Champions League Final 2010

I went into this match hoping Inter would win because they actually deserved to be in the final (unlike Bayern who got there with 2 away goals victories in the knock out stages, both thanks to Arjen Robben wonder goals).

Inter went with an expectedly defensive formation: 4-2-1-3. It was always going to be very difficult to score against them not only because of the extremely strong defensive line of Samuel, Chivu, Lucio and Maicon but also because of (not one) two excellent defensive midfielders in Zanetti and Cambiasso.

Bayern went with the conventional 4-4-2.

From the start Inter looked the better team. Their passing was crisp and accurate. Even though they relied entirely on only 4 players for their attack, they seemed to be making better progress and in general making better use of the ball in the final third. Bayern on the other hand kept position largely in their own half and found it very difficult to make their way forward especially against Inter’s practically 6 man defence.

The first goal from Milito was sublime. Three touches from one end to the other and a goal. Great composure. Great finish. Most of the first half followed the same pattern: Bayern try to go forward and Inter crowd out the final third and take them on the break. Bayern’s strategy was simple: Pass it to Robben. He seemed to be the only player who could actually get past the Inter defence. Chivu, I have to say, did not mark him well.

The second half started with 2 chances in the first minute itself. A very bad miss from Altintop (IIRC): At that level hitting at the body of the keeper from 16 yards out is inexcusable, and a nice effort from Pandev with a nicer save to deny him from Butt.

For a moment it seemed Bayern had figured out something in the halftime break, but they quickly disproved this supposition. They kept trying to score with the same strategy that hadn’t worked at all throughout the first half. Inter kept crowding out their end of the field and Bayern could barely put a string of passes together.

Altintop missed a few chances to at least trouble Bayern by going for the near post on both occasions, which Julio Cesar had covered quite comfortably. Arjen Robben forced a great save from Cesar. There were some excellent defensive moments for Inter, especially the clearance off Muller’s shot.

Then came the second goal, out of nowhere really. A moment of magic from Milito.

A few thoughts:

Mourinho showed, once again, that he plays for results and not for the entertainment of fans. The match was rather boring from a neutral point of view. Just my opinion, but I don’t think this is how football should be played.

That said, people are going overboard saying Mourinho won the Champs League on the same strategy as Herrera did 45 years ago. Mourinho was slightly negative in his tactics but nothing as bad as cattenachio.

Inter showed throughout the tournament that they were the team most capable of adapting themselves. Bayern on the other hand showed one dimensional approach, though I suspect that is more because of van Gaal than anything else.

All should note what an awesome match Wesley Snejder played. Being the sole link between attack and defence isn’t easy and he performed the job today with aplomb.

Bayern missed Ribery. Very badly.

Inter showed a master class of one touch, quick passing in the game. Something Bayern could never find their rhythm with.

And of course: It was very nice to see Bayern give the ball back to Inter even in the 89th minute when they put it out for Robben’s injury. Moments like these which make football the greatest game on Earth.

Where have all the stars gone?

Every era is known by it’s stars . For example , the 50’s are known as the decade of  Matthews ,  Fontaine , Greaves ,  Finney , Seeler , Ghiggia , Rahn , Kopa , Hidekguti , Pushkas , Kocsis , Grosics ….what the hell …all the Mighty Magyars . Noone remembers the fifties for Derek Temple or Ronnie Allen . Its not that they were bad players . They were in fact considerd to be some of the better players of the world at the time. Why is it then that no one associates the 50s with them. SImple . They were good , they weren’t Great. When I look at the current football scenario and think how many of these players will be remembered 50 years from now , I get barely any names . The thing is there are a lot of good players today. There are no stars . Even someone like Ronaldo . He is among the top 2-3 best players in the world today. But how many people would put him in a list of all-time greats ? Not too many. Same with Kaka. Eto’o is probably the best strker inthe world. He would not be in my list of 100 greatest players of all time. It’s sad that this generation will be remembered for its lack of great players and not by the stars it produced. It’s not like this is a very bad thing of course and I can’t really blame anyone for this situation. All I can do is observe (and complain . And Crib. A lot. ).

So going deeper into the situation. How many players would make the cut ? In my opinion , as of now , only Zidane and Figo. I am of the opinion that Messi will be one of the all time greats but he isn’t quite there yet. The only solace our unfortunate generation of football fans has is that this has happened before. The 80’s were equally bad. They had Maradona , but then I rate Maradona as the most over-rated player ever. Even for the sake of argument if we consider that Maradona was the best player ever , who else was there from the 80’s? We could go upto Baresi , maybe Rummenigge but thats it. Some of the best strikers of the generation were Lineker and Rossi , which really says a lot . I seriously would say that even the 2000’s are better.

Now that I’ve taken up the topic I might as well clarify that this is why I think Maradona was overerated . sure , he won the World Cup single handedly but then what competition did he have. How many great players did he have to match up against him? No-one. Compare this to Pele . He had Eusebio , Charlton, Di Stefano, Garrincha , Beckenbauer , Cruijff to contend with and he came out on top. Note however that Maradona was an amazing player. He just isn’t worthy of the hype he gets. Top 10 of all time . Nothing more.

Cribbing about the ack of greats in my generation is depressing . I would just like to point out that I’ve been very lucky to have watched sports in the  90’s. Tendulkar , Schumacher , Sampras , Zidane , Maldini , Baggio ,  Woods  , Graf . Can’t really ask for more. The 2000’s and more importantly the coming few years will be boring in comparison. But then the transfers make up for the lack of entertainment.

It’s been a long time

It really has. I think I’ll stop proclaiming resurrections and just write when I have the time , which is what blogs should be about anyway.

I have some free time today. So will write some stuff , at least today.

Summer Madness

It’s been a mad mad summer so far.  Compared to last years insipid transfer scene somewhat salvaged by the dramatic Robinho to City move , this year has been crazy. Not the transfer market in general of course , but the actions of Real Madrid. I heard about Kaka’s transfer and i thought WTF . I heard about Ronaldo’s transfer and thought “WTF ! WTF! WTF! ” initially but then calmed down and thought ” Okay , this was always going to happen . It was only a matter of time” . Then I heard about Karim Benzema’s transfer and that’s when I had to blog about it. Karim Benzema is a good player no doubt. But he isn’t worth 30 million. 30 frickin Million!! Are you kidding me? With that Madrid have spent 148 million this summer. Lets put things into perspective here. Newcastle United , one of the biggest clubs in England , fifth on the revenue standings is probably going to bought for a 100 million. Real Madrid have spent more on three players than someone would on an entire club. To add to this , Frack Ribery has also said he wants to join Madrid. I’m pretty sure Bayern woudn’t let him go for anything less than 50 million (they would be extremely stupid if they did). But spending money alone is not the madness I am referring to .(In fact an article that spoke about how the Ronaldo transfer proves that he wasn’t bigger than the club which is a good thing, and I quite agree with this.) What really pisses me off is that the decision to buy these players has been made by Fiorentino Perez and not Pellegrini and has been made for purely financial reasons. Seriously , how the hell are they going to play Kaka and Ronaldo in the same team? They already have a good midfield . What about those players. When is Benzema going to play? They will not only self destruct but also kill a generation of great footballers (Which are anyway sparse in this time. More on that in a separate blog post) . Ribery said he want to join ‘ the new generation of galacticos’ . The belief that stars win matches is a fallacy. The only reason the Galacticos of Madrid won all the stuff they did in the late 90’s and early 2000’s is that while they had the brilliance of Figo , Zidane et al they also had extremely hard working players like Cambiaso , Conceiciao and Makelele . Notice that Madrid’s downfall came after these three left the club. The fact is simply ball skills or great vision is not enough to win matches . You need hard workers to run around , do the donkey work , close down opposition , hinder their game . Without this all the skill in the world would be useless. What Madrid are doing now is living in the delusion that simply buying extremely skilled players will get them results. And sadly the great players are also in the same delusion. I may come off as a pissed out United fan , but seriously think about the impact on football as a whole. Great players go to Madrid for god knows what reason . They all obviously cannot play. Some have to sit on the bench , Even one season on the bench will kill a player (Shevchenko , Tevez) . So we stand the risk of loosing some of the greatest footballing talent in the world. The bigger worry is about the other players. Robben . Sneijder , Gutti , Nistelrooy , Higuan , Gago , Marcelo are all good players. With the three big signings , someone is going to miss out and is going to put his career back a couple of steps. Madrid have the money and have the right to buy anyone they want , but they really should think of their own good and the good of the players in general. As a huge football club , as an icon of the game , Madrid have a responsibility to the game of football. And ruining careers just for the tag of Galacticos or Shirt sales is really not done. Madness I tell you , Madness.

Reading watch 2

As of today,

Wolves are on top by a long way with 47 points from 20 games. Birmingham City are second with 41 points. Reading is third with 34 points but with one game in hand. So if they win they’ll be 4 points clear of Burnley in fourth place. and 4 points away from Birmingham . There are still 26 games left in the championship. Anything can happen. Go Reading!

The Manchester derby

It’s been a long time. What better way to re-re-re-resurrect this blog than with a post on the Manchester derby ?  Man United deservedly won. Though I’m sure Sir Alex would be worried about his side’s recent inability to translate dominance into goals . I thought Carrick played magnificently . Ronaldo did nothing , good that is.  The deliberate handball was about the stupidest thing I’ve seen anyone do in a long time. Berbatov as usual went to sleep in the second half . Rooney put in quite a good performance. I thought it was a very stupid decision to substitute Berbatov with Giggs in the last ten minutes of the game with one man down. In that situation you need workrate and energy , not skill. Tevez would have been an ideal substitute for Berbatov. Also I don’t get why sir Alex is giving so many starts to Berba and completely ignoring Tevez . Arguments like “he’s settling in” dont apply anymore.

Man City were all over the place. Robinho and Wright Phillips got through a couple of times but did nothing with those opportunities.

Finally United will be relieved to finally win a match albeit by just the solitary tap in goal. They will be encouraged with their good performance in attack but something needs to be done about the lack of goals. Maybe Sir Alex should consider some experimentation. Like playing Rooney , Berba and Tevez together perhaps?

Reading watch

My second club in England (after Man Utd of course) is Reading . This new category is to chart their progress as they go about in the championship. Right now they are in third place behind Birmingham and Wolves. Last weekend they beat the leaders , Wolves , in quite a convincing manner (3-0) due to which Birmingham now goes top. Hopefully they will continue the good work and make up the three points that stand between them and the leaders , Birmingham.