Archive for the ‘La Liga’ Category

He pretends the shaving cream is his critics

On Soccernet.com yesterday, Didac Peyret had an article about the rough year Thierry Henry has endured at Barcelona. The story is speculative, draws specious conclusions, and contradicts itself (paragraph 3 questions Henry’s spirit while paragraph 7 is a quote from the Frenchman in which he asserts his willingness to ride the bench if it is in the team’s best interests.)

However, Peyret drops this unsourced bombshell at the end of the story:

Yet, long-term, Henry’s future certainly appears to be away from Barcelona and Major League Soccer now appears the most likely next step

Thierry Henry is having a tough year at Barcelona. Hampered by injuries, the French star has only two league goals to his name and he is probably considering calling Raul to ask where he can buy the most comfortable bench cushions. Even if he’s not in top form, Henry is less than a year removed from a 26 goal season in which he was a key cog during Barcelona’s unbelievable campaign (League, league cup, Champions League winners). The major reason Henry is riding the pine this year is five letters long and has 15 goals this year: Pedro. The Barcelona academy graduate has been spectacular, and his form has been the most prevalent factor in relegating Henry to a sitting position. But be not fooled: Even at his current pace (15 goals in 32 appearances), Pedro would not equal Henry’s 2008-09 output (26 goals in 42 games). As a French soccer journalist version of Mark Twain would have said, the news of Henry’s death has been greatly exaggerated. Despite what Peyret would have you believe, great players like Henry routinely resurrect their careers on top-level teams (see: Ruud van Nistelrooy, Ronaldinho, Nicolas Anelka, Robinho, Wesley Sneijder, Yoann Gourcuff, and Roman Pavlyuchenko (in 2011)).



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Diego Maradona’s famous run against England in 1986 is probably the most famous play in soccer history (closely followed by the Hand of God). It’s a memorable play for many reasons, not the least of which is how it showcases one player’s ability to single-handedly change a game. Maradona’s goal reminds us how rare it is to see a player take over a match by himself, particularly against high-quality competition. A good team is so organized that an opposing player would require skill, speed, luck, guile, and a sublime finish (and cocaine in Maradona’s case) to even attempt a one-man run at goal. No, it is the ability to make a defense cover runs both on and off the ball that makes a great footy offense.

In this age of 80 million pound transfers, it appears some teams are forgetting this basic soccer maxim. There is no “Iso” play like the one that allows Kobe Bryant to drop 55 points in a game; you can’t send three midfielders to one side in order to get man-coverage on Messi the way the Colts do to free up Reggie Wayne. The best players have to be playmakers as much as they are finishers, and the most effective plays happen when passes are fast and flowing, not long and direct. After his 10 man Liverpool side defeated Everton this weekend, Rafa Benitez noted how the Blues made it easier for his defense by playing long and over the top. During a televised match, announcers will consistently return to the idea of movement. In-form strikers exhibit great off-the-ball movement while slumps often coincide with a distinct lack of it. This all ties into the role of superstars on the field. (more…)

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Barcelona Baby

It's what all of the cool babies will be wearing this spring.

Barcelona fans had much to celebrate the first week of May in 2009. First, on May 2nd, they kicked the bejesus out of Real Madrid 6-2, effectively ending any questions as to who would be La Liga champs. Then, on May 6th, Andres Iniesta scored a screamer of a goal in the last seconds of stoppage time against Chelsea, thus advancing to the Champions League final where they then thoroughly dismantled Manchester United.

Celebrations for many no doubt went on long into the night. For most, the after effect was probably no more than a hoarse throat and lingering hangover. For some, it seems, the celebration of these momentous events will be more lasting.

According to the results of a survey by Barcelona radio station ComRadio of local hospitals and clinics, requests for beds at maternity hospitals have gone through the roof. Births this week, and those expected for next week, are 45% above average.

The El Mundo newspaper quoted Mercedes Rodriguez of the city’s Quiron Clinic as saying, “When we notice some sort of surge we look for the reason and it’s evident that the cause of the increase this week is the euphoria of Barca fans thanks to the huge win (against Real) and Iniesta’s goal.”

According to the paper, in Barcelona the baby boom is popularly referred as “the Iniesta generation.”

No word yet on whether there has been a spike in naming babies “Andres” or “Andrea.”

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The $80 million man was sent off for the 2nd time this season in Real Madrid’s 2-0 victory over Malaga on Sunday. Ronaldo saw straight red for an elbow to the face of Patrick Mtiliga that broke Mtiliga’s nose and will force the defender to miss about three weeks. The elbow did not seem intentional, Ronaldo was trying to break away from the tackle (and slight shirt pull) of the defender. But he still made clean contact as he swung his elbow back and Mtiliga dropped like a ton of bricks and came up bleeding. The red card may be a little harsh considering the lack of intent and the fact that Ronaldo had not been booked in the match previously. But it is my understanding that players must be in control of their body and Ronaldo definitely did swing his elbow back wildly to escape the tackle. But my issue with the incident is the way Ronaldo has reacted in the press.

He has called the decision to send him off “shameful” and a “disgrace”. (more…)

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Brazilian club team Timao has reported on their website a finalized deal to set the Corinthians against Real Madrid in a friendly that would pit Christiano Ronaldo and Kaka against Ronaldo Luís Nazário de Lima from Brazil and newly signed Roberto Carlos.

Although no date is official, the Timao site is reporting an August date.  The difficulty lies in the fact that it is a World Cup year and the annual South American club competition, The Copa Libertadores being held in August of which the Timao are sure to capture.  The date for that cup’s finals has been set for August 18th.

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Goal of the Year

Goal of the year has been awarded to Christiano Ronaldo, the Portuguese player currently at Real Madrid. His Champions League goal against Porto was deemed “Goal of the Year” giving him the yearly FIFA Puskás Award amongst several brilliant goals.

Top Ten (from previous post)

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Pedro saves Barcelona

Soccer and snow – not so good together. So I’m stuck indoors today, watching a brilliant display by Barcelona as it comes from behind to defeat Estudiantes de la Plata in the FIFA Club World Cup.

It was one thing to see Pedro score the equalizer in the 89th minute on a header that just barely floated over the head of goalkeeper Damian Albil, who had some great saves in the game but couldn’t stop that one.

But then Lionel Messi sneaks into the box to score the game-winner with his chest? Are you kidding me? Just a brilliant goal to cap a historic 2009 for his squad.

The shame is you wonder how many people actually followed the match in what’s often an overlooked tourney. (Even I briefly forgot about the one match I knew I wanted to see today, but that’s because I was I gleefully watching Fulham pummel Manchester United.)

As good as the UEFA Champions League is, it’s just that – a club title for Europe.


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