Featured Matches
Previous
AS Roma
Internazionale
5:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Manchester City
Olympiakos
7:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Real Madrid
Manchester United
8:06 PM GMT
Game Details
Liverpool
AC Milan
10:30 PM GMT
Game Details
Arsenal
Benfica
3:20 PM GMT
Game Details
Los Angeles
Portland Timbers
6:30 PM GMT
Game Details
Valencia
AS Monaco
1:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Arsenal
Benfica
3:20 PM GMT
Game Details
Airdrie United
Stenhousemuir
2:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Albion Rovers
Livingston
2:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Alloa Athletic
Stirling Albion
2:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Brechin City
Dumbarton
2:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Clyde
Cowdenbeath
2:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Dundee
Peterhead
2:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Dunfermline Athletic
Annan Athletic
2:00 PM GMT
Game Details
East Stirlingshire
Ayr United
2:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Greenock Morton
Berwick Rangers
2:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Hamilton Academical
Arbroath
2:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Montrose
Falkirk
2:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Queen of the South
Elgin City
2:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Raith Rovers
Forfar Athletic
2:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Stranraer
East Fife
2:00 PM GMT
Game Details
RB Leipzig
VfR Aalen
11:00 AM GMT
Game Details
St Pauli
FC Ingolstadt 04
1:30 PM GMT
Game Details
VfL Bochum
SpVgg Greuther Furth
1:30 PM GMT
Game Details
Sochaux
Orléans
3:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Ural Sverdlovsk Oblast
Mordovia Saransk
12:30 PM GMT
Game Details
FC Arsenal Tula
Zenit St Petersburg
3:00 PM GMT
Game Details
CSKA Moscow
FK Torpedo Moscow
5:30 PM GMT
Game Details
KV Kortrijk
Standard Liege
4:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Mouscron-Peruwelz
Waasland-Beveren
6:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Racing Genk
Cercle Brugge KSV
6:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Royal Charleroi SC
KVC Westerlo
6:00 PM GMT
Game Details
FC Trenkwalder Admira
Rapid Vienna
2:30 PM GMT
Game Details
Austria Vienna
SC Rheindorf Altach
5:00 PM GMT
Game Details
SK Sturm Graz
FC Magna Wr. Neustadt
5:00 PM GMT
Game Details
SV Josko Ried
SV Salzburg
5:00 PM GMT
Game Details
FC Vestsjaelland
FC Copenhagen
1:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Odense BK
AaB
3:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Falkenbergs FF
Malmo FF
2:00 PM GMT
Game Details
IFK Norrkoping
BK Hacken
2:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Orebro SK
Halmstad
2:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Stromsgodset
Sogndal
1:30 PM GMT
Game Details
Viking FK
Valerenga
4:00 PM GMT
Game Details
FC Thun
FC Basel
3:45 PM GMT
Game Details
Grasshoppers
FC Sion Sitten
6:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Los Angeles
Portland Timbers
6:30 PM GMT
Game Details
Montreal Impact
Toronto FC
9:00 PM GMT
Game Details
New York Red Bulls
New England
11:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Chicago
Columbus
12:30 AM GMT
Game Details
Colorado
Real Salt Lake
1:00 AM GMT
Game Details
San Jose
Seattle Sounders FC
2:30 AM GMT
Game Details
Cruz Azul
Veracruz
10:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Puebla
America
10:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Monterrey
Santos
12:00 AM GMT
Game Details
León
Morelia
1:06 AM GMT
Game Details
Atlas
Chiapas
2:00 AM GMT
Game Details
Minnesota United FC
Ottawa Fury FC
9:30 PM GMT
Game Details
New York Cosmos
Carolina RailHawks
11:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Fort Lauderdale Strikers
Tampa Bay Rowdies
11:30 PM GMT
Game Details
Indy Eleven
Atlanta Silverbacks
11:30 PM GMT
Game Details
Colón de Santa Fe
Instituto de Córdoba
Postp
Game Details
Aldosivi
Nueva Chicago
Postp
Game Details
Argentinos Juniors
Boca Unidos
Postp
Game Details
Guarini A. Franco
Gimnasia y Esgrima de Jujuy
Postp
Game Details
San Martín de San Juan
Douglas Haig
Postp
Game Details
Huracán
Temperley
Postp
Game Details
Patronato
All Boys
Postp
Game Details
Sarmiento de Junín
Independiente Rivadavia
Postp
Game Details
Necaxa
Zacatepec
9:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Altamira
At. San Luis
11:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Irapuato
Mérida
12:00 AM GMT
Game Details
Oaxaca
Atlante
12:00 AM GMT
Game Details
Dorados de Sinaloa
Celaya
1:00 AM GMT
Game Details
Botafogo
Cruzeiro
9:30 PM GMT
Game Details
São Paulo
Criciúma
9:30 PM GMT
Game Details
EC Vitória
Gremio
12:00 AM GMT
Game Details
América Mineiro
ABC
7:20 PM GMT
Game Details
América RN
Santa Cruz FC
7:20 PM GMT
Game Details
Bragantino
Joinville
7:20 PM GMT
Game Details
CR Vasco da Gama
Paraná Clube
7:20 PM GMT
Game Details
Sampaio Correa-MA
AA Ponte Preta
7:20 PM GMT
Game Details
Ceará
Boa MG
12:00 AM GMT
Game Details
Palestino
Ñublense
4:30 PM GMT
Game Details
Universidad de Chile
Santiago Wanderers
7:30 PM GMT
Game Details
Universidad Católica
Cobreloa
10:00 PM GMT
Game Details
O'Higgins
Universidad de Concepción
12:30 AM GMT
Game Details
Arica
Unión Española
2:00 AM GMT
Game Details
Fortaleza CE
Atlético Huila
7:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Uniautonoma
Envigado
9:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Patriotas F.C.
Independiente Santa Fe
10:30 PM GMT
Game Details
Itagüí
Atlético Junior
11:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Millonarios
Boyacá Chicó FC
1:00 AM GMT
Game Details
AS Roma
Internazionale
5:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Manchester City
Olympiakos
7:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Real Madrid
Manchester United
8:06 PM GMT
Game Details
Liverpool
AC Milan
10:30 PM GMT
Game Details
Deportivo Capiatá
Sol de América
7:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Rubio Ñú
Nacional
8:00 PM GMT
Game Details
3 de Febrero
General Díaz
9:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Libertad
Cerro Porteño
9:30 PM GMT
Game Details
Gamba Osaka
Yokohama F. Marinos
9:00 AM GMT
Game Details
FC Tokyo
Shimizu S-Pulse
9:30 AM GMT
Game Details
Kashima Antlers
Sanfrecce Hiroshima
9:30 AM GMT
Game Details
Tokushima Vortis
Vantforet Kofu
9:30 AM GMT
Game Details
Albirex Niigata
Cerezo Osaka
10:00 AM GMT
Game Details
Kashiwa Reysol
Kawasaki Frontale
10:00 AM GMT
Game Details
Sagan Tosu
Nagoya Grampus Eight
10:00 AM GMT
Game Details
Urawa Red Diamonds
Vissel Kobe
10:00 AM GMT
Game Details
Vegalta Sendai
Omiya Ardija
10:00 AM GMT
Game Details
Pasaquina FC
Santa Tecla
8:00 PM GMT
Game Details
CD Dragon
CD FAS
1:00 AM GMT
Game Details
Metapan
Atletico Marte
1:00 AM GMT
Game Details
Marquense
Malacateco
2:00 AM GMT
Game Details
Petapa
Universidad de San Carlos
2:00 AM GMT
Game Details
Olimpia
Honduras Progreso
1:00 AM GMT
Game Details
Washington Spirit
Chicago Red Stars
10:30 PM GMT
Game Details
FC Kansas City
Seattle Reign FC
12:00 AM GMT
Game Details
Next

Head to Head:
Life after Suarez

Liverpool Jul 16, 2014
Read
 Posted by John Duerden
Jun 8, 2014

Asia's battle with Africa

Iran's efforts in 1978 are the only time an Asian side has played in South America at a World Cup.

No Asian team has ever won a competitive game in South America, although, in fairness, Iran's participation at the 1978 World Cup was the only chance. A group containing Netherlands, Peru and Scotland was considerably tougher than it would be now. India had the chance 28 years earlier in 1950 but were unable to take their place in Brazil due to financial difficulties, although the legend goes that they withdrew because they were not allowed to play barefoot. 

Much has changed since the last time the World Cup was in Brazil -- notably, this time, there are four Asian teams suited, booted and ready to go. But how far? Nobody expects Asian hands on that famous trophy (though Park Ji-sung told the BBC last week that South Korea will win the World Cup ... one day), but it is to be hoped that the continent can show its growing strength. For better or for worse, global opinions will be formed, changed or reinforced for the coming years on the basis of what happens over the next few weeks.

An interesting subplot in Brazil will be the battles on the pitch between Asia and Africa, three games that will go a long way toward determining which confederation has more teams in the knockout stage. Japan's opener is against Ivory Coast, Iran start their fourth World Cup by meeting Nigeria, while South Korea's second game has Algeria as the opposition. If they are not "must-win" games, they certainly qualify for "must not lose."

In terms of getting to the second round, Asia has the slightest of edges. Seven times have African teams done so out of 33 appearances, meaning that out of every 4.71 appearances, one has progressed. Asia reads six out of 28, a slightly superior 4.66. Some would argue that Australia's success in 2006 should be included to take it down to 4.14 -- as the nation was by then a member of the Asian Football Confederation -- but Francesco Totti's late penalty for Italy in Kaiserslautern, Germany, ended a run that started in Oceania.

In terms of results, it is not quite as close. Of the 11 meetings (rare until relatively recently due given the lack of representation from both continents) Asia has lost just two, winning four and drawing five of the others. Such games tend to be tight. In 1994, Saudi Arabia downed Morocco on the way to the second round, while the same team drew 2-2 with South Africa four years later and lost 1-0 to Cameroon in 2002.

At that World Cup, amid joyous scenes in Osaka, Japan defeated Tunisia to book a place in the second round. In 2006, Korea came from behind to beat Togo 2-1 in a tense tie; Saudi Arabia, inspired by old fox and young cub Sami Al-Jaber and Yasser Al-Qahtani, were denied the three points by a last-gasp Tunisia equaliser at the end of an entertaining clash in Munich, Germany, while a talented Iran team ended a disappointing tournament -- for themselves and Asia in general -- by drawing 1-1 with Angola in Leipzig.

Four years later on African soil, Keisuke Honda grabbed the winner against Cameroon and South Korea drew 2-2 with Nigeria in a thrilling match to seal a place in the second round. Australia tied Ghana 1-1 but would have surely fared better had Harry Kewell not given away a penalty and been red-carded early in the game, though North Korea couldn't handle the power of Ivory Coast in Nelspruit, South Africa.

Ghana did their continent proud in 2010.

In South Africa, as only one of the African six-pack survived the first round, half of the Asian quartet managed to do so, a healthy survival rate and even the three defeats recorded by rank outsiders North Korea could not detract from a satisfactory overall showing. Take away the two harsh red cards from the first two Aussie games -- the Socceroos finished level on points with Ghana, Africa's only representatives in the knockout stage -- and it could have easily been three out of four. Indeed, it's three out of four in Brazil when it comes to Asian teams that have to deal with African opposition.

Ivory Coast are first up for Japan. The Africans are respected and talented, even if striker Didier Drogba, still a massive star in Asia (although Africa has a major edge when it comes to star power) despite the ill-fated sojourn in Shanghai, is past his peak. If the Samurai Blue are to play to their potential and have the tournament that many think they are capable of -- getting to the last eight -- then the Elephants present a perfect test. The likes of Yaya Toure can certainly damage a suspect back line, but the Japanese midfield will have to keep the ball away from the big guns.

Then comes Iran versus Nigeria, one of the most fascinating games of the entire first round. Team Melli signed off from their last appearance at a World Cup with a 1-1 draw against Angola, but the Super Eagles have much more of a World Cup pedigree. With Argentina coming next for the Persians -- a game that has already been written off by much of the media -- the opener really is crucial.

The pressure is on not to lose against the Africans, so expect a cagey performance from a team well drilled and organised by Carlos Queiroz. A goalless draw would not go down badly at all as Iran sits back, invites Nigeria forward and looks to frustrate and hit on the counterattack at pace. It will not be a game for the faint-hearted on either side.

South Korea also take on Algeria. The Taeguk Warriors have more World Cup experience but then struggle to match their North African opposition when it comes to players in the big leagues. Algeria are dangerous, looking good in the buildup and, from Korea's point of view, hopefully confident. The 2002 semifinalists will prefer to play a team that comes forward at every opportunity, leaving space for fast forwards to exploit. Much depends on what happens against Russia in the first match, but whatever that result, Korea will need something from the Fennecs.

For South Korea, Japan and Iran, then, it is obviously not about Asia beating Africa but getting the points for the push to the second round. However, if, on the way, they can lift the standing of Asian football and perhaps show that the world's biggest continent is the world's third football power, then so much the better.

Comments

Use a Facebook account to add a comment, subject to Facebook's Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. Your Facebook name, photo & other personal information you make public on Facebook will appear with your comment, and may be used on ESPN's media platforms. Learn more.