This is the first of a weekly series to be posted Sunday, previewing the first part of the upcoming week in sports, including how to follow the action for each event.
Wednesday is a FIFA International Date (and my 21st birthday!), so there are a few matches to keep your eye on.
– UEFA World Cup Qualifying Group F: Northern Ireland v Russia at Windsor Park in Belfast (ESPN3, 2:45 ET/11:45 AM PT). After this match, these sides will still have a game in hand on two in their group, but with the win, Fabio Capello and Russia will move into first place. Northern Ireland have not won yet and aren’t likely to this time around either, as they currently sit on 3 points.
– International Friendlies:
- Bosnia-Herzegovina vs. United States (3:30 PM ET/12:30 PT, ESPN2)
- Germany vs. Paraguay (2:45 PM ET/11:45 AM, ESPN3)
- Italy vs. Argentina (2:45 PM ET/11:45 AM PT)
- Belgium vs. France (3 ET/Noon PT, ESPN3)
- England vs. Scotland (3 ET/Noon PT, Fox Soccer)
- Portugal vs. Netherlands (3:30 ET/12:30 PT, ESPN3)
- Mexico vs. Ivory Coast (9 ET/6 PT, ESPN2)
With a number of leagues beginning within the next week or two, this will be the final game for many players before competing with their respective clubs. A yet-to-be-named US side will take on Edin Dzeko, Asmir Begovic and a fiercely tough Bosnian side in Sarajevo. Germany has brought in their A-team to take on a side in Paraguay that has fallen hard since appearing in the 2010 World Cup. Italy and Argentina, two of the world’s best have also called in most of their best players, with Sergio Aguero possibly the only noticeable name left off the lists. Ronaldo, Nani and company will be in action taking on the Dutch and their stars Arjen Robben and RVP.
The fierce rivalry between England and Scotland will be renewed at Wembley Stadium as many of the Premier League’s best footballers – including Joe Hart and the headline-making Wayne Rooney – take on the likes of Charlie Adam and Steven Naismith. And El Tri will look to bounce back after a terrible run of late, as a Mexican side lacking Manchester United star Chicharito will take on Drogba, Toure, Gervinho and the boys from the Ivory Coast.
-Mets at Dodgers, Tuesday 10 ET/7 PT (SNY/Prime Ticket/MLB.TV). Most of the reasons to watch this battle between the two biggest cities in the country are Dodger related. Vin Scully on the call, Yaisel Puig, and as of Saturday the Dodgers have won 8 of 10 and are leading the NL West by 5.5 games with a 65-50 record. But the real highlight here is the pitching matchup: Mets stud Matt Harvey (23 starts, 159.2 IP, 2.09 ERA, 178/29 K/BB) vs. the Korean sensation Hyun-Jin Ryu (22 starts, 141.1 IP, 2.99 ERA, 118/42 K/BB).
-Pirates at Cardinals, Tuesday-Thursday.
- Tuesday: 8:15 ET/5:15 on MLB Network (Local Broadcast)
- Wednesday: 8:15 ET/5:15 PT on ESPN (Broadcasters TBA)
- Thursday: 1:45 ET/10:45 AM PT on MLB Network (Local Broadcast)
Two of the best teams in the National League will square off at Busch Stadium in St. Louis as the Pirates will face off with the Cardinals. St. Louis is 3.0 GB of Pittsburgh, but does currently sit atop the NL Wild Card standings. This series will feature two candidates for NL Cy Young, Adam Wainwright (NL-best 24 starts, NL-best 230.1 IP, 2.66 ERA, 213/56 K/BB) of the Cardinals who will go Tuesday, and Francisco Liriano (17 starts, 105 IP, 2.83 ERA, 107/44 K/BB) of the Pirates who’ll go Wednesday.
At the plate, The Pirates feature a lineup with MVP candidate Andrew McCutchen (.311/.385/.507, 16 HR, 65 RBI, 24 SB), Pedro Alvarez and his 27 HRs, and defensive studs Russell Martin and Starling Marte. The Cardinals will counter with a balanced lineup that features five players with .OPS of at least .835, including MVP candidate Yadier Molina (.330/.374/.479, 8 HR, 30 doubles, 54 RBI), Allen Craig (.314/.362/.458, 11 HR, 86 RBI) and Carlos Beltran (.305/.340/.520, 20 HR, 62 RBI).