwitzerland0:0FranceESPNStade Pierre-MauroyLille
19-Jun-20163:00 PMRomania0:1AlbaniaESPN2Parc Olympique LyonnaisLyon

Group B

Wales (A)32016336
England (A)31203215
Slovakia (A)31113304
Russia (Elim)301226-41

DateTime (EST)Team #1ScoreTeam #2TVStadiumLocation
11-Jun-201612:00 PMWales2:1SlovakiaESPNNouveau Stade de BordeauxBordeaux
11-Jun-20163:00 PMEngland1:1RussiaESPNStade VelodromeMarseille
15-Jun-20169:00 AMRussia1:2SlovakiaESPNStade Pierre-MauroyLille
16-Jun-20169:00 AMEngland2:1WalesESPNStade Bollaert-DelelisLens
20-Jun-20163:00 PMSlovakia0:0EnglandESPNStade Geoffroy-GuichardSaint-Etienne
20-Jun-20163:00 PMRussia0:3WalesESPN2Stade MunicipalToulouse

Group C

Germany (A)32103037
Poland (A)32102027
Ireland (A)
Ukraine (Elim)300305-50

DateTime (EST)Team #1ScoreTeam #2TVStadiumLocation
12-Jun-201612:00 PMPoland1:0N IrelandESPNAllianz RivieraNice
12-Jun-20163:00 PMGermany2:0UkraineESPNStade Pierre-MauroyLille
16-Jun-201612:00 PMUkraine0:2N IrelandESPNParc Olympique LyonnaisLyon
16-Jun-20163:00 PMGermany0:0PolandESPNStade de FranceSaint-Denis
21-Jun-201612:00 PMN Ireland0:1GermanyESPNParc des PrincesParis
21-Jun-201612:00 PMUkraine0:1PolandESPN2Stade VelodromeMarseille

Group D

Croatia (A)32105327
Spain (A)32015236
Turkey (Elim)310224-23
Czech Republic (Elim)301225-31

DateTime (EST)Team #1ScoreTeam #2TVStadiumLocation
12-Jun-20169:00 AMTurkey0:1CroatiaESPNParc des PrincesParis
13-Jun-20169:00 AMSpain1:0Czech Rep.ESPNStade MunicipalToulouse
17-Jun-201612:00 PMCzech Rep.2:2CroatiaESPNStade Geoffroy-GuichardSaint-Etienne
17-Jun-20163:00 PMSpain3:0TurkeyESPNAllianz RivieraNice
21-Jun-20163:00 PMCroatia2:1SpainESPNNouveau Stade de BordeauxBordeaux
21-Jun-20163:00 PMCzech Rep.0:2TurkeyESPN2Stade Bollaert-DelelisLens

Group E

Italy (A)32013126
Belgium (A)32014226
Rep. of Ireland (A)311124-24
Sweden (Elim)301213-21

DateTime (EST)Team #1ScoreTeam #2TVStadiumLocation
13-Jun-201612:00 PMRep. Ireland1:1SwedenESPNStade de FranceSaint-Denis
13-Jun-20163:00 PMBelgium2:0ItalyESPNParc Olympique LyonnaisLyon
17-Jun-20169:00 AMItaly1:0SwedenESPNStadium MunicipalToulouse
18-Jun-20169:00 AMBelgium3:0Rep. IrelandESPNNouveau Stade de BordeauxBordeaux
22-Jun-20163:00 PMItaly0:1Rep. IrelandESPNStade Pierre-MauroyLille
22-Jun-20163:00 PMSweden0:1BelgiumESPN2Allianz RivieraNice

Group F

Hungary (A)31206425
Iceland (A)31204315
Portugal (A)30304403
Austria (Elim)301114-31

DateTime (EST)Team #1ScoreTeam #2TVStadiumLocation
14-Jun-201612:00 PMAustria0:2HungaryESPNNouveau Stade de BordeauxBordeaux
14-Jun-20163:00 PMPortugal1:1IcelandESPNStade Geoffroy-GuichardSaint-Etienne
18-Jun-201612:00 PMIceland1:1HungaryESPNStade VelodromeMarseille
18-Jun-20163:00 PMPortugal0:0AustriaESPNParc des PrincesParis
22-Jun-201612:00 PMHungary3:3PortugalESPNParc Olympique LyonnaisLyon
22-Jun-201612:00 PMIceland2:1AustriaESPN2Stade de FranceSaint-Denis

June 10 Schedule

DateTime (EST)Team #1ScoreTeam #2TVStadiumLocationGroup
10-Jun-20163:00 PMFrance2:1RomaniaESPN2Stade de FranceSaint-DenisGroup A

June 11 Schedule

DateTime (EST)Team #1ScoreTeam #2TVStadiumLocationGroup
11-Jun-20169:00 AMAlbania0:1SwitzerlandESPNStade Bollaert-DelelisLensGroup A
11-Jun-201612:00 PMWales2:1SlovakiaESPNNouveau Stade de BordeauxBordeauxGroup B
11-Jun-20163:00 PMEngland1:1RussiaESPNStade VelodromeMarseilleGroup B

June 12 Schedule

DateTime (EST)Team #1ScoreTeam #2TVStadiumLocationGroup
12-Jun-20169:00 AMTurkey0:1CroatiaESPNParc des PrincesParisGroup D
12-Jun-201612:00 PMPoland1:0N IrelandESPNAllianz RivieraNiceGroup C
12-Jun-20163:00 PMGermany2:0UkraineESPNStade Pierre-MauroyLilleGroup C

June 13 Schedule

DateTime (EST)Team #1ScoreTeam #2TVStadiumLocationGroup
13-Jun-20169:00 AMSpain1:0Czech Rep.ESPNStade MunicipalToulouseGroup D
13-Jun-201612:00 PMRep. Ireland1:1SwedenESPNStade de FranceSaint-DenisGroup E
13-Jun-20163:00 PMBelgium0:2ItalyESPNParc Olympique LyonnaisLyonGroup E

June 14 Schedule

DateTime (EST)Team #1ScoreTeam #2TVStadiumLocationGroup
14-Jun-201612:00 PMAustria0:2HungaryESPNNouveau Stade de BordeauxBordeauxGroup F
14-Jun-20163:00 PMPortugal1:1IcelandESPNStade Geoffroy-GuichardSaint-EtienneGroup F

June 15 Schedule

DateTime (EST)Team #1ScoreTeam #2TVStadiumLocationGroup
15-Jun-20169:00 AMRussia1:2SlovakiaESPNStade Pierre-MauroyLilleGroup B
15-Jun-201612:00 PMRomania1:1SwitzerlandESPNParc des PrincesParisGroup A
15-Jun-20163:00 PMFrance2:0AlbaniaESPNStade VelodromeMarseilleGroup A

June 16 Schedule

DateTime (EST)Team #1ScoreTeam #2TVStadiumLocationGroup
16-Jun-20169:00 AMEngland2:1WalesESPNStade Bollaert-DelelisLensGroup B
16-Jun-201612:00 PMUkraine0:2N IrelandESPNParc Olympique LyonnaisLyonGroup C
16-Jun-20163:00 PMGermany0:0PolandESPNStade de FranceSaint-DenisGroup C

June 17 Schedule

DateTime (EST)Team #1ScoreTeam #2TVStadiumLocationGroup
17-Jun-20169:00 AMItaly1:0SwedenESPNStadium MunicipalToulouseGroup E
17-Jun-201612:00 PMCzech Rep.2:2CroatiaESPNStade Geoffroy-GuichardSaint-EtienneGroup D
17-Jun-20163:00 PMSpain3:0TurkeyESPNAllianz RivieraNiceGroup D

June 18 Schedule

DateTime (EST)Team #1ScoreTeam #2TVStadiumLocationGroup
18-Jun-20169:00 AMBelgium3:0Rep. IrelandESPNNouveau Stade de BordeauxBordeauxGroup E
18-Jun-201612:00 PMIceland1:1HungaryESPNStade VelodromeMarseilleGroup F
18-Jun-20163:00 PMPortugal0:0AustriaESPNParc des PrincesParisGroup F

June 19 Schedule

DateTime (EST)Team #1ScoreTeam #2TVStadiumLocationGroup
19-Jun-20163:00 PMSwitzerland0:0FranceESPNStade Pierre-MauroyLilleGroup A
19-Jun-20163:00 PMRomania0:1AlbaniaESPN2Parc Olympique LyonnaisLyonGroup A

June 20 Schedule

DateTime (EST)Team #1ScoreTeam #2TVStadiumLocationGroup
20-Jun-20163:00 PMSlovakia0:0EnglandESPNStade Geoffroy-GuichardSaint-EtienneGroup B
20-Jun-20163:00 PMRussia0:3WalesESPN2Stade MunicipalToulouseGroup B

June 21 Schedule

DateTime (EST)Team #1ScoreTeam #2TVStadiumLocationGroup
21-Jun-201612:00 PMN Ireland0:1GermanyESPNParc des PrincesParisGroup C
21-Jun-201612:00 PMUkraine0:1PolandESPN2Stade VelodromeMarseilleGroup C
21-Jun-20163:00 PMCroatia2:1SpainESPNNouveau Stade de BordeauxBordeauxGroup D
21-Jun-20163:00 PMCzech Rep.0:2TurkeyESPN2Stade Bollaert-DelelisLensGroup D

June 22 Schedule

DateTime (EST)Team #1ScoreTeam #2TVStadiumLocationGroup
22-Jun-201612:00 PMHungary3:3PortugalESPNParc Olympique LyonnaisLyonGroup F
22-Jun-201612:00 PMIceland2:1AustriaESPN2Stade de FranceSaint-DenisGroup F
22-Jun-20163:00 PMItaly0:1Rep. IrelandESPNStade Pierre-MauroyLilleGroup E
22-Jun-20163:00 PMSweden0:1BelgiumESPN2Allianz RivieraNiceGroup E

Knockout Stages

Below is the schedule for each of the knockout stages starting with the Round of 16 followed by the Quarter-finals, Semi-finals, and Final. The schedules will be updated as the participants are known.

Round of 16 Schedule

DateTime (EST)Team #1ScoreTeam #2TVStadiumLocation
25-Jun-20169 AMSwizterland1:1 (4:5 PK)PolandESPNStade Geoffroy-GulchardSaint-Etienne
25-Jun-201612 PMWales1:0Northern IrelandESPNParc de PrincesParis
25-Jun-20163 PMCroatia0:1 (aet)PortugalESPNStade Bollaert-DelelisLen
26-Jun-20169 AMFrance2:1Republic of IrelandESPNParc Olympique LyonnaisLyon
26-Jun-201612 PMGermany3:0SlovakiaESPNStade Pierre-MauroyVilleneuve-d'Ascq
26-Jun-20163 PMHungary0:4BelgiumESPNStadium MunicipalToulouse
27-June-201612 PMItaly2:0SpainESPN2Stade de FranceSaint-Denis
27-June-20163 PMEngland1:2IcelandESPN2Allianz RiveriaNice

Quarter-Finals Schedule

DateTime (EST)Team #1ScoreTeam #2TVStadiumLocation
30-Jun-20163 PMPoland1:1 (3:5 PK)PortugalESPN2Stade VelodromeMarseille
1-Jul-20163 PMWales3:1BelgiumESPN2Stade Pierre-MauroyVilleneuve-d'Asq
2-Jul-20163 PMGermany1:1 (6:5 PK)ItalyESPN2Nouveau Stade de BordeauxBordeaux
3-Jul-20163 PMFrance5:2IcelandESPNStade de FranceSaint-Denis

Semi-Finals Schedule

DateTime (EST)Team #1ScoreTeam #2TVStadiumLocation
6-Jul-20163 PMPortugal2:0WalesESPNParc Olympique LyonnaisLyon
7-Jul-20163 PMGermany0:2FranceESPNStade VelodromeMarseille


DateTime (EST)Team #1ScoreTeam #2TVStadiumLocation
10-Jul-20163 PMPortugal1:0 (aet)FranceESPNStade de FranceSaint-Denis

The Remaining Schedules For Leicester City And Tottenham

Leicester City are five points clear with seven games to play in the Premier League ( Michael Regan/Getty Images Europe)

The Remaining Schedules For Leicester City And Tottenham

The English Premier League is starting to come to end, but how much drama will there be between the two presumptive title chasers of Leicester City and Tottenham? We will find out, but let’s take a closer look at their respective schedules.

First, let’s see how the table shapes up as of the games completed on Sunday, March 20, 2016:

2015-16 EPL Standings as of 3.20.16

Leicester City has a five point lead with seven games to play while Arsenal sits 11 points off lead in third with an extra game in hand. For the purposes of this article, we will only focus on Leicester City and Tottenham. Below are the schedules for each team.

Final 7 Games For Leicester City and Tottenham

Leicester and Tottenham have pretty similar schedules left as they share common opponents of Southampton, Manchester United, and Chelsea. They both have to face a relegation positioned team away from home with Leicester taking on Sunderland and Tottenham facing Newcastle. The average current position of the teams remaining for the Foxes is 11th while Tottenham is 10th.

It is also worth mentioning that the Premier League will be the only focus as Leicester City did not qualify for Europe last season and Tottenham was knocked out of the Europa League in the Round of 16. Neither team remains in the FA Cup with the Spurs defeating Leicester City in the Third Round and Crystal Palace knocking off Tottenham in the Fifth Round.

Leicester City’s magic point total is 83 points as of right now, which assumes Tottenham wins their final seven games to reach 82 points and a finish on 82 points would be of no help to the Foxes as they have an inferior goal differential. Will Tottenham win all of their remaining seven games? It is hard to say, but probably not given the Premier League’s way of giving us twists and turns. (The same goes for Leicester City as well).

All Leicester, or any team winning a league, has to do is win the games in front of them and not worry about what they cannot control (Tottenham’s results). If the Foxes take care of their business, they will be lifting the Premier League trophy and go down as one of the greatest stories in Football history.

Chicago Fire Drops Opening Day Match To NYC FC

Chicago was unable overcome a 3-1 halftime deficit as they lost opening day to New York City FC (Photo courtesy of Chicago Fire's Twitter account.)
Chicago was unable overcome a 3-1 halftime deficit as they lost opening day to New York City FC (Photo courtesy of Chicago Fire’s Twitter account.)

An exciting opening day MLS match between the Chicago Fire and New York City FC saw City hold on for a 4-3 victory. All seven goals in the game were scored by different players and there was no shortage of opportunities for even more goals.

The Fire had an early chance in the second minute as Kennedy Igboananike put a nice pass through to Gilberto, but his shot was blocked after a cut back and the attack petered out. It was not long before City had their first good chance about a minute later as a blocked shot in the box fell to David Villa, but his shot was right at Matt Lampson.

David Accam used his speed in the sixth minute to beat his man, but his shot was saved by City’s Josh Saunders and Arturo Alvarez’s follow up was well over the bar. City opened the scoring in the 10th minute when Thomas McNamara picked up the ball outside the box and hit a wonderful goal to the top right corner off the post as there was no chance for Lampson to make the save.

Gilberto had another chance to score just a few minutes later after getting behind the defense. There was contact in the box and Gilberto went to ground, but no penalty was given by referee Armando Villarreal. The 17th minute saw Khiry Shelton get a shot off, but Lampson was there to prevent the deficit from doubling with a relatively easy save.

Razvan Cocis leveled the game in the 19th minute with a beautiful run from midfield while Alvarez delivered wonderful ball over the defense and it was easy for him to bury the goal in the bottom right. Cosis tired to make it a 2-1 lead for the Fire in the 23rd minute after a City turnover in their final third, but his attempted chip was not nigh enough and easily caught by Saunders.

City made it 2-1 in the 29th minute thanks to a blunder in the box by two Fire defenders. Joao Meira and Michael Harrington both went to clear the ball, but collided and it fell for Taylor to slot it home. Meira hit Harrington in the forehead with his boot and caused a laceration, but Harrington came back on the field after getting patched up.

City made it 3-1 in the 36th minute after Shelton was able to burst past his defender and also dribbled past a caught out Lampson while he maintained his balance to but the ball in the back of the net. Gilberto had another chance in the 41st minute, but his shot was blocked by Saunders again while Saunders came up big again in the 42nd minute getting his boot to Accam’s chance. Accam had one final chance before halftime, but once again the ball was saved by Saunders.

The Fire started the second half with Jonathan Campbell coming on for an injured Gilberto, who had a very good first half performance. Gilberto’s absence led to David Accam being moved up top.

The Fire were able to get right back in the game thanks to Accam’s pressure on City defender Ethan White. Accam got the ball away from him, forced Saunders to commit to him, and set up an easy goal for Igboananike in the 49th minute.

Accam had a chance to level the score a short time later after getting behind the City defense, but could not keep his feet as he was unable to even got a shot away. In the 60th minute, Alvarez put in a nice cross to Accam, but his shot was not strong enough and the post was covered well by Saunders. City were able to restore their two goal lead with McNamara hitting a cross in the box that found Mix Diskerud and he blasted his volley to the lower right corner.

Accam nearly made it a one goal deficit again with a free run in the 67th minute, but Saunders came up with yet another big stop and the ensuing corner led to nothing for the Fire. The Fire were awarded a penalty in the 72nd minute thanks to a hand ball by Shelton in the box off a corner kick. Accam took the penalty kick and sent Saunders the wrong way to make it 4-3.

City nearly put the game beyond doubt in the fifth minute of stoppage time. David Villa was one on one with goalkeeper, but Lampson stopped his shot and the game remained 4-3 to City. That is how the game would finish as the Fire could not mount one final attack.

Notes and Analysis

  • Both managers were coaching their first MLS game with Patrick Vieira coming out on top ahead of Veljko Paunovic.
  • Frank Lampard was not in the lineup for City as he missed the match due to injury.
  • The Fire had 12 corners to just one for City.
  • City played a high line with their back four and it led to 7 offsides for the Fire. It also caused problems for City as the David Accam was able to use his speed to get past the back four defenders.
  • Full game stats can be found here via MLS’ website.
  • Jonathan Campbell made his MLS debut to start the second half when he subbed in for Gilberto.
  • Joey Calistri also made his MLS debut when he came on in the 81st minute for Razvan Cocis.

Chicago faces Orlando City on the road Friday night while City faces Toronto FC in their home opener on Sunday afternoon.

What Hurt the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup

The artificial turf did not stop the US Women's National Team from winning the 2015 Women's World Cup. ( Ronald Martinez/Getty Images North America)
The artificial turf did not stop the US Women’s National Team from winning the 2015 Women’s World Cup. ( Ronald Martinez/Getty Images North America)

What Hurt the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup

By most measures, the 2015 Women’s World Cup was an astounding success. Ratings were up for television and there was plenty of exciting action. Nearly every game in the knockout stage was competitive and had some kind of exciting finish whether it was a late goal or a close game throughout. Some teams crashed out earlier than expected (Canada) while others upset their way deep into the tournament (China and England).

However, despite all the positives there were several instances where the Women’s World Cup failed to live up to expectations or was downright ridiculous. Those examples will be listed below.

1. The Referees

For the most part, many people were enthralled by the product on the field between whichever two teams were playing (except this guy). There was one on-field part of the game that really took away from the excellent contests and that was the refereeing, or lack thereof.

Yours truly documented several cases of the referees not calling fouls, penalties given despite fouls occurring outside the box (USA vs Germany), and goal kicks given instead of corner kicks among many other issues. What is so striking about the referees is that these were determined to be the best in the world. (To be fair, there are plenty of gripes about the referees and officials in the NFL, NBA, NHL, MLB, MLS, Premier League, etc.).

That is a scary thought, but the World Cup deserves better. Why not use men to referee during the World Cup? Yes, this is a Women’s tournament, but it does not mean that men could not handle the job if they are qualified. It can be a few sets of male referees and assistants while keeping the majority of referees on the field females as one idea for the future.

Or FIFA can provide better training to the female referees and assistants. Given what we have learned in the past few months, that does not appear likely to be anywhere on the radar of FIFA.

2. “The Turf”

One of the biggest gripes this author has about the 2015 Women’s World Cup is the turf. This is not focused on how the turf plays, but rather the incessant complaining from Fox’s commentators about the turf.

This is not surprising that Fox did not like the turf being used considering many star players, including USA star Abby Wambach, sued FIFA in September 2014 over the turf. The lawsuit was withdrawn this past January, but that did not stop Fox from endlessly complaining about the turf (noted here) It was so bad that at one point a Fox analyst said the turf melted shoes.

It was known in 2011 that Canada would host the Women’s World Cup and the bid included artificial turf at nearly all of the venues. As this author documented in this article, this was a lack of foresight from the players to wait until September 2014 to file a lawsuit.

To be fair, the talk regarding turf was not nearly noticed as much in the latter stages of the tournament as it was at the beginning. Still, the fact it came up nearly ever game in the group stage makes it hard to listen to the game at times.

In the end, the turf did not matter as noticed in the final with the US crushing Japan 5-2. Whatever you want to call this tournament on the turf (an experiment?), it is now over and ultimately had little effect on the outcome.

3. The Analysts

This reason is purely personal, but accuracy is important from commentators and analysts alike.

Despite Fox’s non-stop complaining about the turf (see above), there was another area that really hurt Fox’s coverage. That was the analysts and specifically the mistakes they made. There are a ton of examples that prove Fox needs to provide better analysts.

One of the more egregious mistakes was that Rob Stone stated Canada never made the semifinals of the Women’s World Cup. That would make sense if 2003 never happened when Canada did make the semifinals.

Another analyst made the comment that French midfielder Claire Lavogez was gassed against Germany in the quarterfinal match despite coming on in the 69th minute. It did not make any sense at the time given the context of the game to that point.

One host referred to the extra 30 minutes of soccer as “overtime” instead of extra time. When trying to grow a sport like soccer the terminology is important. Imagine telling a person with no knowledge of College Football that two teams are going to sudden death extra time. (FYI, college football does not have any timed downs and each team is given a chance to score).

Even the usually excellent JP Dellacamera had a lapse in the USA versus Germany game. When Celia Sasic was awarded a penalty in the 60th minute, Dellacamera said it was the decisive moment in the match despite another 30 minutes remaining. It was not decisive, as the US would go on to score twice to win the match 2-0.

In the final between the USA and Japan, Dellacamera said the sun might have played a part in Hope Solo not seeing a shot. However, there was no direct sunlight on Solo in the latter part of the second half when the comment was made.

Another announcing flub was the own goal by England’s Laura Bassett versus Japan. When she accidentally put the ball in her own net, the announcers were completely flabbergasted as to what happened and did not appear to know what even happened. It was not until the Japan players celebrated that they were able to fully comprehend what happened and even the graphics department did not put up Japan’s second goal until well after the ensuing kickoff. For people who are supposed to tell the audience what has happened, that was a massive mistake.

Also in the USA versus Germany game, one of the commentators, Tony DiCicco said, “That Carli Lloyd was having a massive game“. However, DiCicco brought up accolades from the games against China and Colombia, which did not fit the argument of only the Germany game.


Not a lot of time will be spent on this because, well, it is FIFA after all. This article by Tim Booth sums up what FIFA did wrong.

5. Availability of Some Games

This was not a big problem for the games in the knockout stages, but the group stages did not have all the games available depending on the television providers. For example, if a game was shown on Fox Sports 2 and you did not have that channel via your provider, you could not watch the game on a mobile device or tablet.

This comes down to Fox and the providers, which undoubtedly makes both sides to blame. Only the group stage was affected, but imagine a major tournament in the future (Euro 2016 or the men’s World Cup in 2018) not showing all the games of the group stage.

It should not be that way for any major tournament, men’s or women’s.


The tournament was a huge success for the advancement of women’s soccer and its popularity. We will not have to worry about the 2019 tournament being played on turf, as it will be on grass in France (Yay! No more complaining about the turf). We will have to deal with Fox having the rights (No!), but within four years the availability of the Fox Sports channels across most providers should be settled (hopefully).

U.S. Soccer Federation And MLS Do Not Get It

Clint Dempsey gets a red card for his actions on Tuesday against Portland in the U.S. Open Cup (Jennifer Buchanan/USA TODAY Sports)
Clint Dempsey gets a red card for his actions on Tuesday against Portland in the U.S. Open Cup (Jennifer Buchanan/USA TODAY Sports)

U.S. Soccer Federation And MLS Do Not Get It

Seattle Sounder’s Clint Dempsey has been suspended three games for his obnoxious and reprehensible actions against Portland in Tuesday’s game in the U.S. Open Cup. Dempsey was also fined.

Dempsey was facing up to three months suspension from all competitions had the United States Soccer Federation found him guilty of assault. Instead, the USSF let the disciplinary actions fall to Major League Soccer on Friday. Below is a statement from MLS.

“We do not tolerate conduct of this nature from any of our players,” MLS Deputy Commissioner Mark Abbott said in a statement. “No matter how passionate our players are or what happens in the ‘heat of the moment,’ they must always respect all aspects of the game, especially the referees. In light of Clint’s actions and our past precedents, we felt that a significant suspension was appropriate.”

Dempsey will now face only a ban in MLS games instead of missing time in the Gold Cup. This leads to only one conclusion: both the U.S. Soccer Federation and MLS do not get it. What is it? It is integrity.

The USSF’s handling of the Hope Solo investigation (was it even a real investigation?) was the first yellow card. ESPN documented some of the rather serious inconsistencies by the USSF. Solo was ultimately suspended for 30 days earlier this year, missing only 2 international friendlies. The USSF had a chance to make a stand on a serious issue and given what happened with Ray Rice and the NFL, it seemed like a great opportunity to show their teeth.

Instead, we saw nothing.

Fast forward to this past Tuesday when Dempsey decided he had enough of the referee and ripped up his booking card. There is ZERO defense for actions like that and he was properly sent off immediately. For the second time, U.S. Soccer had a chance to show their teeth.

Instead, they kicked the can down the road to Major League Soccer and MLS showed they have as much teeth as U.S. Soccer. Another yellow card. For those counting that is a second yellow card, which results in a red card.

It is clear that the stars are bigger than the sport of soccer. Both Solo and Dempsey are stars for club and country. More importantly, they are also role models to young people. What is the message being sent by USSF and MLS?

Your transgressions, both on and off the field, are of little concern to us. As long as we can continue to bring in revenue, we will be more than willing to look past these “minor” infractions.

Quite frankly, this kind of “discipline” is pathetic. In Solo’s case, it came on the heels of the Ray Rice incident in which the NFL and Roger Goodell botched his discipline.

For Dempsey, there is not a recent comparable case, but the rules are pretty clear about touching the referee and his property. None of that matters because stars are given their own set of rules.

Shame on Major League Soccer for letting Dempsey off with a putrid 3 game ban. Soccer still has not learned from the failures of the NFL, MLB, NBA, and NHL, which will only impede its progress to become one of the top 4.

2015 European Football End Of Season Primer

Branislav Ivanovic celebrates his goal against PSG in the UEFA Champions League. Will he and Chelsea be celebrating a Premier League title by season's end? (AFP / Getty Images)
Branislav Ivanovic celebrates his goal against PSG in the UEFA Champions League. Will he and Chelsea be celebrating a Premier League title by season’s end? (AFP / Getty Images)

2015 European Football End Of Season Primer

As the calendar nears March, there are plenty of viewing options for American sports fanatics. March Madness will get underway on March 19 along with baseball spring training and the final push of the NBA and NHL regular seasons.

If you are like this author, you were consumed by college football and professional football from September through early February. Unfortunately, football season is over in the American sense, but there are still football options. To be clear, we are talking soccer.

Major League Soccer will also begin on March 6 in the United States, but we are going to focus on something the MLS will not give us: promotion and relegation battles. This is not the place to debate whether there is a place for promotion and relegation in the United States, but instead on what is happening over in Europe.

There will be a focus on the contenders, European playoff spots, as well as the relegation battle in each country. The countries looked at will be England, Spain, Germany, France, Netherlands, and Portugal. Two other leagues, while not in the top 10 of the UEFA Coefficients, but entertaining to this author will be Denmark and Switzerland.

* * * Note: All of the information below is as of Monday, February 23.

England – English Premier League

Contenders: The Premier League appears to be coming down to a battle between Chelsea and Manchester City. Chelsea sits on 60 points while Manchester City is at 55 points. Both teams have 12 games left to play to decide the winner.

European Prospects: Behind the top duo is a logjam of 5 teams within 4 points of each other. Arsenal (48 points), Manchester United (47), Southampton (46), Liverpool (45), and Tottenham (44) are gunning to be in one of the two final Champions League slots. Southampton has been a great story and it would be awesome to see a new team finish in the top four.

Relegation: Leicester City sits bottom of the table with 18 points, Aston Villa is 19th with 22 points, and Burnley is 18th with 22 points as well. Queens Park Rangers (22 points), Sunderland (25), Hull City (26), West Bromwich Albion (27), Crystal Palace (27), and Everton (28) could all fall into the relegation zone with a bad run of form.

Predictions: Chelsea, Manchester City, and Arsenal will be the top three. The fourth team will be Manchester United while Southampton manage to finish fifth and get a Europa League spot.

In the relegation zone, Leicester City, Burnley, and QPR will drop to the Championship. Speaking of the Championship, the three teams promoted at the end of the season will be Derby County, Ipswich Town, and Norwich City. Millwall, Wigan Athletic, and Blackpool will be relegated to League One.

Spain – La Liga

Contenders: Real Madrid lead La Liga with 60 points, Barcelona is second with 56 points, Atletico Madrid is third with 53 points, and Valencia sit fourth on 50 points. This race will come down to the top two and that favors Real Madrid to come away with another Spanish title.

European Prospects: Atletico Madrid are third currently and that does not figure to change by the end of the season. Valencia’s 50 points make them 5 clear of fifth place Sevilla and 6 clear of Villarreal. Malaga are seventh with 38 points, but will need one of the two teams ahead of them to slip up to make the Europa League for next season.

Relegation: It is a tight race for the bottom, but three teams have dug themselves in a small hole. Levante is 18th with 22 points, Granada is 19th with 19 points, and Cordoba is 20th with 18 points. Almeria and Elche are both one point clear of the relegation zone while 15th place Deportivo La Coruna has 24 points.

Predictions: The top four will remain the same as they currently are: Real Madrid, Barcelona, Atletico Madrid, and Valencia. Villarreal will finish fifth with Sevilla in sixth and Malaga in seventh.

The relegation battle will be tight, but the three teams going down will be Elche, Granada, and Cordoba. The three teams coming up from the Segunda Division will be Sporting de Gijon, Las Palmas, and Valladolid.

Germany – Bundesliga

Contenders: Bayern Munich is in complete control of the Bundesliga at 55 points, 8 more than Wolfsburg in second. Bayern has scored 59 goals while only giving up 9 thus far in the Bundesliga.

European Prospects: The top two are firmly secure for Champions League action next season, but the other spots are still up for grabs. Borussia Monchengladbach is third with 37 points, Schalke is fourth with 35 points, FC Augsburg is fifth with 35 points, and Bayer Leverkusen is sixth with 33 points. Hoffenheim and Werder Bremen sit with 30 points while Eintracht Frankfurt is 9th with 28 points. The battle for European football in Germany will be hotly contested and entertaining.

Relegation: Stuttgart is last in the Bundesliga with 18 points, Hertha is 17th with 21 points, and Freiburg is 16th with 22 points. There is not much room for the six teams in front of the relegation zone as that extends only to 26 points.

Predictions: Bayern Munich will win the Bundesliga again, but it is a matter of which match day they will do so on while Wolfsburg is locked into second at worst. Schalke will grab third and Borussia Monchengladbach will finish in fourth. Bayer Leverkusen will finish fifth with Werder Bremen securing a wild sixth place finish.

The relegation battle will see Hertha, Paderborn, and Hamburger fall to the next division (assuming Hamburger loses in the Relegation Playoffs). 2. Bundesliga will automatically promote Ingolstadt and Kaiserslautern to the Bundesliga while Karlsruher will beat Hamburger in the Promotion playoffs.

Italy – Serie A

Contenders: Juventus have lost only once in Serie A this year and have 57 points compared to 48 for Roma. It is Juve’s title to lose at this point.

European Prospects: While the top two look good, there is a battle for the third Italian Champions League slot. Napoli sits on 45 points, Lazio has 40 points, and Fiorentina has 39 points. Unless InternazionaleGenoa, and/or Sampdoria make an improbable run into third place (all on 35 points), one of the first three teams will be in the Champions League next year.

Relegation: One relegation spot is all but assured for Parma given their financial difficulties. There is even a chance Parma will not finish the season. Cesena  is currently 19th with 16 points while Cagliari is 18th with 20 points. Sitting in 17th is Atalanta with 23 points, Chievo is 16th with 24 points, and Verona is 15th with 25 points.

Predictions: Juventus and Roma will finish one-two as expected. Third place will go to Napoli, Lazio will finish fourth, and Sampdoria grab fifth spot (and a Europa League place).

The relegation battle will be lost by Parma, Cesena, and Atalanta. Coming up from Serie B at the end of the season will be Carpi, Bologna, and Vicenza.

France – Ligue 1

Contenders: Lyon leads a tight race at the top with 54 points. PSG is second with 52 points and Marseille is third 50 points. The eventual winner of Ligue 1 will come from this trio of teams.

European Prospects: Outside the top three, four teams will be in contention for the single remaining Europa League spot. Monaco is fourth with 43 points, Saint-Etienne is fifth with 42 points, Bordeaux is sixth with 41 points, and Montpellier is seventh with 39 points. It will surely be a tight finish for the Europa League slot.

Relegation: As of this writing, Lens will be relegated at the end of the season regardless of where they finish due to irregularities when they were promoted from Ligue 2 at the end of the 2013-14 season. They currently sit 19th with 22 points. In 20th is Metz with 22 points and Evian is 18th with 26 points. Just above the drop zone are Lorient and Toulouse both with 28 points. The two teams above them are Caen and Reims on 31 points.

Predictions: In an exciting finish to the Ligue 1 season, Lyon will hang on for the title over PSG with Marseille back in third. Taking fourth place will be Saint-Etienne with Bordeaux fifth and Monaco sixth.

The relegation teams will be unchanged from the current bottom three meaning Evian, Lens, and Metz will spend next season in Ligue 2. Coming up from Ligue 2 will be Troyes, Brest, and Angers.

Netherlands – Eredivisie

Contenders: PSV currently holds a 14 point lead (64-50) over Ajax and are well on their way to reclaiming the Eredivisie title.

European Prospects: Feyenoord is third with 44 points, but right on their heels is AZ Alkmaar with 44 points as well. Zwolle is fifth with 39 points, Heerenveen is sixth with 38 points, Vitesse is seventh with 37 points, and Twente is eighth with 34 points.

Relegation: Dordrecht will need a miracle to stay in the Dutch top flight with only 12 points from 24 games. NAC Breda is 17th with 18 points and Heracles is 16th with 21 points. Just above the relegation zone sits Go Ahead Eagles with 23 points. Excelsior have a bit of breathing room with 26 points, but could afford to turn some of their draws into wins (Excelsior has a league high 11 draws).

Predictions: PSV cruises to the Eredivisie title with Ajax in second place. AZ manages to overtake Feyenoord for third place with Heerenveen in fifth, Zwolle in sixth, and Twente in seventh.

The one team automatically relegated to the Ereste Divisie will be Dordrecht with N.E.C. replacing them. NAC Breda and Go Ahead Eagles will be put into the relegation playoffs at season’s end.

Portugal – Primeira Liga

Contenders: The usual suspects are involved for the league crown once again. Benfica is at 56 points, Porto is at 52 points, and Sporting CP have 47 points. Barring a major collapse by Benfica and the other top two teams, one of these three will win.

European Prospects: Braga (43 points), Vitória de Guimaraes (37), and Belenenses (34) are in the best positions to take the two Europa League spots. Pacos de Ferreira (30), Rio Ave (29), Nacional (28), and Maritimo (27) would need to go on massive win streaks to have a chance to steal one of the Europa League places.

Relegation: There are only two relegation spots in the Portuguese Primeira Liga. Penafiel is last with 16 points while Gil Vicente is 17th with 17 points. The teams above the relegation zone should feel pretty warm given how close they are in points to the bottom two. Academica (18), Vitória de Setubal (19), Arouca (19), and Boavista (21) could easily find themselves in the bottom two by season’s end.

Predictions: Benfica will win the title while Porto holds off Sporting CP for the second place spot. Even with a third place finish, Sporting CP will still be in the Champions League next season. Braga finishes fourth with Vitoria de Guimaraes finishing fifth and Belenenses in sixth.

The relegation battle will see both teams currently in the drop zone escape to be replaced by Vitoria de Setubal and Arouca. Chaves and Tondela will be promoted from the Segunda Liga.

Switzerland – Super League

Contenders: Basel currently holds a 5 point lead (45-40) over Young Boys with 21 match days played out of 36. On February 22, Young Boys beat Basel 4-2 and they have one final game against each other the rest of the season. Zurich is third with 39 points and are not out of the running for the league title yet.

European Prospects: The top two teams will be going into the Champions League next season with the third and fourth place teams going into the Europa League. Thun is fourth with 34 points and St. Gallen is fifth with 30 points. It will come down to these five teams to determine the four European entrants for the 2015-16 season.

Relegation: The relegation battle is very tight with only one team going down to the Swiss Challenge League next season. Sion is last with 16 points, but have played 19 games compared to the three teams ahead of them. In 9th is Aarua with 17 points, Luzern is 8th with 18 points, and Grasshopper is 7th with 19 points. Even Liechtenstein based Vaduz is not out of the woods in 6th place with 22 points.

Predictions: Basel will win the Swiss Super League while Young Boys manages to hold on for second over Zurich. Thun will take fourth place as St. Gallen’s late season rally falls short of European football.

Sion will escape the basement at the expense of Aarau who will spend next season in the Challenge League. Lugano, who is currently third in the Swiss Challenge League by three points, will replace them in 2015-16.

Denmark – Superliga

Contenders: Through 18 of 33 match days, Midtjylland is first with 43 points over Copenhagen (35) and Randers (34). Given the fourth place team, Brondby, has only 27 points, it is safe to assume one of the top three teams will emerge with the title.

European Prospects: As mentioned above, Brondby is in fourth place with 27 points while the Superliga offers only three European spots. AaB (25), Nordsjaelland (25), Esbjerg (23), and SonderjyskE (23) need things to start going their way if they are to play in the Europa League.

Relegation: Two teams will be relegated at the end of the season and one of them is virtually assured to be Silkeborg. They have four points at this point in the season thanks to four draws. They also have the worst offense in the Superliga and are 15 points adrift of safety. In 11th place is Vestsjaelland with 15 points and are 4 points behind 10th place Odense. Hobro has 21 points while SonderjyskE has 23 points along with Esbjerg. It will come down to the trio of Hobro, Odense, and Vestsjaelland for the final relegation spot.

Predictions: Copenhagen will mount their usual late season rally to contend for the title, but Midtjylland will survive as the Champions. Copenhagen will be second with Randers third.

A close relegation battle will see Vestsjaelland drop down to the Danish First Division with Silkeborg for the 2015-16 season. Coming up from the First Division will be Lyngby and Viborg.

Please feel free to comment on what you think of the predictions above. Enjoy the football action from Europe as the season turns into the home stretch!

World Cup 2014: Group D Game-By-Game Predictions

Group D will consist of Uruguay, Costa Rica, England, and Italy facing off in a round robin. Here are my predictions for each game in Group D.

June 14 – Uruguay vs. Costa Rica,    Uruguay win, 3-0

June 14 – England vs. Italy,               Draw 0-0

June 19 – Uruguay vs. England,        Uruguay win, 2-1

June 20 – Italy vs. Costa Rica,           Italy win, 2-0

June 24 – Italy vs. Uruguay,              Draw 1-1

June 24 – Costa Rica vs. England,     England win, 3-1

And with those results, Uruguay would finish top of Group D with 7 points, Italy would be second with 5 points, and England would finish third with 4 points.

Group D Prediction