Title-races across Europe are in their exciting stages and the Champions League knockout stages beckon-- with fixtures like Real Madrid vs Manchester United and Barcelona vs AC Milan.
But the candy-machine is giving out more treats this midweek it seems-- as Spain vs Uruguay, England vs Brazil, France vs Germany and Netherlands vs Italy will all kick-off on Wednesday.
SPAIN vs URUGUAY
The earlier international friendly kicks-off at 1800 GMT (2330 IST) as Spain take on Uruguay at Doha. Fixtures can't get meaner, as the champions of Europe take on the champions of South America in a bid to get ready for upcoming World Cup qualifiers.
Spain will be without Xavi Hernandez, but that shouldn't be a worry for a team that has no dearth of quality midfielders. Andres Iniesta, David Silva, Cesc Fabregas and Sergio Busquets should be enough to trouble Uruguay.
Uruguay are no pushovers themselves. Even though Diego Forlan has stepped out of the limelight of playing in Europe, he is still a great threat. But their trump cards will be Luis Suarez (22 goals/33 matches for Liverpool) and Edinson Cavani (27 goals/26 matches for Napoli)--both of whom are in stellar form for their clubs.
ENGLAND vs BRAZIL
The most memorable England vs Brazil clash in recent times was the 2002 World Cup fixture, when Ronaldinho scored a long-range freekick to knock-out the English.
The match at Wembley is also a celebration of the Football Association's 150 years. But it will see a depleted English squad--with in-form Daniel Sturridge and Jermaine Defoe pulling out with injury. That means Theo Walcott, Wayne Rooney and Danny Welbeck could be chosen in attack. James Milner has hit good form with Manchester City and so have Jack Wilshere and Steven Gerrard for Arsenal and Liverpool respectively.
But you'll be in for a treat if Brazil's young attackers get going. Lucas Moura, Neymar and Oscar are set to play and so is Ronaldinho. England haven't won against Brazil since 1990 -- enough encouragement to finally beat them.
Match kicks-off at 1930 GMT (1 AM IST--technically 7 February).
NETHERLANDS vs ITALY
Maarten Stekelenburg, John Heitinga, Rafael van der Vaart, Wesley Sneijder and Arjen Robben will not feature in this tie due to some reason or the other, but that doesn't mean Holland will go down with a whimper against Euro 2012 finalists Italy.
Players like Dirk Kuyt, Robin van Persie and Jonathan de Guzman are all capable of giving the Oranje their first non-competitive win against Italy. If Van Persie strikes a brace, then he will equal Johan Cruyyf's tally of 33 goals for Netherlands.
Italy have a few injury problems too, but their probably starting XI should still include Andrea Pirlo, Mario Balotelli and Stephan El Shaarawy.
Kick-off at 1930 GMT (1 AM IST--technically 7 February).
FRANCE vs GERMANY
The famed Borussia Dortmund group of Mario Gotze, Marco Reus, Ilkay Gundogan and Marcel Schmelzer will all miss out due to injury. So will Miroslav Klose and Bastian Schweinsteiger. Germany will still boast of Mario Gomez, Lukas Podolski, Mesut Ozil and Thomas Muller. Their defence also looks strong and Phillip Lahm is available to play.
France should take home advantage and field a side which has regained confidence after a few good results. Newcastle hero Moussa Sissoko should be in line to start, along with Yohan Cabaye, Karim Benzema and Frank Ribery.
Kick-off at 2000 GMT (1.30 AM IST--technically 7 February).
Published Date: Feb 05, 2013 05:55 pm | Updated Date: Feb 06, 2013 01:02 am