The Offside Guide to Summer SoccerBy: Daryl | June 3rd, 2009
The big European leagues have declared their champions and shut up shop for the summer. They won’t be back until August.
So this is where we separate the fairweather footy fans from the die-hards. The fairweathers will get distracted and find some other way to pass the time. The die-hards will ask: What else can I watch?
If you fall in the latter camp, then read on for you summer soccer options…
There’s a surprisingly big menu on offer. First and foremost, there’s some serious international action over the next seven days with World Cup qualifying all over the globe.
CONCACAF’s first place team USA visits second placed Costa Rica tonight. Then Europe, South America, Africa and Asia join the qualifying party this weekend. Games worth keeping an eye on this weekend include:
Uruguay vs Brazil (Montevideo)
Argentina vs Colombia (Buenos Aires)
Qatar vs Australia (Dohar, where Australia could seal qualification early)
Sweden vs Denmark (Solna, Scandinavian derby!)
Guinea vs Cote d’Ivoire (Conakry)
Mali vs Ghana (Bamako)
And then it all happens again next Wednesday.
After that, it’s the 2009 Confederations Cup in South Africa, where we’ll get to see Spain, Brazil, Italy, Egypt, USA, South Africa, Iraq and New Zealand compete. That’s June 14th to June 28th.
CONCACAF fans have got the 2009 Gold Cup to look forward to. How will the USA cope with WCQ, then the Confed Cup and then the Gold Cup? And how will Mexico perform now that Sven’s gone and Javier Aguirre is back in charge? That’s July 3rd to July 26th.
If you’re the type that enjoys the trailers more than the movie, then there’s the UEFA Under 21 European Championships in Sweden from June 15th to June 29th. Spain are taking Bojan, England are (maybe) taking Theo Walcott and Italy are taking little Sebastian Giovinco. Complete squad lists here.
Or if you’re feeling rebellious there’s the Toulon Tournament in France. It’s an invitational international U-21 tournament, but run independently of UEFA and FIFA. Power to the people.
But it’s not all internationals. There’s plenty of club football to go around too. If you’re based in the US and have been neglecting MLS, then the summer is the perfect time to start watching again. Don’t be a year-round Euro-snob.
In South America, the Campeonato Brasileiro Série A continues in Brazil, with big names like Ronaldo and Adriano in action. And the Copa Libertadores winner won’t be decided until July 15th.
Meanwhile in Europe you’ve got the Swedish Allsvenskan (motto according to Chris: “It’s not quite big time, but it’s not the Finnish Veikkausliiga, either.”) where Henrik Larsson will continue to terrorize defenders. Last but certainly not least, the Russian Premier League is arguably (actually not arguably, definitely) the wealthiest league still operating during the summer months. If – like me – you’re convinced that Russia is the next big player in European football, then now’s a good time to get acquainted.