Archive for May, 2010

Ramos and co. didn't really try. But it was enough.

 

There are some worries in the Spanish National camp as the reigning European champions don’t look as focused as they did last summer. ‘La Furia Roja’ struggled to beat non-World Cup dwellers Saudi Arabia 3-2 in Innsbruck, Austria  on Saturday.

The Saudi’s surprisingly went up 1-0 in the 16th minute as Osama Hawsawi headed in a corner that Spanish keeper Iker Casillas failed to punch clear. 14 minutes later, Barcelona striker David Villa scored to level the match. At the half, the Saudi’s looked more impressive than the Spanish.

After the half-time break, Spain came out with more sloppy play; and although Xabi Alonso gave Spain the lead in the 57th minute with a precise shot from outside the box, Saudi Arabia leveled the match in the 73rd minute with a freak goal which deflected off of Al Namare and past the helpless Casillas. The game ended with substitute Llorente heading in a Xabi Alonso corner in virtually the last kick of the game to give Spain the 3-2 win.

It’s clear that Spanish coach Vicente Del Bosque needs to have his team more focused when the World Cup comes around. Although this Spanish team is much deeper and better on paper than the one that won the Euro (inclusions of Pique, Valdes, Pedro, Llorente and Navas are fantastic) they do not look as sharp. Former Euro winning coach Luis Aragones formed an organized cohesive unit which we haven’t really seen under 2-time Champions League winner Del Bosque. The ‘moustache’ as they call him, is still awaiting the return of 2 of his key players in Cesc Fabregas and Fernando Torres from injury.

International Friendly results and highlights organized for viewing for your pleasure:

Spain 3-2 Saudi Arabia

Ireland 3-0 Algeria

Slovakia 1-1 Cameroon

Serbia 0-1 New Zealand

Sweden 4-2 Bosnia Herzegovina

Ukraine 3-2 Romania

Hungary 0-3 Germany

USA 2-1 Turkey

England 2-1 Japan

Belarus 1-0 Korea Republic

Paraguay 2-2 Ivory Coast

Gambia 1-5 Mexico

Nigeria 1-1 Colombia

Tunisia 1-1 France

Chile 1-0 Northern Ireland

Other Results:

Norway 2-1 Montenegro

Moldova 2-3 UAE

Poland 0-0 Finland

Iceland 4-0 Andorra

Azerbaijan 1-3 Rep. of Macedonia

Venezuela 1-1 Canada

Never gets old. In my opinion, the smoothest player since Zinedine Zidane.

Sad news for a brilliant footballer.

Real Madrid defensive midfielder Lassana Diarra has been ruled out of the World Cup and possibly ruled out of a career of football altogether as he was diagnosed with sickle-cell anemia by French National team doctors.

Diarra hardly played in the last few months of Real Madrid’s 2009/2010 campaign. And when he did, he didn’t look as sharp as usual.

Not much was known about Lass’ sudden drop in form and lack of appearances, and it is a mystery that his condition went undetected for so long in his career. It is reported that the condition was only found because of the location of where ‘Les Bleus’ were training: 3,000 feet above sea level.

Medical teams are still working on which treatments to use. There is currently no available cure for this disease. Sickle-cell anemia is often found in those of Sub-Saharan African descent and it causes long-term chronic pain and fatigue. Those who are treated properly, can live into their forties or fifties (ttp://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/dci/…CA_WhatIs.html).

On a personal note, I want to say that my thoughts and prayers go out to Lassana and his family. He is a brilliant footballer and one of the best defensive midfielders in the World when healthy. It is sad to see another Ruben De La Red on our hands, but it has to be said that football should be the least of his worries right now.

i Animo Lass !

Cream of the crop.

It’s not going to be as sunny as the Lakers hoped it would be going back to the Staples Center for game 5.

Channing Frye led the Suns’ second unit off the bench to power Phoenix to a 115-106 game 4 win at the U.S. Airways Center in Arizona on Tuesday night.

From the first minute of the game the Suns were feeding the home crowd with energy hitting 7-of-10 3 pointers in the second quarter and outscoring the Lakers’ bench 54-20 with their own.

Seven time All-Star Steve Nash who was playing with a broken nose, was kept in check for the most part by the Lakers’ defense and managed to only shoot 3-for-11. However, Phoenix didn’t miss a beat as Nash’s back-up and potential successor Goran Dragic scored 8 points and dished out 8 assists off the bench including a dazzling lay-up in the 4th quarter which sent the stadium into a frenzy.

In a losing cause, Kobe Bryant was the lone bright spot for the Lakers and kept shining as he has been throughout the whole series. Bryant handed out 10 assists and scored 38 points on 15-for-22 shooting. His other team-mates were not on the same level however as fellow all-star Pau Gasol only managed to score 15 points and grab 5 rebounds.

The Suns were able to control the Lakers’ offense by playing a man marking zone defense which enabled them to mark the Lakers’ interior players one-on-one virtually the whole game. Rarely did they go away from that defensive system as it was highly effective.

Phoenix head coach  Alvin Gentry touched on the Suns’ zone defense after the game saying “Although it’s a zone, we really try to match up. Our guys did a good job of communicating”.

The Phoenix Suns head into game 5 with momentum; but they’ll be up against a potent Lakers team charged by an electric home crowd. Game 5 of the Western Conference Finals takes place on Thursday night at the Staples Centre.

This made me shed a tear. Mourinho getting out of the car to say goodbye to Materazzi at the Bernabeu. I’ll post more on Jose when the contract is officially signed with Real Madrid.

D12: 3 more to go.

Dwight Howard does. And apparently he used some last night before the game. That’s funny. Hakeem Olajuwon never inspired Nate Huffman to have a great game like that when he was with the Raptors.

Milito: Quite in form these days.

 

 Diego Milito with two moments of brilliance to steal the show and lead Inter Milan to their first Champions League trophy since 1965. 

Let’s be honest. Nothing against these two European giants, but these were not the two best teams in Club World football. Regardless, Inter Milan deserved it. And yes; you can take that as a contradictory statement if you like. 

It was one of the most unnatractive finals a neutral eye has witnessed in years. Bayern’s only threat came from Arjen Robben (who by the way, would be one of the best players of his generation if he didn’t have health issues), and one man isn’t enough to get past the best defence in the World. Maybe Inter’s style was not the prettiest to watch, but we have to give credit to them for several reasons. 

Mourinho has made Inter Milan the most organized team in World football. There is no doubt about it. I truly can not remember the last time I was able to see such alignment, unity, and defensive perfection in a team. In my opinion, this is the best defence the World has seen since Italy’s Euro 2000 team which had Cannavaro, Nesta, and Maldini. But the bewildering thing about this team, is that Mourinho didn’t have 3 World Cup legends in their prime at his disposal. Having said that, he took World Class players and made them more. He made them champions. He took Wesley Sneijder, who couldn’t even control a damn football at Real Madrid, look like a World Class organizer who created a beautiful transition from midfield to attack. And just to be sure, if anything ever got past the back line, Julio Cesar (probably the best goalkeeper on Earth right now), would miraculously save anything that might have gotten through. 

Javier Zanetti: Legend

 

  It was hard to see the majestic Estadio Santiago Bernabeu flooded with red, black, and blue yesterday. But if there’s one man I can allow to lift a trophy in that Temple, it’s Javier Zanetti. He is a true legend of the game. One of the best right backs of all time, and a class act both on and off the pitch. He deserved it. It’s an absolute shame that Diego Maradona is crazy enough not to not take Zanetti, Cambiasso, and Samuel (and then take Heinze). Ridiculous really. I wouldn’t even be surprised if he dropped Milito after his brilliant performance last night. 

A shame for Inter and it’s fans though that they will not be the same team next year. The architect: Mourinho, will be a Real Madrid coach next season (more on that in a sec), and he will probably take Maicon with him and Sergio Ramos will be moved to a CB. But Congrats to Internazionale.. Enjoy the moment! 

Regarding Mourinho.. He doesn’t hold back in press conferences does he? What a guy. Check out 9:45: 

World Cup commercials are back. Nike’s latest work: