It’s been a long week since we’ve checked with the AFC’s 2019 Asian Cup. Our last update was after Match Day 5 and unfortunately our best bets did not come through for Match Day 6. Since then, the favorites have dominated the tournament with little left to chance. With the end of Match Day 12, let’s take a look at the group standings and remaining fixtures as we prep for the knockout rounds beginning in five days.
Match Day 4 was a continuation of a return to normal for the favorites. With two matches on the docket, the opening fixture proved to be anxiety ridden for fans of Iraq. The second match could not have gone more according to script for Saudi Arabia.
After what some would call a dull opening to the 2019 Asian Cup, Matchday 2 and 3 could not have been more polar opposite. Matchday 2 provided fans a brilliant display of football with all of the drama one could hope for. The underdogs showed up much like the NFL’s wild card weekend! Matchday 3 was a return to normal with some world class showings for a few nations that are looking to make some noise over the next month.
The 2019 Asian Cup tournament kicked off in the late morning hours here on the east coast of the United States. The 17th edition of the tournament is being played in the United Arab Emirates. Abu Dhabi took center stage for the opening fixture complete with a larger than life trophy in the middle of the pitch during the opening ceremony. The giant inflatable replica is a fitting symbol, given that the field is larger than ever before. As typical for most continental tournaments, the hosts got to open the proceedings against regional rival Bahrain.
The nation’s oldest soccer tournament has long been a historic tradition that has allowed some of the country’s smallest soccer clubs to square off against the heavyweights. The Lamar Hunt US Open Cup began in 1914, long before the official pyramid was even thought of. The inclusivity of the tournament allowed many proverbial “David v Goliath” matches to take place. With the expansion of the professional pyramid over the years, fewer amateur and semi-pro clubs have had the ability to compete. The 106th edition may be one of the worst for the non-professional sides.
When Jorge Mas said this was going to be a team for the entire city and the entire the community, he certainly meant it. The Miami Herald’s Douglas Hanks reported earlier this morning that the Mas brothers met with Miami-Dade mayor and the parks & recreations top brass regarding a training facility as a county owned park. Did your mind immediately jump to Tropical Park? Guess again.
If a Miami-based group has its way, per Sports Illustrated soccer maven Grant Wahl, the second stage of the Copa Libertadores final between Boca Juniors and River Plate won’t be played at El Monumental or in Argentina at all. The game will be played somewhere in Dade County.
Hearing a group from Miami is pushing hard with CONMEBOL to bring the Boca-River Copa Libertadores final 2nd leg to the Miami area. Decision expected from CONMEBOL meeting in Paraguay tomorrow.
— Grant Wahl (@GrantWahl) November 26, 2018
For the second time in as many months, world class soccer action returns to Hard Rock Stadium. The Magic City will be in the spotlight again tonight as yet another “Clasico” takes place with the Clasico del Pacifico. Chile will take on Peru in what could be an epic revenge match after the CONMEBOL qualifying for the 2018 World Cup.
Throughout the 2018 World Cup Qualifying campaign, Peru and Chile were constantly jockeying for South America’s playoff spot in hopes of reaching Russia. When the dust was settled, it was Peru that just narrowly edged Chile in goal differential to earn the 5th spot in the table. To make matters worse, Chile’s last loss in qualifying (0-3 to Brazil) crushed their dreams and allowed Peru to qualifying for the tournament for the first time since 1982.
This fixture has caused nightmares for Peru as Chile’s high flying attacking, featuring the likes of Alexis Sanchez and Arturo Vidal, has been a thorn in the side for years. The last time Peru earned a result against Chile was in 2013 during the 2014 World Cup Qualifying. These matches have been undoubtedly testy, with four of the last six matches having a member of the Peruvian squad sent off the pitch early.
Peru exited the 2018 World Cup on a high note by beating Australia after dropping their first two fixtures against France and Denmark. The September friendlies didn’t pan out well for the selection as they dropped matches to Germany and Netherlands by a goal each. Peru will turn to Orlando City’s Yoshimar Yotun and Seattle Sounders’ striker Raul Ruidiaz to lead the way and be the spark to the offense.
Chile hasn’t fared much better since missing the World Cup tournament. The last time the Chilean national team tasted victory was against Serbia in a friendly going back to June 4th. The raw talent favors Chile coming into this match as the European pedigree is seen all around the roster. The aforementioned Sanchez and Vidal will join defenders Gary Medel and Mauricio Isla in hopes of keeping the dominant streak over Peru. Should Alexis score in this contest it would be his 40th goal for his country, Vidal would notch number 25.
GOALKEEPERS (3): Patricio Álvarez (Sporting Cristal), José Carvallo (Universidad Técnica de Cajamarca), Pedro Gallese(Veracruz/MEX)
DEFENDERS (8): Luis Abram (Vélez Sarsfield/ARG), Luis Advíncula (Rayo Vallecano/ESP), Miguel Araujo (Talleres/ARG), Nilson Loyola (Melgar), Johan Madrid (Sporting Cristal), Christian Ramos (Al-Nassr/KSA), Anderson Santamaría (Puebla/MEX), Miguel Trauco (Flamengo/BRA)
MIDFIELDERS (10): Pedro Aquino (Club León/MEX), Cristian Benevente (Royal Charleroi/BEL), Horacio Calcaterra (Sporting Cristal), André Carillo (Al-Hilal/KSA), Christian Cueva (Krasnodar/RUS), Edison Flores (Morelia/MEX), Paolo Hurtado(Konyaspor/TUR), Andy Polo (Portland Timbers/USA), Renato Tapia (Feyenoord/NED), Yoshimar Yotún (Orlando City SC/USA)
FORWARDS (3): Jefferson Farfán (Lokomotiv Moscow/RUS), Yordy Reyna (Vancouver Whitecaps FC/CAN), Raúl Ruidíaz(Seattle Sounders FC/USA)
Goalkeepers (3): Gabriel Arias (Racing), Fernando de Paul (Universidad de Chile), Lawrence Vigouroux (Swindon Town)
Defenders (8): Gary Medel (Besiktas), Mauricio Isla (Fenerbahce), Eugenio Mena (Racing), Enzo Roco (Besiktas), Paulo Diaz (Al-Ahli), Guillermo Maripan (Alaves), Igor Lichnovsky (Cruz Azul), Alfonso Parot (Rosario Central)
Midfielders (7): Arturo Vidal (FC Barcelona), Felipe Gutierrez (Sporting Kansas City), Pablo Hernandez (Independiente), Erick Pulgar (Bologna), Lorenzo Reyes (Atlas), Diego Valdes (Morelia), Victor Davila (Necaxa)
Forwards (6): Alexis Sanchez (Manchester United), Nicolas Castillo (Benfica), Junior Fernandes (Alanyaspor), Angelo Sagal (Pachuca), Angelo Henriquez (Universidad de Chile), Ignacio Jeraldino (Audax Italiano)
Tickets are still available for the match scheduled to kickoff at 8PM from Hard Rock Stadium.
It was the type of atmosphere that you would expect for a clash between two rival nations. This much just so happened to take place in the most “perfect” neutral setting possible. Miami is home to a huge population of Colombians and Venezuelans. Venezuela would get the first laugh but ultimately Colombia would get the last.
The spoils continue to fall for Hard Rock Stadium and the Miami soccer community. With Relevent Sports partnering with CMN Sports, the Magic City will be in the spotlight again tonight as two national rivals take the pitch in Colombia and Venezuela. Two of the biggest immigrant populations in South Florida will get a chance to see their colors represented in a match for bragging rights.