Posted by hiphopmama on April 28, 2009
Valencia 2-2 Barcelona
0-1 Messi, 24′
1-1 Maduro, 43′
2-1 Pablo, 45′
2-2 Henry, 85′
Sevilla 2-4 Real Madrid
1-0 Renato, 16′
1-1 Raul, 45′
1-2 Raul, 63′
1-3 Raul, 66′
2-3 Capel, 80′
2-4 Marcelo, 90′
And they just keep on coming. I’ve all but written off their comeback effort multiple times this season, going on record predicting Barça’s league title and lauding Pep Guardiola’s team rehaul, but every time I check the standings the champs are still hanging uncomfortably around. They picked up two more precious points this weekend when Barça were fortunate to leave Valencia with a draw after a late equalizer from Henry while Real overcame a slow start to run rampant over a Sevilla team that was alternately breathtaking and head-shaking.
Barcelona started in promising fashion, pouring it on Los Che and eventually breaking through with a typical Barça goal from a streaking Messi played in by a defense-drawing Iniesta. The Catalans continued their dominance right up to the end of the first half, when Valencia suddenly turned things around with two quick goals to send Barça reeling into halftime. Rather than coming out rejuvenated, as I admittedly expected, they were lackluster again and needed the full second 45 to build up the momentum to finally even the scoreline, as Henry did on 85 minutes off a corner kick spilled by Cesar. So while Guardiola got some intangible bonus points for bringing on Henry as a sub, he lost two very tangible ones in the race for the title.
Real Madrid opened their game in an entirely different manner, letting Sevilla run all over them and doing little more than look stunned for most of the first half. Then, just like Barça in the second half of their game, they started picking up steam and were able to tie the game off a Metzelder cross that Raul poked home under a charging Palop. Rejuvenated by the leveled scoreline, Real came out of halftime looking for more, which they got in the 63rd and 66th, both from Raul, who benefited greatly from Higuain’s set-up for his second and Palop’s mistake for his third. His hat trick should have been enough, but when Capel scored in the 80th Merengue fans got to nail-biting again. That is, until Marcelo sealed it with an injury time solo effort that he took his time to get just right.
And just like that, Real were within four of the leaders going into the Clasico match-up at the Bernabeu this weekend. The first game between the two Spanish giants was Juande Ramos’ first La Liga game with Madrid, and even on such short notice he had his side performing admirably, holding onto a 0-0 draw until the very end before Barça poured two quick ones on them. Those were the only two goals Real Madrid gave up for quite a while after that as Ramos instilled a stouter defensive mindset before unleashing the full weight of his team’s offensive attack. Once the floodgates were opened, though, Real came streaming through and haven’t looked back, scoring in bunches (except in the Champions League, of course) and still managing to hold most opponents to limited opportunities. With Barcelona losing some of their luster in the weeks following their last match-up, you have to figure that this one is going to be an incredible, powder-keg of a game with both teams looking to prove a point while improving their standing in La Liga. Barça will be keen to prove that they are without a doubt the best team in Spain, if not the world, as well as to redeem themselves after a frustrating 0-0 draw against Chelsea in midweek Champions League play. Real will be hoping to shave three more points off that gap and close within one while proving that they are still a force to contend with now that they have closer to their full complement of players. Well, sort of. Van Nistelrooy is still gone for the season, Robben and Sneijder are out, and Pepe has gotten his stupid ass suspended 10 games. But none of them would argue against the fact that they are better equipped from a squad standpoint than they were in the last go-round. Should be a good one, don’t you think?
Posted in soccer | Tagged: barcelona, cesar, el clasico, higuain, juande ramos, marcelo, messi, metzelder, palop, pep guardiola, pepe, primera liga, raul, real madrid, robben, sevilla, thierry henry, valencia, van nistelrooy, wesley sneijder | Leave a Comment »
Posted by hiphopmama on November 24, 2008
After running some tests in his office, a doctor returns and tells his patient, “I have some bad news and some worse news. Which do you want first?”
“How bout the worse news?” the patient asks.
“You have cancer,” the doctor says.
“Wow, that’s horrible. So what’s the bad news?”
“You have Alzheimer’s,” the doctor informs him.
“Well,” the patient responds, “at least I don’t have cancer!”
The situation isn’t nearly so dire for Real Madrid, but the whole “good news/bad news” thing always reminds me of it and it’s funny. So there you go.
As for Los Blancos, here’s the good news. They beat Recreativo, although just barely, at the Bernabeu this weekend, while Barcelona was held to a tie against Getafe. Combined with Valencia’s 0-0 draw with Sevilla and Villarreal’s 3-0 loss to Valladolid, this week’s fixtures saw them jump to second place in the table, just three points behind Barça. It was the first glimpse of sunshine Madrid have seen in some time, after consecutive losses to Juventus in the Champions League and a mediocre run of form in La Liga, including last week’s loss to Valladolid. Sneijder’s brilliant (and deflected) strike in the first half was enough to secure all three points, but Real escaped by the skin of their teeth in a nervy home match.
And the bad news? Higuaín left the game after suffering what looked to be a serious injury to his left leg. The way he pulled up had GolTV’s always emotional announcers pondering a possibly season-ending knock, but fortunately it has turned out to be no more than a severe ankle sprain. It will prevent him from traveling with the team to Belarus this week to face BATE in a crucial Champions League match. After those two losses to Juve, they find themselves in need of some good results to ensure their qualification for the knock-out stage. This doesn’t even include the recent injury news that saw Van Nistelrooy undergo season-ending surgery and Cannavaro sustain a groin injury. Real have officially become the most injury-stricken team in the Primera, with the tally currently at 20.
In an interesting article at Goal.com, Cyrus C. Malek argues that Los Merengues should sign “for need, not want,” however you determine that one. He provides some convincing analysis of the team’s form the past two years and puts forward the two players he feels the side needs to pick up: Ezequiel Garay, the central defender currently on loan from Madrid to Racing Santander, and the Zenit St. Petersburg man Andrei Arshavin, whose stock rose dramatically after this year’s Euro 2008 competition. The only drawback in Arshavin’s case is the fact that he is cup-tied, having already played for Zenit in Champions League games this year. I can’t proclaim to know as much as analysts like Malek surely do, but I find his optimism about Saviola a little bit questionable, and I tend to believe Real could use one more quality striker to help them this season. Yes, Alberto Bueno has a good upside, but I can’t see basing the team’s future around him. Of course, with the news that Higuain’s injury won’t keep him out for an extended period, it may make it easier to soldier on until his return, but that assumes he will continue on the blistering pace he has set so far this season, which has him at third place in goals scored with 9, behind Samuel Eto’o (13) and David Villa (11).
Even with all the injury woes, given Madrid’s hefty checkbook, I expect the good news to outweigh the bad come January.
Posted in soccer | Tagged: andrei arshavin, barcelona, cannavaro, champions league, ezequiel garay, higuain, primera liga, real madrid, sevilla, valencia, van nistelrooy, villarreal | Leave a Comment »
Posted by hiphopmama on November 14, 2008
Ruud underwent surgery Wednesday to repair a knee injury he picked up in Real Madrid’s 2-0 loss to Juventus in Champions League play last week. The injury was to the same knee he had surgically repaired in 2000 during his stay at PSV Eindhoven. He will reportedly be out for 8-9 months, meaning that he won’t play again until next season.
This news leaves Madrid in a bit of a bind – as much as that is possible in a team littered with talent – with only Saviola sitting on the bench to pick up the slack. Higuain has been playing exceptionally well, which will help them make it to the winter transfer window, but January can’t come fast enough for Los Blancos. Reports are already surfacing about Real’s interest in signing Manchester United forward Carlos Tevez, who has been languishing on the bench in favor of Wayne Rooney and Dimitar Berbatov. Tevez still appears to want to stay in England, but Man Utd may live to regret not having secured him with a permanent deal sooner, especially with all the competition for the striker position on the squad.
And now, just for kicks, here is a lovely image of Carlos Tevez as a lion. I get the context and all, but I still have to ask: why?
Posted in soccer | Tagged: berbatov, epl, higuain, injuries, manchester united, primera liga, real madrid, saviola, van nistelrooy, wayne rooney | 2 Comments »
Posted by hiphopmama on September 29, 2008
Madrid were able to snatch an extra two points with a stoppage time goal in Seville. Real scored first, when Van der Vaart’s free kick found Gabriel Heinze for a header at the far post in the 19th minute, and they continued to look in control until a 53rd minute red card on Marcelo gave Betis a penalty kick and one man advantage. Marcelo saw red for bringing down Jesus Capi in the area, setting up Sergio Garcia for the penalty kick. Casillas blocked it, but the rest of the Real players seemed content to watch as the ball spilled out in front of Garcia for the put-back. The replay showed a couple of Madrid players standing outside the box with their hands on their hips even as Garcia scampered onto the rebound. In the 82nd minute, Garcia was also sent off for a trip on Madrid substitute Drenthe, who was on his way to a promising counterattacking opportunity, and with both teams down to ten men Real picked up steam. Van Nistelrooy, who had been a bit of a wallflower for much of the second half, scored the winner at the beginning of stoppage time when he found himself in space and put the ball away on a pass from Robben.
All in all, a good performance for Madrid, who are now third in the table with 12 points, behind Valencia and Villarreal with 13.
Posted in soccer | Tagged: gabriel heinze, primera liga, real betis, real madrid, sergio garcia, van nistelrooy | 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 »