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Corner Kicks

This week in soccer

August 22, 2007|Grahame L. Jones, | Times Staff Writer

Five things happening around the world

1) There will be 45 international matches played around the world today, and although most are friendly affairs, some could be especially noteworthy.

South American champion Brazil, ranked No. 1 in the world, is expected to "punish" stars Ronaldinho and Kaka for skipping the Copa America by leaving the pair out of its starting lineup when it plays Algeria in Montpellier, France.

World champion Italy and runner-up France are scheduled to play each other in a Euro 2008 qualifier in Milan on Sept. 8 in their first meeting since last summer's stormy World Cup final in Berlin. The Italians will warm up today against Hungary in Budapest, and the French play Slovakia in Trnava.

The United States plays Sweden in Gothenburg, where Galaxy forward Landon Donovan will have a chance to become the all-time scoring leader for the U.S., overtaking Eric Wynalda, if he manages a goal.

Among the players on Mexico's roster for its friendly tonight against Colombia in Denver is 20-year-old left-sided defender Edgar Castillo, who was born in Las Cruces, N.M., and played his youth soccer for Strikers FC in New Mexico before being signed by Santos Laguna of the Mexican league in 2005.

2) Galaxy fans who missed Saturday night's 5-4 loss at the New York Red Bulls will have the opportunity to see the game at 4 p.m. Thursday when it is rebroadcast on ESPN Classic, the first MLS game considered an "instant classic" by the network.

3) The Spanish league season begins Sunday, and defending champion Real Madrid is in disarray.

The team lost several preseason friendly matches and over the weekend was beaten, 5-3, by Sevilla in the Spanish Super Cup, prompting new Coach Bernd Schuster to be called onto the carpet this week.

Despite having Dutch star Ruud van Nistelrooy, Europe's second-leading scorer last season, in his lineup along with Raul, Javier Saviola and others, Schuster said he needs help in the attack and wants the club to buy another striker.

The club also has been trying to pry Dutch winger Arjen Robben away from Chelsea but has so far been rebuffed.

4) Freddy Adu's move to Benfica has run into an early snag. The Portuguese club fired Fernando Santos as coach one game into the Portuguese season and Tuesday replaced him with former Real Madrid star and Spanish national team Coach Jose Antonio Camacho.

5) Greece plays Spain today in Thessalonica on a field of such poor quality that the Spanish players refused to even train on it Tuesday.

"What is this?" asked midfielder Joaquin. "I've never seen a pitch like this in all my life, not even when I played as a kid."

Added midfielder Xavi: "Anyone who plays on that pitch has a good chance of killing themselves."

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