Posts Tagged ‘Spain’

To Golden Goal or not to Golden Goal?

FIFA can’t seem to be able to make up their mind about the golden goal rule. It was a rule that was introduced at Euro ’96 which meant that that team who scored the 1st goal in extra-time of a knockout game would automatically win the match and advance to the next round. A crude way of losing which Italy found out the hard way in the Euro 2000 final:

By 2004, the golden goal rule was completely scrapped. The reason being that it ‘promoted’ defensive football as both teams would stay safe and avoid being scored on before the penalty shoot-out after 120 minutes.

And now, after 6 years and a sup-bar World Cup in South Africa (during the group stages anyway); Sepp Blatter is considering re-introducing the golden goal rule.

Blatter wants more goals. That is evident. But his view is misrepresented and his plans are untenable. His concern seems to be directed at critics from non-football fans who deem the sport boring. Although the World Cup in South Africa started off quite sluggish, it was transformed dramatically into a tournament of incitement and turmoil.

Aside from being a World Cup which saw a new champion, the tournament will be remembered for its controversy, drama, and bad officiating rather than its aridity. It’s an area of concern which Blatter should focus more on instead of of tinkering with the unbroken rules of the game. We need goal-line technology. It’s time to stop living in Di Stefano’s era and time to start bringing ourselves in line with modern thinking:  Hence taking advantage of technology that is there to be used. It’s much more important to have a fair outcome, than an exciting outcome.

Whether we like it or not, there is absolutely nothing wrong with defensive football. It’s a style of play and a strategy that suits certain teams more than others. The World can’t expect every team to play like Spain, Argentina, and Brazil (my apologies if your country wasn’t on this list). Every team plays to its strengths.  Some are strong in attack, and some are strong at the back. What’s evident is that the game is always changing and tacticians are becoming more masterful at what they do. As much as some people enjoy ‘Tiki-Taka’ Spanish football more than Catenaccio football; I must admit that I always enjoyed the way Nesta and Cannavaro made defending look like an art for Italy.

I’m not particularly against the golden goal rule. However, if Blatter wants to promote attacking football over defensive football, bringing back this rule will not entice teams to come out of their defensive shell just because they have to score first before the penalty shootout.

The Spanish team advance to the final while scoring some beautiful goals on the way. Today they scored off of a free-kick and a penalty in the most clever of ways:

With Keko, Canales, Calvente and co., Spain’s future is in good hands.

Time to say Good-Bye to a legend.

I said my farewell to Guti yesterday, shedding a few tears while I wrote my tribute to him. Today, I simply do not want to say good-bye. The feeling of emptiness subjugates any other emotion I could possibly have at this moment. I was never an advocate of worshiping other people; but if I had to, only Raul would come close. To have your childhood hero who’s served your club so loyally and so entrancingly leave is an indescribable feeling.

Not only was Raul one of the best footballers that ever lived, he was also an icon and symbol for Spanish Football – especially for Real Madrid. He is a class act both on and off the pitch and is literally one of the most globally respected footballers in the World:

Michel Salgado:
“Raul is the soul of Real Madrid.”

Zinedine Zidane:
“He is a role model for anyone who sets foot on the field of play.”

“It is an honor to play alongside someone like Raul.”

Alfredo di Stefano:
“Raul does something that few players dare to try: he walks into a stadium with 100,000 people watching him and he plays as if he was in his neighborhood.”

“He has the same talent that Brazilian players have.”

“Raul is a genius who has managed to maintain the same level of play for so many years.”

Guus Hiddink:
“He is the kind of player that every coach wants on his team.”

Fabio Capello:
“He is my favorite forward. He has the instinct of an assassin.”

Iker Casillas:
“Raul is a symbol of Real Madrid. A great captain is defined by ups and downs, knowing how to always make the best of any situation. Raul is an example of professionalism and he helped me grow as a player and person. The incredible histories of clubs are written by great footballers, and Raul is one of them.”

Cristiano Ronaldo:
“Playing by Raul’s side has been an honor. I always dreamed of doing so as a kid. It was an honor to share the same dressing room and I wish him all the best.”

Xabi Alonso:
“Raul represents the values of Real Madrid. He is a symbol and a part of this club’s history. It isn’t easy to play for Real Madrid for 15 years, but he did because is a magnificent player.”

“Raul is an amazing player and an important member of this club. Raul will forever be a part of Madridismo and his leaving is a sad day for fans and teammates.”

“Raul is a genteman of football and a wonderful captain. He was always very nice to me and looked after me.”

“The 16 years that he played here speak words about his talent. He holds a special place in my heart because he always followed my progress when I was injured. He got off from the bench and accompanied me to the dressing room, which was an incredible gesture that I will never forget. He is a huge piece of Real Madrid history.”

“I am very happy to have played with him. I remember watching him play when I was a little boy. He has helped me a lot since I came to Madrid. I will always say that I had the privilege to play with Raul at Real Madrid.”

“Raul is an incredible professional and an example for everyone on and off the pitch. He is a great person. It was a pleasure having played by his side.”

“Raul is a role model for all football players, especially the youngest ones. He is a great person and a symbol of Real Madrid and Spanish football. He is a fantastic forward and a very effective player.”

“A piece of Real Madrid’s history is leaving. He is an icon and great captain. He is role model for all players who rose up through the academy. His is an example of excitement, hard work and professionalism. It was a pleasure to share a dressing room with Raul and I wish him all the best in the future.”

“Raul won’t forget us and we won’t forget him. He is a symbol of everything Real Madrid.”

“An emblem of Real Madrid is leaving; one of those players that all fans identify with. It was a pleasure to play with Raul and to share a dressing room with him. I wish him all the best on both a personal and sporting level.”

So what will we remember Raul for? I’ll remember him most for his intelligence and cleverness on the pitch. I believe that Fernando Hierro said it best when he said: “Raul is not a 10 in anything, but he is a 9 in everything”. I have never seen any footballer be able to chip the ball over the goalkeeper for a goal so effortlessly the way Raul has been known for doing. His natural position was a support striker right behind the ‘#9’. His unselfishness, clever through passes, and deadly finishing made him form a deadly and unforgettable combo. with his strike partners in 3 different eras – Morientes, Ronaldo, and Ruud Van Nistelrooy. I will also always remember all that he has done against the eternal enemy – Barca. He always managed to put a dagger in the hearts of Catalunya. Never to be forgotten is the moment where he put his finger to his lips to silence the Camp Nou.

Below I have posted his achievements, pictures, some of my favorite moments from him, and a ‘good-bye’ video. So farewell Raul. You were the reason I began watching the beautiful sport in the first place and will always have a place in my heart. Real Madrid will not be the same without your prodigious presence. Gracias Capitan. I will await your return as a coach.

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Goal-Scoring Records

Titles Won

Individual Accolades

Matches Played

Goal-Scoring Count

“Today is a very difficult day in my career as a footballer. I tried to give my very best in every play, every dribble, every shot and every gesture on the pitch. “I love almost everything about playing football and I want to hold on to the feeling of being a player. I’ve always done my utmost on the pitch. The word surrender doesn’t exist for me or Real Madrid.

“I’d like to thank everybody for their support throughout the years. The fans, my team-mates, coaches, presidents and the press. I want to say a special word of thanks to my family. I’d be nothing without them. I also want to wish Alfredo Di Stefano a speedy recovery.

“I will always be ready if Real Madrid need me. Hala Madrid!,”

Sights and sounds of the biggest and most glorious day in the history of Spanish football:. Slide-show followed by videos.

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Jose Antonio Camacho’s reaction to David Villa’s goal against Paraguay:

I felt the same way…

Cesc scores in his return.

A massive improvement from beating Saudi Arabia 3-2.

The reigning Euro Champs are finally getting into their grove. After a few uninspiring friendly performances, Spain thrashed Poland today 6-0 in their last warm-up match before the World Cup.

Andres Iniesta started the match on fire. He set up Spain’s first 2 goals brilliantly for David Villa and David Silva before being subbed off in the first half to a standing ovation. He is a true genius of the game when healthy and on form.

It is widely believed that this Spain team is stronger than the one that won the Euro with the addition of Gerard Pique, Arbeloa, and having the depth of new young blood off the bench with Navas and Pedro. Spain did not lose a beat when they went to their bench after subsitutes Cesc Fabregas, Fernando Torres, and Pedro all scored in a 6-0 route.

Zizou, El Buitre, Figo

It was nice seeing Zidane and Figo doing 1-2 combos like the good old days. It was a charity game between the Real Madrid legends and the AC Milan legends which consisted of Paolo Maldini, Zidane, Figo, Rui Costa, Mcmanaman, Baresi and Butragueno among others.

A whopping 70, 000 fans showed up at the Bernabeu for a friendly game that aimed to help research focused on sudden death syndrome.

Match Report and Highlights:

4 – Real Madrid Veterans: Buyo, Chendo, Fernando Sanz, Sanchis, Garcia Cortes, Gallego, Karembeau, Zidane, Figo, Butragueño, Santillana -starting eleven-, Contreras, Jaro, Rojas, Ramis, Rubio, Sabido, Julio Llorente, Ivan Perez, McManaman, Amavisca, Velasco, Victor.
3 – Milan Glorie: Rossi, Cafu, Costacurta, Baresi, Maldini, Evani, Boban, Serginho, Simone, Rui Costa, Massaro -starting eleven-, Nava, Contra, Weah, Papin, Braglia, Fuser, Galli, Panucci, Lentini, Carbone, Eranio.

(4′): Simone
0-2 (6′): Rui Costa
1-2 (11′): Butragueño
2-2 (37′): Amavisca
3-2 (52′): Alfonso
3-3 (57′): Rui Costa
4-3 (85′): Alfonso


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.

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