International friendly preview wrap: USA warm up for Gold Cup

The United States host world champions Spain and the Netherlands face Brazil in the pick of this weekend’s international friendlies.The visit of all-conquering Spain, 2010 World Cup and 2008 European Championship winners, to Massachusetts is the United States’ final warm-up game before their CONCACAF Gold Cup campaign kicks off against Canada on Tuesday.

Spain coach Vicente del Bosque will bring close to a full-strength squad for Saturday’s match at the Gillette Stadium, with Carlos Puyol and Xavi Hernandez the only players Spanish members of Barcelona’s Champions League winning squad left out.

Puyol is expected to be sidelined for up to three months after undergoing knee surgery, while Xavi is being rested after suffering from a persistent Achilles niggle throughout the season.

But striker David Villa and forward Pedro Rodriguez – goalscorers in Barca’s 3-1 win over Manchester United at Wembley – are among the World Cup winners who have travelled across the Atlantic.

San Jose’s Chris Wondolowski, Columbus Crew’s Robbie Rogers and Freddy Adu, playing second-tier football for Turkish club Caykur Rizespor, were the biggest surprises in the Gold Cup squad named by US coach Bob Bradley.

Elsewhere on Saturday, the Netherlands have an opportunity to repair some the damage done to their reputation by a brutal performance in the World Cup final when they travel to play Brazil in Goias.

Livewire forward Neymar, taking the Copa Libertadores by storm with Santos, is set to grab the headlines for Brazil in a re-match of the World Cup quarter-final, which the Netherlands won 2-1.

In the other matches on Saturday, the Czech Republic meet Peru in Japan, while Bolivia host Paraguay in Santa Cruz.

On Sunday, Australia tackle locals rivals New Zealand in Adelaide, Uzbekistan are away to China and Poland host a crowd-pleaser against Argentina.

In Friday’s friendlies, South Korea are up against Serbia, Hong Kong take on Malaysia and Luxemburg are at home to Hungary.

 


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