Posts Tagged ‘Inter Milan’

Pure Gold.

This post is actually for a friend, but I’ll leave it for everyone else to see.

Everyday I get bombarded with text messages about how classy and morally superior FC Barcelona is… How the whole team decends from the angels of heaven, birds sing when they touch the ball, how incredibly humble and generous they are to the rest of Humanity, and how they suffer at the hands of other mere mortals.

And of course, they never ever spend any money.

Mes Que Un Club..? Enjoy.

Barcelona, Bunyodkor, Uzbekistan, and UNICEF

Amidst little fanfare in 2008, Barcelona announced a cooperative link up with an obscure team in Uzbekistan, Kuruvchi FC. It is a deal that has definitely benefited both clubs, but the commercial partnership has raised questions. Not least because the Uzbeki government has one of the worst records in the world for human rights violations, and that Barcelona are sponsored by UNICEF.

– Bleacher Report

Unicef Must Break Ties With Child Slavery Supporters Barcelona FC

Kudos to pitchinvasion.net for an excellent article on the disgusting decision by Barcelona FC to accept sackloads of cash to promote Islam Karimov, the world’s most vicious dictator.

Craig Murray

FC Barcelona – Hypocrisy at its finest

“The church appears to be above religion. When they signed Ibrahimovic they didn’t practice what they preached. It surprised me that they didn’t apply the same rules as Cristiano Ronaldo to the Ibrahimovic transfer.”—This is an excerpt from Jorge Valdano’s interview which he gave two days ago to AS.

Just one day after Valdano’s interview, the Catalan club purchased a 22-year-old defender—Dmytro Chyhrynskiy—from Shaktar Donetsk for €25 million, a significant sum for an established, world-class player, let alone a young, almost unheard of defender…..

Barcelona, on the other hand, spent €102 million in 2008-09 for Keita, Pique, Hleb, Caceres, Dani Alves, and Henrique, re-couping just €49.5 million of that through sales, leading to a net expenditure of €51.5 million….

FC Barcelona quite surprisingly spent over €100 million for the second year running, €129.5 million to be exact for Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Dmytro Chyhrynskiy, Keirsson, and Maxwell. Through Samuel Eto’o’s sale, they recovered only €30 million, leading to a net expenditure of €99.5 million.

So in the two seasons combined Real Madrid’s net expenditure is €171.8 million and FC Barcelona’s net expenditure is €151 million, just a €20.8 million difference between the two.

Bleacher Report

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rio backs Jose as United defender slams Barcelona and diving star Pedro

Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand has slammed Barcelona’s play-acting antics against Real Madrid in their Champions League semi-final first leg clash at the Bernabeu on Wednesday night.

Ferdinand says Barca’s Pedro should be ashamed of himself after seemingly clutching his face after a harmless collision with Real’s Alvaro Arbeloa.

The England international also appeared to have sympathy for Real manager Jose Mourinho who reacted bitterly to his side’s 2-0 defeat by accusing UEFA of conspiring in favour of the Catalans.

Ferdinand tweeted: ‘This diving is a joke/embarrassing. When Pedro watches that do you think he’ll think “What was I doing!?”

Daily Mail

Now, I’m anticipating the typical answer I usually get from this guy – insults and and how immoral Madrid are. Instead of acknowledging the faults of his own club, he’s going to respond by posting videos of how psycho Pepe is.

But lets be clear on one thing – as a Madridista, I am not proud of a few things. Such as Cristiano and Di Maria’s diving, Pepe’s violence, some of Mourinho’s antics, and the gambling sponsor on our beautiful shirt.

What I can’t stand though, is when certain Cules are so blind that they fail to see or admit that there is anything wrong with their club – even in the face of video evidence.

And feel free to read the comments of the videos to see what the rest of the World thinks of you too.

Awesome animated touch-up of Gareth Bale’s performance in the San Siro against Inter earlier this season. I’d love to see this done for Zidane’s last game in Real Madrid.

Beautiful.

Benzema gains some much needed confidence

Taken from our discussion on the Perpetual Post.

Champions League Matchday 6

By Mike Cummings, Kiyan Sobhani and Howard Megdal

MIKE CUMMINGS: Play it again, Sam. And, aww, what the heck — while we’re at it, here’s looking at you, Arsenal.

With his goal for Arsenal in the 77th minute Wednesday against Partizan, Samir Nasri did a couple of things that could each qualify as A Big Damn Deal. First, he further established himself as the Gunners’ most consistent contributor and — more and more these days, with the disappearance of the artist formerly known as Cesc Fabregas — the team’s best overall player. Second, he made Arsenal the English Team To Watch in the knockout stages of the Champions League.

Whew. Who knew an insurance goal in a middling group-stage win could be so important? For the reasons why, follow me down the logical trail.

With that middling group-stage win, Arsenal at last qualified as the runner-up in Group H, a group the Gunners were expected to dominate. But after road losses to Shakhtar Donetsk and Braga, Arsenal was in real danger of finishing third as Matchday 6 began. Those fears were compounded when Cleo canceled out Robin van Persie’s opener and tied the score at 1-1 in the second half. Enter Theo Walcott, who scored what turned out to be the winner four minutes before Nasri.

But while Walcott’s goal was the game-winner, Nasri’s was the nail in the coffin, the ticket to the knockout stages, the soothing tonic for Arsenal’s cocktail of mixed performances over the past month.

And more than anything, it was all of those things, all over again.  In other words, this is not the first time Ol’ Sam (think he’s ever been called that?) has bailed Arsenal out this year. One of the best examples came over the weekend when he scored twice and pretty much ran the whole game in Arsenal’s 2-1 win over Fulham.

But that’s not the only example. Dating back to the start of Arsenal’s recent slump — a 2-1 loss at Shakhtar Donetsk on November 3 — Nasri has scored five goals in seven starts and has been his team’s best player. And that’s been a welcome development for an Arsenal team that’s been dealing with Cesc Fabregas’ injury and uninspired form.

So why is Arsenal The English Team To Watch? Because while Nasri has played well consistently, as a whole Arsenal has not. It’s nothing new to report that Arsenal has talent to win it all but also the inconsistencies to lose at any time. That’s the way it’s been for years under Arsene Wenger, especially since the Gunners won their last trophy in 2005.

This year is no different. At times Arsenal has looked great, but at times they’ve also looked very bad. As Wednesday showed, Wenger’s men obviously have to defend better if they want to win any trophies. Cleo had way too much time for his goal, and Arsenal’s defense seemed content to let him shoot unpressured.

But with that said, Arsenal is at the top of the Premier League, in the knockout stages of the Champions League, and still kicking in both the FA Cup and Carling Cup.

Simply put, anything can happen. And as Arsenal has repeatedly shown, it probably will.

So is this the season Arsenal finally puts it all together and wins a major trophy for the first time since 2005? At the moment the Gunners are at the top of the Premier League table, and despite showing inconsistent form during large parts of the season, they look as good a bet for the title as the rest of the Big (Shambolic) Four would. For now Arsenal is playing with lots of confidence after, apparently, having put their annual November-December hiccups behind them.

More than anyone else, the Gunners have good ‘ol Sam to thank for that.

HOWARD MEGDAL: To paraphrase another Casablanca quote, Mike, how extravagant you are, throwing away Spurs like that. Someday, English clubs may become scarce.

Or put another way, Arsenal qualified- but Tottenham Hotspur won their group, besting a strong group including Twente, Werder Bremen and some team that plays at San Siro- and they did it without a defense.

Well, they had people back there, sure. But the depth was nil. And Younes Kaboul missed the Twente game, while Michael Dawson hasn’t played in a Champions League match all season. Tom Huddlestone’s absence for ankle surgery doesn’t help matters, either, and he wasn’t 100 percent long before he took his leave.

As Harry Redknapp put it, You can’t say, ‘Well they’ve conceded goals’ as we’ve scored more goals than anybody.” What could lift Spurs to another level- and perhaps this is a greedy fan talking- is if they’d simply stop conceding so many goals.

Meanwhile, I think it is worth pointing out that the following Champions League teams in the Round of 16 will be unseeded: AC Milan, Lyon, Inter Milan and Arsenal. In other words, four of the group winners will receive these opponents- as a reward.

By the time it happens it will be February- giving Spurs the chance to both get healthy and add in the January transfer window. Clearly, they don’t need any more goals. But that defense should look very different in a few months. And astoundingly, that could mean Spurs makes a run in this tournanent.

KIYAN SOBHANI: While others were busy watching more important clashes such as Arsenal taking on Belgrade, I decided to tune into the demolition at the Bernabeu, where Real Madrid’s B team (minus Cristiano, who apparently plays – every – single – game) thrashed poor Auxerre 4-0. It was an insignificant result, as this group has been long decided – much like most groups.

But, this was a morale booster. For a second, let’s forget the fact that Auxerre was among the worst teams in the Champions League this year. What’s substantial here is that Karim Benzema had his best game in a Real Madrid shirt, scoring a hat-trick – including an alluring lob for his 3rd goal. It was a huge morale boosting game for Karim, who has no excuses now that Higuain is out for at least a month or so. Naturally, Benzema has no strikers standing in his way – and Madrid will need Benzema’s confidence to be sky-high if they are to go deep in all competitions.

So what’s next for Madrid? It’s intriguing to look at the potential teams that Madrid could face in the knockout round. Three of them – Lyon, Arsenal, Roma – are teams that have knocked out Madrid in the round of 16 in the past 6 years; while another fun team to draw would be Inter Milan, where Madrid would want to take revenge on Benitez who out-coached Bernd Schuster as Liverpool knocked out Real 5-0 on aggregate 2 seasons ago. Madrid would also rendezvous with former allies Sneijder, Samuel, and Cambiasso; while Inter gets a chance to prove to their former coach that they are indeed contenders without ‘the special one’.

The two remaining teams that Madrid could conceivably draw are Marseille and Copenhagen – both of whom would undoubtedly be Madrid’s easiest possible draw. Maybe that’s just what they need, because many Merengue fans feel that all they need to do is break the curse and advance past this deplorable round of 16 phase on their quest to ‘La Decima’ – their 10th European crown.

Master Tactician Alex Ferguson comes out of the Mestalla with a 1-0 win.

I grew up in an era of attacking football. Being a Real Madrid and La Liga supporter, I had the privilege of seeing Zinedine Zidane, Luis Figo, Raul, and Ronaldo playing together and picking teams apart with no mercy; while their relinquished defence saw the ball go into their net on a few occasions. They never seemed bothered when they let in goals. Their philosophy was one that read ‘We’ll just score more goals than you’.

That same era we witnessed the ‘Super Depor’ team which had Juan Carlos Valeron, Djalminha, Mauro Silva, and Diego Tristan. It was a team that beat Milan 4-0 and reached the semi-finals of the Champions League to play another entertaining La Liga team at the time, Valencia. That era was the most dominant that La Liga has ever been in Europe and one that was pleasing to the eye. It seemed like ‘Joga Bonito’ had stamped out ‘negative football’ for good.

Football goes through phases. The era of flair and gung-ho offence is dormant for the time being. In the past year, we’ve seen defensive football emerge from it’s slumber (it was actually always there, but not everyone used it, and it wasn’t always successful).

Last season we thought Barca was unstoppable. And then we realized that the only way to beat them was to pressure them high and keep the defensive shell compact. That’s exactly what happened the two times they were conquered last season. Rubin Kazan did it in the Camp Nou in the group stages of the Champions League (ironically, they held Barca to a 1-1 draw today in similar fashion), and then Jose Mourinho came to the Camp ‘Mou’ and played some of the most unattractive yet efficient games of football I have seen to knock Barca out of the Champions League.

One month later, Vicente Del Bosque and Spain started their quest for their 1st ever World Cup trophy. La Seleccion this year is virtually Barca 2.0. It’s literally FC Barcelona plus Casillas, Ramos, Alonso, and Capdevila. The amazing thing is that Del Bosque took this team and totally changed it from the style of play that Pep Guardiola has Barca playing. He dropped Torres, and inserted a second DM -Xabi Alonso- to accompany Sergio Busquets. A simple switch that completely changes the system. Spain went from being an attacking team, to one that builds and solidifies at the back while trying to snatch a goal somewhere and then killing the game off with their possession.

Needless to say, La Roja went on to win the World Cup with a team that focused more on defensive stability than attack. This was evident as they won their last 4 games of the tournament by 1-0.

Mourinho - Impressive at the back

Jose Mourinho has Real Madrid playing more defense than they’re used to, but it seems to be working. Last night Mourinho decided to play with three defensive midfielders – Lass, Alonso, Khedira – against 17th placed Ligue 1 side Auxerre. A formation that is unheard of in Real Madrid. Mourinho’s philosophy is one that emphasizes defensive organization. To his defence -no pun intended-, Real Madrid has been playing the best defence I have ever seen them play, and although they aren’t scoring as much, I’m sure the goals will come eventually. They have to. Especially when you have Higuain, Benzema, Cristiano, Ozil, Di Maria, Pedro Leon, and Canales in attack.

My only criticism of Mourinho thus far is his obsession with playing Karim Benzema at the right wing position. It’s a position that destines Benzema to failure. He’s most lethal when he’s closest to goal, and at that position he occupies valuable space that Di Maria and Ozil could be filling. I’m sure Eto’o understands Benzema’s frustration with his comment today after his hat-trick and Inter’s 4-0 win over Werder Bremen:

“I’m happy to win as a striker after winning as a defender last season,”

And finally, a surprising ending happened at the Mestalla today as Manchester United grabbed a 1-0 win over Valencia. After literally attacking Manu for 80 minutes and coming close to scoring on several occasions, they found themselves losing the match after Manchester finally broke out of their defensive shell late to score the only goal of the game. If there ever was a ‘perfect game’, Sir Alex came pretty close today. He had United lined up fantastic defensively and Valencia found it hard to penetrate the great partnership of Ferdinand and Vidic. The more Valencia pushed, the more Manchester absorbed, and just when it looked like Valencia might score, Ferguson came up with two genius substitutions bringing on youngsters Javier Fernandez and Federico Macheda. The later was the architect who set-up Fernandez for the winning goal. It was a lovely move that can be seen here.

So what is the answer? Is a defensive approach more efficacious than an attacking approach? There is no clear answer. What’s evident is that football goes through phases and different coaches are successful with different tactics. That’s the beautiful thing about football, every team plays differently and some of the most beautiful matches can come from two teams who have completely contrasting styles of play.

Defensive football = Attacking football.

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

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.

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: 

ROME — Marco Materazzi plans to be touring the United States in a motor home with family and friends during this year’s World Cup.

 

The Italian defender says he’s still so angry over Zinedine Zidane’s head butt during the 2006 final that he won’t even watch this year’s tournament in South Africa. Materazzi told La Repubblica on Monday he’s still waiting for Zidane to apologize.

Zidane said he head-butted Materazzi during overtime after the Italian insulted his sister. Zidane was ejected, and Italy went on to win the title on penalty kicks after a 1-1 tie.

Materazzi told the newspaper the head butt, as well as Thierry Henry’s hand ball against Ireland that sent France to a fourth consecutive World Cup appearance at Ireland’s expense, showed the “disgusting” side of soccer.

He said he was particularly incensed that while he was disciplined for alleged unsporting behavior in 2006, Henry hasn’t been sanctioned in any way.

“I was treated like a delinquent: After Berlin they wouldn’t even let me go on vacation for two days so they could question me,” he was quoted as saying.

Materazzi stressed that he idolized Henry and that the hand ball in November was an instinctive mistake. But he added: “If you’re talking fair play, there’s a precedent — mine — and so they should have taken measures against Henry. But instead, I see they didn’t even bring him in to question him.”

Earlier this year, Materazzi extended his contract with Inter Milan until 2012.

Well, as much as Materazzi bleeds with hypocrisy on a consistent basis; we have to be fair here. The man has a point. We see so much cheating in the game today. From handballs, to dives. Henry’s last handball knocked Ireland out of the World Cup and nothing was done to sanction him. Although Materazzi is a filthy player, admittedly his un-sportsmanlike conduct overshadows everyone else’s cheating unfairly.

Just in case you live under a rock and don’t know Materazzi’s game:

Although many neutrals might not have enjoyed what was supposed to be the biggest spectacle in World football, I can assure you that Cules and Madridistas around the World were experiencing near heart attacks. For weeks up to the build up to El Clasico, friends had been talking trash to me, emphasizing the point that Barcelona would not only win this game, but absolutely dominate it and predictions like 3-0 were constantly thrown at me. I simply laughed it off. I knew that Barcelona are not the same team they were a year ago, and I also had faith that Madrid would elevate their game. Real Madrid are not Inter Milan. They were not going to bend over pathetically so Barca could.. Well you know.

From the opening kick-off my heart was in my stomach. I was happy with Pellegrini’s starting eleven. I felt the decision to drop Benzema to stick in Marcelo was wise to keep Dani Alves in check. Madrid started off fantastically and had several chances to take the lead. The most notable chance came when Kaka left two defenders for dead, and served it on a platter for Cristiano Ronaldo who missed a criminal chance. But the start was encouraging. The game continued with Madrid having several great chances going astray and most of them due to brilliant individual defending from Carles Puyol and Victor Valdes. Of course, both teams had chances in the second half too, and Zlatan Ibrahimovic came on as a sub to score one of Barca’s few chances. The intentions of this post was  not to recap the game itself so much, but to take a look at the long-term implications of this match.

The Cons:

Although Pellegrini’s starting line-ups have been sound and reasonable this season, it’s his decisions after half-time which have been highly questionable. I won’t touch on his past decisions, but today there were some choices that did not make much sense. Marcelo has been playing fantastic ever since Pellegrini rightfully converted him to a left winger. But today he was our weakest link. Instead of taking off Arbeloa (who played well on the defensive end) for Raul and pushing Marcelo back to LB, I feel that Marcelo should have been subbed for Drenthe who has an incredible amount of pace and flair and would have caused the Barca defence even more problems. We all love the captain and his records, but we already had two strikers with Pipita and Benzema. There was no need for a third.

My other main concern is the lack of quality in the set pieces that are taken. We have players like Pepe, Cristiano and Ramos who are monsters in the air; but Xabi Alonso’s set-pieces have been woeful this season. We haven’t had a consistent set piece specialist since David Beckham and I am worried. Esteban Granero has proven he’s a good dead ball player, but he hasn’t had significant minutes this season.

— But fear not my Madridista brothers. The positives far outweigh the negatives. —

The Pros:

Real Madrid can hold their heads up high. The long-term implications of this game are vast and fruitful. A game that Barca was supposed to dominate, ended up being a game where Real Madrid were the better team and were unlucky to lose. Real Madrid still has the season in their hands. They are finally hitting their stride and will only get better. Although the result of this game could’ve been better, I am positive that as a club, we will gain confidence from this match. Two players really stood out for me today: Kaka and Sergio Ramos. Both players had their best games of the season thus far. Sergio Ramos was a rock at the back, and fantastic going forward. While Kaka tormented the Barca defence on several occasions and looked like he always wanted to be involved. I absolutely can’t wait until Cristiano, Kaka, Benzema, and Higuain hit their stride. It’s going to be orgasmic to watch.

Barcelona have been a shadow of their former selves this season. They’ve only had a couple of truly impressive games, and their last game against Inter really had much to do with Inter’s awful organization and tactics. I don’t like knocking on champions, but the fact that a woeful team like Inter can be champions of Italy is a shame for football. I am confident that Madrid will keep improving and hitting their stride while Barca still have work to do. The league is still in our hands. One more Clasico in the Bernabeu.

iiiiiiii HALA MADRID !!!!!!!