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Soccer on TV: Cameroon vs. Cape Verde could be one of the biggest games in Union history

Philadelphia Inquirer logo Philadelphia Inquirer 1/14/2022 Jonathan Tannenwald, The Philadelphia Inquirer

Morocco vs. Comoros

Friday, 11 a.m. (beIN Sports Xtra)

You’ve already read about the MLS players in the Africa Cup of Nations. There’s also one from the second-tier USL Championship. Alexis Souahy, a 26-year-old from New Mexico United, is a reserve defender on Comoros’ squad as the nation plays in the tournament for the first time since becoming a FIFA member in 2005.

Borussia Dortmund vs. Freiburg

Friday 2:30 p.m. (ESPN+)

Freiburg has been one of the best surprises this season not just in the Bundesliga, but all of Europe. One of Germany’s smallest teams is in fourth place in the standings over halfway through the season. Can they keep it up? A trip to one of the country’s giants will be a big measuring stick.

The rest of this weekend's Bundesliga schedule

Manchester City vs. Chelsea

Saturday, 7:30 a.m. (Peacock)

City’s lead atop the Premier League table is 10 points over second-place Chelsea. If the home team wins here, the title race will be all but over with nearly half the season left.

Aston Villa vs. Manchester United

Saturday, 12:30 p.m. (NBC10, Universo)

If you’re a fan of football and fútbol, you might not be changing the channel after this game kicks off. After the final whistle, NBC will have a half-hour postgame show, then go straight into pregame coverage for the 4:30 p.m. Raiders-Bengals NFL playoff game.

And if you’re a fan of soccer star power, Villa-United will have it. Philippe Coutinho could debut for the home team after coming in on loan from Barcelona, and Cristiano Ronaldo is likely to be across the field.

Guinea-Bassau vs. Egypt

Saturday, 2 p.m. (beIN Sports Xtra)

Egypt lost its tournament opener 1-0 to Nigeria, making this game a must-win for Mo Salah and company.

Real Betis vs. Sevilla

Saturday, 3:30 p.m. (ESPN+)


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Replay Video

The Copa Del Rey’s round of 16 kicks off this weekend, with all eight games on ESPN+ spread from Saturday through Wednesday.

The best underdog story is third-tier Atlético Baleares hosting Yunus Musah’s Valencia, but it’s Sunday at 6 a.m. and you’re excused from waking up that early. So let’s go with one of Spain’s most fun rivalries instead, the Seville derby.

The rest of this weekend's Copa del Rey schedule

Tottenham Hotspur vs. Arsenal

Sunday, 11:30 a.m. (Peacock)

In terms of standings ramifications, the latest North London derby is the Premier League’s biggest game of the weekend. Arsenal is in fifth place, two points back of fourth-place West Ham and two points ahead of sixth-place Tottenham. But Spurs have two games in hand because of COVID-19-related postponements. An Arsenal win on the road would be a statement; a Tottenham win would put the home team in the driver’s seat.

The rest of this weekend's Premier League schedule

Real Madrid vs. Athletic Bilbao

Sunday, 1:30 p.m. (ESPN2, ESPN Deportes, ESPN+)

Both Spanish SuperCup finals were entertaining. Real Madrid beat Barcelona 3-2 in extra time, in a game that showed off Real’s counter-attacking prowess and Barcelona’s attacking strength. Athletic beat Atlético Madrid 2-1 with a late comeback. Real will be favored because Karim Benzema and Vinícius Júnior are in scorching form, but Athletic has a long history of winning cup finals.

Atalanta vs. Inter Milan

Sunday, 2:45 p.m. (Paramount+)

Here’s the game of the weekend in Serie A. Inter’s lead atop the standings is one point over AC Milan, plus a game in hand. Atalanta is in fourth, and could jump up to third with a win and some help.

The rest of this weekend's Serie A schedule

Pachuca vs. Chivas

Sunday, 6 p.m. (Univision, TUDN)

Chivas kicked off its new season with a 3-0 win over Mazatlán, which put a charge into one of Mexico’s biggest fan bases. But Mazatlán isn’t very good. This will be a tougher test for a Chivas squad that has a trio of young players with big potential: midfielders Jesús Angulo (age 24) and wingers Alexis Vega (24) and Roberto Alvarado (23).

The rest of this weekend's Liga MX schedule

Cape Verde vs. Cameroon

Monday, 11 a.m. (beIN Sports Xtra)

Why could an Africa Cup of Nations group stage game be one of the biggest Union games ever? Because never in the team’s 13-year history have two Union players played against each other in a major national team tournament. This could be the first, if Jamiro Monteiro plays for Cape Verde and Olivier Mbaizo plays for Cameroon.

But “could” is a big word here, unfortunately. Mbaizo hasn’t played in either of Cameroon’s tournament games yet, despite starting four of the Indomitable Lions’ six World Cup qualifiers last fall. He was on the bench for Thursday’s 4-1 rout of Ethiopia, and watched the player starting in his place, Collins Fai, set up two goals.

Monteiro has started both of Cape Verde’s games so far, and has been one of the Blue Sharks’ better players. But the team has been subpar overall, and was upended by Burkina Faso 1-0 on Thursday. So Cape Verde likely has to get a result in this game to advance.

Now, what about the Union’s history books? If you’re trying to remember when Andre Blake played against Alejandro Bedoya in a Gold Cup, it never happened. Nor did any of the Union’s other players from Concacaf nations — remember Keon Daniel, Carlos Ruiz and Gabriel Gómez — ever play against those two, or any other Union player, in a Gold Cup while with the club.

In fact, the closest any Union players have come to facing each other in a Gold Cup was the 2017 final, when Chris Pontius was on the U.S. bench and Blake started for Jamaica. Bedoya was on the U.S. squad in the group stage, but left the team after that thanks to a Concacaf rule back then which allowed for roster changes before the knockout rounds.

You have to dig deep in the archives to find any games other than friendlies in which Union players played against each other for their countries. But go far enough and you’ll find one: a 2016 Concacaf Caribbean Cup qualifier in which Warren Creavalle started for Guyana hosting Blake’s Jamaica. (Jamaica won, 4-2.)

The rest of this weekend's Africa Cup of Nations schedule
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