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Posts Tagged ‘Real Madrid’

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.

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.

How much is too much?

Do you know how to say “stop”?  Do you have wil power?  I don’t.

So what games did I catch this weekend? Well Saturday included the following:
Aston Villa v Chelsea
United v Bolton along with Sunderland v Liverpool (Web stream and TV simultaneously.  You would think sensory overload but no…)
Real Madrid v Valladolid
Toronto FC v Real Salt Lake

And then on Sunday:
Blackburn v Burnley
Wigan v Man City
AC Milan v Roma

I can’t say that a significant thought came from watching all this football however I can say for certain that left to my own devices I will watch any type of football on offer.

I did make an effort to expand my horizons and filled those endless halftimes and pre/post match interview with FIFA 09, my favourite video game.

I think there are support groups for people like me…

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.

The Weekend Past

October 4, 2009 1 comment

Another exciting weekend in the world of football. 

Real Madrid lost for the first time this weekend without their talisman Cristiano Ronaldo.  Their name will be added to list of “clubs in crisis” which features any top club who hasn’t crushed someone in the past week.  To that list we will also add Liverpool since surely they can’t recover now can they?  Manchester United are officially out of the tital race after failing to score twice in stoppage time against Sunderland.  It isn’t as if Sunderland are a vastly improved club under a newly upgraded manager.

I almost feel liberated. With Chelsea’s name already written down in the annals of the Premier League as the 09/10 Champions we can finally move on and start thinking about the 2010 Winter Olympics and the World Cup in South Africa. 

Now to find my vuvuzela and brush up on my technique.