Posted by hiphopmama on March 11, 2009
Manchester United 2-0 Inter (Agg: 2-0)
- 1-0 Vidic, 4′
- 2-0 Ronaldo, 49′
Roma 1-0 Arsenal, Shoot-out 6-7 (Agg: 1-1)
England has the strongest league in the world. Hands down. I was hesitant to admit it for a while, especially because La Liga is my favorite to watch. But after watching Champions League action in conjunction with the individual leagues, it is essentially impossible to argue otherwise. In the two preceding years, three of the final four teams were from England (Man Utd, Chelsea, and Liverpool in both cases), and last year was an all-England final. Now, as we head into the quarterfinals, all four English teams have advanced, at the expense of Italy’s three representatives in the round of 16. Spain still has two teams alive in the competition, but only one of them – Barcelona – stands any real chance of making it all the way.
Defending champs Manchester Utd took out Italy’s last great hope and their Special coach (wonder if he knows what the connotations of that term are). While I had finally settled on Inter as the lesser of these two evils, I was not at all unhappy to see Mourinho get humbled like that. I wish it could have been at the hands of someone other than Fergie and ManYoo, but watching Inter bomb out of the Champions League with the coach they brought in specifically to get them better results in Europe was still sweet. Man Utd opened each half with a goal, which was just enough to finish off Inter. Sir Alex’s boys weren’t particularly impressive today, but they did what they had to do to beat Special Sauce and Co. Both goals came off beautifully delivered passes, the first a corner taken by Giggs and the second a chipped pass from Rooney. Ibrahimovic finally decided to show up and made some key contributions, but neither he nor Adriano could break all the way through the ManYoo defense. And the quintuple is still alive.
In the final England-Italy match-up, Arsenal carried a 1-0 home victory into Rome but watched that margin disappear on an early goal by Juan, who scored the game’s only goal in his brief return from injury Not long after leveling for Roma, he had to leave with a re-aggravated thigh injury, further depleting the Roman squad. Arsenal seemed the likelier of the two sides to score for most of the game, but they never found their way onto the scoreboard. The best chance they had came when Bendtner deflected the ball to start a lightning quick counterattack. Eboue dribbled up the right side and should have easily been able to pick out Bendtner in the middle for a straightforward tap home, but his disappointing season continued with a horrible ball that went long and ruined any chance Arsenal had of scoring for the moment. In the end it went to penalties, and Arsenal started poorly, with Eduardo’s weak shot blocked by Doni. Vucinic helped the Gunners even it up by getting a little too cute and sending one straight at Almunia with not much pace. Finally, after eight takes from either side, Tonetto stepped up and skied it over the bar, ending Roma’s hopes of any silverware this year.
We now have to wait till the 20th to find out the match-ups for the quarterfinals, which will be drawn from the following teams:
- Bayern Munich
- Manchester United
The round of 16 draw was a tad suspicious, with the Italian teams all matched up with English opposition, so the conspiracy theorists among us would probably say the broadcasters got their wish with all four English teams through. Whatever the case, I hope we get a more equitable shakedown for the quarters, preferably keeping Arsenal and Chelsea on opposite sides, since those are the last of my teams standing. Realistically, though, no one is touching either Man Utd or Barcelona, and barring an unfortunate draw, they should be the favorites to make the finals. Everyone else is a long shot at this point.
Posted in soccer | Tagged: adriano, almunia, arsenal, barcelona, bayern munich, champions league, chelsea, cristiano ronaldo, doni, eboue, eduardo, epl, ibrahimovic, inter, jose mourinho, juan, liverpool, manchester united, nicklas bendtner, porto, primera liga, roma, ryan giggs, scores, serie a, sir alex ferguson, tonetto, vidic, villarreal, vucinic, wayne rooney | Leave a Comment »
Posted by hiphopmama on March 3, 2009
It’s been a crazy few days, so all I can offer are the following notes on the weekend’s happenings in the soccer world. Because they are my opinions, they can be elevated to the level of fact. Take note.
- Flippin’ Manchester United should have lost to Tottenham. Not because of any bad call or the result going against the run of play; just because I hate them and they shouldn’t be able to win everything. Carling Cup: check. Club World Cup: in hand. EPL: commanding lead. FA Cup: quarterfinals. Champions League: good position to make the quarters. Two down, three to go. It seems absurd to believe that all the games won’t eventually catch up with them, but just like Phil Jackson in the NBA, Fergie knows how to pace his guys to have them peaking at the right time. It will be interesting to say the least.
- Speaking of ManU, that wasn’t a penalty on Cristiano Ronaldo. It wasn’t a dive, either, at least not a yellow card-worthy one (especially by his standards), and it should just have been a play-on. He was looking for the penalty the whole way – which isn’t a crime in itself – and he was already on his way down before the contact came. He put the ball so far out in front of him to bait the defender, but both players held up just enough to prevent enough of a collision to ensure a penalty. Yeah he stepped on his foot, but CRon was already headed to the ground by that point.
- Balotelli’s wasn’t a penalty either. I’m not gonna jump into the fray over officials and greasy hands and the powers that be. All I know is that it was a weak call in a big game, and it affected the outcome in a very definite (and very familiar) manner. [Adriano? Hand ball? Nothing retroactive? Gimme a break.] We’re a few years removed from the heart of the Calciopoli scandal, but Serie A still lacks a lot of credibility and they aren’t helping themselves any with all this. Does anyone really believe Inter were the only innocent ones in all that mess? Oh, and Mourinho needs to shut the fuck up or he can suck my Special One.
- How about Real Madrid?? Barcelona is still in the driver’s seat, but they can feel the Merengues breathing down their necks now, which should make for an exciting finish. For Real to pull it off, they will have to continue their near immaculate play and hope Barça drop a few more points. A win over the blaugrana at the Bernabeu would go a long way toward helping Madrid narrow the gap, but I’d wager that they’d still have a shot if they could secure even a draw in that game. One game at a time for now…
Posted in soccer | Tagged: adriano, balotelli, barcelona, carling cup, cristiano ronaldo, epl, inter, manchester united, primera liga, real madrid, roma, serie a, sir alex ferguson, tottenham | Leave a Comment »
Posted by hiphopmama on December 19, 2008
- Atletico Madrid – Porto
- Lyon – Barcelona
- Arsenal – Roma
- Inter – Manchester Utd
- Real Madrid – Liverpool
- Chelsea – Juventus
- Villarreal – Panathinaikos
- Sporting Lisbon – Bayern Munich
There are a few conspicuous things about these pairings. The first is the fact that the three Serie A teams drew Premier League opponents. Based on the performance of English teams in the Champions League in recent years, this wouldn’t seem to bode well for the Italians. However, looking at the match-ups individually paints a slightly better picture for the Serie A squads. Roma will take on an Arsenal team that has yet to really find its bearings this season. Unfortunately for Roma, the Gunners have played their best games against quality opponents, so that might be nullified. This has the potential to be one of the best match-ups because both teams play such open games. Juventus-Chelsea has the most back story to it, with Claudio Ranieri taking on his former team at Stamford Bridge, about which Ranieri said, “I can’t say I’m happy.” The biggest battle of all will be between Inter and Manchester United, two powerhouses currently playing well and expecting to go far in this competition. United are the reigning champions in Europe, but they are only just starting to hit their stride. Inter, on the other hand, came on like gangbusters only to slow down the slightest bit of late. This is an impossible one for me to watch because there is no one to root for. I am always looking for someone to upend Inter and their Special coach, but I cannot get myself to pull for Fergie and Ronaldo, so it will be Forza Inter in that one.
The other noticeable thing in all this is the pairing of the non-biggies with each other. The match-ups of Atletico-Porto, Sporting-Bayern, and Villarreal-Panathinaikos all feature two teams who would be expected to fall by the wayside against the top-tier teams playing each other in the other ties. Because of how the draw came out, three of those teams will make it to the next round, while either Chelsea or Juventus, Inter or Man Utd, Real Madrid or Liverpool, Arsenal or Roma will be knocked out. It will make for a different look to the later rounds, that’s for sure.
Oh yeah, and Barcelona will play Lyon. It’s no disrespect to Lyon that it barely warrants a mention. Pretty much any opposition would elicit that reaction because of how incredible Barça have been playing. Let’s just say I don’t foresee any hicc-ups for the Catalans, although I’m sure Guardiola will convince them otherwise to ensure a good performance from his team.
As a fan of Arsenal (and secondarily Chelsea) in England and Real Madrid in Spain, I am at least satisfied with the draw. Liverpool is always a tough out in European play, but with a team that will hopefully be rejuvenated both through injury recoveries and new players, it’s a match-up Real can win. Roma is no push-over and they have been playing much better of late, but Arsenal could have faced much worse. As for Serie A, my team – AC Milan – didn’t even make it to the Champions League this year, so my only real interest there is seeing Inter lose. Except that I can’t root for Man Utd, so I’m really screwed there. In any case, it will be an incredible slate of games of which I’m sure I will only get sparing coverage. Gotta love that U.S. soccer coverage.
Posted in soccer | Tagged: arsenal, atletico madrid, barcelona, bayern munich, champions league, chelsea, epl, inter, juventus, liverpool, lyon, manchester united, panathinaikos, porto, primera liga, real madrid, roma, serie a, sporting lison, villarreal | 1 Comment »
Posted by hiphopmama on October 21, 2008
I know four goals to nil generally signals a rout, but there was more to this one than that. Both sides started the game looking to make a statement of some kind. Inter were hoping to show they were indeed the dominant Serie A team, while Roma were facing the much more difficult task of trying to turn around their season after a horrendous start. One of them was bound to finish the day disappointed, and this time it was Roma. Ibrahimovic put Inter up in the fourth minute, when he received a great long ball over the top and chipping it over the charging keeper’s head with one touch.
After that, Roma played much better for a while, keeping possession and building play up nicely, but they were never able to capitalize. At the start of the second half, Ibrahimovic doubled Inter’s lead when he received a through that never should have gotten through at all, as the defender (I’m not naming any names, LORIA!) somehow let it past him and fell down, leaving Ibra with just Juan and the goalkeeper to beat. And of course he did, then celebrated pompously. I can’t say why certain celebrations bug me while others are okay, but his schtick is starting to get old. Roma again rebounded well and got the ball into the attacking third for a couple good shots, only to watch Stankovic score a great goal in the 53rd minute. He secured the ball with one touch off his chest, just outside the area on the right, and rocketed it into goal. It was a great strike. Not to be outdone, Obinna came racing down the pitch two minutes later on the same right side, took a couple reverse Henry touches to the left, and whipped it home as well.
The scoreline was really cruel to Roma, who were definitely outplayed but not by a 0-4 margin. I don’t think you can write them off for the year just yet, but they’re approaching that point quickly. Good luck against Chelsea in Champions League play on Wednesday. They have their work cut out for them at Stamford Bridge.
And for good measure, the highlights:
Posted in soccer | Tagged: ibrahimovic, inter, obinna, roma, scores, serie a, stankovic | Leave a Comment »
Posted by hiphopmama on October 9, 2008
The run of bad luck/bad play continues for Spalletti’s boys. As with Milan, Roma was hoping to continue a streak, albeit brief, of good form with consecutive wins against Atalanta and Bordeaux in Champions League action, but no such luck. Mario Frick scored the only goal at the end of the first half, and Roma was never able to battle back despite a number of good opportunities in the second half. Mexes and Panucci both received their second yellow cards in the second half, which left Roma with nine men on the pitch. Credit where it’s due, though – they played tough even two men down, but it was too much to ask. Roma now sit in 14th place, on a measly seven points.
Posted in soccer | Tagged: luciano spalletti, mario frick, mexes, panucci, roma, scores, serie a, siena | Leave a Comment »
Posted by hiphopmama on October 9, 2008
I don’t even want to talk about this match. Having seen the whole thing, I wish someone would have just ruined it for me and told me the outcome so as to save me the time. AC Milan – with a front three consisting of Kaka, Ronaldinho, and Pato – couldn’t score a single goal against lowly Cagliari, who were sitting on zero points, even when they controlled 67% of the possession. Milan had been playing better of late, having won their last three Serie A games, including the derby with Inter last week, but they had nothing in this game. Bringing on Inzaghi and Shevchenko late for Ronaldinho and Pato raised the urgency of Milan’s play briefly, but it wasn’t enough. I have nothing more to say about this one, except that Ancelotti’s tenure looks shakier and shakier, as does Spalletti’s at Roma, despite what Sensi is saying in his defense. Let the rumors of their exchange continue.
Posted in soccer | Tagged: ac milan, cagliari, carlo ancelotti, luciano spalletti, roma, scores, serie a | Leave a Comment »
Posted by hiphopmama on September 30, 2008
It wasn’t the most dominating performance you ever saw, but Chelsea fared well enough against Stoke City, which is more than you can say for some of the other big teams against newly promoted sides this season (that one’s directed at you, Gunners). This one saw Jose Bosingwa get his first goal for the team in the 37th minute, when he whipped one across the face of goal to put Chelsea up 0-1. And credit where it’s due, to Nicolas Anelka for putting away the second goal after coming on as a sub at the beginning of the second half for Salomon Kalou. Lampard orchestrated nicely from midfield, as usual, and Bosingwa continued his outstanding play. He and Ashley Cole are looking like one of the best tandems on the wings right now.
Next up for the Blues is a visit to Cluj in Champions League this week, a Romanian team fresh off its surprising defeat of Roma at the Stadio Olimpico in the last CL action. Roma gets its chance to atone against French side Bordeaux, all on Wednesday.
Posted in soccer | Tagged: anelka, bosingwa, champions league, chelsea, cluj, epl, roma, stoke city | Leave a Comment »