A Strange Summer

The summer soccer season starts tomorrow, but with the World Cup delayed until the winter, it’s likely to feel a bit different. It breaks fairly evenly into two halves: an international window in the first half of June that may feel more significant (at least in parts) than the typical lead-ins to a World Cup; and then a July devoted to the women’s game, especially to the Euros. Sandwiched in between those main events, in the second half of June, is the U-19 Euro tournament—for those interested in scouting the next generation.

Having an opportunity to focus solely on the women’s game should be a nice change, while at least some of the contests in the opening international window seem worthy of attention. Here’s a more detailed schedule:

6/1-6/14 International Window

6/1, 1:45 PM, Fox Sports 1 – “Finalissima”

Though far from the most interesting game, even of this opening day, the summer international window kicks off with the third ever international playoff between the winners of the Euros and the Copa America, now rebranded as the Finalissima (in its two previous incarnations, in 1985 and 1993, this contest was dubbed the Artemio Franchi Cup). While it is unclear how seriously either side will take this match, it’s probably at least worth recording in case something serious breaks out. Ciro Immobile is out with an ankle injury, but otherwise full-strength sides are expected.

6/1-6/14 – Conclusion of World Cup Qualifying

But while you are taping the Finalissima, you should probably have your eyes on the first of two matches concluding UEFA World Cup qualifying, delayed by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Tomorrow, Ukraine face Scotland in a playoff semifinal, with Wales awaiting the victor to determine Europe’s final World Cup contender on Sunday. I think it’s fair to say that few neutrals will be rooting for either of the home nations.

The remaining World Cup spots will be less of a draw for neutrals. On the 7th, United Arab Emirates and Australia play for the right to face Peru in a playoff on the 13th. The following day, Costa Rica and New Zealand contend for the last World Cup spot.

One other dead rubber game that is technically a World Cup qualifier may prove more interesting. Although both Brazil and Argentina have already qualified for the World Cup (in CONMEBOL’s top two spots, no less), FIFA has insisted that they replay their World Cup qualifier abandoned because of several Brazilian players failing to follow their country’s quarantine guidelines. While game is essentially a friendly–being played in Melbourne, Australia, no less–Brazil – Argentina is never completely meaningless.

  • 6/1, 1:45 PM, ESPN2 – Scotland vs. Ukraine
  • 6/5, 11:00 AM, ESPN2 – Wales vs. Scotland/Ukraine
  • 6/7, 1:00 PM – United Arab Emirates vs. Australia
  • 6/11, 6:00 AM, FuboTV – Brazil vs. Argentina
  • 6/13, 1:00 PM – United Arab Emirates/Australia vs. Peru
  • 6/14, 1:00 PM – Costa Rica vs. New Zealand

6/1-6/14, FuboTV, Fox Sports 1 – UEFA Nations League, Group Stage, Matchdays 1-4

Though less important than Ukraine’s potential World Cup qualification, the main event in this international window will be the first four rounds of group play in the UEFA Nations League. Organized to provide more interesting and competitive matches than traditional friendlies, the tournament has largely proved a success in its first two iterations.

There will be numerous games played every day of this window, many of which will be available on FuboTV and some of the best A League matches also broadcast on Fox Sports 1 (as well as highlight packages at the end of each matchday window). In a summer with little else on offer in the men’s game, these should prove interesting to watch. The final two group stage games will be played in September, with knockout rounds happening next June.

More broadcast details are available here, with a full schedule of games listed here.

6/18-7/1 – U-19 Euros

For those seeking a palate cleanser between the Nations League and the Women’s Euros (or hoping to identify next generation stars), the U-19 Euros is the tournament for you. If you can find it, that is. ESPN and TUDN are listed as the US broadcasters for the event, but I haven’t been able to find any broadcast plans as of yet.

Stay tuned for more info, but a full schedule of games is available here.

7/6-7/31 – Women’s Euros

The summer’s main event will be the Women’s Euros, staged in England and featuring many of the best teams in the World. Netherlands, Sweden, Spain (now building off of Barcelona’s core team), France, Germany, England, and Norway (with Ada Hegerberg back in saddle after nearly 5 years away in protest against inequal treatment of the women’s team) are all very serious teams. Even better is the fact that ESPN is broadcasting much more of the tournament than is typical for their soccer properties. Here’s a full schedule of games:

  • 7/6 2:00 PM ESPN2/ESPNU England – Austria (A)
  • 7/7 2:00 PM ESPN2 Norway – Northern Ireland (A)
  • 7/8 11:00 AM ESPN+ Spain – Finland (B)
  • 7/8 2:00 PM ESPN2 Germany – Denmark (B)
  • 7/9 11:00 AM ESPN+ Portugal – Switzerland (C)
  • 7/9 2:00 PM ESPN2 Netherlands – Sweden(C)
  • 7/10 11:00 AM ESPN2 Belgium – Iceland (D)
  • 7/10 2:00 PM ESPN+ France – Italy (D)
  • 7/11 11:00 AM ESPN2 Austria – Northern Ireland (A)
  • 7/11 2:00 PM ESPN2 England – Norway (A)
  • 7/12 11:00 AM ESPN2 Denmark – Finland (B)
  • 7/12 2:00 PM ESPN2 Germany – Spain (B)
  • 7/13 11:00 AM ESPN2 Sweden – Switzerland (C)
  • 7/13 2:00 PM ESPN2 Netherlands – Portugal (C)
  • 7/14 11:00 AM ESPN2 Italy – Iceland (D)
  • 7/14 2:00 PM ESPN+ France – Belgium (D)
  • 7/15 2:00 PM ESPN2 Northern Ireland – England (A)
  • 7/15 2:00 PM ESPN+ Austria – Norway (A)
  • 7/16 2:00 PM ESPN2 Finland – Germany (B)
  • 7/16 2:00 PM ESPN+ Denmark – Spain (B)
  • 7/17 11:00 AM ESPN2 Switzerland – Netherlands (C)
  • 7/17 11:00 AM ESPN+ Sweden – Portugal (C)
  • 7/18 2:00 PM ESPN2 Iceland – France (D)
  • 7/18 2:00 PM ESPN+ Italy – Belgium (D)
  • 7/20 2:00 PM ESPN2 Quarterfinal 1: A Winner – B Runner-up
  • 7/21 2:00 PM ESPN2 Quarterfinal 2: B Winner – A Runner-up
  • 7/22 2:00 PM ESPN2 Quarterfinal 3: C Winner – D Runner-up
  • 7/23 2:00 PM ESPN2 Quarterfinal 4: D Winner – C Runner-up
  • 7/26 2:00 PM ESPN2 Semifinal 1: QF3 Winner – QF1 Winner
  • 7/27 2:00 PM ESPN2 Semifinal 2: QF 4 Winner – QF2 Winner
  • 7/31 11:00 AM ESPN Final: SF1 Winner – SF2 Winner

Two other women’s tournaments staged in the Americas will be running at roughly the same time as the Euros, though given the time differences they won’t actually overlap with any Euro games (though they do conflict with one another).

7/4-7/18, Paramount Plus – W Championship

This lop-sided tournament is theoretically designed to determine which CONCACAF teams will compete in the 2024 Olympics, or at least which teams will have to play more games in order to qualify. The US will play group games on the 4th (6:00 PM, CBS Sports), the 7th (6:00 PM), and the 11th (9:00 PM). They will almost certainly play in a semifinal on the 14th (probably at 6:00 PM, but at 9:00 PM if they don’t win the group); and assuming they win that, they will (probably) play Canada in the Final at 9:00 PM on the 18th. Assuming everything runs as expected, that should be a game well worth watching.

Full schedule and more information is available here.

7/8-7/30, Fox Sports 1 & 2 – Copa America Femenina

I will confess to nearly complete ignorance about the state of international women’s football in South America (except that Brazil is pretty good). Having said that, Fox Sports seems set to broadcast a fair amount of this tournament, so perhaps I will have an opportunity to better educate myself. Maybe I’ll even do some research and dig into Brenda Elsey’s and Joshua Nadel’s excellent Futbolera: A History of Women and Sports in Latin America.

Full tournament details are available here, with a broadcast schedule here.

7/12-7/30 Pre-Season Club Friendlies

Don’t expect me to list them, but the season for club friendlies appears to open with Manchester United playing Liverpool in Bangkok on the 12th, and to close on the 30th with several European friendlies scheduled closer to home. The only one I really care about is Bayern Munich – Manchester City, at Green Bay’s Lambeau Field on the 23rd, which I will be attending. And yes, I’ve already got my tailgate worked out.

7/28 – 8/13 Summer’s End

There are many ways to define the end of summer. Here are a few options:

  • 7/28 1st round of Germany’s DFB-Pokal (their equivalent to the FA Cup) begins.
  • 7/30, 1:30 PM DFL Supercup: Bayern Munich – RB Leipzig
  • 7/31, 11:15 AM FA Community Shield: Manchester City – Liverpool (and please, spare a curse for the dickwad who scheduled the best of the season’s opening pseudo-trophies at same fucking time as the Euro final–and in the same fucking stadium! I’m guessing this one will be changed.)
  • 7/31 Trophée des Champions: Paris Saint-Germain – Nantes
  • 8/5 Bundesliga Season starts
  • 8/6 Premier League and Ligue 1 Seasons start
  • 8/12 La Liga Season starts
  • 8/13 Serie A Season starts

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