Posted by hiphopmama on August 19, 2009
Burnley 1-0 Manchester United
1-0 Blake, 19′
This one was sweet. I’ve been waiting upward of three years for someone other than Manchester United to hoist the Premier League trophy, and it seems this may finally be my year. He would never admit it, but Sir Alex appears to have thrown in the towel on the season already, accepting the departure of Cristiano Ronaldo and Carlos Tevez with little more than a whimper of protest and little done to remedy the squad depletion it caused. Michael Owen? Okay, that’s cute and all, but no one, least of all Sir Alex, expects him to fill the boots of CR7 or Tevez. And with the team’s cadre of veterans racking up another year on those old bodies, you have to wonder how players like Giggs, Scholes, and Neville will hold up over a long, grueling season without a player like Ronaldo to lean on during dry spells.
All these weaknesses and more were on display in their match against Premier League newcomers Burnley, whose hometown population apparently would fit inside of Old Trafford in its entirety, according to the game announcers. That is a nice bit of perspective for the upset they pulled off, as is the fact that they hadn’t won a game in top-flight football in 33 years. Robbie Blake’s lovely volley gave Burnley the only lead they would need inside of 20 minutes, but goalkeeper Brian Jensen had just as crucial a role to play in the victory. His stop on Michael Carrick’s penalty just before halftime buoyed the team and gave them the will to hold on by their fingernails to the slim margin and keep ManU off the scoresheet. He made a few more key saves, and his defense scurried around just enough to put United off their rhythm, so that even the substitution of Berbatov and Valencia did nothing to change the outcome.
While it’s not quite as satisfying watching ManU (potentially) fall off their perch with such a weakened squad, you won’t hear any complaints – or sympathy – from me. If either of my London teams can step in to fill the void, I will be doubly happy, but even if the title goes elsewhere I will still be grateful to Florentino Perez and Kia Joorabchian for helping break up the dynastic unit and let in some sunshine at the top.
Posted in soccer | Tagged: antonio valencia, berbatov, brian jensen, burnley, carlos tevez, cristiano ronaldo, epl, florentino perez, gary neville, kia joorabchian, manchester united, michael carrick, michael owen, paul scholes, robbie blake, ryan giggs, sir alex ferguson | 1 Comment »
Posted by hiphopmama on April 8, 2009
Manchester United 2-2 Porto
0-1 Rodriguez, 4′
1-1 Rooney, 6′
2-1 Tevez, 85′
2-2 Mariano, 89′
Liverpool 1-3 Chelsea
1-0 Torres, 6′
1-1 Ivanovic, 39′
1-2 Ivanovic, 62′
1-3 Drogba, 67′
It’s been a good 48 hours for me as a sports fan. My Lakers routed an inferior Kings team, and I got all good outcomes in Champions League quarterfinal action. After watching Arsenal fight back to claim a slight edge via their away goal draw with Villarreal, I was treated to a surprisingly tight game between Man Utd and Porto. I fully expected United to steamroll the Portuguese team, kinda like Barcelona did to Bayern today, but instead Porto struck first with a goal within the first five minutes and put Fergie’s squad on the back foot. The goal came as the result of cascading errors from Manchester, but Porto soon returned the favor when Bruno Alves very generously played the ball right into the path of Wayne Rooney, who had only the keeper to beat in order to tie it up. It was an edgy game the rest of the way, with United dominating possession and creating plenty of chances but never able to break through while Porto settled for the occasional counterattack. Things stayed level until the last five minutes, when substitute Carlos Tevez scored from close range off a lovely flick from Rooney. The Old Trafford faithful must have thought that was the final blow, but there was one more dagger left and it was in Porto’s hands. Not long after United scored their second, Porto broke out another blistering counterattack, Lisandro found Mariano Gonzalez alone on the left, and he stabbed it past Van der Sar before the big keeper could fully close out on him. Now, with two away goals in their back pocket, Porto return home to play the second leg in a stadium where no English team has ever won. It still seems far-fetched to say United are anything but full contenders, but it does even things up a bit now, doesn’t it?
And it wouldn’t be crunch time in the Champions League without a Liverpool-Chelsea match-up. This time it went down in the quarterfinals with Liverpool riding a wave of excellent form which included an impressive win against Man Utd at Old Trafford in the Premier League and a routing of Real Madrid in the UCL. Chelsea have looked resurgent under Hiddink, but the loss to Tottenham a couple weeks ago took the wind out of their sails somewhat and relegated their title hopes to the Wishful Thinking bin. So it was interesting to say the least to see them put in this kind of performance at Anfield, where Liverpool hadn’t lost in a couple millennia or so. It didn’t start promisingly for the Blues, who went down early on some sweet set-up play by Liverpool which resulted in a clinical strike by Torres. After that, though, the Merseysiders wilted from view into an indistinct mass with no one stepping up to carry the weight. Drogba followed the goal almost immediately with a one-on-one chance that Reina managed to stop, and Chelsea kept their foot on the pedal. Branislav Ivanovic became the surprise hero after he scored two goals, both headers off Chelsea corners, and gave his team a commanding lead with the two away goals. Drogba capped it by scoring Chelsea’s third off an assist from Malouda and putting Liverpool’s Champions League dreams in serious doubt.
Barcelona also embarrassed Bayern Munich, making them look like a B-league squad rather than the Bundesliga juggernaut they’ve been. They put four goals on them in the first half, then settled back and wiled away the second 45 minutes. I didn’t care too much about this one, but I always like to see Spanish sides do well, so I consider it a personal victory too. God has well and truly smiled on me.
Posted in soccer | Tagged: bruno alves, carlos tevez, champions league, chelsea, drogba, fernando torres, guus hiddink, ivanovic, liverpool, malouda, manchester united, mariano gonzalez, porto, wayne rooney | Leave a Comment »
Posted by hiphopmama on December 2, 2008
Getafe 3-1 Real Madrid
- 1-0 Juan Albin, 3′
- 2-0 Juan Albin, 47′
- 2-1 Javier Saviola, 55′
- 3-1 Ikechukwu Uche, 82′
And that wasn’t even the worst news coming out of the match. It’s pretty pointless to try to analyze this game, as Bernd Schuster glumly summed it up:
“Getafe were much better. They played a spectacular game and the scoreline flatters us… We have a lot of players injured but we could do nothing. From the first moment I saw it would be difficult for us…and I never had the sensation we would win.”
Grr. That’s all I have to say about that.
To make matters worse, the cadre of injured players saw its membership grow by three, with Sneijder, Torres, and Pepe all leaving the match with a knock: Sneijder with a femoral biceps injury (out 2 weeks), Torres with a hamstring injury (3 weeks), and Pepe with a left quad injury (3-4 weeks). It is almost inconceivable how many first choice players Real is currently without. Cannavaro, Heinze (sadly first choice), Diarra, De La Red, Robben, Higuain, Van Nistelrooy, and now these three. They haven’t looked their best at any point this season, even when the injury situation was (slightly) less dire, but it sure ain’t helping.
Of course, there is plenty of speculation as to Real’s ambitions in the January transfer window, with the Tevez option still open and a deal for Huntelaar looking increasingly likely. I guess we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.
Posted in soccer | Tagged: carlos tevez, getafe, huntelaar, juan albin, miguel torres, pepe, primera liga, real madrid, saviola, uche, wesley sneijder | Leave a Comment »
Posted by hiphopmama on November 18, 2008
Eleven rounds deep, this year’s Primera Liga is starting to take on a definite form, with a few things becoming clear about the top teams. There is a pretty clear division between the top five teams and the rest, although the league is competitive top to bottom as usual. Here are some thoughts on the season so far, with a focus on the biggies.
- No one is touching Barcelona. They have a ridiculous goal differential of +28, with more goals scored than anyone else (36 – Real Madrid is closest but still trails by 8 goals with 28) and tied for fewest allowed (8 – with Sevilla, who have only scored 18 themselves). More importantly, they are playing just as well as those numbers indicate. They started a little sluggishly, drawing with Racing Santander and losing to Numancia in their opening matches in La Liga, but they haven’t slipped up since then, winning their next nine league games. Their only mediocre showing was a 1-1 draw against FC Basel in Champions League play, but this came after beating the team 5-0 in the home fixture. I don’t see any other team in Europe playing as well as Barça are doing right now, especially if you take consistency into account. Chelsea are playing good football with a similarly spectacular goal differential, also +28, but they have suffered more slip-ups than Barcelona, particularly in their 3-1 loss to Roma in Champions League and a 0-0 defeat to Championship side Burnley on penalties in the Carling Cup. Pep Guardiola has the team playing at a higher level than anything I’ve seen in recent years from them and probably better than anyone else on the planet right now.
- Valencia and Villarreal have yet to prove they have real staying power at the top. That might be unfair considering they both currently sit ahead of Real Madrid in the standings, but it still feels true. Both suffered disappointing outcomes this week, with Valencia losing to Sporting and Villarreal settling for a draw after giving up an injury time goal against Malaga. Villarreal are still the only unbeaten team in the Primera but have five draws to go with their eleven wins. Valencia have lost two consecutive home games but are doing better than just muddling through without Spanish international David SIlva playing up front alongside Villa. Villa is carrying the goal scoring weight disproportionately, as expected, and the team will have to prove they don’t need to rely exclusively on him as the rounds continue.
- Sevilla may be tied for third, but they are not easy on the eye. They have scored far fewer goals than anyone else in the top five (a mere 18) and seem content to scrape by. In their defense, they have been without important striking options, including last year’s Pichichi runner up Luis Fabiano and Kanoute. They have been playing better their last few games after a poor run of form that included losses to Malaga and Valladolid in league play, to Ponferradina in Copa Del Rey, and to Standard Liege in the UEFA Cup. They have a tough end to the month with home matches against Barcelona and Valencia, both of which will be important in gauging how they intend to go forward.
- And finally, Real ain’t got nothin’ on Barça. Whereas Madrid have been undergoing some soul searching regarding their current coach, Barcelona are reveling in the new level of intensity under their new steward. Real has been scoring at a decent clip, although nothing like Barcelona, but the truly troubling thing has been their weakness at the back, which has been repeatedly exposed. Gabi Heinze in particular has been suspect, as has Marcelo and even Cannavaro on occasion. They have had some serious injury woes which have only worsened with the news this week of Van Nistelrooy’s season ending knee surgery, but that doesn’t account for the poor defensive performances. Given the team’s propensity to spend, a significant pick-up or two in the January transfer window seems likely. Tevez has reportedly been in their sights, as has Mario Gomez, although one might wonder whether they aren’t more in need of a stronger defensive presence or even a winger to replace Señor Vidrio, who is once again out injured. Whatever the case, their moves will play a big role in deciding how their season ends up and seeing whether they can pull off the three-peat.
Posted in soccer | Tagged: barcelona, cannavaro, carlos tevez, gabriel heinze, marcelo, mario gomez, primera liga, real madrid, sevilla, valencia, villarreal | Leave a Comment »