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Action-Packed Soccer Weekend Primer

Soccer fans around the world are pulling out the national team jerseys as we get set for a ton of international games this weekend, whether it be 2016 Euro qualifiers, Copa America or the Under-20 World Cup, you could basically just get off work on Friday and watch soccer for three days straight. So here are a couple of games to keep an extra eye on.

Saturday:

Ireland – Scotland (Euro 2016 Qualifiers Group D):

Saturday kicks off with an intriguing matchup between these two U.K. nations as they try to stay in the race for a spot in next summer’s European Championship in France. Scotland has three wins, one draw and one loss for 10 points and a third place in the standings behind Germany (10pts) and leading Poland (11pts). Ireland sits in fourth with eight points after two wins, two draws and one loss.

Last time these two teams met was back in November, the Scots won 1-0 after a goal by Shaun Maloney (Chicago Fire) in the 75th minute. The Irish will have a massive support in Dublin and are looking for revenge over their British brothers. Robbie Keane will captain the Irish side as usual, and the 34-year-old LA Galaxy striker will play his 139th game for the Irish national team.

Argentina – Paraguay (Copa America Group B):

Argentina and Paraguay square off in the second game in Group B (Jamaica and Uruguay play earlier in the day), and the Argentinians with Lionel Messi (Barcelona) and Sergio Aguero (Manchester City) are heavy favorites to take home the tournament. Argentina has won the last three meetings between the nations, outscoring Paraguay 12-5.

Paraguay has an outside shot at the second spot in the group, but they are underdogs together with the Reggae Boyz in Group B. Argentina crushed Bolivia 5-0 in a friendly last week, so confidence will be high heading into the tournament. Paraguay drew 2-2 with Honduras, and has only won one out of their last five games.

USA – Serbia (Under-20 World Cup Quarterfinals):

Team USA will be up against Serbia in the quarterfinals of the U-20 World Cup in New Zealand. The Americans came second in Group A after wins over Myanmar (2-1) and hosts New Zealand (4-0). They lost the final group game against the Ukraine 3-0, but it was still good enough to go to the Round of 16 where they had a thriller of a game against Colombia that ended in a 1-0 U.S. win.

Rubio Rubin scored with thunderous strike in the 58th minute. Goalkeeper Zack Steffen became the other hero for Team USA as he saved a penalty kick late in the second half.

Serbia started off the tournament with a 1-0 loss to Uruguay in Group D. But then they got on the winning track with good performances against Mali and Mexico, and won both games 2-0. They managed to win the group on six points and went up against Hungary in the Round of 16. Extra-time was needed in order to settle that game, and the Serbians came out with the 2-1 victory.

Sunday:

Sweden – Montenegro (Euro 2016 Qualifiers Group G):

Sweden are desperate for a win as they try to close the gap to group leader Austria. The Swedes sit in second place with nine points, four behind the Austrians. Both the Swedes and the Austrians are still undefeated after five games, but Sweden has only two wins and three draws, whereas Austria has four wins and one draw.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic is always the talking point when Sweden is playing, and the Paris Saint-Germain striker has been injured towards the tail end of the season, so there are some concerns about his fitness level.

Montenegro will be without their captain Mirko Vucinic as the former Juventus player is out with an injury. Montenegro sits in fourth place in Group G with 5 points, and will now look to Stevan Jovetic (Manchester City) to provide the offense.

Brazil – Peru (Copa America Group C):

The Brazilian’s road to redemption starts on Sunday against Peru in Group C of the Copa America. After the way that Brazil was humiliated in the World Cup on home soil they will be out to show the world that they are still one of the best soccer nations in the world. Barcelona striker Neymar will lead the charge, and he’s been in fine form all season for his club.

Peru has an interesting team with a good mix of young and old and players playing in Europe and South America. Juan Manuel Vargas (Fiorentina) will be the creative force in midfield and up top they have several good options on Claudio Pizarro (Bayern Munich), Paolo Guerrero (Flamengo) and Jefferson Farfan (Schalke 04).

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