With the last round of friendlies staged for this week before the World Cup finals kick-off in June, all 32 nations traveling to South Africa will be looking to give a stern warning to their group opponents by displaying quality football that might just produce a psychological effect on their competition.
The mouth watering matches on hand today and tomorrow will leave many football fans with great anticipation for the real deal that starts in June. Among the high profile matches to be played is the Spain vs France fixture at the Stade De France tomorrow. The Spaniards are the top ranked team in the world according to the latest FIFA/ Coca cola rankings and with the likes of Torres, Fabregas, Iniesta and Xavi in their, ranks they will definitely be a tough opponent for Les Bleus who are still trying to put memories of their controversial victory of Ireland behind them.
Another killer fixture will be Germany vs Argentina. Diego Maradona will be looking to use this match as a catalyst for his final squad of 23 that will travel to South Africa. The legend has not enjoyed much success as a coach like he did when he was a player. In fact Argentina were lucky to have qualified for the World Cup. They needed a play-off against long time rivals Uruguay (which they won 1-0) to get the remaining ticket in the South American qualifying zone.
Diego used more than 100 players during Argentina’s qualifiers and this some critics say is what caused his team’s lackluster performances. His opposite number today Joachim loew also has problems of his own. Loew has to pick 6 candidates for his midfield from a group of 13 players. It will be interesting to see which coach prevails.
Italy v Cameroon is a fixture that is bound to cause excitement in many African homes tonight. The Azzurri are the current world champions although their form is a poor testament of their status. The Indomitable Lions of Cameroon are the top ranked nation on the continent and they will want to kill doubts that they are not ready to play in such a competitive tournament.
Egypt v England is also one match to keep an eye on. The Pharaohs will want to justify the fact that just because they did not make to the finals, they are still a team to be reckoned with. England coach Fabio Capello will have to put recent infidelity stories that have dogged his players at the back of his mind when he faces Egypt in Cairo. This is not only a friendly, it is also a litmus test for him to see who are the best players on his team. Rooney has no need to worry though. The 24 year old is having the season of his life with Manchester United in the EPL. Currently the top scorer in the league, Rooney is definitely a key part of Capello’s plans.
Netherlands v United States is a fixture to behold. The Dutch are one of the top seeds for the world cup this summer and they will be wary of underestimating the Americans. USA surprised everyone in last year’s confederations cup when they staged a remarkable comeback in the group stages to progress to the semis where there beat Spain2-0.
Their next opponents in the final were Brazil who they almost beat save for Fabiano’s individual piece of skill. Finally, Brazil take on Ireland in a friendly that Dunga will use to select his final squad. The Brazilian tactician has ignored mounting pressure for him to include Ronaldinho in his squad preferring to instead call up Adriano.
These are just a few of the numerous matches that will be played over the course of the next 2 days and it will be a huge indicator to the fans of their teams preparedness.
Photo credit: Felipe Dana