• Friday, 13 July 2012

    Marking your card #13

    The football never stops. Here's what we'll be keeping an eye out for this week.

    It was a turbulent 2011/12 season in Switzerland, so here's hoping for better this season. The champions FC Basel kick things off away to Servette who have so far steered themselves around financial imperilment. Gone from the champions are Xherdan Shaqiri (FC Bayern) and Granit Xhaka (Gladbach), but the turnover of young talent continues with high expectations of Fabian Frei - who has been around for a while already - Darko Jevtic, Marcelo Diaz and Stjepan Vuleta - who haven't. Hopefully Sion can stay off the naughty step this season as they've brought in a bit of quality in the shape of Rino Gattuso and a big lummox up fron tin Kyle LAfferty (subject to international clearance). They open away from home at Grasshopper who have a certain Taulant Xhaka in their ranks.

    Fresh from co-hosting the Euros, the Ukrainian league begins this week. It looks set to be another battle between Dynamo Kyiv - at home to Metlarugh Donetsk this week - and Shakhtar - also at home, to Arsenal Kyiv. Shakhtar have held onto their stars, for now at least, and look marginal favourites, though Dynamo have strengthened with the likes of Niko Kranjcar joining the club.

    We're up to round 9 in Brazil's Serie A wher Atlético Mineiro lead the way by a point from Fluminense. And it's Flu who are involved in the big game this weekend, away to fourth-placed Botafogo. Will Clarence Seedorf make his debut for the home side? Corinthians may have won the Copa Libertadores while we were focusing on Euro 2012, but they remain second from bottom having won just one game so far this season. They're at home to Nautíco this weekend.

    No rest for the wicked in Chile. Just a week after the Apertura final - won by U de Chile on penalties after two 2-1 results against O'Higgins - the Clausura began, though the finalists were given the week off. Therefore, with 14 of the 18 sides having played last week, La U begin their title defence on Monday against La Serena. O'Higgins are at home to early leaders Colo Colo. Peru dispensed with the Apertura/Clausura model for a more European style league which hits round 23 this weekend. It's a three-way fight with Real Atlético Garcilaso leading by one from Sporting Cristal who themselves are one clear of Universidad César Vallejo. The leaders take on last-placed Cobresol this week with Univ César Vallejo, The Poets, who have hit a rough patch of form, taking on fifth-laced José Galvéz.

    Further north, MLS rumbles on. DC, Sporting KC and New York Red Bulls are away and clear in the East, San Jose and Real Salt Lake in the West. Seattle Sounders and the Vancouver Whitecaps are fighting for the final play-off place in the West and both have tough cross-conference games this week. Seattle travel across the country to play New York, while the Whitecaps go to Chicago to play the Fire who are still in with a chance of making post-season without the need for a play-off. The big news from the States this week though is that the New York Cosmos are back! Next season, they'll play in NASL2 as they try to work their way back up to the big time.

    Back in Europe and to Scandinavia. The Swdish Allsvenskan hits half way this week with Elfsborg leading by six. Coming off the back of a big Europa League win, they take on Kalmar this weekend, also big winners in Europe during the week. Kalmar's league form, however, isn't all that as they sit just outside the relegation places. The Norwegian Eliteserien also reaches the half way point and it's Stromsgodset in front by four from Molde. Rosenborg are in third and their game against Haugesund, a point further behind them, is the pick of the week there. Denmark get their league off and running this weekend. Champions Nordsjaelland begin away to Horsens, but last season's second and third placed sides Kobenhavn and Midjtylland meet in the game of the week.

    We'll see how that lot got on early next week.

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