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Friday’s Field of Play: England, Argentina, Mexico

West Bromwich Albion v Newcastle United - Premier League

WEST BROMWICH, ENGLAND - MARCH 25: Hatem Ben Arfa of Newcastle celebrates after his team’s second goal during the Barclays Premier League match between West Bromwich Albion and Newcastle United at The Hawthorns on March 25, 2012 in West Bromwich, England. (Photo by Jamie McDonald/Getty Images)

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True, Friday is a sleepy day in world soccer, but thankfully for those of us who didn’t quite get enough mid-week, this Friday looks particularly active:

English Premier League


  • Two of the best stories of the Premier League season meet at the Liberty Stadium in Wales, and with fifth place (and possibly the table’s last European spot) on the line for Newcastle, these are three needed points. Swansea, sitting 11th, is firmly in that not-going-anywhere spot in the standings. The Magpies? Tied for the fifth with Chelsea, and only five points behind Arsenal and Tottenham for an honest-to-goodness Champions League spot. With Swans having lost two of their last three at home, three on the road isn’t so far-fetched. (11:30 a.m. ET)

Belgian Pro League


  • Last week, we talked about the importance of Anderlecht’s match with Kortrijk. The Purple and White suffered a shocking draw at home, leaving them only one point ahead of Club Brugge. Now Sacha Kljestan and Co. (where I get my shirts) are in Liege to face Standard while Brugge visits Kortrijk on Sunday. It’s not must win for Anderlecht, as there’s still a long way to go in Belgium’s second phase, but if they stumble, Anderlecht could end the weekend in a rare chasing role. (2:30 p.m. ET)

Argentine Primera Division

Two of the Primera’s top four kick off the Clausura weekend against stragglers:


  • Fourth-place Arsenal welcomes bottom-dwelling Olimpo to Sarandi in a matchup that could cure their scoring ills. While allowing a league-low five goals through eight rounds, Arsenal’s only scored nine times. Riding a four-match winning streak into Friday’s game, Arsenal should expect a few more goals against the league’s worst defense, Olimpo having conceded 19 times. (6:10 p.m. ET)
  • Goals aren’t a problem for Vélez Sarsfield. Only Boca Juniors have scored more often in the tournament, Vélez’s 14 goals equaling the number that Independiente have generously conceded. Playing at home, expect Vélez to get the result, sending them temporarily top. (8:15 p.m. ET)

Mexican Primera Division


  • Last week’s win by Estudiantes had to send a shiver through Atlas. No, the win wasn’t over Atlas (it was over Chivas), but t was a reminder that Tecos - sitting bottom Mexico’s relegation chart - aren’t dead yet. And they’re going to catch anybody, it’s going to be Atlas. Right now, the gap is five points, but given Atlas hasn’t won since February, the four games left in the tournament could be too many. While Friday at third-place Morelia doesn’t look like the place to break the slide, they have to start winning sometime. Else, the Segunda calls. (9:10 p.m. ET)