By Nurudeen Obalola:
1 How will the Flying Eagles fare against Brazil?
Technically, the FIFA U-20 World Cup match between Nigeria and Brazil is on Monday morning Nigerian time, so just beyond the weekend. But it is at 2am, which is still Sunday night, so this can be included in the weekend, right?
Anyway, as far as Nigerians are concerned, the U-20 World Cup is the main thing right now, and the Flying Eagles are the main actors.
So, everyone will be watching out for how the boys of Manu Garba will fare against one of the favourites for the tournament.
Nigeria have never beaten Brazil at this level, never even scored against the South Americans, but there is an air of optimism that all that will change this time.
The Flying Eagles squad is loaded with talent, most of the players having been part of the Golden Eaglets squad that won the FIFA U-17 World Cup two years ago. In Kelechi Iheanacho, Taiwo Awoniyi and Moses Simon, the Flying Eagles boast perhaps the most potent forward line in the tournament, but they still have to prove themselves capable when the chips are down.
They have been devastating in the Africa Youth Championship and their warm-up games, but the real test is the tournament proper. And tests don’t come bigger than Brazil.
The same Brazil brought another Nigerian ‘dream team’ down to earth in Chile in 1987 with a 4-0 opening battering after the Flying Eagles squad, containing Etim Esin, Nosa Osadolor, Ene Okon, Thompson Oliha and Adeola Adekola, had been hyped to high heavens.
Is it time for some measure of revenge? Can the Nigerian boys overcome the likes of Manchester United Young Player of the Year Andreas Pereira and other stars?
In other U-20 World Cup games this weekend, hosts New Zealand face Ukraine, USA battle first timers Myanmar, Argentine clash with Panama, and Africans Ghana face Austria.
2 Cup Final weekend across Europe
The European season is winding down and most of the major countries are climaxing with their domestic cups this weekend.
It’s a huge treat as Cup finals hold in England, Germany, France, Spain and Scotland.
In England, Arsenal are heavily tipped to retain the FA Cup and surpass Manchester United as the most successful club in the competition. They are both on 11 trophies each.
The Gunners face Aston Villa, who are wobbling seriously after a surge in form had seen them comfortably escape relegation and romp to the FA Cup final.
After losing their last two matches – 6-1 to Southampton, 1-0 to relegated Burnley at home – Villa are supposedly expected to be given a proper thrashing by Arsenal, but recent Wembley results suggest otherwise.
Curiously, since the new Wembley started hosting FA Cup finals, all eight have been won by one-goal margins.
Some encouragement for Villa, but they have a woeful head-to-head against Arsenal. They have won only three and lost 22 of their last 34 matches against Arsenal in all competitions.
Should Gooners put the champagne on ice? The action starts from 5.30pm on Saturday.
In the other big Cup final this weekend, Barcelona aim to secure the second leg of their dream treble when they face Athletic Bilbao from 8.30pm on Saturday night. Having won La Liga in some style, the next targets for Luis Enrique and his men are the Copa Del Rey and the Champions League for a super treble.
The devastating trio of Lionel Messi, Neymar and Luis Suarez have been sweeping all before them since the turn of the year, but Athletic are no pushovers.
In France, PSG will claim a domestic treble of the Ligue 1 title and two Cups if they overcome second-tier Auxerre in this weekend’s final.
In Germany, will Borussia Dortmund give departing coach Jurgen Klopp a parting gift by defeating Wolfsburg in the DFB Cup final?
In Scotland, it’s rare not to see Efe Ambrose’s Celtic (or the fallen Rangers) in a Cup final, but it’s Inverness versus Falkirk this weekend for the Scottish Cup.
3 Post-season friendly spree
As if the season was not tiring enough, several European clubs have embarked on jaunts around the world for post-season friendly matches.
It is ironic that the same clubs who complain about having to play too many matches during the regular season are happy to hop on planes and fly to Asia and America for meaningless matches days after the season is over.
Manchester City already played and defeated Dike’s Toronto FC 1-0, while Chelsea and Tottenham will play this weekend.
As Premier League champions Chelsea face Thailand All Stars, you wonder if Jose Mourinho will field his star players like Eden Hazard, Nemanja Matic and John Terry. Or will he go for the youngsters who did not have much of a chance to impress during the campaign? Will he go for a mix? It’s at 11am on Saturday.
Harry Kane will be the headline act as Tottenham face Sydney FC in Australia on Saturday. Will the young Englishman continue firing? Or is he too tired after scoring all season and in another friendly against Malaysian XI on Wednesday?
4 How will Sepp Blatter’s weekend go?
The apparently indestructible Sepp Blatter overcame serious adversity to retain his FIFA seat on Friday but his ‘enemies’ say it is not over.
The Swiss defeated his only opponent, Prince Ali of Jordan, in the vote but there are still dark clouds hanging over his head.
After the arrests of many of his men, Blatter cannot be sitting too pretty this weekend as the probe into his 17-year tenure continues.
This is supposed to be a weekend of merriment for the man who has led FIFA since 1998, but he will spend the next few days nervously looking over his shoulder.
5. Who makes it to French Open second week?
There are some heavyweight clashes on the clay courts of Roland Garros this weekend as the French Open reaches the crucial stages.
One to especially look out for is the battle between home boy Gael Monfils, the showman, and waning serial winner Roger Federer in the round of 16.
The battle this weekend is to reach the second week and have a shot at winning one of only four Grand Slam titles in tennis.
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