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The last set of World Cup qualifiers for 2016 take place on Tuesday night before the players all return to their clubs to get back into some big time club soccer, and that makes this one of the biggest weeks of the year for the beautiful game, one that bettors will have plenty of opportunities to invest in.
Costa Rica vs. USA, Tuesday, 9:05 p.m. ET ( beIN Sports )
All of the road teams won in the first set of World Cup qualifiers in the Hexagonal in CONCACAF, and that has setup a tremendous second round of games. No one is going to be in the World Cup through just 180 minutes of play, but life is going to be a lot easier if the teams that were on the road can come back home and get three more points to create a massive chasm between the "haves" and the "have nots."
The United States was one of the losing teams from its match against Mexico, and now, it has to play against Los Ticos in Costa Rica, a place where the Yanks have never won in World Cup qualifying in their history. If this is a match that ends without a point, Jurgen Klinsmann is going to be under a ton of fire, while Costa Rica could effectively be in the World Cup if it can beat the USA.
Manchester United vs. Arsenal, Saturday, 7:30 a.m. ET ( NBC Sports Network )
Here we've got two of the biggest teams in the world playing against each other in the first match back from the international break, and this is going to be a big challenge for both of these teams.
The Gunners are fourth best in the EPL at this point, and they really need to show some more consistency. Their wins are big, but their losses and draws have been borderline maddening.
But is Manchester United really in any better shape? Jose Mourinho is still trying to get over the loss to Chelsea on the road just before the international hiatus, but the bottom line is that his team is just 5-3-3 through 11 matches, and that just flat out isn't good enough. The team is only +3 in the goal differential department, and it's only 2-2-1 at home.
Atletico Madrid vs. Real Madrid, Saturday, 2:45 p.m. ET ( beIN Sports )
There's just no avoiding the Madrid Derby. Atletico Madrid is always seemingly trying to run down its crosstown neighbors from Real, and this year is no exception.
The big problem the Atleti have in this match is that Antoine Griezmann, one of the heroes of Euro 2016 for the hometown French, probably won't be playing in this match. Atletico Madrid just flat out doesn't have the attack options without Griezmann in the lineup, and to score in this match will be a huge accomplishment in and of itself.
Real Madrid actually hasn't been as dominant as you might think even though it's still an undefeated team in La Liga. With eight wins against three draws, the 27 points is good enough to stay at the top of the league, but this isn't necessarily as dominant as we're used to seeing.
We're at the point though, if Atletico Madrid doesn't win this match, it probably isn't going to be a contender for the La Liga title, and that's a hard pill to swallow, especially if Griezmann isn't in the fold.
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