Posts Tagged ‘Cristiano Ronaldo’

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.


That Scalding Reality

I will tell you why players like to dive and con the referee.  Have you been wondering?  Everyone likes to talk about how terrible cheating is but nobody ever wants to talk about the *why*.  I guess it’s typical though….there’s more fun in condemning someone for being depraved instead of wondering why he’s depraved.

It’s because there is no other way to gain an unearned advantage. 

Isn’t that one of the reasons why we love it?  You can’t fake skill.  You can’t fool me into thinking you’re a great player when you’re clearly not.  I can watch you playing and I can see that you can’t win by being better than that other team.  Ya, they’re crap too but the only way you can beat them is by falling all over yourself trying to make a man who’s sole job is to be impartial and unbiased look bad.

For every flop, for every dive, for every con there is a player who is found out.  We’re all better than that cheat.  I’ve seen my own hero try to unfairly gain an advantage!  My faith has been betrayed.  My integrity assaulted.

Even the love we have for our hero’s doesn’t smother the indignation or the humility.  We’re better than that.  I encourage you to watch the below video and enjoy the idiocy of those who have tried to con not just the officials but YOU the true lover of football.

Through Anyway…Bloody Injustice That

October 14, 2009 2 comments

Wouldn’t it have been interesting to have a World Cup without the two best players in the world? 

Is it so bad that I wanted someone to fail? 

So Portugal and Argentina are through despite having terrible qualifying campaigns, why should I feel disappointed?  I do either way and I can’t help it.  It’s nice to get something new for a change and Euro 2008 without England was just that.  It was fine and there was an even distribution of attention across the board.

Not Worthy of the Grandest StageFootball is ultimately an emotional sport and it tugs on all our memories and brings them into play.  I’m thinking of World Cup 2006 Portugal v. Netherlands.  Portugal cheated their way into the next round.

Then there is the “Hand of God” goal.  I’m sorry I have an issue with someone who blatantly cheats and then has the nerve to crack jokes about it for decades afterward.  Maradona may be the darling of Argentina and a wonderful former player but he has no place on the World Stage before a billion spectators. 

Personal biases are what make the sport great. 

They’re usually based on little to no fact and are so deeply rooted that nothing can dislodge them.

We’ve all tasted defeat and humiliation.  Being sure of, even knowing our team would win only to be left stripped of all belief and exposed.

Football really matters doesn’t it?  It really matters.  Beautiful.

Inaugural Good Sport Award

We’re in the middle of the final round of Qualifying games for the 2010 World Cup.  That last games will be played on Wednesday.  There’s been ample time for stars to show off and throw their names into the hat for performance of the week. 

Unfortunately the best stories don’t always get the headlines.  So I’ve dreamed up the “Good Sport Award” in order to dole out some kudos if I feel they’re deserved. 

And the winner is:  Souleymane Diawara.  Who the snot is Souleymane Diawara?  Read the quotes below:

“I am sad and it is something that has been tormenting me for days. I never meant to hurt him. Before the game against Madrid there was a lot of anticipation. It was a particular dream. I think Madrid are the best team in the world. At last my dream came true, but because of the defeat and everything that happened with Cristiano it became something else.”

“It [the fax] says what I have in my heart. It says that I regret the damage that was caused and I wish for him to recover as soon as possible. Football will miss him. Marseille do not know if it has been sent yet, but I hope so. My intentions were never bad.”

I’ll quickly back it up for you.  Before the most recent World Cup Qualifying games many players were in action with their everyday clubs in the Champions League, the competition bringing together Europe’s best sides in one tournament.  Marseille from France and Real Madrid from Spain met and our winner Diawara for Marseille was tasked with shackling Cristiano Ronaldo, the world’s most expensive player.

Unfortunately Diawara was sent off for two yellow cards the second of which was for a tackle on Ronaldo that forced the Portuguese player to be taken off with a sprained ankle.

It’s rare to hear of a player who genuinely wishes the best for another player of greater skill.  In this case the injured player is the world’s most marketable asset.  While I may not think Ronaldo deserves to be at the World Cup he’s a player of incredible skill and creator of some breath-taking pieces of football.

Souleymane Diawara

Our friend Diawara seems to understand the larger picture of football worldwide.  Football as a whole is certainly poorer without a player like Ronaldo.  But now we can say that football would be much poorer without players like Souleymane Diawara as well, a definate role model in his own right (can Ronaldo say the same?).

Well done to him and let him serve as an example to all up and coming players.

Ronaldo shouldn’t go to the World Cup

October 9, 2009 1 comment

Before I get into any of my arguments I would like to first acknowledge the marvelous footballing talent that is Cristiano Ronaldo.  Please see below:

I know the music is a little sappy but I figure that this video wonderfully displays his best attributes.  Let’s all agree that Ronaldo is the most talented player in the world right now and get that over with.  To anyone who tries to tell me that talent alone should guarantee a place at the World Cup I say, “WRONG!”

My first post briefly hinted at my distaste for football’s commercialization and I’m certain you’ll soon be left in no doubt.  Today Cristiano Ronaldo was named the new “spokesmodel” (surely an oxymoron; does he have to speak?) for …. wait for it …. Giorgio Armani underwear. I’ll let you recover from that newsworthy bombshell.

Ronaldo follows in the illustrious footsteps of David Beckham whose curiously ample ad raised many eyebrows upon its release. They say the camera adds…well…you know.

I’ve found some quotes from our anti-hero Ronaldo:

“I want to go down in history as one of the greatest players ever, and if I can be remembered as the greatest of all time that would be fantastic,”

Speaking about being bought for 80 million pounds (which is about 126.77 million dollars):”I think that it’s a fair figure. If Manchester United and Real Madrid agree this amount then there is nothing more to say,” said Ronaldo. “I will show that the money they are paying has been a good decision.”

Find here an article from the Guardian talking about the potential financial loss should the best player in the world not be included in the tournament.

Ronaldo missing the World Cup would allow us to focus on the good football being played rather than the ultimate disappointment of the Portugal team and Ronaldo’s crying. Anyone would prefer to talk about wonderful goals and scintillating play from various underdogs over what facial expression Ronaldo made at training when someone didn’t pass him the pass 80 yards from the opponent’s goal.

Football isn’t a just sport. If it was a truly fair sport a player like Dwayne De Rosario would be able to step onto the World Stage representing his country at that highest level. Still in his prime De Rosario took an opportunity to return to his home town to play for Toronto FC. He could have demanded outrageous wages but he didn’t and he’s thrilled to play for his friends and family. Not only does he have a passion for his roots he also does his best to improve the plight of others and give back to those people that now walk the same paths he took to get where he is now.

De Rosario won’t ever represent his country on the grand stage but he remains a hero to the 20 000 supporters he entertains each week as well as those people who would know him only has a stranger who made the decision to care. I suggest to you that he is worthy of a highlight video on the same page as Ronaldo

Compare what these two players will leave behind them when their stars have flickered out. Ronaldo will leave us with incredible footage and multiple highlights. De Rosario will leave less of both but will be remembered as a human being. Would you rather be remembered as a great player with a number on your back or as a human being who used his gains to benefit others and impact strangers on a fundamentally good and exceptional level.

So I’ll ask you now: does Ronaldo deserve to be at the World Cup? Does he need to be there? Wouldn’t it be nice to give an open stage to a group of unheralded, untainted and genuinely deserving heros?

I think you know the answer.