All Balls Don’t Bounce

Completely Random Sports Non Sequiturs From A Completely Random Hip Hop Head

Posts Tagged ‘wesley sneijder’

Umm…

Posted by hiphopmama on August 27, 2009

I’m not going into any detail on this, but what the hell is going on at Real Madrid right now? I celebrated when they paid top dollar for Kaka. I didn’t blink when they spent untold millions on the Coiffed One. And nary an eye was batted when supplies were further exhausted to bring in Xabi Alonso. All good players, mind you, but not too subtle or nuanced a transfer policy, don’t you think? Understandably, they were always going to have to trim some fat from a squad that was already overlarge, and credit where it’s due, they axed the first and foremost on my list, Gabriel Heinze, early on. Michel Salgado was – rather unceremoniously, in my opinion – let go despite his years of service. Makes sense, they’re both aging defenders with little role to play in the new-look squad. Huntelaar eventually made his exit as well, making his way to Milan after some good finagling. Fine, they do have a glut of strikers at this point, so someone was going to be on the outs.

Things had appeared to slow down for a while, and then BOOM – Alvaro Negredo is gone, sold to Sevilla. Yes, they have a good buy-back clause on him, but why sell him in the first place? He did brilliantly with Almeria and looked poised to help spearhead Real’s front line, for a long while into the future, yet they let him go. Ushered him out the door, more like it. Ta-ta to another canterano. Transfer speculation appeared to slow after that, with Arjen Robben and Wesley Sneijder looking likely to stay put. And now, what do we hear? Robben will find himself at Bayern Munich for the upcoming season, and Sneijder is to land at Inter Milan. This after I had convinced myself of their importance to the squad for this transitional year, while the new players find their way into the fold. They added the kind of depth crucial to any team hoping to contend in multiple competitions over the course of a long season. And besides that, Robben was the team’s most dangerous creative player in the games played so far with the new group, changing the landscape of the game when substituted for CRon and clicking with teammates far better than Pretty Boy did. I just don’t understand it. These are the kind of moves that will derail Real’s title hopes, especially when you consider Barça are returning essentially their whole team after winning the triplete with another year of chemistry under their belts. Until this, I thought they had a decent (if outside) chance to unseat the champions. But now, I must agree that Barcelona look all but assured to win it again. And all so Real can sign another unnecessary and overpriced superstar A YEAR FROM NOW. Ribery may be an excellent player, but he is far from an essential ingredient, and I don’t believe he is worth weakening the current squad for. Oh well, I guess. Who knows better – Florentino or me? Let’s just hope that quarter of a billion proves its worth, and soon. There will be no grace period, at least not anymore.

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Cuatro Puntos

Posted by hiphopmama on April 28, 2009

barca-valencia
Valencia 2-2 Barcelona
     0-1 Messi, 24′
     1-1 Maduro, 43′
     2-1 Pablo, 45′
     2-2 Henry, 85′ 

raul-metzelder-sevilla
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?

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Still Six Points

Posted by hiphopmama on April 20, 2009

Getafe 0-1 Barcelona
     0-1 Messi, 19′ 

Recreativo Huelva 0-1 Real Madrid
     0-1  Marcelo, 49′

Try as they might, Real can’t quite get over that six-point hump that separates them from class of the league Barcelona. That 1-1 draw with Atletico a few weeks back put a halt on their crawl-back on Barça’s tail, and since then they’ve been stuck six points back. Even worse, Barça seem to have refound their form and, while not exactly blitzing opponents like they did earlier in the season, they are winning consistently with little worry.

Both teams held ground this week by identical scorelines, 0-1 on the road to bottom-dwellers on the La Liga table. Barça were on the front foot the whole first half but only came away with one goal courtesy of Lionel Messi’s prodding run in the box on 19 minutes. Only Getafe’s new it-boy goalkeeper Vladimir Stojkovic kept them from pulling further ahead. A few failed efforts – and one incorrectly disallowed goal – later, Barcelona left Madrid with another three points.

Real Madrid had to slog it out a while longer to get their one-goal cushion as they looked mostly listless in the first half but came out firing in the second. Marcelo broke the deadlock on a lovely through ball from Gago and gave Los Blancos all they needed to stay within that magic six points of Barça. Robben created his typical slew of chances and, also typically, ruined most of them by being selfish and spurning the obvious pass. All in a day’s work for the Dutchman, who saw countryman Wesley Sneijder go out with a serious-looking injury. The latest word is that he will miss a month with a torn muscle in his hamstring, which means he will likely miss the rest of the season. Because Real haven’t already lost enough players to injury.

It continues to look like Barcelona will refuse to lose, no matter how much pressure Real put on them. The defending champs will obviously keep the burner on full boil to push them to the bitter end, as well they should, but I really don’t see Barça slipping enough to make it truly interesting. In the end, I could envision Real pulling to within 3-5 points, but Barça have too much of a mental and numerical edge to fade at this point. And congrats to them for it, because they have been the best coached and prettiest playing football club in the world this year, which is much more than you could say for Real Madrid. If Barça can continue their dominance in European play, they will likely be challenging for the three titles we all expect them to win. Take notes, Real – this is what a cohesive team looks like.

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Madrid’s Injury List Continues To Swell

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.

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Real Madrid 2 – 2 Espanyol

Posted by hiphopmama on October 8, 2008

It’s been a mildly disappointing start to the season for Los Merengues, at least from where I sit. Sure, they’re fifth in the table and trailing the leaders by just three points, but the five points lost were all within grasp. The roster has been thinner than expected thanks to injuries – and now with a new knock to Arjen Robben – so maybe this bodes well for the rest of the season when they can get back to full strength, but for now things look sort of bleh. Then again, the soccer season is as long as any other out there, with the exception of the tantric routine that the MLB puts on, so no red flags just yet. They could still do to shore up the defense, though.

As for this game, it was a strange match of defensive blunders and agonizing misses, and in the end the draw was probably deserved. Espanyol struck first when Raul Tamudo was brought down in the box by the ever dependable (please note the sarcasm here) Gabriel Heinze, whose foul was an attempt to make up for some poor marking. Tamudo put it away cleverly and Espanyol were up 0-1. Raul wasted no time in bring Real back, though, and a couple minutes later he sent a brilliant header into the back of the net off a cross from Sergio Ramos in the 25th minute. Not much later and Espanyol had regained the lead when Roman Martinez drilled a low ball into the area and Luis Garcia slid it home. Real finished off the goal scoring at the end of the first half after another Sergio Ramos cross and some back-and-forth between the captain and Van der Vaart. This was another good strike by Raul, and it was the end of the scoring for the night. The second half saw a couple nice saves by Kameni to keep the game on level terms, and Wesley Sneijder made his first appearance since the preseason knee injury that has kept him out of action for weeks. I suppose that was at least a good sign for Madrid.

Here are the goals and highlights:

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