Friday, February 09, 2007

Weekend Soccer Preview: What I’m Watching

I am only planning on watching two matches this weekend, due to family commitments.

Saturday: Manchester United vs. Charlton 10:00am/FSC
Sunday: Bayern Munich vs. Arminia Bielefeld 3:00pm/Gol TV

Manchester United vs. Charlton
United reduced their magic number to 10 wins with their 4-0 romp over Tottenham last Sunday and increased their goal differential to 17 over Chelsea. Having scored 11 goals in their last three matches in all competitions, United are firing on all cylinders. Charlton have gone 1-1-1 in their last three matches, scoring two goals and allowing two goals. Their last match was against Chelsea, losing 1-0.

Considering United’s form of late, I fully expect a victory. Considering that United have a week between this match and their FA Cup clash with Reading, SAF should be sending out his first squad, minus Van De Sar and his broken nose. Charlton’s defense hasn’t been horrid over their last few matches, but they have left in more than three goals twice this season, 5 in a 5-1 loss to Tottenham in December and 4 in a 4-0 loss to Arsenal the beginning of January. Considering this, I can see United at least dropping 2 or 3 goals on them and taking all three points.

Bayern Munich vs. Arminia Bielefeld
Well, how far the mighty have fallen. FC Hollywood looks like a shadow of its former self, having only picked up 1 point out of 9 since the return from the Bundesliga break. They have only scored two goals in this three match stretch, allowing six. Their coach, Felix Mageth was fired and replaced with Ottmar Hitzfeld, who was released two and a half seasons ago to make way for Mageth. This is a club in a serious state of funk. If there is any consolation of sign of hope for Bayern, it is because Bielefeld is going through an even worse stretch of play. They too have only picked up 1 point out of their previous 9, but their last victory was a 3-0 win over Eintracht Frankfurt on November 11th. So if Bayern are to break out of this funk that they are in, this is the perfect opportunity.

The biggest factor in the match will be if Hitzfeld has been able to apply his form of football on the Bayern players in a way that they can execute his game plan. The match against Nurnberg I think was more a result of the players not having any time with their coach, than an utter domination by Nurnberg. The last time these two clubs met, it was Bielefeld picking up all three points with a 2-1 victory; it will be interesting to see if Bayern can produce a different result with Hittzfeld at the helm. Considering current form, a 1-1 draw doesn’t sound very off.

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