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Posts Tagged ‘Barcelona’

Robben v Messi (Ronaldo who?)

 

Have you heard of this kid from Argentina?  He’s about 2.3 feet tall, runs like a man possessed and scores goals for fun.  His name is Lionel Messi and he will be crowned the best player in the world.  There is no player in world football today that can compare with the creativity and skill posessed by this soft-spoken marvel.

And how about this fellow from Bedum of the Low Countries (that would be the Netherlands).  He’s a bit cocky, has a peculiar gait and looks to be about 45 years old.  He has single-handedly kept Bayern Munich’s season alive.  Throughout Spain, France, England and Italy there is no team that has relied on a solitary player the way Bayern have depended on him in Germany. 

Rewind a year: the Champions League Final in Rome.  Manchester United v. Barcelona also known as Ronaldo v. Messi.  The Handsome Star v. The Reluctant Hero.  At the end of 90 minutes Ronaldo’s star had faded and Messi had scored a sumptuous header to kill the game off.  Three months later Ronaldo had unpacked his undoubtedly expensive luggage in Madrid and these two marvelous players faced off in the same league.  Many people predicted an exciting and enthralling season.  And for those fans of Barcelona and Real Madrid it has been since they have been able to watch their clubs win almost constantly for 9 months.  No fewer than 24 point separate 2nd place Madrid and 3rd place Valencia.  Yet Real Madrid have not fulfilled their potential this season.  With all their galaxy of stars they have not matched the panache of the Catalans.  Ronaldo has been shunted to the side of the world stage. 

Robben: No longer playing second fiddle to Messi

Consider Bayern Munich complete with Arjen Robben.  They have built unstoppable momentum as the season has progressed and few people believe they will lose their nerve.  In the past week they annihilated Hannover 7-0 with the talismanic Robben netting a terrible treble.  Skip ahead to Wednesday and Robben again found his range in the Champions League against Lyon.  Lyon for all their endeavour had no answer for the devastating combination of Robben and Lahm on the right hand side.  Cissohko laboured admirably but by marking Robben he provided space for the indefatiguable Lahm.  Toulalan was harshly awarded a second yellow but the first after tackling Robben was testamant to the skill and speed of thought which Robben possesses.  The best Toulalan could muster was a desperate challenge that arrived about a week late.

Ronaldo will be attempting to haul back Barcelona and will have eyes on South Africa.  Both Robben and Messi have a dometic title in sight as well as the possibility of a Champions League final ahead; Barcelona with it all to do in the second leg though.  Each can feel some optimism ahead of the World Cup finals too.  Argentina lack cohesion and organization but possess quality in the extreme.  The Dutch have a settled and talented side with all the main-stays enjoying solid performances on a weekly basis.

Euro 2004 provided the first grand stage for Arjen Robben.  Most who can recall the Oranje’s exit from that competition can also pinpoint the moment when Dick Advocaat signed his own pink slip.  With the Dutch leading 2-1 he withdrew Robben and replaced him with Paul Bosvelt.  They went on to lose 2-3 which cost them top spot in the group and gave them Portugal who they ultimately lost to.  Robben has had a start/stop career since that time blighted with many injuries.  He has managed to win everywhere he’s been but only now at Bayern has he taken hold of the spotlight with both hands and firmly placed it on himself.

Each is faced with a potentially life changing spring.  Robben has come on too late in the season to oust Messi from his world player of the year crown but Robben may have the last laugh though depending on the success he can muster from his sizzling left boot.

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The Second Good Sport Award: Lionel Messi

You don’t get this award of awards by scoring buckets of goals or by being better than anyone else.  Being a good sport has more to do with being a good example (as cheap as that sounds).

Messi is undoubtedly now the best player in the world at the moment.  His combination of speed and ruthlessness are unstoppable and a joy to watch.  But there’s more!  He has moral fibre and at least several ounces of dignity!  Let me set the stage.

Last time out in Spain you scored three and destroyed your oppenent.  Mid-week you scored twice in the world’s best competition.  Now today you’ve scored three incredible goals in aruguably one of your best performances yet including this outstanding effort.  Brilliant.

But your team gets pegged back by a resourceful Zaragoza and you respond with a lovely run into the box resulting in a penalty.  Today is your day and your first thought is not to grab a fourth but to…give the ball and the resulting penalty to the player on your team who needs a goal more than anything.  Ibrahimovic had a poor game riddled with shocking misses.  He needed a goal to restore some pride in himself.  Look at the concentration in his eyes and the relief rather than excitement after scoring.

Do you think Cristiano Ronaldo would have handed the ball to a confidence lacking Raul?  No.  Messi is the ultimate team player who puts the success of his team above everything else.  Couple that priceless mindset with irrepressable talent and you have without any doubt the most vital player in any side.

Bring on the World Stage for the World’s best player.

Things to Love

Alright so lets talk about great things.

  1. Barcelona are a beautiful team.  As a United fan there is only one, and I mean only and just barely at that, team that I can stomach losing to in the Champions League Final. 
  2. Messi happens to be extraordinarily gifted and we are truly lucky as a result.
  3. Winning is winning and even an unconvincing win still feels good.  Manchester United won against Burnley Saturday albiet unsatisfyingly so.  Berbatov continues to promise but not deliver and you look at the team and wonder, “How long can it really last?” But at the end of 90 minutes they run out 3-0 and a healthy win is on paper.  This will temporarily, a respite to be grateful for, ease the growing “crisis” talk.
  4. Liverpool are not good.  Again and again I keep saying this but for some reason there are some who  are not surprised by Liverpool’s continued and increasingly amusing downfall.  I have repeatedly said that without Gerrard and Torres they are mediocre at best and with them both they are a good team.

Money and endless talk of debt cast a dense shadow over the beauty that is football. 

Would you rather see a Man United free of debt and struggling for midtable or see them enjoy short term success with impending CATASTROPHIC FAILURE. 

Now let’s all enjoy a picture that magnificently demonstrates the humbling of Real Madrid at the hands of Athletic Bilbao.

The wonderful thing about Football is you get to see those rich bourgoisie beaten at the hands of the unfancied proletariet.

Spectacular fun.  All for now.