Friday, October 22, 2010

Taking One for the Team

So while you were working and I probably should have been, I was checking out games around Europe.

Real Madrid 2 AC Milan 0

This match was a test of the “new” Madrid, the one that’s fun, but organized, stylish, yet disciplined and full of goals versus the aging Milan team that has decided to quasi-Galactico themselves (Ibra and Robinho for starters).

I got pulled into meeting at work and missed most of the match, but fortunately I was able to see the goals. The wall for CR7’s free kick was shameful. Ibra was a kitty kat and moved, which allowed the ball through and gave the keeper no chance. Almost immediately after CR7 got down the left side and set up Ozil whose shot was deflected in. 2 goals in 2 minutes set Real on their way.

When I came back, AC Milan still looked abject going forward, with the Ibra/Dinho/Pato line not putting fear into anyone. The only positive moment I saw was a Pirlo free kick denied by St. Iker. And this team is in second place in Serie A?

Real Madrid are all but in the next round with 9 points, but the knockout phase is where the Special One will have to earn his money. AC Milan are now in a tie with Ajax on four points and will need some sort of result in a couple of weeks at home versus Los Merengues.

I was in real conflict about Wednesday games. Here were my choices:

FCB v Copenhagen

FCB is a team I follow closely, but I figured they would wipe the floor with the Danes.

Rangers v Valencia

Valencia is a Spanish team (La Liga Lowdown plug), and I wanted to how they responded to their defeat to FCB, but I feared it would be a dour match.

United v Bursaspor

I wanted to watch United after the whole Rooney soap opera of the last few days.

Inter v Spurs

This match promised to be exciting with Spurs shaky defensively in their first real test in the CL.

I ended up watching the Barcelona game. Minutes before the match, I checked the starting lineup and saw this midfield—Maxwell, Mascherano, Busquets. I immediately placed a bet on the under (3.5). Barca has not won a game that Masch has started and Maxwell was terrible in this role last season.

The match kicked off with the usual FCB pressure and Villa had a chance hit the crossbar. I’m not sure what happened between that and Messi’s goal on 19 minutes because Twitter was going absolutely nuts re: the Inter/Spurs game. I was tempted to switch over for entertainment value but stayed on task.

The second half started and Copenhagen stayed compact and hit the break with numbers. If Santin wasn’t such a worthless piece of crap they have even scored. Example #1: in the first half, Santin stopped on a 1 v 1 because he thought he was offside. #2 N’Doye hit a thunderous shot off the cross bar and Santin, with the goal at his mercy, headed the ball wide. He was finally subbed with 15 minutes to go.

As happened in the Rubin Kazan game, a Barca turnover allowed their opponents to try score from midfield. Pinto was able to backpedal and tip it over. From there Barcelona closed out the game, with a couple of half chances and Messi finally added the second late in regulation.

FCB maintain their 100% record but were below their usual high standards and Copenhagen, who dropped their first points of the group stage, really made them work for the three points and sit in second. Since Pana and Rubin played out a scoreless draw, if the Danes can get a draw at home they will have a real chance at progressing to the knockout stage.

After the Barca game, I watched highlights of the Rangers game.

Rangers 1 Valencia 1


In a game reminiscent of Scotland/Spain, Rangers hit Los Che on the counter and really should have had several goals in the first half. The breakthrough came on Edu’s header, for which he got punched in the face. He had another chance which crashed off the post and Miller put it out, almost for a throw-in. While Caesar played well, Kenny Miller was guilty of squandering several chances.

Early in the second half, Edu had a well placed header; unfortunately it was into his own net. That led to a period in which Valencia was in the ascendancy. Rangers slowly came back into in the end and Steven Davis had a chance to score but Caesar was equal to it.

Even though Rangers got the draw, they are in a tough spot. Of the three games remaining, only one is at home, against United. They still have to travel to Valencia and Bursa. Can’t see them winning one of those games outright, and they will need to because Valencia has Bursaspor at home, which should be 3 pts for the Spainards and may tip the balance for second.

Red Bull Salzburg 1 Juventus 1


I affectionately called this match the Energy Drinks versus the Old Lady, and the Energy Drinks came out flying. They were all over the Bianconeri and tested Manninger several times. Juve looked lost without Krasic out wide and Aquilani in the middle. Red Bull were rewarded with a goal thru Dusan Svento when he cut in from the left and scored a brilliant goal.

The new Nedved came on at halftime and immediately scored. Juve couldn’t push on and were lucky to get a point. Amauri and Momo were terrible as usual, giving the ball away needlessly and contributing very little. Juve as a whole looked flat and were missing the edge shown in the games against City, Inter and Lecce.

Three draws in three games puts the pressure on the Old Lady. They really need to win the return fixture against Red Bull because I don’t see them beating City or getting three points in Poland.

1 comment:

  1. No discussion of my Gunners, who with Fabergas look like a different team - one that can actually create and score goals? I truly believe in this team, especially when the get healthy again.