In Ecuador, a Thriving Game and Prospects Galore

February 28, 2013

diaz-blog480
“It has been a difficult couple of weeks for teams named Barcelona in continental competition. Last Wednesday the Spanish version dropped a 2-0 decision to Milan in the Champions League. On Feb. 12 the Ecuadorean namesake — Barcelona Sporting Club — was denied three points in its Copa Libertadores opener when Nacional’s Álvaro Recoba set up Iván Alonso for a late equalizer in Montevideo, Uruguay. That Alonso’s goal came in the third minute of second-half stoppage time was not the worst part. Throughout the night there was a feeling Barcelona was not only going up against the Uruguayan champion, but the Chilean referee, Enrique Osses, as well.” NY Times (Video)


Barcelona 1-3 Real Madrid: Real comfortable defensively and ruthless on the break

February 28, 2013

“Barcelona suffered their second major defeat within the space of a week, and Real are through to the Copa del Rey final. Jordi Roura brought in Jose Pinto for Victor Valdes in goal – as always in this competition. The rest of the side was the same as against Milan with both Cesc Fabregas and Andres Iniesta in the side, despite David Villa’s impact against Sevilla at the weekend. Jose Mourinho chose Raphael Varane and Sergio Ramos at centre-back, with Pepe on the bench. Gonzalo Higuain, as expected, started upfront. Real outplayed Barcelona. Their defensive shape was good, their breaks were typically direct and efficient. 3-1 didn’t flatter them.” Zonal Marking

Xavi is wrong: Barça have lost far more than the least important title
“Xabi Alonso took up his favourite position at the Camp Nou, easing into a seat in the stands and looking silently out across the pitch, feet up, job done. It was some time after Real Madrid had won the Copa del Rey semi-final second leg 3-1 against Barcelona, the clock ticking towards midnight, and the Camp Nou was quiet. The stadium had been emptying for a while, ever since Raphaël Varane headed Real Madrid’s third; by the time Jordi Alba scored Barcelona’s only goal in the 88th minute, there were not that many fans left to celebrate and those that were still there did not much feel like doing so.” Guardian


Bayern 1-0 Dortmund: Bayern dominate

February 28, 2013

“Arjen Robben’s superb goal won the game, but Bayern’s nine shots on target to Dortmund’s one demonstrates the home side’s overall dominance. Jupp Heynckes used the XI that triumphed over Arsenal last week, with one exception – Franck Ribery was out, so Robben started on the left. Daniel van Buyten was alongside Dante again. Jurgen Klopp was unable to call upon Mats Hummels, so Felipe Santana played alongside Neven Subotic. Kevin Grosskreutz got a start in midfield. This wasn’t a fascinating tactical battle, but Bayern were by far the better side – pressing well, mixing short intricate passing with longer balls, and featuring good variety and movement in the centre of midfield.” Zonal Marking

Bayern Munich finally gets over Dortmund hurdle in German Cup
” Robert Lewandowski, a reported Bayern Munich target, was the center of attention during Borussia Dortmund’s German Cup quarterfinal match at runaway league leader Bayern Munich. The Polish striker had a quiet game, however, much like his team: Dortmund was outplayed and outsmarted through large spells Wednesday night. The hosts could have easily won by a bigger margin, but it was fitting that Arjen Robben separated the sides with his beautiful first-half goal. Robben’s penalty miss against Dortmund in the 1-0 defeat at the Westfalenstadion sealed Borussia’s title win last year and rang in two more soul-destroying defeats in the Cup (Dortmund 5-2 win) and the Champions League (Chelsea win in penalties) finals.” SI


Tactical & Statistical Analysis: How has Steven Gerrard evolved under Brendan Rodgers?

February 28, 2013

“Steven Gerrard’s Premier League form tailed off a bit in the last two seasons under both Dalglish and Roy Hodgson. At 32 at the start of the season, some pundits may have been ready to write off Liverpool’s talismanic captain, but he has evolved under Brendan Rodgers and been a consistently good performer for the side this season.” Think Football


The day I realised just how difficult it is to be a Premier League referee

February 28, 2013

“Flags in hand, a group of wheezing scribes of questionable fitness are ‘crabbing’ their way left and right along the sideline of an indoor football pitch at St George’s Park, opulent home to the National Football Centre in Burton-on-Trent. As the verb suggests, the exercise involves shuttling sideways at speed in order to keep up with and constantly monitor play, while simultaneously providing a moving target for any projectiles that might be raining down from the crowd behind. The ability to ‘crab’ is an essential skill for any match official and one this reporter has since adopted to maximise efficiency while shopping in supermarkets that are long of aisle.” Guardian (Video)


Where Would Swansea be now with Paul Tisdale?

February 28, 2013

“Football is full of what ifs. What if Jonathan Howard’s “goal” for Chesterfield had been given against Middlesbrough in the 1997 FA Cup final? What if Fergie had decided Cantona was too much of a risk to sign? What if Spurs’s chef had opted for a vegetarian curry instead of a lasagne before that game? And what if Paul Tisdale had taken the Swansea job…” thetwounfortunates


PSG 2-0 Marseille: PSG attack at speed, but fortunate to keep a clean sheet

February 26, 2013

Beckham-Marseille
“A closer game than the scoreline suggests. With injury problems in defence, Carlo Ancelotti named Sylvain Armand as his left-sided centre-back. David Beckham was on the bench. Élie Baup named an unchanged side from the XI that triumphed over Valenciennes last week. PSG’s four outright attackers combined effectively at times, but Marseille will feel they had enough chances to get something from the game.” Zonal Marking