FOUR MATCHES TO WATCH ON DAY 2 OF QUALIFYING
FOR FULL SCHEDULE GO TO COSMOSCOPA.COM/TOURNAMENT
Group 1 - NYC Albania v. NYC Argentina - 1:00PM - Field #74
Group 2 - NYC France v. NYC Croatia - 1:00 PM - Field #75
Group 3 - NYC Spain v. NYC Bolivia - 12:00 PM - Field #74
Group 4 - NYC Japan v. NYC USA - 9:00 AM - Field #75
Albania and Argentina, the two leaders of Group 1 after the first day of qualifying, square off at 1 p.m. this Sunday on Field 74.
Argentina opened up play with a 3-1 demolition of their rivals Uruguay and finished off the day with a 1-0 victory over St. Vincent and Grenadines, who played with only 10 men. However, Argentina's play in their second match was surely somewhat troubling to their team president, Dean Burgos. Even when only facing 10 men, their only goal was off a rather poor rebound that the St. V&G keeper should have wrapped up.
Albania dominated the ball in the opening match of qualifying against St. V&G, but they too struggled to turn their seemingly endless possession into goals. To have a chance against Argentina, they'll have to make sure they put away their chances, because Argentina's physical defense, will give them nowhere near the number of chances they had on the first day. The Argentinean keeper, Javier Decima, has also been impressive in net, only allowing one ball to get past him in the first two games.
Albania has real pedigree in this tournament, having one the whole thing in 2009 and with an improving Uruguay hot on their tails in Group 1, they'll need a victory over a very strong Argentinian side to give them the best chance of proceeding.
Intent on claiming a spot in the group stage of the Cosmos Copa Tournament, both NYC France and NYC Croatia will be looking to notch a victory under their belts this Sunday as they square off in a crucial Group 2 encounter.
NYC Croatia are group leaders after earning two wins and six points from two 2-0 victories over NYC Liberia and NYC Paraguay. NYC France are stuck on three points after surprisingly losing their opening match against NYC Paraguay 2-1 before earning their first victory of qualifying in a 2-0 effort against NYC Ivory Coast.
Despite only earning one victory last weekend, NYC France displayed their exceptional ability to keep possession of the ball in midfield and attack with pace at the opposing defense. With a certain poise and grace that is often displayed by the French national team, NYC France will be confident that they will have the ability to break down a gritty Croatian defense that has yet to concede a goal.
In stark contrast to NYC France, NYC Croatia prefer to use a more direct approach in attack as opposed to the French midfield elegance. NYC Croatia are accustomed to sending long balls up the field and feeding their wide players to send crosses into the box. They are also a physically intimidating side that are able to really boss a game seemingly through pure brute force and will power.
The French will have to be mindful of the Croatia's pace on the wings as they conceded both of their goals against NYC Paraguay via counter-attack.
However, this impending matchup of power vs. finesse should be a treat to watch, not only because of the exceptional style in which both teams play but also because of the impact players that are in the squads.
For France, their main attacking outlet will be Adam Maabdi. Maabdi scored once and assisted twice during his team’s two games last weekend and was, by far, the most influential attacking option in the squad. His ability to run at pace towards defenders and either send in a cross or cut inside for a shot will surely cause problems for the Croatian defense.
For NYC Croatia, their most dangerous player will likely be Kristopher Bistre. Bistre likes to drift out to the left wing where he has the ability to attack the opposing full back or find space to unleash a shot, much like the aforementioned Maabdi. However, Bistre could make his mark on the match this Sunday by stretching the French backline by executing the cross field passes that he displayed last weekend.
Whether this matchup between NYC France and NYC Croatia treat fans to an open, offensive type of game or a midfield chess match, it will be sure to please.
Bolivia and Spain, who stand atop Group 3, present an interesting dynamic of styles in their matchup at noon this Sunday on Field 74.
Bolivia opened up play with a rather easy 6-1 offensive explosion against Egypt. The Bolivians spread the ball around quite deftly, with five of their forwards and midfielders tallying goals. However, NYC Italy cancelled out the Bolivians in their second match as both teams were forced to settle for the 0-0 draw.
NYC Spain, much like their professional counterparts, plays a tiki-taka style style of soccer, holding the ball for most of the game and making short quick passes where they can find open space rather than launching the ball down the field. Spain opened qualifying with a conclusive 5-1 victory over Egypt before narrowly getting past Portugal 1-0.
This matchup will pit Bolivia striker Kevin Riveros and Spain forward Steve Nyarady, two of the biggest stars of Day 1, against each other. Riveros displayed quite a skill at losing his markers and finding open spaces last Sunday. His first goal of the game against Egypt came off a long punt from his keeper, with which the midfielder dexterously blew past two defenders and found the back of the net on the opposite post for a breathtakingly fast strike. Meanwhile, Spainish star Nyarandy, tallied a hat trick before the first half in Spain's 5-1 domination of Egypt before adding another against Portugal.
After day 1, Group 3 has turned into a three horse race between Spain, Bolivia and Italy. This match between two of the surprise teams of Cosmos Copa so far will play a key factor in deciding who qualifies for Cosmos Copa.
While NYC USA displayed their attacking prowess in their lone match of the weekend, a 5-0 trouncing of NYC Kosova, NYC Japan affirmed that they are definite believers in a composed and compact style of soccer in their narrow 1-0 defeat to NYC Afghanistan and impressive 2-1 win over NYC Kosova.
After missing out on a group stage spot in last years Cosmos Copa Tournament, NYC Japan made a determined effort to improve on their past performance. In a 1-0 defeat to an upstart yet supremely talented NYC Afghanistan side, NYC Japan indicated their defensive astuteness by absorbing a plethora of Afghan attacks on goal. They also proved their ability to turn defense into attack by initiating counter attacks while the opposition was stretched from sending so many players forward.
In their victory over NYC Kosova, NYC Japan displayed their adaptability by changing tactics and dominating possession as well as illustrating a knack for executing one and two-touch soccer.
On the other hand, NYC USA made a bold statement in their victory over NYC Kosova. Even though they only played one match, the American's ability to keep the ball and attack with pace and precision must have struck quite a bit of fear into their upcoming opposition.
In their impending matchup, NYC Japan will, more than likely, resume the role that they played during their game against NYC Afghanistan. This will see them stay compact and organized in the back from the first whistle, and hope to prevent USA from getting their attack to gel.
If NYC Japan manages to keep the Americans from finding the back of the net early on, it will be interesting to see how NYC USA reacts to their first patch of adversity.
Other than NYC USA’s lighting quick attacking approach, look for both teams to play the ball out of the back and keep possession in midfield with confident, slick passes.