Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Chelsea 1 Atletico Madrid 3: An away goal is crucial in the knockout stages of the CL

Chelsea 1 - Atletico Madrid 3: An away goal is crucial in the knockout stages of the CL

Chelsea were knocked out of the Champions League ( CL) after losing 1-3 to Atletico Madrid in the second leg at Stamford Bridge ( Aggr score 1-3 )

When this Semi-final draw was decided, I had a sinking feeling that Chelsea had got the toughest draw. I'd have preferred either Real Madrid or Bayern Munich

Why?

Hear Tim Palmer:

"Atletico are an incredibly well-organised, supremely balanced side with no obvious weaknesses. They do not have the best players out of the four semifinalists, and they are not the best side, but their execution of the system and the understanding between players is superior to any other team in Europe. Chelsea are facing an enormous challenge!"

Outstanding from back to front, blending attacking verve while keeping a good shape and sweeping up balls in midfield.

( Check out the link for the full analysis of this awesome team)

Then the first leg happened and Chelsea pulled a 0-0 draw and there was hope. However while it wasn't the worse result in the world, you just fancied Atletico scoring an away goal, they are that good. They managed three!!....coming from one goal down too! Now, that takes Balls!!

Chelsea starting lineup (4-2-3-1):

Mark Schwarzer | Ashley Cole, John Terry, Gary Cahill, Branislav Ivanovic | David Luiz, Ramires | Eden Hazard, Willian, César Azpilicueta | Fernando Torres

Substitutes from: Hilário, Tomas Kalas, Oscar, Marco van Ginkel, Andre Schurrle, Demba Ba, Samuel Eto'o

Atlético Madrid starting lineup (4-2-3-1):

Thibaut Courtois | Filipe Luís, Diego Godín, Joao Miranda, Juanfran | Tiago, Mario Suárez | Arda Turan, Koke, Adrián López | Diego Costa

Substitutes from: Dani Aranzubia, Toby Alderweireld, Raul Garcia, Cristian Rodriguez, Jose Sosa, Diego, David Villa

Chelsea slightly shaded the first 35 mins of this one- the first half was another game of attrition and few chances where both teams seem to cancel each other out

( though Schwarzer was beaten very early on by the outstanding Koke's effort (4') due to the Chelsea defence switching off. Chelsea were saved by the cross bar )

In the 36', due to sloppy defending from Atletico, Willian squirms out of the corner far too easily and passes to Azpilicueta. The defender cuts it back to Torres who shoots low. It takes a clip off Miranda on its way past Courtois. 1-0 Chelsea

Torres refused to celebrate, out of respect for the team he used to play for.

It's going according to the game plan

But then it all went downhill thereafter!

44'-A cross from the left looked as though it was sailing out. But Juanfran just about managed to get there ( not tracked by Hazard) Cole out of position too. The Atletico defender knocked it back across goal. It evaded everyone, and although Adrian's shot wasn't the cleanest but it was knocked into the ground, bouncing over into Schwarzer's goal . 1-1! Atletico were now in the driving seat with their crucial away goal at the end of the first half. You just wondered how this might have panned out without conceding at that crucial time.

Half time

Atletico came into the second half stronger and had the better possession in the early parts

46' - Schwarzer ( who stood tall) had to make a great safe from an Arda Turan effort at close range

Chelsea soon shook off the lethargy and got back into the game

53' - An enterprising burst from Ramires ends when Turan barges him over. The free-kick comes in, and Terry soars above everyone, and gets great contact of the ball. Courtois stops it magnificently , and Juanfran cleans up afterwards.

54' - Eto'o replaces Ashley Cole - as Mourinho shows that he is looking for another goal- which would put Chelsea in the driver's seat again.

However, Disaster!

61'-.Costa controlled a high ball beautifully, Eto'o stuck a foot in, and Costa did very well indeed to shield the ball and go over.It was a massive error by Eto'o, who immediately knew what he'd done

After a lot of drama with Costa not happy with the positioning of the ball on the penalty spot ( he got a yellow card for his effort), he calmly slams the ball into the roof of the net, Schwarzer went the wrong way, and Atletico have a foot in the final! 2-1!!

You just knew it was game, set and match then. This Atletico side hardly concede a goal in a match, not to talk of 2

64'- A free-kick was flicked on by Luiz- it hit the post, Courtois tried to grab it and only managed to fumble it over his own crossbar.

When it's your day, those ones will go in.

67' -Ba replaces Torres

71' - Hazard doesn't track the run of Juanfran, who crosses first-time from the right. The first header from Filipe Luis cracks against the crossbar, but the ball comes back to Arda Turan, who knocks the ball past a sprawling Schwarzer. Goal! 3-1!!

Chelsea now need three goals It ain't gonna happen

76' -Sose replaces Costa, Schurrle replaces Willian

82' - Cristian Rodriguez on for the impressive Arda Turan

93'- Courtois still managed to prevent Hazard from getting a goal with his long legs

Game over- Chelsea has been stopped again at the semi-final stage of the CL

Thoughts

Chelsea were beaten by a better team

Atletico has to be the best team in the world right now. Like Tim Palmer said: they have no weaknesses. I believe him and that's scary!

Simeone said: "I would like to congratulate the mothers of these players because they have big cojones." Go figure out what cojones means

Hazard was supposed to be scoring goals at the other end. Instead, by losing his marker twice, he allowed Chelsea to concede two very sloppy goals. He had a poor game ( somewhere at the Camp Nou, the flair players of Barca are smiling knowingly )

Atletico also exploit Ashley Cole's lack of positional discipline on the left to a great effect

Eto'o was limping before the end of the match. He's shown features of a man close to his 40s rather than his early 30s today

Mourinho will be aggrieved by the way Chelsea abandoned the qualities that have made them such difficult opponents to beat.

Conceding that equaliser in the careless manner that a usually very solid Chelsea backline did must really rankle. It was the turning point in the tie

It forced Mourinho into making the early change he did. Of course he didn't know that Eto'o was going to contribute to a goal at the wrong end

Thereafter it was an uphill task. Atletico simply ran away with the game

This shouldn't take anything away from the very resilient and good Atletico side (They are just 2 games away from breaking the duopoly in La Liga)

Courtois is ready to take over from Cech. His saves made a difference yesterday. The irony!

You simply 'tow the bus parked away' rather than moaning about your inability to score because you just simply lack enough qualities on the day. Brendan Rodgers et al: please take note

What has happened in the last 3 seasons in Europe simply confirms that the Premiership is overrated in my opinion. ( all German final last year, all Spanish final this year. I doubt if anyone can beat their chests that it'll be an all English final next year)

Real Madrid have their work cut out if La Decima is going to be a reality. My money is on Simeone's men

There is work to be done on this Chelsea team in the summer


 

Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Guardiola/Bayern Spotlight

Guardiola/Bayern Spotlight


CL semi-final second leg Bayern 0 - Real Madrid 4 ( Real Madrid won the tie 5-0 on aggr.)

Well that was Lahm to the Slaughter! ( I hope you saw what I did with the 'lamb' there? )

Mannschafted!

Bayern were toothless and Madrid were ruthless

It was a humiliation. End of!

Easy demolition of an overrated club, from the overrated league, with the overrated team led by way overrated Chancer coach

Overrated club & league

The Bundesliga has essentially been a '2-team' league for a while now- Bayern & Dortmund

But Bayern are the financial juggernauts. Hence, it is easy to buy all the best players in that league.

What is even more annoying is the fact that, every year, they buy Dortmund's most prized assets- the latter club being the only one that can seriously challenge their supremacy in the Bundesliga

Dortmund had found a way to remain very competitive until this season- when mind-boggling injuries to key players and a want-out Lewandowski ( Bayern destination) ensured that Bayern won the league at a canter with months to spare.

Bayern started believing the hype

It's not surprising that when half-decent competition can along in the CL, they struggled badly

Arsenal definitely stretched them, even Powder puff Man Utd (:D ) fancied their chances for long spells of their encounter. Losing 0-3 to Dortmund at home recently should have been another warning bell

Real Madrid eventually told them over 2 legs that: "you're not all that afterall"

Ribery is not the player he was last season, Robben's game is predictable when facing top-class opposition, it has always been felt that the CB pairing of Dante & Boateng had a soft underbelly- rarely exposed by the poor quality of the opposition in the Bundesliga. These duo were like watching drunks trying to traverse a bouncy castle yesterday

I think Bayern may be left further behind by the English and Spanish teams next year, because they are making so much money and may invest so much on new players next summer. This will make them much stronger than ever before. But there is something Bayern can't buy- it's called competition. It goes without saying that it's required to make you competitive

Overrated Manager

The most -sought -after -Manager -in -the- world hubris after he left Barcelona for his sabbatical in the US was of Titanic size. He even managed to piss off Chelsea's Russian Oligarch by snubbing him Nobody snubs Roman! N.O.B.O.D.Y!!

Chancer? :

Guardiola is a die-hard 'Purist' His entire philosophy is based on possession football. Unalloyed tiki-taka . This brought him unbelievable success with the best football team the world has ever seen- Barcelona 2009-2011

That Barcelona side were in their pomp and looked invincible. Maybe that side was not so much the result of a philosophy but a coming together of a set of players ( Iniesta, Xavi and the X factor, Messi ) and a good manager, as is often the way with great sides. That team also had pace in

No team has played Tiki Taka with as much pace since 2011

This current Bayern side is slow and ponderous- a dream for teams which are defensively organised at the back

Ancelotti's triumph over Guardiola is a victory for tactical adjustment against stylistic orthodoxy. Managers like Mourinho and Ancelotti don't play a particular style, they aim to prevent the other team from playing their own style. Ancelotti got it spot on!

Guardiola's entire philosophy is being questioned, despite a sparkling ( one-club, it must be reiterated ) managerial CV

Sometimes you just need to grind out a 1-0 result. Why throw caution to the wind. It's admirable to have a philosophy, but the one who adapts survive better than the one who cannot.

Ah, I love the smell of death to tiki-taka in the morning!! ( paraphrased from the film 'Apocalypse Now' )

The irony is Bayern adopted the very same playing style they crushed a year ago. Real Madrid played the way Bayern did under Heynckes. And yet the result over 2 legs was the same (well, almost, Real were 2 goals short- remember Ronaldo's & Di Maria's misses in the first leg? ). Bayern got Barca'ed

If it ain't broke, don't fix it, yeah?

It was the biggest home defeat in the Champions League for Bayern Munich.

To reiterate, I reckon what this performance showed, more than anything, was just how good Guardiola's Barca were

So, basically, Real Madrid: Gegenpress. Bayern Munich: Tiki taka. We may as well go all the way and say #PepOut because he's taken one of the most dynamic and talented teams in the world and regressed them to playing a style that everybody now knows how to beat.

( actually #PepOut is just the Mourihista in me. There is a time to be fair. This is not it. Lol But you can't argue that the odds that he'll make it to the end of his

The Bayern inquest will centre on the lack of an obvious Plan B from Guardiola -once the possession football had been blunted. Inept defending yesterday didn't help his cause eithe

Somewhere right now, Hoeness, Rummenigge, Sammer and Beckenbauer are wondering if employing Guardiola was a colossal mistake

Why did Bayern choose Guardiola after they dismantled tiki taka just last season? One thing you can't accuse 'fc Hollywood' board of is dithering when it comes to firing Managers. I don't think it has come to that for Guardiola yet.

But he's got some more convincing to do from now on.

The blame Moyes for everything camp puts a spin to all this: Pep faces Moyes, catches his sh*tness, becomes a self-parody, things end badly

To all the football "purists" who come to these parts to lecture us on how the game should be played, LOL.

To all the Pep Boys in particular: HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA . (I might live to regret this after the game tonight, but.....Meh! )

Digressions-

On another note, this is turning out to be quite the week for Mourinho - 'destroying' his former student ( Rodgers) , seeing his nemesis (Guardiola) pulverised, and a chance to come face to face with the club that ran him out of town. (Somewhere at The Bridge, he is sniggering while sipping the finest of wine....6 words on his lips: "That Opportunist has been found out" )

Ancelotti probably has an AX to grind with Abramovic too- after his controversial AXING by Chelsea some seasons back

If the Gods of Narrative have any say in this, Chelsea will face Real Madrid in this season's CL

final

Yo!, Modric is currently the best midfielder in the world- Any dissenting voice?

Sartorial vanity zone

Ancelloti's "Capo in an Italian crime syndicate" cardigan with suit look versus Guardiola's "French embassy attache but really a spy" garb. No contest- Ancelloti wins all the time

Ancelotti is the Purveyor of cool, init? You'd think that if he was parachuted into Kiev with his trademark raised eyebrow, all that Russia-Ukraine ish will be toast, init?


 

 

Racism: Still On Donald Sterling

Racism: Still On Donald Sterling


Everyone should listen to the YouTube clip of Donald Sterling's conversation with his mixed-race girlfriend!

Although it feels like he was set up by his girlfriend, Vanessa Stiviano - who has Mexican and black parents-(cajoled to reveal his racism), those words still came from his mouth

You cringe with each racially bigoted sentence the 80-year old makes

It's not so much about the words used ( at least he didn't use the N-word ) but the mindset behind those words:

"..It's been that way historically ( Racism) "

"..May be you wanna adjust to the world ( accept Racism) .."

Even more cringe-worthy is the fact that 'People' brought his girlfriend's association with minorities to his knowledge 'People' = fellow Racists

What's soul-destroying is that he was soooo matter-of-factly about it i.e it is what it is ( you can't change it, girl )

The annoying thing is that he is right!!

Racism exist in society, it is taught from generation to generation, in my opinion - no matter how much we try to believe that things are different now

Thanks for reminding us, Donald Sterling!

 

 

Sunday, 27 April 2014

Liverpool 0- Chelsea 2

Liverpool 0- Chelsea 2

“Who saw that coming?”

Answer: Anyone who’s been watching Jose Mourinho the past 8 years. Or anyone who’s been paying attention to the Premiership beyond the past 4 months.

That was a pure master class on defensive organisation by Mourinho and his team followed his orders to the hilt. The man gets the job done every.single. time in the EPL big matches this season

To put it in proper perspective: Chelsea have conceded zero goals at Anfield, the Emirates, Old Trafford and the Etihad in the league this season!! , ,

Mourinho Masterclass- Brendan Rodgers, Arsene Wenger and Manuel Pellegrini are earning credits toward a PhD at the Mou University. Moyes was rusticated!

Not bad, huh? :

Chelsea V City

2-1

1-0

Chelsea V Spurs

1-1

4-0

Chelsea V Arsenal

0-0

6-0

Chelsea V MU

0-0

3-1

Chelsea V Liverpool

2-1

0-2

Chelsea isn't title favourites anymore.

At least defeat today deflates the Liverpool hyperbole a little. To be honest a few people were starting to get ahead of themselves

Liverpool starting lineup (4-3-2-1):

Simon Mignolet | Jon Flanagan, Mamadou Sakho, Martin Škrtel, Glen Johnson | Joe Allen, Steven Gerrard, Lucas Leiva | Philippe Coutinho, Raheem Sterling | Luis Suárez

Substitutes from: Brad Jones, Kolo Touré, Daniel Agger, Aly Cissokho, Luis Alberto, Iago Aspas, Daniel Sturridge

Chelsea starting lineup (4-3-3):

Mark Schwarzer | Ashley Cole, Tomáš Kalas, Branislav Ivanović, César Azpilicueta | Nemanja Matić, Mikel, Frank Lampard | André Schürrle, Demba Ba, Mohamed Salah

Substitutes from: Hilário, Nathan Aké, Gary Cahill, Marco van Ginkel, Lewis Baker, Willian, Fernando Torres

This Chelsea side was drawn up largely with the second leg of their Champions League semi-final against Atletico Madrid in mind

No Cech.

No Hazard

No Terry.

No Eto’o.

No Ramires.

No Luiz.

No Oscar.

No Matter

Chelsea: A team which can best the rest, even when it rests its best.


THE GAME:

The best defence in the league rolled up to the best attack in the league. The best defence triumphed.

The summary: Chelsea conceded possession and broke with pace. They let Liverpool attack, confidant in their ability to defend, and it worked

Frankly, Liverpool were probably lucky not to lose by more than they did. Yet, they dominated possession today! But the best chances fell to Chelsea.

The flamboyant Liverpool style was neutered by pragmatic Chelsea.

As expected, they started the game in their usual swashbuckling style, playing expansive football earlier on with Glen Johnson and Flanagan running the flanks well and Sterling moving things like a Rubik cube in the first 15 mins. But Chelsea stayed compact and defended deep and narrow. The highlights of the early parts were Ashley Cole clearing from the goal line in the 13' minute and Sakho hitting an effort in the 18 yard box over the bar.

Chelsea settled into their rhythm thereafter and got the game plan spot on: defend deep and hit on the counterattack...with a bit of gamesmanship ( an euphemism for time-wasting)

In the 37' Flanagan handled the ball in the Liverpool box. As Lee Dixon, an NBC Pundit said, truly intentional handballs are rare. His arm was out and blocked Salah's shot - penalty all day.

It wasn't given though

The Ref added ample time ( presumably for Chelsea's time-wasting tactics)

Ironically- this was when Chelsea scored!

Tomas Kalas should have opened his Chelsea account in the 47' . He just missed a glorious header while unmarked during a corner kick.

Just moments later, Gerrard failed to control a pass at the back, slips and Ba was through on goal.

The gangling striker slotted the ball through the on rushing Mignolet's legs...goal!!

1-0 Chelsea at half time!

The second half continued in a similar pattern with Liverpool trying to break down the Chelsea defence without success, and Chelsea content to hit them on the break.

As the minutes ticked by, one could sense the anxiety on the pitch and in the Stadium

Every misplaced pass or mishit shot by the home team was met with loud groans

Gerrard was probably trying too hard to make up for his error too. There were times when he opted to shoot rather than make the simple defence splitting pass ( to be honest, nothing was going to split the Blues' defence on the day! )

The Liverpool changes didn't make any difference either ( Aspas & Sturridge for Flanagan & Lucas) The Chelsea subs did ( Willian for Salah, Torres for Ba) Cahill also replaced Schurrle late on to shore up the defence

In a last ditched effort by Liverpool to get an equaliser, the Chelsea duo of Torres and Willian caught the 'Pool defenders out of position in added time ( 92') and suddenly they were racing towards the 'Pool goal unchallenged. Torres unselfishly passed the ball to Willian after Mignolet came out to make a save, The Brazilian simply walked the ball into 'Pool's net. 2-0!!

Game over!!

THOUGHTS

Winning against good sides is just too much fun. We should do it again on Wednesday.

Schwarzer was Cech without the protective helmet . He made some crucial saves today: in the 58' - from a Joe Allen shot just outside the box- tipped past the upright

74' - another dipping effort by Gerrard was palmed to the side.

Perhaps the most crucial save was in the 91'- when a Suarez' shot from the edge of the box, during a goal mouth scramble was tipped over by the Chelsea keeper

Best 41 yr old keeper of all time!

The demise of Ashley Cole has been greatly exaggerated. He has been impeccable and seems to have found his level again after over a year of playing below standard

Ivanovic is a better CB than a full back. QED

Can we just give Cesar Azpilicueta the Chelsea Player of the year title right now? He has been consistently solid in his role either at RB or LB all season (Sterling was missing after the first 15 minutes. Last time he was seen, it was in Azpilicueta’s pocket. )

Botched header aside, Tomas Kalas looked very, very good today. You'd never imagine that this was his debut for Chelsea

Nemanja Matic- we love you! Anybody who shackles Yaya Toure in a match deserves Agape love!

Demba Ba, take a bow! He is the type of striker that suits Chelsea's style of play: big, strong, can hold up play and bring his midfielders into the action and has some goals in him. Mourinho must be kicking himself for not giving him more chances this season

Ba gave everything to the cause and was running on empty from the 65th minute onwards. Better passes later on in the game could have seen him get goal assists too today. But we forgive him as this was likely due to fatigue

Willian WALKED ALONE into Liverpool's goal ( I hope you saw what I did there )

Salah was poor, in my opinion. He made Jon Flanagan look like Cafu

Schurrle grafted well and was full of energy but his first touch & the final pass often let him down

Lampard also put in a decent shift and Mikel was assured again in DM.

Stevie G ( after the City win): "This does not f--------- slip now! This does not f*cking slip! Listen, listen! This is gone. We go to Norwich. Exactly the same. We go again!"

The irony- his slip ultimately shaped this contest, and may have handed the title to Man City

Suárez chose a bad day to have one of his least distinguished performances ( this statement probably undermines the excellent performance of the Chelsea back four) and Gerrard, in his desperation to make amends, just kept on making mistakes.

At least Torres saved Liverpool fans from hiding, by allowing Willian to score

Chelsea Fc: annihilators of the narrative ( this was supposed to be Liverpool's day. Somewhere in North London- Wenger is nodding his head and saying: " I know that feeling" )

"Hi, I'm Jose Mourinho and my boys and I are here to ..err...ruin your party"

.....And that Badge-thumping after the second goal......His name is Mourinho, he manages Chelsea

Now watch us lose to Norwich and Cardiff

We are Chelsea, we do what we want!

we hand out debuts in toughest possible fixtures..(Bertrand in the CL final, Kalas today)

We are Chelsea, we do what we want!

City won easily at Crystal Palace today. Not to worry, Agent Lukaku: it's time to carry out that hatchet job for Everton next weekend- part of the Mourinho masterplan

For all Brendan's wafer thin mind games ("I sleep so well! The pressure's not on us! ) He won't be sleeping well tonight!

I'd still prefer Liverpool to win it, if Chelsea can't

To the Faithfuls:

Blue is the colour, football is the game

We’re all together, and winning is our aim

So cheer us on through the sun and rain

cause Chelsea, Chelsea, CHELSEA is our name!



 

 

Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Pep Guardiola: In the Spotlight

Pep Guardiola: In the Spotlight

Bayern Munich lost the first leg of their Champions League semi final clash to Real Madrid yesterday ( 0-1, at the Bernabeu)...despite dominating possession

A lot of people weren't too pleased with Guardiola's tactics:

Bayern- but a year on they stood accused here of valuing possession football ahead of the penetrative sort. Guardian

"With Pep’s tactics, soon Bayern will be passing the ball backwards from the opposing goal line”. “Possession means nothing when the opponent takes its chances. And we can be happy Real converted only one of their good chances. -Beckenbauer

Guardiola’s obsession with possession has created a weakness in a previously flawless footballing machine. And that’s the concern: in trying to make Bayern multi-faceted, Guardiola appears to be making them more one-dimensional. Goal.com

"Bayern were, tonight, everything that is wrong with tiki-taka play. Several times they had midfielders who could of run at the Madrid defense but opted to turn around and pass the ball, giving the brilliantly disciplined Real Madrid defense time to regroup

Bring back Jupp!" Bavarianworks

Ironic that Jupp finished/exposed tiki taka last year and yet Bayern bring this now out dated style back! -Bavarianworks

Mario Mandzukic played as a winger at times and Schweinsteiger the striker with either Philipp Lahm or Arjen Robben coming into the hole. Nonetheless, Bayern needed Mandzukic to be in the box and not on the wing.

Introducing Mueller late was also a faux pas

Lahm in the middle instead of at right back was just Guardiola Hubris. You might get away with that against the no-hoppers in the Bundesliga. You'll be found out against a top side like Real. He was, yesterday!

Bayern lacked urgency; this is more down to Guardiola than the team. So explosive under Heynckes, they have lost their cutting edge and go into the second leg a goal down and with no away goal to their name.

If Bayern can't turn it around in the return leg, then this match - where Madrid not only won, but maybe had the better chances and played with more threat (at least in the first half), despite having like 30% of the possession - is going to be one of the major pieces of evidence for anyone arguing Pep made Bayern worse, not better

Pep the tinkerer needs to learn an important lesson: If it ain’t broke, don’t try to fix it!

-Bayernbuff

People put too much empathise on Bayern’s dominance of the Bundesliga as a sign they were superior to everyone. No disrespect but the only other decent team in Germany is Dortmund a poor man’s Arsenal with less squad depth. The top 3 in La Liga or the Bundesliga would probably have a similar dominance given the lack of quality in the Bundesliga. Leverkusen and Schalke were getting thrashed in the Champions League most weeks, don’t you think this was a major clue to right off their domestic form.

The signs were there. The loss to Man City and the fact Arsenal and Man Utd gave them scares when they are fairly average by elite European standards, which are shown by their low positions in the EPL table. Pardon the pun but I knew Bayern would lose when they face the real deal. If Arsenal and a terrible Man Utd at times showed Bayern can struggle against teams with superior quality than they face in the Bundesliga, it was logical they would struggle against a better quality team. Bayern are out as they clearly won’t be able to handle a fit Ronaldo and Bale on the same pitch. I guess Bayern reap what they sow, because you can build a great team by buying the best players from your rivals, but if you don’t face good enough competition week to week, you get found out when you play the elite boys of Europe who play tough games with stronger oppositions

 

Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Atletico Madrid 0 vs Chelsea 0

Atletico Madrid 0 vs Chelsea 0


Champions League Semi final, 1st leg

 

Atlético Madrid starting lineup (4-2-3-1):

Thibaout Courtois | Filipe Luís, Diego Godín, Joao Miranda, Juanfran | Gabi, Mario Suárez | Koke, Diego, Raúl García | Diego Costa

Substitutes from: Dani Aranzubia, Toby Alderweireld, Tiago, Arda Turan, Cristian Rodriguez, Jose Sosa, David Villa

Chelsea starting lineup (4-3-3):

Petr Cech | Ashley Cole, John Terry, Gary Cahill, Cesar Azpilicueta | David Luiz, Mikel, Frank Lampard | Ramires, Torres, Willian

Substitutes from: Mark Schwarzer, Nathan Aké, Tomas Kalas, Oscar, Marco van Ginkel, Andre Schurrle, Demba Ba

As far as a Parking the Bus goes, that was straight out of the text books

( it actually looked like an Aircraft was parked in the Vincente Calderon )

So Job done!

There were casualties though

Petr Cech The goalkeeper went down under pressure from an Atletico corner earlier in the first half, got tangled up with Raul Garcia and was badged accidentally by David Luiz. Unfortunately he will now miss the rest of the season with a dislocated right shoulder. Mark Schwarzer came in for the stricken Czech and did well enough. He took Edwin van der Sar's record as the oldest player ever to feature in the Champions League, at 41 years and 198 days.

John Terry ( left ankle sprain) - while landing awkwardly on David Luiz' foot ( during a corner kick in the second half)

Lost to yellow cards: Frank Lampard, Mikel

Lost finger nails ( from biting) : Chelsea fans

( Gabi will be missing the return fixture for Atletico too due to accumulated yellow cards)

Atletico were frustrated when they tried to go through the middle , John Obi Mikel and David Luiz formed an admirable wall in front of the centrebacks. The Spaniards were forced to go wide and cross, but this was easy Peazy, lemon Squeazy for Gary Cahill and John Terry- as they won most of the aerial battle against Diego Costa and Raul Garcia

Actually I underplayed that ( it's no mean feat to win headers against the Atletico strikers. They are very good in the air)

Willian provided cover for Ashley Cole against the attacking threat of JuanFran and Diego on the left. Ramires provided cover for Azpilicueta against the attacking threats of Filipe Luis and Koke on the right

Chelsea didn't really pack a punch going forward. Lampard's 20-yard effort, two minutes into the second half, was Chelsea's first shot on target, albeit straight into the arms of Thibaut Courtois.

Chelsea had Fernando Torres ( formerly known as El Niño ) as the lone striker up front. That should tell you all you need to know about our attack on the night

This about sums up the whole match!

My thoughts:

Feels good to be the ones parking the bus again

After getting shafted by defensive teams all season, I revel doing the same to another club at their home.

John Terry gets a 10, he was immense at the back and his aerial presence was missed after the injury. Diego Costa had his best chance then. Thankfully, his header was wide off the mark

I'll give a 9 to Cahill and Azpilicueta

Mikel gets a 10 too, actually make that a 12 for his Mohawk

He’s very positionally sound almost to a fault. He is great at holding up play in the midfield and makes the safe pass. He rarely loses the ball, even under high pressure. In games like this one, he’s crucial to our success.

Ashley Cole's beard was in form! There were a few iffy moment earlier on but after that, he played like he had never been away

Heard David Luiz is a direct descendant of Jamie Lannister The Kingslayer

Inadvertently took out both Cech and Terry.

Chelsea's set pieces were dire in this game...and those were our only avenue for nicking a goal!

David Luiz should be banned from taking free kicks. Period!

He has not even come close to scoring from one this season

Lampard's corner kicks always manage to end up in Courtois' hands too

Torres, ha!

It might be a bit too harsh to criticise him a lot in this match because of the way Chelsea set up, but he was dire earlier on in the game

When you're playing as a lone striker in such a match, your first touch must be impeccable, you must be able to hold up play and bring your midfielders into action

He failed in this task earlier on.

He was better towards the end of the game but there were three or four different occasions when he had a team mate he could have passed to.

Instead he was channeling his inner Messi : he tried to take on 3,4, or even 5 players and just ended up losing the ball!

Ba can't be worse in this role, or can he?

I'm a bit worried about the 0-0 rather than a 1-1 though. I'd have probably preferred Chelsea to be more daring, introduce Ba and Schurrle around 70 mins and try to nick that away goal

Hazard will probably be back next week.

With him and Eto’o, Chelsea's chances of scoring increases immensely

We'll probably play like this next week:

(I'm assuming John Terry doesn't shake off his ankle knack in time)

Schwarzer

Azpilicueta – Ivanovic – Cahill – Cole

Ramires – Luiz

Willian – Oscar – Hazard

Eto’o

Yeah, some so-called 'Purists' may say that the game was boing, no goals

This is a different kind of 0-0 though

It was a strategic battle. Atletico play the same style as Chelsea, so they’re not used to controlling the game too. They looked really clueless when on the ball.

Mourinho won this round - this was the first time this season that Atletico failed to score in the Champions League

If you don’t get it, you should go watch basketball next time

( Ok, I lied a bit about that not been boring. So what? Sue me! Throw all your hissy fits after Chelsea refused to lay down and die for the sake of keeping you neutrals entertained.

My English team is in the semi final of the Champions League, yours is not! )

But even Mourinho'd be too smart to underestimate Simeone in the return next week. His side is capable of scoring that away goal which may put Chelsea in trouble

Expect another battle of attrition from two tacticians who have similar philosophy next week.

He who blinks first, loses!

Demba Ba: "And be patient, for indeed, Allah does not allow to be lost the reward of those who do good. [11:115] ".

 

 

 

Das Wunderteam, Mattias Sindelar & Total Football

Das Wunderteam, Mattias Sindelar & Total Football

Something to whet your appetite in this World Cup year


Austria's national football team in the 1930s, Das Wunderteam, was managed by Hugo Meisl ( a Banker's son who was a football innovator and connoisseur )

In some quarters, Meisl and his Wunderteam are considered to be the “godfathers of total football” They were pioneers of the flexible, passing style that inspired Hungary in the 1950s and was taken to its dizzy heights by Holland in the 1970s and Spain in the past six years.

Just like Hungary in 1954 and Holland in 1974, the Austrian Wunderteam of the early 1930s will forever be known as the World champions that never were

The real jewel in Austria’s side was Matthias Sindelar, “Der Papierne” (the paper man) - he got this nickname from his slight, almost gaunt frame

He was also referred to as 'The Mozart of football' 8-|

Willy Meisl ( Hugo's brother) described him thus:

"Technique bordering on virtuosity, precision work and an inexhaustible repertoire of tricks and ideas. He had a boyish delight in soccer exploits, above all in unexpected twists and moves which were quickly understood and shared by his partners brought up on the same wavelength, but were baffling to an opposition only a fraction of a second slower."

The Wunderteam: May 1931 to June 1934

Check out the 'notable scalps' they took and the wide score margins at the peak of their powers ( 1931-1932). This remarkable series of results also included two emphatic routs of Germany, who were outclassed 6-0 in Berlin and 5-0 in Vienna. However, the highlight of the run is traditionally seen as the 5-0 drubbing of Scotland on 16 May 1931 in Vienna, as it was the first time Scotland tasted defeat on the continent. Hungary were also humbled in an 8-2 thrashing, while Switzerland were swept aside 8-1 in Basel. Between April 1931 and June 1934, the Wunderteam lost just three out of 31 games, scoring 101 goals.

Amazing!!

16 May 1931 Austria 5-0 Scotland

24 May 1931 Germany 0-6 Austria

16 June 1931 Austria 2-0 Switzerland

13 Sept 1931 Austria 5-0 Germany

4 Oct 1931 Hungary 2-2 Austria

29 Nov 1931 Switzerland 1-8 Austria

20 Mar 1932 Austria 2-1 Italy

24 April 1932 Austria 8-2 Hungary

22 May 1932 Czechoslovakia 1-1 Austria

17 July 1932 Sweden 3-4 Austria

2 Oct 1932 Hungary 2-3 Austria

23 Oct 1932 Austria 3-1 Switzerland

7 Dec 1932 England 4-3 Austria

11 Dec 1932 Belgium 1-6 Austria

12 Feb 1933 France 0-4 Austria

9 Apr 1933 Austria 1-2 Czechoslovakia

30 Apr 1933 Hungary 1-1 Austria

11 Jun 1933 Austria 4-1 Belgium

17 Sep 1933 Czechoslovakia 3-3 Austria

1 Oct 1933 Austria 2-2 Hungary

29 Nov 1933 Scotland 2-2 Austria

10 Dec 1933 Holland 0-1 Austria

11 Feb 1934 Italy 2-4 Austria

25 Mar 1934 Switzerland 2-3 Austria

15 Apr 1934 Austria 5-2 Hungary

25 Apr 1934 Austria 6-1 Bulgaria

27 May 1934 Austria 3-2 France

31 May 1934 Austria 2-1 Bologna

3 Jun 1934 Italy 1-0 Austria ( World Cup semi final )

Possible reason for their failure to win the World Cup in 1934:

Central Europe was a hotbed of unrest in the 1930s and Germany was about to come under the spell of Adolf Hitler.

Thus football was relegated to the background as bouts of aggression, appeasement and real-politik took centre stage

There was also a short civil war in Austria, in February 1934

It is believed that this had a negative impact on the Wunderteam

The team that travelled to Italy for 1934 World Cup was definitely a shadow of itself.

They laboured through two rounds, beating France 3-2 and Hungary 2-1 in the quarter-finals

The quarter-final triumph in Bologna was a particularly bruising encounter. Meisl called it 'a brawl, not a football match,' and his team would rue the lingering injuries they picked up there.

To make matters worse, before the semi-final against Italy, the heavens opened and a deluge of rain swamped the pitch. The conditions were a crushing blow for the fatigued Austrians who loved to play on the grass.

They also lost their midfield dynamo Johann Horvath to injury -following the last match. Despite all these, Austria had their fair share of chances - some reports have say that Italian goalkeeper Giampiero Combi saved close to two dozen shots - Enrico Guaita's 10th-minute Azzurri goal held up 1-0, and Meisl, Sindelar and the Wunderteam would never truly cement their status in FIFA World Cup history.

Two years later Austria reached the final at the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin. However, once again it was Italy who denied Meisl and his men. The final, which ended in a 1-2 defeat remains to this day, the only time Austria have reached the ultimate match of a major international football tournament.

On 24 January 1937, Hugo Meisl took his place on the Austrian bench for the last time. And his team gifted him a farewell victory, defeating France 2-1 in Paris. Just weeks later, Hugo Meisl died at the age of 55.

Matthias Sindelar's death

Hitler's Germany annexed Austria in 1938 ( the Anschluss) so the Wunderteam broke up.

It is believed by conspiracy theorists that Sindelar was killed by the Gestapo:

-He was well known for his left-wing views and close association with the Jewish community

- He refused to play for the unified German team

- He taunted Nazi officials when a special reunification game between Germany and Austria took place in Vienna.

On 23 January 1939, he was found dead in his bed, with his girlfriend unconscious (his girlfriend died later) by a friend. Cause of death was carbon monoxide poisoning.

The Golden boy of Austrian football had met a grisly end.

Das Wunderteam: champions that never were

 

 

Monday, 21 April 2014

Game of Thrones- Season 4, Episode 3: Breaker of Chains

Game of Thrones- Season 4, Episode 3: Breaker of Chains



****Spoiler Alert****

Look away now if you've not watched the episode and don't want any Spoilers!!

We did get to see that Lord Baellish ( Aidan Gillen) was behind King Joffrey's death at the start. Of course Tyrion ( Peter Dinklage) was framed for this.

Lord Baellish had also managed to murder the accomplice who smuggled Sansa Stark (Sophie Turner) out of the wedding ceremony to his boat

Hear Stansa: Why did you kill him?

Lord Baelish: Because he was a drunk and a fool, and I don't trust drunk fools!!

"....Money buys a man's loyalty for a time. But a bolt in the heart buys his silence forever"

Tywin Lannister ( Charles Dance) is just calculating, measured and ruthless he's the kind of guy who's one step ahead of the game when it comes to power

But he is a colossal failure as a father. He heads a dysfunctional family with off springs who are all unworthy

Check out this line, from the early scenes, where he was counselling Tommen Baratheon ( Dean-Charles Chapman), the dead Joffrey's brother- who will be king now :

"A wise young king listens to his counsellors and heeds their advice until he becomes of age. The wisest kings continue to listen to them even after"

"Your brother was not not a wise king, your brother was not a good king"

Location- the church where Joffrey's ( Jack Gleeson) body laid

Queen Cersei (Lena Headey) wants Tyrion ( Peter Drinklage) dead of course.

One-armed Jaime ( Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) managed to have non-consensual incestuous copulation with his twin sister, Cersei (Lena Headey) while their illegitimate son, Joffrey, lies dead just beside them!!

Tywin also manages to form a postcoital parlay with Oberyn. Apparently, the latter will be among the Jury who will sentence his framed son, Tyrion, to death

Great acting by Arya Stark (Maisie Williams) and

Sandor "The Hound" Clegane ( Rory McCann):

When Arya disapproves of his stealing from a farmer who had been their host

Hear Sandor:

He's weak, he can't protect himself

He'll be dead come winter

Dead men don't need silver!!

Arya: You're the worse thief in the Seven Kingdom

Sandor: There are plenty worse than me. I just understand the way things are.

How many Starks ( Arya's family) do they have to behead before you figure that out!!

Daenerys continues her slave-freeing mission too. Her next stop was Mereen

Her men were falling over themselves to defend her.

Daario Naharis ( Michiel Huisman) defeated the champion of Mereen by throwing a dagger into the showboat’s horse and then chopping off his head!!

Check this link out for a more extensive review

I love this show



 

Of Mourinho, Failure, Brendan Rodgers & Recency Bias

Of Mourinho, Failure, Brendan Rodgers & Recency Bias


Thank you, all Mourinho supporters, for your 'labour of love' when it comes to defending Mourinho. You are all true Mourihistas!

It takes one to know one

It's amazing how a Mourinho loss elicits a boat-load of comments. You have to be important for this to occur. Nobody cares about a nobody. ( Manchester United 2013-14, I see you! )

The mistake his critics make all the time is that they fail to separate his personality from his achievements. There are Ninjas, on most forums I participate in, who tap dance on my last nerves by what they say (or not say when they should! ) but I still like reading them sometimes. ( I'd like to think that they feel the same way about me too )

See- you can separate the persona from the achievement, if you try!

Mourinho loses matches and suddenly everyone starts screaming: he has failed! He didn't say he won't lose games, he just said he'll win more than all others ( something he's been doing well for more than a decade -under different circumstances)

Yeah, he has got a few key decisions wrong this season, and that may mean he doesn't win any Trophy. If you compare it to his first stint then that is failure

( key- you are comparing Mourinho to Mourinho here)

Crucial- Nobody stays exceptional forever, not even Jose

Having said that, you must bear in mind his most famous saying: "Judge me in my second season"

What I find even more preposterous is the comparison to Managers who are just 'cutting their teeth' on achievements. In this instance - Roberto Martinez and Brendan Rodgers.

I'm not going to bother about Martinez ( who is a very likeable character)

He led Wigan to relegation last season!!

I'm going to talk about this Jizzfest ( deserved, but a Jizzfest is still a Jizzfest ) surrounding Rodgers & Liverpool recently.

This Liverpool side is not better than Chelsea's on paper but Rodgers may win the league with them. Kudos to Brendan Rodgers if he pulls it off.

This unlikely triumph is what happens when the Galaxies align in your favour ( you'll not have any European distractions at the start of the season, you'll concede 2 or more goals in many matches and still outscore the opposition, your main rivals will lose matches they should have won, you'll be eliminated early from all domestic cup competitions)

It was how the Galaxies aligned for Roberto DiMateo ( RDM) & Chelsea in 2011-12 Champions League. I think it'll be uncharitable to simply call it luck ( 'cos there's a lot of hard work involved in both cases) Let us just say that this game has a way of turning everything you believe about it on its head sometimes

Just like RDM, Rodgers will have no hiding place again from next season ( IF he pulls this EPL thingy off) He will enjoy a reputation for incredible technical acumen among his peers after this season, it will be interesting to see how he uses such newfound authority.

Compare him to people like Mourinho then- if he translates that to more success!

In other words: don't fall into the trap of allowing what is good now make you forget what has been great previously ( Recency bias)

 

Saturday, 19 April 2014

Chelsea 1 vs Sunderland 2-Bitter blow for Blues

Chelsea 1 vs Sunderland 2-Bitter blow for Blues

On paper this was the easiest of the remaining 4 features
However 2 things were required to prevent Sunderland doing a Man City on us :
Focus & Swashbuckling lethality in front of goal
(We didn't do either as it turned out! )
Petr Cech was a notable Chelsea absentee- he had picked up a virus earlier in the week. In stepped the experience Mark Schwarzer ( in the process he became the oldest ever Chelsea player to get a game )
Chelsea Starting XI (4-2-3-1)
Mark Schwarzer; Branislav Ivanovic, Gary Cahill, John Terry (c), Cesar Azpilicueta; Ramires, Nemanja Matic; Willian, Oscar, Mohamed Salah; Samuel Eto'o.
CFC bench: Hilario, David Luiz, John Obi Mikel, Frank Lampard, Fernando Torres, Andre Schurrle, Demba Ba.
Sunderland Starting XI (4-4-2)
Mannone, Vergini, Alonso, Brown, O'Shea (c), Cattermole, Colback, Larsson, Johnson, Borini, Wickham.
SAFC bench: Celustka, Altidore, Ba, Giaccherini, Scocco, Mavrias, Ustari.
For minute by minute account of the match, check out this link:
The match highlights:
12' - Samuel Eto'o wins corner and volleys home the set-piece. Life in the old dog yet.goal
18'- Connor Wickham equalises for Sunderland. A corner was played out deep to Alonso ( he was unmarked at the edge of the box) , who shoots from long distance. Schwarzer saves but spills the rebound into the path of Wickham, who pokes in to equalise.
Game on!
36'- Mannone saves from an Ivanovic header. The ball hits the crossbar and the Keeper gratefully cradles the rebounding ball
42' - Mannone made a double save - initially from a long range effort from Matic, then from the follow up by Salah.
Moments later, Chelsea players appeal for a handball in Sunderland's box, but referee Mike Dean waves play on ( rightly so as it would have been cruel on the Sunderland defender if that was given. His arms were by his side in trying to block the effort)
44' -Ramires misses an open goal with a header from a cross- 'cos he was smacked in the back by Larsson. The player made no attempt to get the ball. One has seen penalties given for such challenges before
45' -Ramires swings a forearm at Larsson's face. and connects. Larsson hits the deck. Apparently he was upset that the Sunderland player clipped his legs. But it appeared that the Ref didn't see it. That should have been a straight red card!
Second Half:
48' - Chelsea counter at pace. Willian leads the break down the middle and lays off for Eto'o on the left. Eto'o curls his shot toward the back post, where Mannone appears beaten, but the ball rolls inches wide! Agonisingly close!
As a Chelsea fan, you start to worry. It's that Déjà Vu feeling against weaker oppositions again!
59'- Oscar, who had a disappointing game, was replaced by Ba as Mou changed the formation from 4-2-3-1 to 4-4-2 in search of (possibly) the winning goal
65'—Chelsea should have been ahead: Ba holds up play well and lays off for Willian, who powers to the byline and pulls back to the striker. However, rather than control the ball-as he was completely unmarked in the 6- yard box- he mis-hits his shot well off target. You just had this ominous feeling that it was going to be a bad day for Chelsea after that terrible miss!!
66'- Schurrle replaces Salah. Johnson and Wickham came off, Altidore and Giaccherini replaced the duo for Sunderland
74'- Torres came on for Eto'o ( it was Chelsea's final change.) Torres as saviour....hmmm...not looking good at all
81' -Azpilicueta slips, loses possession then fells Altidore in the box. Penalty!!
This was what it looked like until you watch the replay. The striker made a meal of it ( rightly) as Azpi didn't touch his leg. Indeed he caught Azpi's calf with his trailing leg. Perhaps Azpi should have stayed on his feet though, 'cos once a defender goes down in the box like that it's difficult for him to get the right call most times.
Borini takes a stutter in his run-up and slots the ball down the middle. Goal!!
Sunderland leads 2-1 at the Bridge
Disaster!!!!
That was the first penalty Chelsea will concede in the Premier League penalty since January 12, 2013 (against Stoke City).
A member of Chelsea's coaching staff was sent off. He was really livid at the award of the penalty to Sunderland
86'- Torres' cross is handled in the box by Cattermole. Ref waves play on as he felt it was unintentional. That's debatable though as a goal-scoring opportunity was prevented
Chelsea couldn't just fashion out an equaliser despite 5 mins ( +1) of added time.
José Mourinho's 77-game unbeaten league sequence in this arena had been curtailed by the division's bottom club, a team without a win in the elite since early February, with the decisive goal converted by a former Chelsea player-Fabio Borini
His goal help eliminate us in the COCup too. The ex-Chelsea guy must be really upset with the club
Thoughts
-Chelsea faced an inferior opponent playing a deep and narrow defence. The home side dominated possession and created several decent chances, but failed to take any, bar the Eto'o goal
All in all, this was a pretty typical Chelsea game during the post-Didier Drogba era. This was the story of Mourinho's first season- which is looking like a Trophy-less one now ( Everton, Newcastle, Stoke, Aston Villa and Crystal Palace are nodding their heads in agreement )
-Strikers let Mourinho down this season.
Torres still has 4 goals in the EPL -in week 35!! But the Gaffer should take the majority of the blame. He had a pre-season with this Team. To think that he let Lukaku go on loan & kept the Spaniard!
I'll be able to stomach this season (trophy-less? ) if TORRES LEAVES!! at the end of it.
Sell Ba too. I won't mind keeping Eto'o for one more season though ( as 3rd choice behind a new striker & Lukaku)
-Mark Schwarzer was at fault for the equaliser, he needed to push that Alonso shot wide. Match Rustiness?
-Ramires should have been sent off- QED. I foresee the FA taking retrospective action. I won't be shedding a tear. Ramires has been poor all season
Still on Ramires, Chelsea should have got a penalty for the shove on his back in the box. This plus Sunderland's penalty were two of the contentious decisions today which didn't go our way. Baffling, if you consider that we're playing at home too. Is Mike Dean a Liverpool supporter in disguise?
-what's up with the slippery pitch today? Schwarzer was falling all over each time he kicked the ball and it ultimately cost us too- with the Azpi slip.
-What happened to Oscar? He has been putting in a lot of poor performances since Mata was sold
This team has a lot of midfielders but no true No 10- that special player who can open a defence with a great quick pass. Mata? Irony?
-That Mourinho unbeaten home record had to go at some point. I'm happy it was to Gus Poyet & not one of Mou's main Rivals
I hope Sunderland stays up now after their plucky performance this week
-Surely, Liverpool can't lose this now. They have been the most consistent and it would be difficult to begrudge them
-Having said that we'll still be supporting Norwich tomorrow 'cos that's what true fans do. Pix 4 too!
It ain't over till the fat lady sings!


Thursday, 17 April 2014

Love in the time of Cholera

Love in the time of Cholera

(El Amor en los tiempo del colera)

One of the bestselling novels by Nobel laureate, the Colombian Gabriel García Márquez, who died yesterday at 87. His death & the book were trending on Twitter

The main characters of the novel are Florentino Ariza and Fermina Daza. Both Florentino and Fermina fell in love with each other in their youth.

However Fermina's father disapproved, he gave his blessing to her subsequent marriage to an eminent man in society, a doctor, Urbino- who is also a cholera specialist

Ariza never stopped loving her ( though he had so many trysts an affairs on his own)

They had an opportunity to be together again in their old age when Dr Urbino died following an accident

Several themes were addressed in the Novel:

-Love sickness is literally an illness, a disease comparable to cholera.

The term cholera as it is used in Spanish, cólera, can also denote human rage and ire. (The English adjective choleric has the same meaning.) It is this second meaning to the title that manifests itself in Ariza's hatred for Urbino's marriage to Fermina,

-Love is imperfect and humans are complicated- Ariza's dalliances while still holding a torch for his one true love, Fermina.

- Love is endless. The question how long can you wait for love may not have an answer

-There are physical difficulties of love as one gets older. So one could be tempted to view love as a young person's prerogative

Two great quotes from the novel:

"He allowed himself to be swayed by his conviction that human beings are not born once and for all on the day their mothers give birth to them, but that life obliges them over and over again to give birth to themselves.”

― Gabriel García Márquez, Love in the Time of Cholera

"He was still too young to know that the heart's memory eliminates the bad and magnifies the good, and that thanks to this artifice we manage to endure the burden of the past.”

― Gabriel García Márquez, Love in the Time of Cholera

There's a 2007 flick, starring Javier Bardem ( No Country For Old Men) based on the book. ( it got mixed to negative reviews by the Critics-basically showing the enormously daunting task of adapting such a brilliant book to the big Screen)

 

Shakira wrote 2 songs for the flick:

i. Despedida ( which means farewell, goodbye)

was nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Song.

ii. Hay Amores ( Hey a Lovers) is another beautiful song.

 

 

 

The Artists Formerly Known As Barça, who will henceforth be known as Plain Old Barcelona...and their Talisman Lionel 'Missing' Messi

The Artists Formerly Known As Barça, who will henceforth be known as Plain Old Barcelona...and their Talisman Lionel 'Missing' Messi


Why the change of name?

In five games against Atlético, Barcelona won none. They scored just twice. They have scored only six goals in their last six games, against Granada, Betis, Espanyol, in the two games against Atlético and against Real. Three came from penalties (one on the rebound) and another was an own goal. Yesterday's goal was very unBarca-like: a header from a defender, Marc Batra!!

The case against Messi (some Barca fans' perspective):

Argentine coach ( Tata( clysm ) Martino )was brought in for Messi. Ibrahimovic ( Ibra) 'kicked out' because of Messi. Pep left because the team (likely Messi) wasn’t responding like it used to. Messi gets a new contract every year. Messi has become too powerful and instead of doing the right thing for Barca they do the right thing for Messi.

Everybody is so damn scared of Messi because they think he was the only reason Barca won all the cups forgetting about two of the great midfielders to ever play ( Iniesta/Xavi) and the coach that created it all ( Pep Guardiola) Bring in a real striker and get Messi to be challenged/step up his game or let him cry all he wants.

Compare to Madrid: No way will they do all this for Ronaldo. Ozil was kicked out- it doesn’t matter how much Ronaldo complained. Bale brought in and many thought he will make Ronaldo less important. Doesn’t matter. Team over player

Ibra's 'damning' evidence:

"It was a childhood dream and I was walking on air,’ said Ibrahimovic. ’It started well but then Messi started to talk.

‘He wanted to play in the middle, not on the wing, so the system changed from 4-3-3 to 4-5-1. I was sacrificed and no longer had the freedom on the pitch I need to succeed’

So I asked for a meeting with Guardiola – for a discussion, not an argument. I said I was being used in the wrong way and that they shouldn’t have bought me if they wanted another type of player.

’I told him what a friend had said to me – “you bought a Ferrari but drive it like a Fiat”. The chat seemed to go well but then Guardiola started to freeze me out"

Frankly speaking: a lot of this is half-baked tosh ( & we all know how Narcissistic Ibra can be)

However there are a few truths in it. These inevitably come under scrutiny when things go south ( 'cos football fans are fickle. We forget easily)

A typical example is this criticism by a fan:

"When you are sh*t hot and scoring goals for fun and the team is winning, walk around the pitch all you want. When you are not, don't. You look like a tit! Shocking level of desire, commitment and lack of professionalism!!

Some of us didn't think that we'd live to see this day!!

Lionel Messi vilified! Sacrilege!

Lionel Messi one of the greatest to play this game

( Had to put this here: He's not GOAT, y'all know where I stand on that ish. PELE!!

I don't think Messi will ever be now. )

Moral of the story- No one stays exceptional for ever. Not Iniesta, not Xavi, not Messi, not even the greatest clubside to play the game (Barca 2011 on my mind)

(Now, that Tiki Taka is just as dry as a Popcorn fart! )

Never mind, things will get better when they fortify the squad in the transfer window- particularly that leaky defence

Meh!

There may not be a transfer window if the lawyers don't successfully overturn the ban!!

Lest I forget: Pinto makes Victor Valdez look like Sepp Maier.

He is a joke of a keeper. The sooner he gets back on his horse to lead The Dothraki on their next raid, the better . Khal Drogo on my mind!

Wait! Don't tell me you don't watch GoT!! Shame on you!

You can actually spend quality time elsewhere, you know!


Let's say the Transfer ban is upheld:

Here's a suggestion for next Season-

Neymar, Messi, Gerard Deulofeu

Iniesta, Rafinha

Busquets

Alba Pique Bartra Montoya

Masip

Bench: Xavi, Alexis, Edgar Le, Adama, Jean Marie Dongou, Pedro, Mascherano.

Tata Martino is a 'dead man walking' in Managerial terms

His main criticism:

-the persistence with Cesc and Neymar in big games, when their presence clearly constricts the spaces Iniesta and Messi play into, is monumentally stupid. Tata does it again and again even though both Alexis and Pedro have been better when called upon this season.

In his defence- people say he didn't really call the shots at the club

Possible Replacements:

Manager: Jurgen Klopp or Roberto Martinez

My view: Sell Fabregas and Alves. ( there's a certain Manager who loves a bargain purchase in the Premiership who might be interested! )

What sayeth thou?

 

Joke of the Day

Joke of the Day


Overheard: Pulis for EPL Manager of the year, unless Brendan wins the League, or Jose does the 'big Double'

Why is everybody discounting David Moyes? He has made a lot of people very happy!! Lol

 

Gareth Bale: Doing justice to a great goal

Gareth Bale: Doing justice to a great goal


"....He might have had to run the race in the far outside lane but there was no catching him.

It began barely 10 yards from Madrid's own byline, where Madrid's rob-and-run tactic worked again, as it had done to such good effect all night"

"Isco won possession and found Fábio Coentrão down the line who kept the ball moving. Bale burst towards the left and knocked it first-time past Bartra. With 50 yards in front of him, Bale knew this was a race he would win.

Bartra nudged Bale and he was forced off the pitch but he kept on running, taking the long route round, beyond the touchline and back, bombing into the area to slot the ball through José Pinto's legs. "

( somewhere in Italy, Maicon was watching with a knowing smile )

Also, somewhere in Iceland, Solvi Ottesen was shaking his head in disbelief " he did it again"



Check the link below to see a similar goal scored by Bale, for Wales vs Iceland, last month ( Ottesen is wearing Jersey No 5 )

"The sprint to the other corner to celebrate was almost as fast, team-mates struggling to keep up"

This was Bale's final.

"..He had not been able to impose himself in either clásico so far this season, both of which had been won by Barcelona. If they wanted a huge performance, they got it....."

"...This moment defines the Cardiff Express' debut season in Spain; the kind of goal that defines him. The speed was breathtaking.."

Butragueno- "He ran 50 metres with a power that was frightening"

Carlo Ancelotti- "I had the perfect view. It was a fantastic goal from an extraordinary player. We're lucky he plays for Real Madrid."

The Cardiff Express set off at 23.12 and came back with the Copa del Rey

Main Credit: The Guardian