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Soccer Saturday: Your Running Commentary

JapanBrazil (Japan Times)


Several key international matches highlight this Soccer Saturday as the Confederations Cup gets underway in Brazil and the final four teams square off in the European Under-21 Championship.

The prelude to next summer’s FIFA World Cup kicks off with a battle between the two nations that are guaranteed to be back in Brazil in one year: the host nation and Japan. The pressure is on the Brazilian squad, a star-studded squad that is historically the best in this eight-team tournament. Japan, who recently locked down a qualification spot from the AFC, will bring their technical prowess to Brasilia in hopes of turning heads in a stacked group.

But the first international action of the day will happen in Israel, where four of the top youth national teams in UEFA will battle it out for continental supremacy. Spain, the only nation to go a perfect 3-0-0 in the group stages, faces a tough Norway side that created some late magic in their first three matches. That match will be followed by Italy and the Netherlands, two of the biggest powers in Europe.

Tonight, the United States women’s national team looks to continue their undefeated run with the first of two home friendlies against South Korea. Coach Tom Sermanni’s squad has scored three or more goals in five of its last seven matches, so look for plenty of offense tonight in Foxborough, Mass.

If you will be watching today’s action, please feel free to share your thoughts, opinions and some play-by-play in the comments section below.

Enjoy the action (Today’s TV schedule is after the jump):

11:30am – ESPN3 – Spain vs. Norway – U21

2:30pm – ESPN3 – Italy vs. Netherlands – U21

3pm – ESPN – Brazil vs. Japan

5pm – ESPN – Portland Timbers vs. Dallas FC

7pm – MLS Direct Kick – DC United vs. Toronto FC

7pm – ESPN3 – United States vs. South Korea – Women’s

7:30pm – MLS Direct Kick – Columbus Crew vs. Montreal Impact

9pm – MLS Direct Kick – Colorado Rapids vs. San Jose Earthquakes

10pm – MLS Direct Kick – Vancouver Whitecaps vs. New England Revolution


  1. I couldn’t help but think that Brasil handled Japan in a manner very similar to the way the US handled Panama. With that in mind I think that Japan is a pretty evenly matched to the US.

      • Maybe.

        This was a typical tournament opening game. Japan seemed very tentative and Brazil wasn’t a whole lot better. It was interesting to hear Martinez say that Honda did not look fit to him.

        If Neymar does not score so early the whole dynamic could have been very different.

        The next game for both teams will be very telling.

        Lousy pitch.

  2. I was just about to say the last 20 minutes of this game have really dragged on, but that was a great ball by Oscar.

  3. It’s pretty clear that Brazil’s game plan is to foul Japan on the counter. They won’t be able to get away with that with other ref’s and against other teams.

  4. After one half, I can’t say I’m very impressed with Brazil so far. This team would have a harder time with better teams. Maybe finding a new RB in place of Alves would help for starters…

    • Japan is OK too, good technical players, smart and hard working players, got some sizzle too

      but I see what you mean but it’s early still. Best Brazilian side I ever saw had Mauro Silva doing a lot of the dirty work (didn’t get to see the Pele sides doing it)…they need those types too to play very well to dominate

  5. watching the Brazilian National Anthem play, their team on the field arm in arm, ready to face the challenge and pressure together at home…this is awesome!

  6. Spain’s U-21 team would beat our full national team by several goals–probably pretty easily. They could easily be one of the greatest youth teams in history.

    Looks like Spain isn’t going to be slouching anytime soon. I guess this team’s greatness is in part due to the fact that none of these kids–who are already superstars in top flight clubs–can see the field over Xavi or Iniesta.

    • By how many goals would the Spanish U-21 beat the German side the U.S. just beat? What about the Italian national team we defeated in Italy? Hey, could they even beat the 2010 Spanish national team the U.S. defeated in the Confederations Cup? Come on man.

      • Are you serious? I mean honestly comments like this deserve to be made fun of. You’re an idiot. You pick a single game against all odds and say that’s indicative of overall performance? Then Guadeloupe is only 1 goal worse than we are. After all–it happened once.

        Good for us. Tim Howard has the game of his life and we manage to surprise Spain. Spain beats us by an average of 3 or 4 goals over a 10 game series.

        And woopdedoo we beat a German B team in a friendly. The German first team in a competitive match beats us by 3 or 4.

      • Operative word is youth team…..stop it!!! They’d get killed by most senior sides because of the maturity and experience on that level! So to wrap it up, clearly you have no knowledge of the game smh

      • Yeah, I have no knowledge of the game.

        Omar Gonzalez with his impressive 4 years of professional soccer experience is so much more mature than Isco who at 3 years younger has the same amount of professional experience for a far, far better club and started for a team that made a deep Champions League run where he came a goal from beating Dortmund and was the team’s best player.

        Or Thiago who has been a professional player since 2008 and has been a key player for Barcelona in replacing XAVI FREAKING HERNANDEZ or even starting in his place like the 2011 SuperCup against Real Madrid.

        The only reason these “kids” play on the YOUTH team is because they have the most seriously unfortunate situation of playing behind two of the top 5 greatest midfielders in the history of the darn sport.

      • So Spain should just play this youth team instead of their national team since their national team probably wont be able to beat the USNT by more then 2 goals. Man the Spanish federation has got to be one of the dumbest federation ever if they have a group of player that can beat other national teams by 2 goals plus all the time and they aren’t playing them.

      • You calling me or anybody an idiot is like a beautician telling a plastic surgeon how to operate. You always eat crow on your posts.

      • Stupidity deserves to be called out. You think you’re going to impugn my credibility despite having no idea what you’re on about and not expect me to come back hard?

        Your point was not even worth replying to it was so ignorant.

        Sad and pathetic is your response.

      • Are you kidding me? How old are you, 15? HAAAA. If you are any older, that’s very sad. Your credibility? What credibility? You have a fat “0” for your credibility. You know absolutely nothing about the game. HHHAAAAA!!!!!

      • The irony of your response is clearly lost on you.

        And as to your original post–you picked a single, far against the grain match to try and make a point. If you actually believe we are even remotely close to Spain and wouldn’t lose 9 of 10 competitive matches by multiple goals then you may want to direct your insults back at yourself.

      • “Spain’s U-21 team would beat our full national team by several goals–probably pretty easily.”

        that comment is equally ridiculous. they’re both made up statements that mean nothing.

    • They are very good, but to say they would beat our full national team easily is a joke. They are a very talented YOUTH side, but I think their centerbacks would get abused by Jozy and Clint, and their center midfield would get overrun by Jermaine and MB.

      • Do you have any idea who plays for Spain’s U21 squad?

        Marc Barta starts for Barcelona. He plays against way better players than Jozy and Clint just in practice everyday.

        Montoya – Going to be a starter for Barcelona.

        Rodrigo – starts for Benfica.

        Their midfield you think would be destroyed?

        Thiago – Barcelona

        Isco – Malaga and just named best young player in Europe.

        Koke – Atletico Madrid – you know the team that just beat Real Madrid to win the Spanish Cup.

        Munain – been a Bilbao starter since he was 17.

        I don’t think you understand how good these players are. They have played Germany, Netherlands and Russia and conceded 0 goals.

      • This is very true, you hear them bring up Ghana, Nigeria, ect as an example as how youth success doesn’t translate to World Cup success but they fail to recognize the success Brazil and Spain have had in youth tournaments.

      • I like how you claim that they are “going to be starters”. You must have a crystal ball. Isn’t Barta the player who was completely exposed by Bayern for 7 goals? And I didn’t say destroyed, I said overrun. I think you are vastly underestimating, our national team, and overhyping these kids who haven’t proven anything at the professional level outside of Isco. Calm down, they are still a YOUTH side. They would still get outmuscled and overrun by most SENIOR national teams. You honestly think that if they played the Russian Senior side, they wouldn’t concede against them? You’re sweet on this team, and dreaming if you think that.

      • Montoya is going to be a starter because they are integrating him into the system as they do with all young players. He was already starting matches near the end of the year.

        Your argument makes absolutely no sense. These players all play extensively in their first divisions against far better players than we have and they obviously aren’t overrun.

        And yes, you are so wise. Barcelona’s loss to Bayern means they are an awful team. Xavi. Iniesta. Messi. Awful. They don’t deserve to play against top teams. They’ll be outmuscled. They’ll be overrun.

        You see how stupid that sounds?

      • this entire discussion is stupid. you guys are arguing over hypothetical situations that will NEVER happen.

      • You are so arrogant. You think that your opinion is the only one that is correct. First, actually read what I typed again. When did I mention Xavi or Iniesta or any of Barca’s starting 11 besides Marta? You have to be the most arrogant, pseudo-intellectual person on this board. Grow up, people are going to disagree with you in life. The fact that you have to resort to personal attacks on those individuals that having opinions that oppose yours just further proves how immature and self-absorbed you are.

  7. This Norwegian keeper has been fantastic today. He made a couple of circus saves in the first half, a couple of other very solid takes, and has been timely off his line and good on the punch.

  8. I think this Spain U-21 team could qualify for the World Cup. I have no doubt it could qualify for the new 24-team EURO.

    • They are ridiculously good. The announcers mentioned (and I didn’t remember) that they are the defending champs of this competition. It’s easy to being wondering if they will ever get knocked off their perch. Confed Cup will tell us a bit, I imagine.

      • It’s worth noting that Germany left off a few eligible players (Draxler, Goetze, Gundogan, Schuerrle). I don’t follow Spain too closely, but I can’t think of any notable players they left out of their squad. I reckon Germany will prove a worthy challenger to the Spanish hegemon going forward.

  9. Is anybody watching the U-21 game on ESPN cla$$ic and if so, is the aspect overstretched so that the clock is partially off-screen? Thanks.

  10. Spain predictably owning the possession and have taken three or four credible cracks on goal. Looks to be a long day for Norway’s keeper.


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