Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Can you tell a player's nationality, just by watching him??

While surfing through a Barça blog I like to read I came across a comment from a fellow reader, recommending Gervinho as a possible signing for Barça. Having never heard of him I decided to check out the vid. I watched the first few highlights from this video, and thought to my self Gervinho? The name depicts that he should be brasileiro, but from his playing style, he definitely has the running and dribbling style of an African, of course as the video kept going I saw his Côte d'Ivoire wristbands and I confirmed my assumptions. Am I the only one who notices or recognizes this? I highly doubt it, but how does this "style" evolve? How can you just tell a players nationality sometimes just by watching a few movements?

Monday, November 30, 2009

El Classico: Iniesta tells Ronaldo to shut it

Hot off the press

Here's some links to some different bits of news in Portugal.

Veloso has caught the interest of some more Italian sides, this time its Genoa who is keeping close tabs on him.

Most Sporting fans would not like this as they feel he should leave the club for a "big side" like Milan or Juve. I think otherwise, this would be a great move for Veloso, his style (not only fashion!) would fit right into Italy. The game in Italy is very tactical and technical. Veloso is quite good on the ball and playing in Italy would only help his tactical brain, this would have to be a positive both for his career and for our National Team.

Also in Italy, Quaresma actually played for Inter and looked quite good too! Even sparking praise from the Guardian! It was the best by far I have seen him play outside of Portugal. Mourinho even said this.
“I have never considered Quaresma a washout, but I don't think he's the best player in the world either. He played a great match, showed lots of aggression, and in the last fifteen minutes he had cramp, which was normal. I don't like doing it, but it's right that you talk about him and about the fact that he was very special today.”
O Cigano, is a player who has always frustrated me to bits. In terms of RAW ABILITY there are few men out there who can match him, he's a player that can make the impossible look simple and the simple look impossible. Quaresma is definitely a confidence player from what I can gather, when he feels right he can do no wrong, it's like he's still playing on the streets in his bairro in Lisboa, but when things go sour it looks like that is where he belongs and not on some of the most prestigious pitches in Europe.

Injuries to Luisao and Sidnei has forced Jorge Jesus to call up Roderick Miranda from the juniors for the Europa League squad that faces Bate Borislov tomorrow. This is a call up I like, even though he will most likely not play as I assume the center back pairing will be Luiz and Vitor.
I have watched Roderick a few times now (one of those times live here in Toronto) and have been impressed by him, he's a calm defender, that anticipates and tackles well, who is quite useful on the ball as well. All these attributes have gotten him comparisons to former Benfica and Brazil defender Mozer, one of which came from sporting director Rui Costa. They even look a like.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

The Two Iberian Classics

All over Europe this weekend there was great matches, England had the Merseyside derby and the clash of the two London giants Arsenal and Chelsea. Italy had the Genoa derby and Fiorentina v Inter, and in Iberia, we had the two most heated rivalries in Iberian futebol. Sporting vs Benfica and Barcelona vs Real Madrid. Since I am both a Benfiquista and a Cule these we're two matches I couldn't miss.
O Derby de Lisboa
Historically, this derby would split the city between the upper class Sporting supporters against the people's club of Benfica, these days I am sure that the social economic divide between the two supporters sections is not so distinct.
This particular match played at the new Jose Alvalade stadium in Lisbon was a baptism of fire for Sporting's new coach Carlos Carvalhal. However, Sporting's new manager seemed to be ready for the battle. His side who we're recently "abandoned" by former coach Paulo Bento, have been struggling this year, but in this match the Lions looked a hungry bunch.
Jorge Jesus' Benfica, have been one of the better vintages of recent years. Jesus has got them playing some fantastic futebol, usually playing in a diamond midfield formation that on it's more attacking end has the two Argentines Di Maria and Aimar and on the defensive point Real reject Javi Garcia, and tireless Brasilian Ramires, who is nicknamed the Kenyan for his marathon like performances.
In the first half of Saturday's match Carvalhal surprised Jesus playing a 4-3-3 with 3 Sporting youth products in midfield, Adrien Silva, Joao Moutinho and Miguel Veloso. These 3 worked hard to win the midfield battle early on that it eventually forced Jesus to switch tactics himself to a 4-3-3 from his diamond. He took away some of Aimar's freedom at the tip of the diamond and moved him to the right of the midfield trio with Ramires moved over to the left of anchor man Javi Garcia. This led to the first half being a bit stale afterwards as both teams cancelled eachother out.
The second half was a quite the spectacle. There was some great passages of pretty open attacking futebol played by both sides. A fair result for the match it self I believe should have been a 1-1 draw, neither team was really superior so I hate to say either team deserved to win, but the second half alone deserved some goals.
Some things I noticed while watching this match:
-Veloso looks fit and hungry something that is bound to be good for the selecção. He also looks best fit to play in midfield, some where that his lack of pace isn't really exposed but his range of passing is.
-Adrien Silva I have read a bit about this kid but have not seen too much of him, although from the past two matches I seen, the U21 match against England and yesterday's derby he doesn't look quite there yet, still a bit wet behind the ears.
-Di Maria looked a bit off colour and selfish yesterday, as did Aimar after he was forced to play on the right of the midfield three.
-David Luiz also wasn't at his best and was fouling a bit too much.

El Classico

This is probably the most anticipated match in world futebol, a collide of two massive clubs, with very distinct philosophies.

The last time these clubs met last season at the Bernabeu in Madrid, Barça embarrassed Madrid with a 6-2 drubbing infront of their home supporters, today's match at the Camp Nou was quite different, the fact that my man of the match is Barça's charismatic captain and center-back Carles Puyol should tell a big part of the story.
In the first part of the first half Madrid seemed to have Barça rattled. Real was pressing high up the pitch and Barça had a hard time getting their passing game going. Ronaldo was looking quite sharp for some one just coming back from a long lay off and Lass Diarra looked explosive in midfield things we're not looking bright for the Catalans. As the half grew on Barça started to find their feet and we're able to start forming their little triangles up and down the pitch. And they ended up finishing the half a bit stronger.
One of the more memorable parts of the 6-2 match was that Messi played a lot of the match as a "false 9" spending a lot of time in the middle of the pitch closing triangles with Xavi and Iniesta, the difference in that match was that on opposite sides of Messi in that match you had Eto'o and Henry two players always looking to get in behind the Real Madrid defense who kept their back line honest against Messi which gave him more room to operate, today however the front trio was Henry, Messi and Iniesta. With Henry normally isolated up front while Messi and Iniesta tried to scheme in the midfield. Pellegrini had the perfect counter for this, he had two terriers in the center of the pitch (Lass and Alonso) closing down and tackling Messi and Iniesta, while his back 4 played a fairly high line compressing them even further, this was due to the fact that they didn't really fear Henry as they knew in Pepe and Ramos they had a match for his pace.
This all changed when Henry came off for Ibrahimovic, With Ibra on the pitch and able to link with the midfield. Messi was allowed to play higher up and more to the left of Barça's attack, this kept Real's back 4 pinned a bit further back and not as compact with their midfield core which gave Barça the room to play the futebol they like to in midfield. Some of this room was found by Alves when he hit the cross to Ibra who finished brilliantly for the only goal of the match.
All that being said Madrid we're quite good today, the best I have ever seen them play as the Galacticos II. So good in fact that Carles Puyol and Victor Valdes had to be absolutely sensational to hold on to this victory especially after the red card for Busquets.

Here are some links of interest regarding the two Iberian classics that took place this weekend.

The distance between Estadio Da Luz and Estadio Jose Alvalade in Lisboa.

A video on the rivalry between Sporting and Benfica.

A video on the rivalry between Barca and Real Madrid.

A link to my pics from our honeymoon in Catalunya!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Barça outclass Inter

Beautiful futebol? Grand Stadiums? Is that what I was rambling on about in yesterdays post?

I have been lucky enough to have witnessed a similar spectacle to the one that Barça put together last night against Inter. On September 19th of this year I was in attendance at the Camp Nou as Barça tore into the colchoneros.

Yesterday's scoreline wasn't as emphatic as the 5-2 that I watched, but it was just as convincing. Inter never looked to be in the game, they couldn't get close enough to Barca to cause them any trouble.

It was weird to see Mourinho so "content" while his side we're so blatantly outplayed. The Special One is normally fuming from the ears when his sides are down but yesterday he seemed to know he just didn't have enough.
Yes, I am a cule but I was a bit disappointed to see my fellow countrymen (and father in-law's classmate back in Setubal) fold his cards so easily, I really thought he would have tried to bluff his way out of looking so second rate. However, the damage was done before Mourinho had come up with any counter to the free movement of Iniesta.
Iniesta was "supposed" to be situated on the right wing of Barca's 4-3-3, the fact is though, while Barca we're in possession Iniesta was pulling the strings, in #10 like positions all over the attacking 3rd typically in between the marking zones of Zanetti and Cambiasso. Iniesta's free role, left an open road for Alves to terrorize Inter down the right wing which lead to Pedro's goal, who had a pretty good game for himself as well down the left.

After yesterday's match if Iniesta and Co are in the same form on Sunday against Real, there will be a lot more noise than just the regular clapping hands at the Camp Nou Theater on Sunday, even if star actors Messi and Ibrahimovic are missing.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The Beginning

Champions League Match Days 3pm eastern time, it's days like these that I hate being a NAFF (North American Football Fan), as Richard likes to call us.

Across the pond, over there in "The Old World" there is beautiful futebol being played (or not so beautiful, pragmatic I think they call it now) in grand and historic stadiums. Here in Toronto, I am stuck at work, I use that term losely as the Crisis, has turned this office into a morgue. A morgue with a horrible internet connection that couldn't even hope to play a stream of any of the great games being played out right now. So that leaves me here in a hole, trying to stay away from all my favourite futebol and even social media sites, trying not to find out scores that may spoil, the match I will watch tonight. Inter Vs Barça, if I am lucky enough to find a good cap of it later on tonight.

This futebol boycott, however, did give me the inspiration to finally start up a blog about this game, that I love so much, so here is the first post of as many as I can stay inspired to write. Maybe tomorrow I will do a write up on the match I watch.