Posted by hiphopmama on December 12, 2008
Real Madrid makes the daunting trip to the Camp Nou tomorrow struggling to impart some semblance of order to their season against a Barcelona side displaying utter dominance in La Liga. Against any normal team experiencing Real’s current run of form and injury list, Barça would be virtually assured of a comfortable victory. However, with the contentious rivalry at stake and the symbolic importance of this match-up, you have to figure Real will be playing like their season depends on it and will have a decent shot at a good result because of it.
That said, Barça are still odds-on favorites to win the game, especially in front of their home fans, and any tactical analysis points to an easy victory for the Catalans. With the ridiculous number of Real Madrid players struggling with injuries and suspensions to be served by Robben and Marcelo, the Merengues are really up against it even in terms of fielding a squad of their usual caliber. Based on their play midweek against Zenit in the Champions League and available players, it seems likely that Michel Salgado will have the unenviable task of tracking Lionel Messi around on the right flank. While Salgado has a great tactical sense and plenty of experience in big games, there is no way he has the pace to keep up with Messi and will need every bit of help he can get to keep him under wraps. The rest of the back line is likely to be filled out by Cannavaro, Sergio Ramos, and Metzelder in some formation with Gago, Guti, Van der Vaart, and Drenthe in midfield. And of course Raul and Higuain up front.
For their part, Barça’s lineup is likely to look something like this: Valdes; Alves, Marquez, Puyol, Abidal; Xavi, Yaya, Hleb; Messi, Eto’o, Henry. There’s not much to say about this group – it pretty much speaks for itself. This general assortment of guys has been kicking ass with no need to even take names all season long, and I expect nothing less this weekend. Xavi will, as always, be central (no pun intended) to the Barcelona attack, and Messi will probably be free to run wild all over the pitch, although with Salgado at left back he might be content to stay on the right. Henry is coming off an incredible hat trick – three goals all taken on one touch – in Barça’s 4-0 romp over Valencia last weekend. Gago will have a lot of work to do to protect a Real back line that has looked as porous as SpongeBob this year, and Hleb (or possibly Keita or Gudjohnsen) will surely look to stretch the Madrid defense and create space for the three forwards.
In particular, Gago will have to keep Xavi off the ball as much as possible to limit his ability to initiate the attack. Gago is a capable player, but I doubt he has the wherewithal to snuff out Xavi or the help from his team to effectively patrol the midfield. Yaya will have a similar role to play in stopping Guti from engineering Madrid’s offense, but I foresee more success for the younger Toure. I don’t think Guti has the ingenuity of Xavi, but more importantly, Guti has fewer real threats around him that Barça has to watch out for, which will allow them to zero in on him.
In the end, I think Messi will run rampant and Alves will be a constant thorn in Real’s side, while Raul will continue his good form and Higuain will have another solid game, but all three Barça strikers will hurt Madrid and get the win for the cules. Prediction: Barcelona wins fairly easily, 3-1, and earns further breathing room at the top of the table.
Posted in soccer | Tagged: abidal, barcelona, cannavaro, dani alves, drenthe, el clasico, eto'o, gago, guti, henry, higuain, hleb, messi, metzelder, michel salgado, primera liga, puyol, rafael marquez, raul, real madrid, sergio ramos, van der vaart, victor valdes, xavi, yaya toure | 1 Comment »
Posted by hiphopmama on September 25, 2008
Goal of the match (which is saying something in an 8-goal affair) and probably the week by Rafael Van Der Vaart. Watch and be amazed.
Posted in soccer | Tagged: primera liga, real madrid, sporting gijon, van der vaart | Leave a Comment »
Posted by hiphopmama on September 25, 2008
Barcelona 3 – 2 Real Betis
- Eto’o and Messi combined beautifully for Barca’s two first half goals, which Eto’o scored within a few minutes of each other. Betis were much more aggressive in the second half and found the back of the net on goals by Monzon and Jose Mari, only to see Gudjohnsen loft one over goalkeeper Casto to put Barcelona ahead for good.
Real Madrid 7 – 1 Sporting Gijon
- A Van der Vaart hat trick and a double for Raul contributed to the seven goal effort by Real. After watching Barcelona stomp Sporting Gijon 6-1 over the weekend, Real Madrid upped the ante at the Bernabeu Wednesday. Real sported a re-tooled lineup, with Torres, Marcelo, Robben, and Higuain starting the match, but once they found their groove they were unstoppable (like those Citizen Eco-Drive watches). Sporting’s Kike Mateo did get one back in the 54th minute to prevent the goose egg, but with 61% of the possession, Real was in control throughout. Oh, and Higuain and Robben got the other two goals. Hard to keep track of them all.
Here are the rest of Wednesday’s results:
Osasuna 0 – 0 Deportivo La Coruna
Villarreal 2 – 0 Racing Santander
Getafe 1 – 2 Atletico Madrid
Sevilla FC 2 – 0 Espanyol
Posted in soccer | Tagged: barcelona, eto'o, gudjohnsen, higuain, jose mari, messi, primera liga, raul, real betis, real madrid, robben, sporting gijon, van der vaart | Leave a Comment »
Posted by hiphopmama on September 16, 2008
Real Madrid 4, Numancia 3
After taking out Barcelona in week 1, Numancia followed it up with an impressive performance against La Liga’s other giant, Real Madrid. They jumped out to a 1-0 lead on an uncontested header by Barcelona youth product Juan Carlos Romero. Guti leveled the match shortly thereafter on a zinger that went in off a Numancia deflection. After missing another opportunity, Real got behind again on an amazing 30 yard strike by Jose Barkero that left Casillas helpless. Van Nistelrooy and Higuain then hooked up for a pretty goal, and Van Der Vaart skimmed one in from a ridiculous angle across the goal, putting Real up 4-2 at the half. Romero managed another stellar goal on a free kick just outside the penalty area in the 56th minute, but that was as far as Numancia could come back. Real looked a little shaky in the earlier parts of the second half, but toward the end they held on easily for a 4-3 victory.
Madrid looked mostly pretty good, and all those qualifiers are indeed necessary. In some parts they were excellent, threading the ball through on precision passes and linking up well, as they did on the Higuain goal. But for long stretches, they occasionally looked like they lost their way a little bit, especially on set pieces. I guess it was a good enough first win for Real, but it was an even better loss (if there is such a thing) for Numancia, who in two consecutive weeks beat Barca by one and lost to Real by one. Pretty nice for a newly promoted team.
Posted in soccer | Tagged: barcelona, guti, higuain, iker casillas, jose barkero, juan carlos romero, numancia, primera liga, real madrid, van der vaart, van nistelrooy | Leave a Comment »