A small place in Brazil preserve a facsinating connection between Brazil and Germany.
The familiar Weekend Guide will be a bit Asian this time. From West to East, we will visit the classic match of Saudi Arabia, the big money of the Chinese Super Cup, and finally a match between the Koreas.
(All the hours are in CET local time)
Amateur (Like this miss)
What? Al-Hilal – Al-Ittihad (Saudi Professional League)
When? Saturday, 1845
Where? King Fahd International Stadium, Riyadh
Why? When you talk about a real Arab Classico, you just can't miss this match. The two all-time leading Saudi clubs, each representing a different big city, will meet in one of the decisive matches of the season. Al-Hilal from Riyadh is in 1st place with 40 points, while Al-Ittihad from Jeddah is 3rd, 4 points behind.
Key Players: Al-Hilal midfielder, home-grown Salman Al-Faraj, is responsible to many of the team’s recent success, and play for the first team since 2008. In Al-Ittihad everyone will focus on Gelmin Rivas, the league top scorer from Venezuela with 17 goals in 17 matches.
Foreign Staff: Since their first season in the Saudi top tier in 1977, Al-Ittihad appointed only one Saudi manager – Khalid Al-Koroni, which led the team for 6 months in 2014.
Professional (like this touch)
What? Guangzhou Evergrande – Jiangsu Sunning (Chinese Super Cup)
When? Saturday, 1235
Where? Olympic Sports Center, Chongqing
Why? After a crazy transfer window, the Chinese football is getting ready for the season with the Super Cup. Champions Guangzhou Evergrande will wish to have another great season, after they won the league and the AFC Champions League. The FA Cup holders, Jiangsu Sunning, formerly named Jiangsu Sainty, will show off their new cannons as they dream about first ever championship title.
Key Players: Let's forget about the expensive foreigners and check some Chinese stars. Gao Lin of Guangzhou Evergrande is one of the dominant local players with 13 goals last season. Meanwhile, watch Jiangsu Sunning midfielder Wu Xi, which becomes an integral part of the national team.
A Legend from the Past: The big money didn't skip the lower levels. In the Chinese third tier, Shenzhen Renren have one of the all-time legends of the Cypriot football as a manager, Siniša Gogić.
World Class (like this girl)
What? North Korea – South Korea (AFC Women's Olympic Qualifying Tournament)
When? Monday, 1135
Where? Nagai Stadium, Osaka, Japan
Why? Another Olympic tournament spots are on the line, just two teams will qualify from the Asian qualifiers in Japan. In the opening day we will see the Derby of the Koreas, both will try to reach the airplanes to Brazil on time.
Key Players: Keep your eyes on Ra Un-Sim, the captain of North Korea that led her team to win the East Asian Cup in 2015. Ji So-yun of South Korea is one the talented players in Asia, plays for Chelsea and was part of their first ever championship last season.
Don’t Dope: It's North Korea’s first chance to participate in an international tournament, since the 2012 Olympics. They were excluded from the 2015 World Cup qualifiers after their players failed a doping test during 2011 World Cup.
In few parts of the world, it’s almost the end of the season. So, this weekend we have some special finals for you from all over the place. The Mexican League is ready to declare a champion, the U23 teams of Africa will crown a new titleholder, and we will have a special visit to the Cambodian league.
(All the hours are in CET local time)
Amateur (Like this goal)
What? Pumas UNAM – Tigres UANL (Liga MX)
When? Monday, 0330
Where? Estadio Olímpico Universitario, Mexico City
Why? Mexico will crown its first champion of the season, with the Apertura final. The first match on Thursday ended with win to Tigres, 3:0. Pumas wish to complete their perfect run after their finished in the 1st place in the regular season. Tigres finished 5th, but after their great victory they are close to win the title.
Key Players: At Pumas, it’s Javier Cortés, who won the Olympic gold medal with Mexico in 2012, and plays for the club since 2008. Tigres’s biggest name is former French international, André-Pierre Gignac, the team’s leading scorer with 13 goals.
Road to Glory: Bora Milutinović, one of the most fascinating managers in the world, played for Pumas, and after his retirement he got his first job as a manager in the club. He managed the team for 6 years before moving to his next mission, Mexico national team.
Professional (like this match)
What? Nigeria – Algeria (U23 Africa Cup of Nations)
When? Saturday, 2000
Where? Stade Léopold Sédar Senghor, Dakar, Senegal
Why? Seven months before the Olympic tournament in Rio, Africa will see which U23 team is the best in the continent. Nigeria, the 1996 Olympic gold medalists, qualified for their 7thOlympic tournament. Algeria qualified to their 2nd tournament, and the first since 1980.
Key Players: The Nigerian leading player is Etebo Oghenekaro, 20 years old player from Warri Wolves, who leads the championship's scorers list with 3 goals. The Algerian midfielder Zinedine Ferhat is dominating his national team, and has an important role at USM Alger, Algeria’s league leaders.
African Power: African teams always produce great performances in the Olympic Games, but one of the historical matches was in 1988. Zambia thrashed Italy 4:0, with an amazing hat-trick of Kalusha Bwalya.
World Class (like this goal)
What? Phnom Penh Crown – Nagaworld (Cambodian C-League)
When? Saturday, 1200
Where? Olympic Stadium, Phnom Penh
Why? The Cambodian League had an intensive season and now it’s the final' 2nd leg. In the first leg, Phnom Penh Crown won 2:0. Phnom Penh Crown finished the regular season in 2nd place and Nagaworld finished 4th.
Key Players: Phnom Penh Crown’s George Bisan, is a 23 years old Nigerian and one of the best scorers in the league with 24 goals in 24 matches. Don't miss Nagaworld's striker, Kouch Sokumpheak, who has 43 caps for the national team and played at Phnom Penh Crown for 5 seasons in.
Coalition's League: Back in the 80's most of the teams' sponsors were government ministries, so among the previous champions you can find teams like Ministry of Transports FC and Ministry of Commerce FC.