Thursday, 14 April 2011

Tottenham 0 - 1 Real Madrid

Tottenham 0 - 1 Real Madrid 13/4/11

The second leg of the Champions League semi-final and Tottenham had a monumental task. Score 4 without conceding just to take the game to extra time. The Spurs manager recognised this in saying 'it will need a miracle, but miracles do happen.'

An early goal was crucial for Spurs, but trying to hold off Ronaldo and co at the same time was not easy. They did have attacks and penalty appeals, with Bale being the first to go over in the box - but perhaps all too readily.

Bale was amazing once again, showing blistering face and really putting the world-class Ramos under pressure - causing him to put a Knee into Bale's side as they jumped for a ball. Bale had the beating of every Madrid defender on the pitch and they knew it, Khedira was often found doubling up with Ramos on one of Bales runs.

Modric also had a penalty appeal, and if Bale hadn't thrown doubt into the Referees mind perhaps it would have been given, Albiol the culprit this time.

Half-time and the score was 0-0, leaving Tottenham just a half to get the 4 goals. Then that boy Ronaldo pops up, with a long range fierce and swaying strike, it bounced from Gomes' hands and into the net. Not as easy a shot to save at looked at first, but still this spelled doom for Tottenham, six goals required not to go out after 90 minutes.

Mourinho noted at the end he needed to play a strong squad to finish the tie, and did so. Tottenham can be very happy with their first entree into the Champions League and are not fighting for a spot there again. Bale has lit up the competition and we can expect bids for him in the summer, from both Real and Barcelona.

Wednesday, 6 April 2011

Real Madrid 4 - 0 Tottenham

Real Madrid 4 - 0 Tottenham 5/4/11

A big game with the doubtful Ronaldo and Bale both starting, but a sure start - Lennon, having to be replaced at the last minute due to a sore throat - not ideal for the English side.

When Adebayor launched into the air to score a header just 4 minutes in, Spurs fear that this wouldn't be an easy game was doubled, and it got worse. Crouch with a red card, suggest the occasion got the better of him - a second yellow for diving in and catching the player meant Tottenham were down to 10 men 14 minutes in.

Real Madrid controlled the game, Alonso and Ronaldo dictating play from midfield, with Real pressing high and only a couple breaks from Tottenham, but the first half finished 1-0.

Adebayor got a second before being subbed in an aggressive move for Higuan - Mourinho was putting Tottenham to the sword, killing their chances of progression through a home victory.

The brilliant Cristiano Ronaldo got his goal before the match was up with a first time volley catching Gomes out from substitute Kaka's cross.

A note on Lennon - Redknapp claiming just as they were leaving the dressing room Lennon pulled out, however he has said on twitter the medical team had been giving him antibiotics from Sunday but his illness only got worse. Is this Redknapp trying to find excuses for the performance?

Extract from his tweet: 'saying i fell ill be4 the game is bull****'

Thanks gary corbett

Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Serbian Squad

Not a match report but not all posts will necessarily from one from now on.

It comes from a realisation of the strength of the Serbian national team. They currently rank 20th in the world but I believe they could be a lot higher. Let's look at why:

Vidic. - We all know the fearless Man Utd destroyer is a key part of their recent success and has helped them reach only 2 loses all season. Truly a world class defender who has strength, bravery, positioning and is great in the air on defence or attack.

Ivanovic. - The Chelsea squad have said he is the strongest player at the squad (physically) and they have Drogba and Alex. Truly an athlete, with strength to beat anyone combined with pace and a great goal scoring record with his head, has become an essential player for Chelsea in the last 2 years and holds a regular place in a truly top team.

Aleksandar Kolarov. - Man City's recent acquisition who is holding a first team place in the impressive Man City squad. Has a formidable long range shot with his left foot - having knocked unconscious several players with it while playing in Italy! Has the pace to play on the wing as well as strength for his preferred position of left back, another top class player in Serbias back four.

Neven Subotić. - The last player to complete amazing back four, he would slot in at centre back with Ivanovic at right back. The 6'4 young Dortmund player is already holding down a first team place at just 22 and touted as one of the best in the league.

This back four could match any other countries, and with Subotic still developing, and Kolarov still establishing himself in the Premier League it can still improve. A strong defence like this definitely better than 19 other countries in the world, it is more like top 4.

Let's look at the midfield:

Dejan Stanković - The legendary Internazionale a attacking midfielder is still only 32, although it seems like he has been around forever. He is a great captain to the country and can help string passes together to the quality that is required of a great team. Long shots are another of his speciality, making him a constant threat from midfield.

Miloš Krasić - The young star of the team. He may be 26 now but having just moved to Juventus, he is lighting up the Serie A. Brutal pace and acceleration with strength allows him to outrun and quickly get past almost anyone. Add skills and trickery to his physical traits and you have a World Class winger. He plays right midfield and does a shining job of it.

This concludes part 1 of the Serbian squad overview.

On with part 2. This team drew with Estonia away 1-1 when last spoken - not a bad result.

Nikola Žigić - The Serbian giant playing for Birmingham and not doing a bad job in the Premier League. His 6'7 height and strength makes him a real threat in the air. He is a great target man often requiring two defenders to handle him, lacks the technical touch of many strikers but does the job with his physical presence.

Miralem Sulejmani - I see Sulejmani as the new star forward for Serbia, replacing the outgoing but brilliant Serb legend Marko Pantelić. Sulejmani is a great technical forward and upcoming start for Holland club Ajax. Possessing great pace, and only 22 with caps for Serbia he will provide the Ying to the Yang of Zigic.

To conclude Serbia have a brilliant, relatively young squad and should grow as an international team in the coming years

Sunday, 27 March 2011

Scotland 0 - 2 Brazil

Scotland 0 - 2 Brazil 27/3/11

Neymar was the star today, scoring 2 goals in a game controlled by Brazil. At only 19 and 5'8 he strikes a small frame on the football field but more than makes up for this with speed, agility and a whole lot of skill. Despite a small stature he has surprising core strength and was not pushed off the ball once by Scotland players used to a physical game.

The first goal came in the first half with Neymar creating space in the box and striking into the far corner around a Scotland defender. 

Scotland were limited to less shots on goal than fingers on a hand. Their lack of probing the Brazil goal was down to Scotland having to sit back and have players behind the ball, limited possession, and the impressive Lucio and Alves for Brazil. Lucio still showed his notorious runs and pace with strength that has made him the name he is today.

Brazils second goal came from a penalty. Neymar in the box again with some stepovers and was caught my the largely disappointing Charlie Adam. Neymar stepped up and slotted home a good penalty, Adam was subbed with his last touch being Neymars' foot. The penalty really wasn't a deciding factor int he match however, as Brazil had been dominating possession and creating chances, another goal seemed enviable, with a goal from Scotland would of require more than just a pinch of luck

Neymar used his speed on attacks and wasn't afraid to use some fancy skills, on his third international match. Promising Liverpool defender Danny Wilson was subbed on during but didn't have the oppurtunity to match his international debut with another goal. Chelsea's Ramires showed some good change of pace and great battling for the ball, but did make the wrong pass or wayward shot at times.

The gap between Brazil and Scotland in terms of individual talent was clear to see, and that's what made the large difference here today.  Neymar has three goals in three caps and has announced his name on the world stage. 

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Chelsea 2 - 0 Manchester City

Chelsea 2 - 0 Manchester City 20/3/11

A game between two physically strong and expensive squads at the top of the table. Both fighting to ensure for a spot in the Champions League and to be included in the new top teams defining the top spots of the Premier League.

It started a muted affair, with Man City putting up a defensive fortress, and with 0-0 at half time, they looked happy to keep it that way. Chelsea drove forward coming up against a solid defence, with De Jong enforcing the formidably of the Man City back four.

David Luiz was cancelling out Dzeko's efforts upfront, while the brilliant David Silva was lacking attacking support. It was David Luiz who won the free-kick just outside the 18-yard box which he then headed in, 1-0 and the goal that Chelsea desperately needed.

The team celebrated together, before we saw some brilliance from the Brazilian Ramires - using balance, speed and feigning one way then the other to dribble through the Man City defence and slot past Joe Hart.

Chelsea won 2-0 and looked back to their best. Mancini looked angry as he knows these games against the top teams are what defines the top teams.

Saturday, 12 March 2011

Manchester Utd 2 - 0 Arsenal

Manchester Utd 2 - 0 Arsenal 12/3/11.
Just over two weeks ago Arsenal were in the running for four trophies, now just one.

Identical twins Rafael and Fabio da Silva started on the right and left of midfield for Manchester and were brilliant. Rafael going up against another young wing player Kieran Gibbs. Gibbs could match or even exceed Rafael when they came up against each other. Other players in the lineup were the ever-solid Vidic and Smalling.

Arsenal played a typically precise passing game from them but struggled creating effecting chances on the Man Utd goal. United were deadly efficient on the break. Fabio was the brother to put Manchester ahead after a shot from Hernandez. The second goal was an impossibly accurate header across goal into the corner from another forced Almunia block.

Djourou had to be stretchered off and received oxygen. His shoulder was injured by Sagna in a nasty collision as he slid in the penalty area. We hope he is not badly injured.

Arsenal players were looking deflated, and after the last 3 important games they've had, you could see why. How can anyone take that hit and it not affect them mentally? Arsenal will have to have to really dig deep to challenge for the Premier League now.

Gary Corbett

Friday, 11 March 2011

Barcelona 3 - 1 Arsenal

Barcelona 3 - 1 Arsenal (Agg 4-3) 8/3/11.
Let's start my football review blog with a big game.

After losing 2-1 away to Arsenal in the first leg of the Champions League tie, Barcelona needed to score or they were out after 90 mins, but being at home in the Nou Camp, it was inevitable they would.

Arsenal rarely threatened and it was looking like a training ground exercise for Barcelona, attack after attack with desperate (and precise) challenges only keeping the scoreline at 0-0.

Barcelona again proving they are the pass masters, dominating possession from arguably England's best passing and possession team. Half time approached with Arsenal having made a meer couple of skirmishes into the Barcelona half. Fabregas regained posession, and for an ill-thought moment, tried a blind backheel to Wilshere, but it was careless and wayward. Iniesta pounced on the ball, as Arsenal players were caught between holding the line and pushing up the pitch, he took a touch and knocked a precise ball through to messi in the penalty area. What happened next transcends looked like unintentional fluke, but slower - than-life replays show it was all intentional. Messi flicks the ball over the outrushing Almunia to volley the ball into the net. The Nou Camp erupts. For a brief moment, Messi had held the ball on his foot ready to flick over Almunia, it was magical.

A deflated Arsenal and a ruing Fabregas head in for half time. The second half starts, and in a rare Arsenal attack, they get a corner from Van Persies efforts. The corner goes in, and into the goal (via Sergio Busquets head). Arsenal were at 1-1 with without a single shot on target. This ignited Barcelona. The waves of attack increased to an almost unprecedented level, Barcelona really wanted to put Arsenal to the sword here.

Then the next milestone came. Van Persie gets sent off. Arsenal had earlier been punished for time wasting, and when he was deemed to of played on and shot, after the offside whistle had blown, he got a second yellow and was sent for an early shower. 10 men against Barcelona in this form, at their home ground is not what any team wants.

When the Barcelona goal came, it was as special as the first. The passing and link-up play between the players created the room for Xavi hit the ball home from just outside the 18-yard box. It was 2-1 but this would still only mean extra time at 90 minutes due to away goals.

Barcelona pushed further, and through the brilliant last ditch challenges of Arsenal, they earned a Penalty. Koscielny who has been brilliant all game, fouled Pedro in the box. Messi steps up and scores. Barcelona through in 90 mins. Knocking Arsenal out at the Nou Camp for the second time in two years.

Gary Corbett