Friendly tests for Copa America contenders
There are 17 friendlies taking place around the globe this week, several of them providing valuable run-outs for South America’s finest as they continue their preparations for July’s Copa America. As for the coaches of the European teams in action, there is a welcome opportunity to rest tired legs and try out some untested talent.
FIFA.com looks ahead to the forthcoming action, which includes some intriguing Europe-versus-South America match-ups.
Game of the week
Uruguay-Netherlands, 8 June, 18.30 GMT, Estadio Centenario, Montevideo
The Uruguayans will not be lacking in motivation for this game, which gives them an early opportunity to avenge their 3-2 defeat in the semi-finals of the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™. After surprising everyone with their run to fourth place at last year’s world finals, La Celeste are planning to consolidate their reputation with another strong showing at the upcoming Copa America in Argentina.
Beaten 2-1 in Germany at the end of last month, Oscar Tabarez’s team will line up with the formidable attacking trident of Diego Forlan, Edinson Cavani and Luis Suarez, with midfielder Cristian Rodriguez also coming in for the injured Alvaro Fernandez in a game the home side will not be taking lightly.
Though the Dutch will be without the likes of Mark van Bommel, Wesley Sneijder and Rafael van der Vaart, they still have a wealth of talent to call on, and will be looking to Barcelona's Ibrahim Afellay to turn in the kind of display he produced in the goalless draw against Brazil at the weekend.
France will be making wholesale changes for their meetings with UEFA EURO 2012 co-hosts Ukraine and Poland, on Monday and Thursday respectively. “The players are worn out,” said coach Laurent Blanc after their disappointing 1-1 draw with Belarus in last Friday’s EURO qualifier.
Romania coach Razvan Lucescu surprised everyone by resigning after his side had overcome Bosnia-Herzegovina 3-0 the same evening. Stepping into the breach is U-21 boss Emil Sandoi, who has a baptism of fire with games away to Brazil on Tuesday and then Paraguay on Saturday. Seleção fans will be anxious to see their side produce some of the entertaining play coach Mano Menezes has been promising.
Ecuador take on the ever-solid Greece in New York, while Venezuela face a daunting assignment at home to European and world champions Spain, who thrashed USA 4-0 in their own backyard on Saturday.
Among the clutch of other European teams taking to the field are Czech Republic, who pit their wits against Japan, while Serbia take on Australia and Russia host Cameroon, with Samuel Eto'o no doubt anxious to make up for his penalty miss against Senegal in an CAF Africa Cup of Nations qualifier at the weekend.
Finally, Cesare Prandelli will use Italy’s meeting with Republic of Ireland to screen test some home-based talent for his new-look and fast-improving side.
Player to watch
Paris Saint-Germain central defender Mamadou Sakho is the talk of French football at the moment, and his emergence has not come a moment too soon for national coach Laurent Blanc. “We’re not exactly that well off in the centre of defence,” said Blanc. “We’ve got some promising players but they haven’t reached international standard yet.”
4-2-1 - Not Brazil’s new formation but their record since Mano Menezes took over (four wins, two draws and one defeat).
What they said
“It was important to get the players together for a few days after their domestic seasons and strengthen ties again. Doing it in Brazil was also useful. It allowed us to look to the future and get a feel for Brazilian conditions,” Bert van Marwijk, Netherlands coach.
Have your say
Can Uruguay build on their fourth place at South Africa 2010 and win the Copa America?