Posts Tagged ‘Ronaldo’

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.

If I were to pick one game that best represented Raul, Zidane, Figo, Roberto Carlos, Ronaldo, Real Madrid, and beautifull football all in one; it would have to be Real Madrid vs. Manchester United in the 02/03 season. Madrid absolutely dismantled Manu. It was the most beautiful football I’ve ever seen. God I miss those days:

So 'Klose' to Ronaldo's record.

3rd time’s a charm. The World Cup finally got it right today as we finally saw some entertaining football.

The day started with Algeria taking on Slovenia in a rather dull match similar to the ones before it. Luckily, we had a winner as Algeria’s goalkeeper Faouzi Chaouchi made a ‘Robert Green’ like error letting in a harmless strike by Slovenian captain Robert Koren in the 79th minute. The game finished 1-0 to the East Europeans.

In the second match of the day, the World witnessed why African teams are continuously on the rise in World football. Ghana played a fantastic game against Serbia in the opening game of the ‘Group of death’.

Without their star player Michael Essien, the adventurous Africans had several chances to take the lead against a more defensive and tactical Serbian side. It was one of the more ‘exciting matches’ thus far, and after 83 minutes, Ghana’s efforts finally led to something as they were awarded a penalty from a handball by Serbian substitute Zdravko Kuzmanovic. The penalty was converted very well by a very focused Asamoah Gyan. The match ended 1-0.

And on to the most exciting game of the WC so far. The eagerly anticipated match between Germany and Australia.

I was neutral, but I had a soft spot for the socccaroos as I was there recently and have family there. I also love Koala bears. But make no mistake, Australia was absolutely massacred by Germany tonight (4-0).

The European giants looked highly impressive. I’m not their biggest fan, but it must be noted that they always show up big in all the major tournaments. A proud and disciplined nation. I started to feel bad for the Aussies in the 2nd half. They are now completely demoralized and one of their best players won’t be able to play the next match against Ghana as Tim Cahill was sent off (unjustly).

The match tonight reminded of when Germany thrashed Saudi – Arabia 8-0 in their opening match of the 2002 World Cup. They got to the final that year.

Miroslav Klose only needs 5 more World Cup goals to beat Ronaldo’s record.

I’ll let the highlights speak for themselves:

Oh.. And the horns still need to go.

Pipita - All Smiles

Gonzalo Higuain has made a living off of tormenting La Liga teams. He was once an unkown, and rose to a player with lots of potential. And as he has finally broken in as a fixed starter for the greatest sports club on the planet, he has become a world class forward and easily one of, if not the best young player(s) in his position. This weekend again he showed his worth. Against Mallorca in the middle of a snow storm in Madrid, Higuain scored a golazo and assisted another.

Well Done Boss

I’m loving Pellegrini right now. I wasn’t too impressed with him at first  but it seems that he has finally found the right formula for this squad. His new system (4-2-3-1) has been worked to perfection. The two holding midfielders give freedom to Kaka, Ronaldo, and Van Der Vaart (who has been exceptional this year. His 2-3 week injury is unfortunate) to supply Higuain with goals. My only slight concern is that Benzema finds himfself on the bench. My hope and dream is that these two brilliant strikers can become a world class striking partnership for years to come. We desperately need Benzema to take advantage of his time off the bench.

The brilliant thing about Pelle’s sytem is that it has worked wonders for our defence. There was a time where Real Madrid’s best defence was their unbelievable offensive system. We had Zidane, Figo, Carlos, Raul and Ronaldo. It was a team that didn’t let the opposition get the ball or the chance for the opposition to even get out of their own half. We have won two CL trophies this decade with defenders like Hierro (old version), Helguera, Pavon, Ivan Campo and Karanka. And it was all due to an important offensive and possession oriented system. We are finally seeing glimpses of that again this season. The injury that was sustained to Pepe was devastating, but with all due respect to Pepe (one of the World’s best defenders), Garay and Albiol have done exceptionally well without him and the defence hasn’t lost a beat thanks to Pellegrini’s formula.

Real Madrid 2-0 Mallorca: Highlights

The Champions League has finally arrived. It was a long summer without meaningful football but that wait is over now. All 32 teams have finished playing their first match, and what an interesting matchday it was. Let’s get started.

Everyone knows Manchester Unitedare severely weakened since Ronaldo’s departure, but they did manage to hold off Besiktas in Turkey last night for a 0-1 win. Turkish fans are known to be some of the craziest in the world; and instead of highlights, I would rather post this clip of a high quality amateur video of the Besiktas fans during kick-off:

Ac Milan proved that they should always be a contender for the Champions League, no matter how much of a crisis they’re in. After all, they are the second best team of all team after Real Madrid. Milan put together an impressive display in Marseille and pulled off a 1-2. This is not AC’s best year by any means. First they lost Kaka, then got hammered by Inter in the derby 4-0. They also have a completely washed up Ronaldinho who doesn’t even start anymore, and an ageing team of Nesta, Gattusso, Pirlo, Inzaghi, Seedorf and co. It’s no secret that they will be fighting with Marseille for second place in this group, and they most definitely took a big leap towards that goal with their win last night. Inzaghi adding to his European tally with 2 goals while ex-Real Madrid defender Heinze got Marseille’s lone goal. Great atmosphere:

Real Madrid make it look easy. Well, they had a 5 minute scare against FC Zurich, but other than that, they just put it on cruise control and ate the Swiss team apart. The game was in Zurich, but it seemed like quite a few Madridista’s were in the stadium, and they overshadowed the Zurich fans for large parts of the game. 3-0 at half-time, and 5-2 the final score. Watch these highlights in full; because this Real Madrid team is unbelievably fun to watch. Oh, and look for the sexy black jerseys with no sponsors:

Atletico Madrid continue to struggle. Their trend as of late has been much of the same: lots of clear cut chances but no win to show for. Their lack of finishing has really been hurting them. A shocking 0-0 draw at home today to tiny Apoel. Check out all of the chances they had. It’s unbelievable:

Undoubtedly the most intriguing game of matchday 1 was Inter – Barcatonight. Zlatan returned to Milan while Eto’o went up against his old team mates in this clash of two giants of European football. Unfortunately, it was a bit of a snooze fest for the neutral eye as the game ended 0-0. Barca had the ball all day passing it around with plenty of possession, while Inter were forced to sit back. But at least they defended well, and Samuel and Lucio were phenomenal at the back.

Arsenal left it late tonight after a shocking start against Standard Liege:

The other scores from matchday1:

Group A
Juventus 1-1 Gir. Bordeaux
(Iaquinta 63′; Plasil 75′)
Maccabi Haifa 0-3 Bayern Munich
(Van Buyten 64′, Mueller 85′, 88′)

Group B
Besiktas 0-1 Manchester United
(Scholes 77′)
Wolfsburg 3-1 CSKA Moscow
(Grafite 36′, 41′ pen., 87′; Dzagoev 77′)

Group C
Ol. Marseille 1-2 AC Milan
(Heinze 49′; Inzaghi 28′, 75′)
FC Zürich 2-5 Real Madrid
(Margairaz 64′ pen., Aegerter 65′; C. Ronaldo 27′, 89′, Raúl 34′, Higuain 45′, Guti 90′)

Group D
Atlético Madrid 0-0 APOEL Nicosia
Chelsea 1-0 FC Porto

(Anelka 48′)

Group E
Liverpool 1-0 Debrecen
(Kuyt 45′)
Ol. Lyon 1-0 Fiorentina
(Pjanic 76′)

Group F
Dynamo Kiev 3-1 Rubin Kazan
(Yussuf 71′, Magrão 80′, Gusev 86′; Dominguez 26′)
Inter Milan 0-0 FC Barcelona

Group G
Sevilla 2-0 Unirea Urziceni
(Luís Fabiano 45′, Renato 70′)
Stuttgart 1-1 Glasgow Rangers
(Pogrebnyak 18′; Bougherra 77′)

Group H
Olympiacos 1-0 AZ Alkmaar
(Torosidis 79′)
Standard Liège 2-3 Arsenal
(Mangala 2′, Jovanovic 5′ pen.; Bendtner 45′, Vermaelen 77′, Eduardo 81′)

The three best player compilations I have seen. Awesome soundtracks, visuals and editing:

Kaka

Ronaldinho

Zidane

 

This is a video I made last year dedicated to Madrid’s dominance over Manu in the 4 times they’ve met in the last decade. Enjoy.

The business tycoon is back – Unofficially. It is reported that Perez is going to run in the upcoming Real Madrid elections. Madridista’s all around the World are drooling over the potential re-appearance of Floro in charge at the Bernabeu. Sources say that this will be what he’s going to come with.

  • Zinedine Zidane as sporting director
  • Jorge Valdano as vice – president
  • Cristiano Ronaldo and Kaka,
  • Two Spanish signings; take your pick: Villa/Xabi Alonso/Silva/Cesc

This team is going to win the elections in a landslide. I don’t agree with legends such as Zidane given sporting director roles (they should be given coaching positions instead), but it’s a minor deficit in his campaign which people will see as a positive anyway. Apparently there are already deals with both Kaka and Cristiano. Real took out a loan from Santander bank for Ronaldo, and apparently the reason why Kaka turned down Man. City is because he’s coming to Madrid in the summer. I don’t know if we will see both of them, but I am pretty certain that Perez will snatch one of them up.

The masses are waiting for you, Don Florentino
The masses are waiting for you, Don Florentino

Yes, we all know Perez did not leave on a good note. He fired Del Bosque after winning the league, and also treated icons like Hierro and Morientes with very little respect. He also cared about the financial image of the club more than the results on the pitch, and he interfered too much with the team’s coaching and on-field business. However, he claims that he’s learned from his mistakes.

On the other hand, he took this club out of major debt. He brought in Beckham which boosted profit dramatically, and he built one of the greatest football teams ever assembled. Raul, Zidane, Figo, Ronaldo, Roberto Carlos, Makelele; I have never to this day seen a team play as beautifully as this one. I truly believe that I won’t see one as great as them in my lifetime. Here’s an incredible video on that dream team:

Should be an interesting summer.

Raps beat Cows in a thriller
Raps beat Cows in a thriller

Why are the Raptors on a four game winning streak? Don’t they understand that the more they lose, the better draft pick they’ll have this year? I mean, do what you want with the pick, but get the highest pick possible! Now that the season is tanked, they’ve decided to play ball, beating teams that they have no business beating.

Well, maybe this last stretch of the season is a sign of things to come for next year. Marion is finding a flow, and maybe we’re seeing the team gel finally. Emphasis on the ‘maybe’. The Raps have a solid starting five. If Colangelo can re-sign Marion, and add some much needed depth to the squad in the off season, we might see a resurgence.

  • Jose Calderon is on course to have one of (if not) the best free throw shooting season(s) in NBA history. He had a monster line against the Bulls today; 21 points and 19 assists.
  • If I had to build my team around a point guard for the future, I would seriously consider picking Derrick Rose, and not Chris Paul (discussions welcome).
  • I was obviously kidding about the Raptors tanking the season and getting a high draft pick. They should always try to win every game they can no matter what the circumstances.
  • Seriously.. Please tank the season and lose every game from now on.

Now that we got that rant over with, let’s move to another rant:

Ali Daei Sacked
Ali Daei Sacked

 Football legends very rarely become successful coaches. It was a mistake to bring in Daei in the first place; we should have taken Clemente when we had him in Iran, but completely blew it. I’m not here to make a massive list of Daei’s tactical shortcomings as a coach, I just want to point out that he’s lost alot of respect from many Iranian’s around the World. His response after the loss to Saudi at home in front of 100, 000 fans:

“I will not leave my job as Iran boss. Iranian football officials cannot fire me. You were not the ones who offered me the job. Accordingly, you cannot ask for my departure. It was not Ali Daei who was defeated today; it was Iran’s national football team which was [defeated]”

Daei, who has dropped a couple of Iranian stars in his brief era with Iran as coach due to personal disputes, also commented on the absence of former Asian player of the year Ali Karimi in the squad:

“Karimi was in no shape to shine at Persepolis match against Saudi Arabia’s al-Shabaab earlier this month. I talked to Persepolis manager and I found out that he had not attended training sessions for 25 days,”

Right. Evidence shows that Karimi has clearly been to his training sessions. He’s also been in top form for Persepolis all year.

Daei, you are one of the best players in Asian history, and you hold the FIFA International goalscoring record. Thank you for everything, but with all due respect; you are not the man for this job.

Not all is lost in the football World though.

Piqué FTW!
Piqué FTW!

Spain 1-0 Turkey. The European champions played against a stubborn Turkish defence without Cesc, Iniesta, and Puyol. Turkey played a great tactical game at the Bernabeu, but in the end, La Furia Roja were too much. Their passing game is like a slow torture for opponents. They ooze confidence and produce free flowing football that is unmatched in International football. Pure art, and they aren’t even at their best.

  • Holland 3-0 Scotland. Klaas Jan Huntelaar can’t stop scoring. He’s like a mini Ruud. Big shoes to fill, but he is a very intriguing prospect.
  • Portugal 0-0 Sweden. Both countries are in jeopardy sitting 4 points behind Denmark and Hungary. Hungary and Denmark also have a game in hand.
  • Montenegro 0-2 Italy. Huge win for the Azzuri in Eastern Europe. The World Cup Champs are one step closer to defending their crown in South Africa.

Thanks for reading. Why was this post so awesome? I was listening to this the whole time:

Now go back and read this post again. But this time, listen to the song while doing it. It makes it alot more dramatic.