Posts Tagged ‘La Liga’

http://video.rutube.ru/de5a69559e5df227d6c6c0e669d3b102

Nothing if you ask me. Just check out how they absolutely demolished Espanyol 5-1 in this game. Even if you hate Barcelona, you cannot deny the fact that they play some of the most attractive football on show. Messi and Xavi are capable of passing a ball through the eye of a needle.

Pedro is a player who can play wide or can even lead the line and do so effectively. Check out Messi’s pass to Pedro for the first goal, by the way. With Xavi pulling the strings in the midfield, David Villa, Messi and Pedro pop up from the wings and make some fantastic runs through the center sometimes (1st goal, for example) and if your defence even switches off for a second, then you’re screwed.

Before I start of my weekly entry, I have to apologise to Dimitar Berbatov for not putting one up last week. I’m sure he’ll feel really bad that his 5 goal haul against Blackburn wasn’t mentioned on the illustrious blog that is Fever Pitch.

I’m sorry, Dimi.

The reason I didn’t update last week was because I thought I would do it after the Carling Cup ties and after the mauling United took at West Ham, I think I was just too depressed. Arsenal are now clear favourites to go on and win the Carling Cup and just as I predicted are on course to win a trophy, unless they really screw up like United did.

On to this week’s action though..

Manchester United’s tough game at Blackpool

I am, of course, joking. There was no game at Blackpool because their ground was frozen and they do not have under soil heating. I had read reports about this early in the week, last week and I was hoping they’d thaw it out in time. I think its ridiculous that Blackpool do not have under soil heating and and since they don’t, United should be given 3 points and consider the game a walkover. This is just my two cents of course, Ian Holloway will tell you something else.

Super Samir

Arsenal were playing at a place they’re not very comfortable playing at against Fulham this weekend. Most Arsenal fans were worried since the game was at the Emirates. Eventually the match was settled by two super strikers by Samir Nasri who showed such fantastic composure that you would be forgiven for thinking that he was an out and out striker.

Superman

Arsenal started off really well and created chance after chance after chance but failed to put them away until Samir Nasri’s strike gave them the lead. Fulham shockingly equalized very quickly after Kamara found himself onside and one on one with the keeper. It was quite amazing, both center backs just switched off and the score was 1-1. Arsenal looked like they might throw away a lead at home again.

Arsenal, however, managed to grind out a win, something they haven’t been able to do in previous seasons. Winning matches like this keep you in contention for the title. Van Persie played a gentle ball to an oncoming Samir Nasri who danced past the defence and maybe should have taken a shot, but then he made space for himself after luring out Mark Schwarzer but kept his cool and finished from a really tight angle. Any football fan should definitely watch the two goals.

That win propelled Arsenal to the top of the table since United didn’t play this weekend and now next weekend when Arsenal take on Man United at Old Trafford its a 1st versus 2nd clash like back in the good old days.

Champions still struggling

Another title contender and current Premier League champions only managed to pull of a draw at home against Everton. The last ten minutes or so of that game felt like they were playing at Goodison. Its rare that you see Chelsea on the back foot at Stamford Bridge, unless you saw the Sunderland game, that is, but here they were getting pushed back and back by Everton’s attack. Drogba put Chelsea in front through a penalty after Howard brought down Anelka in the box. Jermaine Beckford equalized for the Toffees and Everton earned a very good point at Stamford Bridge, but that makes it their 6th game without a win.

Serie Ahhh

In Italy, current European champions and league holders Inter Milan slipped to 6th place after losing to Lazio. Lazio are now in second place and AC Milan are top courtesy of a crushing victory over Brescia. Rafael Benitez has managed to screw things up at Inter Milan so lets all give him a big round of applause and a pat on his back. All I hope now is that he becomes the next Barcelona manager.

The one man who can screw up any utopia

Speaking of Barcelona..

What about the Clasico piece you ask? Well, what’s there to write about? Madrid got hammered and humiliated and Jose Mourinho claimed otherwise. Who is he kidding? It definitely was a humiliating event. If that isn’t humiliating, I don’t know what is.

But they managed to brush off their defeat to the Catalans and overcame Valencia thanks to a brace from Cristiano Ronaldo. However, Barcelona too won their match against Osasuna 3-0 courtesy of a brace from Lionel Messi and one from Pedro.

And to finally round off things..

Reigning Champions aren’t doing too well anywhere except in Spain. In Germany, Bayern Munich suffered another defeat and are in 7th place with 23 points. Leaders Borussia Dortmund are on 40 points, a good 17 points clear. So one good season and thats it?

North East London Derby

You have to credit Harry Redknapp for the victory at the Emirates. After watching his Spurs team go down 2-0 against Arsenal in the first half, he had the courage to change things around and go with a more attacking formation. The goals for Arsenal came from Samir Nasri who is fire for Arsenal and from Maroune Chamakh, a striker’s finish – the second goal.

The introduction of Jermaine Defoe at the start of the second switched Tottenham’s formation from (the generally used in tough games) 4-5-1 to a 4-4-2, a formation which Redknapp loves (given that he used it at the Inter Milan game at the San Siro). However, over there he was criticized for using the formation and maybe he realized himself that he made a mistake cause he switched it at half time.

Got it Right

I didn’t see Spurs coming back into the game. I didn’t think they had the will to do it. I thought they would in a sense “do a Spurs” and end up on the losing side, but they showed great heart and great urgency to come out on top. Rafael van der Vaart, Spurs’ signing of the season, played well for about 5 minutes during his entire time on the pitch, but what a difference he made in that time.

His first contribution was controlling the ball brilliantly and toe poking it to Gareth Bale who finished past Fabianski. His second was converting the penalty Fabregas gifted to Spurs. And his third was delivering the free kick which Kaboul headed past the Arsenal goalkeeper. Then he was taken off.

I do not understand what happened to the Arsenal players in the second half that they performed so abysmally. They were cruising in the first half having scored two and all they had to do was was keep possession of the ball, contain the Spurs offense and counter quickly, things they’re good at. Except perhaps containing the Spurs offense was a little bit too difficult and you have to credit the Lilywhites for that.

I read an interesting article on the Republik of Mancunia about the power shift in North East London, comparing it to the power shift in Manchester and perhaps the article has a point. Spurs have finished closer to Arsenal than City have when compared to Man United, yet nobody talks of a power shift in North London.

Spurs have another interesting fixture coming up, at home against Liverpool and it’ll be interesting to see if they can come up with the goods there as well – and I really think victory is possible for Spurs next week given they’re playing at White Hart Lane.

Rooturn

Excuse me for the really bad title for this one. It sounds like something right out of the Daily Mail. Nonetheless, the point is, Rooney returned and the fans didn’t boo him, nor did they ecstatically cheer him on as they would have if he hadn’t gone around whoring himself.

Oh yes, sorry. All this happened during a football game. Manchester United were playing Wigan at Old Trafford and Wigan were giving United some very nervous moments. N’Zogbia got the better of Rafael time and again and it was quite scary to see him charging down our right wing. After Nani started on the right, he was switched to the left, and Obertan played on the right.

Hernandez and Berbatov both had a poor game last time out at Villa Park and therefore Macheda got the nod. I do not understand why he has been played up front and alone. He really hasn’t thrived in that position. Macheda does well when he’s got a strike partner with him – which in this case was apparently Obertan, but nobody can really say for sure.

United did go ahead in the first half after Evra headed the ball into the goal post – a rare sight, that one. In the second half, Alcaraz chose to leave his common sense in the dressing room and unnecessarily tackled Darren Fletcher to pick up his second yellow card and he was off. Rodallega decided that Alcaraz shouldn’t feel lonely and decided to follow him after a two footed tackle on Rafael just a couple of minutes later. Wigan were down by one goal and down to nine men.

But they held on. Two seasons back if the same thing had happened you would have expected goals galore! But it didn’t happen. While United did boss possession (as you would have expected them to), and created chances, they really didn’t hammer Wigan for 5 (which they did twice last season when Wigan had 11 men!). Evra got a fantastic chance. Rooney did as well. Once the threat from the left had reduced, Rafael got up quite well and delivered some really good crosses in.

In the end, United won 2-0, not an outstanding display, but the result was fantastic considering the other results across the Premier League.

It really is Roman Abramograd FC

Carlo Ancelotti was looked on the bright side after losing their game to Birmingham. Then he was later quoted as saying that he doesn’t have as much control in Chelsea as Ferguson does at Man United. Contrast this to Ferguson’s statement “I am the most important man at this club and that’s the way it has to be”.

Not the most important man at Chelsea

At Chelsea, Abramovic is the most important man at the club and any manager working there should realize that they will never get full decision making powers. One third of the way into the season, your assistant manager may be sacked. Then you will have no say in the replacement either. After sometime you may get sacked, but then you just have to accept this as the hazards of being Chelsea manager.

Goal Fest in Spain

United couldn’t hit more than two past a 9 man Wigan, whereas Barcelona put 8 goals past Almeria. Madrid scored 5 against Athletic Bilbao. You have to compare the teams in Spain and England because I think eventually there may be a clash in the Champions League.

Look at the teams that are playing in the Champions League from England – Chelsea, Man United, Arsenal and Spurs.

Spurs – First timers in the Champions League and doing really well. Is their squad big enough though? They really don’t have enough center back cover when Michael Dawson is out. King is pretty much out all the time and Gallas can be very injury prone. Take out Van der Vaart from the equation and their creativity in midfield suffers. Pavlyuchenko, Keane and Crouch are all good strikers but none of them are World Class.

Man United – United have a decent number of strikers – Rooney, Berbatov, Hernandez, Macheda, Owen – all good players. Its the width that matters at United. With Valencia out till February, no real wingers are available for Sir Alex. Giggs is an option, but he’s getting old and can’t play every game. Obertan has shown good skills at times, but isn’t really good enough for the Champions League in the knock out rounds. Nor is Bebe for sure (at the moment anyway). Park isn’t a winger, only he knows what he is.

Arsenal – They have a decent squad – Fabregas, Wilshere, Ramsey, Diaby, Denilson and Song in the center. Nasri, Arshavin, Rosicky, Walcott wide. Chamakh, Van Persie, Vela, JET up front, but then they are Arsenal and they might just screw it up nonetheless. I still feel that Arsenal has the best squad from England to compete in the Champions League, it’ll be interesting to see how they do compared to the other English teams.

Chelsea – Not a big enough squad. Full stop.

And now Spain –

Real Madrid – Attacking options – Ronaldo, Ozil, Higuain, Di Maria, Canales, Granero, Benzema. Midfield – Diarra, Diarra, Khedira, Xabi Alonso, Gago. Defense – Carvalho, Pepe, Albiol, Marcelo, Ramos, Garay.

FC Barcelona – Attacking options – David Villa, Messi, Iniesta, Pedro, Krkic. Midfield – Xavi, Keita, Mascherano, Busquets. Defense – Puyol, Pique, Alves, Milito, Maxwell, Abidal.

I’m just highlighting the difference in quality in depth of the squads of the English teams and two Spanish teams playing in the Champions League. It’ll be interesting to see how they fare in the knock out rounds (assuming they all qualify, that is). Will a Man United team filled with Bebe, Obertan and Park be capable of knocking out a Real Madrid team with Ronaldo, Higuain, Ozil, Alonso? Even as a United fan I have to say that it is highly unlikely. Can Chelsea’s Josh McEachren and Gael Kakuta plot Barcelona’s downfall? I doubt.

Of course, the players I mentioned aren’t the first choice for their teams when it comes to European fixtures, but the fact of the matter is that in certain areas, both Madrid and Barcelona have better second choice players than English teams have first choice players.

Ps — All is not well in Inter Milan. They lost to Chievo 2-1 this weekend.


Let me tell you first off, that as a United fan, I’m relieved! Finally an away win. But we shall get to that in a bit. I’ll just shed light on Saturday’s fixtures first before going into Sunday’s.

Chelsea won against Wolves to keep their position up at the top of the table. Goals came from Malouda and Saloman Kalou who has targeted 20 goals in the season for himself. So that put pressure on the other big teams.

He wants 20 goals

Spurs and Everton played out a 1-1 draw. Spurs looked like they were suffering from the much used cliche – “European hangover”. It will take them time, definitely to get used to playing the Champions League in mid week and the Premiership in the weekend, especially considering they played the European Champions midweek. Van der Vaart scored another goal, although to be fair, it was already on its way to the back of the net. I don’t care, because he’s there in my Fantasy football team!

You know, I wasn’t really sure about Arsene Wenger’s comments about Stoke playing rugby instead of football cause I hadn’t seen the game to which he was referring. However, after last night’s game against United, I think I have to agree. Ferguson was forced to play 4 defenders who at various points of their career have played a Centre Back – John O’Shea, Vidic, Ferdinand and Neville. What puzzles me is why Neville started when Wes Brown was available (he did come on later for Gaz). According to Ferguson, he’s the best center back in England when fit. He must have had his reasons of course.

Hahahaha

Hernandez scored a brilliant header with the back of his head. I have no idea how he managed to arch his back that much to score, but he clearly did, cause he got enough power on the header to take it past Sorenson. Tuncay scored a brilliant goal after Scholes gifted possession to Stoke. Hernandez got his second later on to take United to their first away win of the season.

Brilliance!

Man City got a man sent off almost before the match began. Boyata got sent off for tripping Chamakh after he was played in by Fabregas. I don’t think anybody can say anything about the card – which was definitely deserved.

Arsenal took the lead through Nasri, after a brilliant build up to the first goal. The 1-2 that he received was brilliant and Yaya Toure wasn’t close enough on Arshavin who returned the ball to Nasri. Gareth Barry (England’s defensive hope!) did an equally poor job of marking Nasri as he ran in to receive the pass. The Frenchman kept his cool and put the ball past Jo Hart. Arsenal’s second chance in the game came from the penalty spot but wasn’t converted. Fabregas was tripped by Kompany in the box for reasons best known to the Belgian. Fabregas tried to put the ball in the right corner, but Jo Hart made a superb save after guessing the right way. The penalty was at a good height, but still it was a phenomenal save.

Arsenal seemed to have been playing a different system which works in a parallel dimension. Song kept pushing forward leaving Fabregas in midfield. I have no idea why, but maybe I’m not meant to know because Song got on the score sheet later on. Arshavin chipped a ball from the left to the right to Nasri who gave it to Fabregas who then tried to play in Chamakh with a beautiful weighted pass but the pass was intercepted by Wayne Bridge (second half substitute for Yaya Toure). The interception teed up the ball for Song who obliged with a brilliant finish.

Nasir celebrates after Arsenal's first goal

Nicklas Bendtner, the poster boy of Denmark came on later on in the night and scored his first goal for the season. I’m sure Arsenal fans are delighted to have Barbie back, especially considering his finishing. Although I’m sure they would be more happy to see their Vice Captain – Van Persie returning. Walcott too made an appearance and his contribution was to run around really fast.

My least favourite player was taken off just after half time and Emmanuel Adebayor came on instead. No doubt Man City missed their captain who would’ve just run throughout the game.

Goal deluges across Europe

Real Madrid hammered Racing Santander for 6 in their weekend fixture at the Bernabeu with Cristiano Ronaldo (self proclaimed best player in the Universe) netting four. After a performance like that though, I think he has every right to call himself the best player in the Universe.

I have been a little critical of Angel Di Maria, but I think he played quite well against Racing and I can see him improve under Jose Mourinho. The Portuguese manager looked very relaxed as his side took control in the first half itself with Higuain netting the first, and Ronaldo scoring two. In the second half, within minutes of restart, Ronaldo got his hat trick thanks to a brilliant run by Di Maria. He netted his fourth from the penalty spot a little while later.

Mesut Ozil too got on the score sheet after a brilliant pass from Xabi Alonso split the entire Racing team in half. Ozil for his part, kept cool and provided a brilliant finish to make it 6-0. Sergio Canales came on for Ozil later on and looked very lively. The youngster is definitely a good talent and its only a matter of time before he becomes a brilliant player. Diop got a consolation goal for the visitors but refused to celebrate (for obvious reasons)

In the Netherlands, PSV Eindhoven absolutely HAMMERED Feyenoord 10-0. Yes you read that correctly. 10-0. Feyenoord are supposed to be one of the better teams in the Dutch League. PSV has been receiving Champions League payments for nearly the past 10 years except last year when they were pipped to the title by Steve McLaren’s FC Twente. Does this mean that PSV are a really powerful team in Europe? Hardly. However in the Netherlands, you better look out for them.