In a last moment decision, UEFA has moved the Europa League match between Vorskla and Arsenal from Poltava to Kyiv. Yossi Medina explains the situation in Ukraine that led to this decision.
One weekend, three games, Worldwide. All the information.
The weekend is here, and this time we really have some great football for you. Really. We will be with two teams competing an historical title in Mexico, we will watch fireworks and crazy fans in Chile and be in a sad derby game in Eastern Europe. So, take off your sunglasses, this is football time!
(All the hours are in CET local time)
Saturday, 0430, Club Tijuana – Veracruz (Liga MX)
The opening match day of the MLS was played last week, but for some real let’s cross the border south, to Tijuana. On Saturday, the two league leader teams, Club Tijuana and Veracruz, will face each other for a direct battle for the title..
Club Tijuana is dominating the Clausura table after 9 matches. With only one defeat this season, they seem like the real deal, but we must remember that there are playoffs after the regular season. The manager, Daniel Guzmán, reached the finals of the Copa América as a player in 1993, and as a coach he already won one title with Santos Laguna in 2008. The biggest names are Juan Arango, who arrived after long time in Mallorca and Borussia Mönchengladbach, Dayro Moreno, the team’s top scorer and former Copa Libertadores winner with Once Caldas in 2004. The Argentinian Alfredo Moreno, who is playing in Mexico since 2003, is also an interesting name.
Veracruz started their season with a magnificent record. The team didn't lose any of their matches, by now. They are on 2nd place, one point behind Tijuana. With these results, the team hopes to win its first title since 1950. The Chilean manager, Carlos Reinoso, has and outstanding experience, as he is coaching in Mexico since 1981. The top players are the Spaniard Juan Ángel Albín, who played in Spain and Romania, Édgar Andrade, who won the U-17 World Cup in 2005 with Mexico, and Daniel Villalva, who was the youngest player ever to play for the Argentine side River Plate.
While both teams aim for a rare title, the question is - which one could win and get closer to it?
Saturday, 2000, Universidad de Chile – Colo Colo (Chilean Primera División)
On Saturday, the Chilean Super Clásico will take part as Universidad de Chile will face Colo Colo. The humongous crowds of both the team are anxious for the game, as they know that this match is usually in favor for the home team. On the last 16 matches, the away team won only twice (both are Colo Colo’s).
Universidad de Chile was established as the representative team of the University of Chile in Santiago, but since the 80's team and the university are two separated entities. Today, a private business group named ‘Azul-Azul’ is the owner of the team, but the university allows them to use the institutions’ symbols and logo. The team represents the upper-middle class people of Santiago. This season they are struggling, as they’re ranked in the 13th place and won only once out of five ‘home’ matches. The main players are José Rojas, who made 325 league appearances for the team since 2003, Johnny Herrera, who already won 7 domestic titles with the team, and Leandro Benegas, who arrived to the team in last December and already scored 5 goals in 9 games.
Colo Colo is the most successful and popular team in Chie. They've won 30 league title and they have the biggest number of fans in Chile – approximately 12 million fans. As a popular team, they are usually recognized with the lower class people of the city, a fact that can explain why they have such big rivalry with the ‘university team’ fans. It is first job as a manager for Héctor Tapia, who already won a Clausura title in 2014. His team is ranked on 2nd place, just 2 points behind Cobresal. Colo Colo have some Chilean superstars like Jean Beausejour, who played in the last 4 years in England, Humberto Suazo, who capped 60 times for the national team, and Jaime Valdés, who played for 14 years in Italy.
We don't need to repeat ourselves once again about South American rivalries, just watch and listen to this crowd.
Sunday, 1600, Shakhtar Donetsk – Olimpik Donetsk (Ukrainian Premier League)
A Derby is the moment that every club football fan is waiting for. This is when friends become enemies, just because they are the fans of different teams. In Donetsk, no one matters the derby on Sunday. Since April 2014, the city is part of the crisis in Ukraine, divided between pro-Russians and pro-Ukrainians, and even the newly built stadium, the Donbass Arena, have been damaged several times by the bombings. Due to the fragile climate, the game will take part in Lviv, 1033 kilometers (642 miles) from Donetsk.
Shakhtar Donetsk is one of the two biggest clubs in Ukraine. They are the reigning champions in the past five years, especially thanks to Rinat Akhmetov, the owner of the club who is ranked 201st in the Forbes' World's Billionaires list. With all the difficulties of the conflict, Shakhtar is now seven points away from the leaders Dynamo Kyiv. The club has 13 Brazilian players on the first team. The two most notable are Luiz Adriano, who scored 9 goals in 6 matches this season in the UEFA Champions League, and Douglas Costa, who showing great skills and ability since arriving at the club. Darijo Srna, who played 418 official matches for the club and Vyacheslav Shevchuk, who played for the Ukrainian national team in 2006 World Cup are also respectable figures. In addition, the club holds a list of young Ukrainian talents in the academy.
Olimpik Donetsk is the Ukrainian Premier League sensation. The team established in 2001 in order to develop the local talents of the city, and most of their players are club’s academy alumnus. Surprisingly, last year they promoted to the Ukranian Premier League, and now ranked on the 6th place, just 2 points from Europa League qualifying spot. The manager, Roman Sanzhar, who is responsible for the promotion, knows Olimpik well as he played in the team for 8 years. Keep your eyes on Maksym Drachenko, a Shakhtar's academy product, Volodymyr Lysenko, who capped for all youth national teams of Ukraine, and Sheriff Isa, who was a part for the Nigerian winning squad of 2007 U-17 World Cup. Another interesting story is Vladyslav Helzin, who except from being a player in the team; he is also the chairman of the club and the deputy of Donetsk Regional Council. The guy is certainly talented!
While the bad news is flooding Donetsk each day, the players will try to forget everything for 90 minutes, in order to make the people of Donetsk just a little bit happy.