Old Futbol Buffet–Noisy Neighbors Silence the Theatre

Another busy week culminated in yet another busy weekend.  My church did a Pumpkin Carving Event for the neighborhood kids, and since I’m in charge, that meant last minute details: buying supplies, making sure we had enough help, confirming the venue, setting up the event.  I was hoping to gorge myself Saturday on Malaga v Real Madrid, FCB v Sevilla, and Juventus v Genoa.  Saturday night rolled around and my source for the games bailed and McDonald’s internet sucks, so I was left with match reports and highlights.

Sunday was jam packed with soccer.  Or could have been if I was single, childless and devoid of responsibility.  The game slate was as follows:

Manchester United v Manchester City at 8:30am

MSU Women v OSU at 12pm

Valencia v Athletic Bilbao at 2pm

Villarreal v Levante at 4pm

——————

Manchester United 1       Manchester City 6

I joined the Manchester Derby 30 minutes in, with United down 1-0.  The first thing I noticed was the complete lack of atmosphere.  Both teams were playing in a cemetery, with the crowd only making some noise towards the end of the half.  Not too many highlights and it seemed like all of United’s shots were straight at Joe Hart.

The path of the game was determined just a minute into the second half as Jonny Evans hauled down Balotelli and received a straight red.  Surely this will be his last season at Old Trafford, as mistakes and injuries plague his game.  The only reason he’s playing now is because the twins are hurt, thus Smalling has to play on the right instead of in the middle.

For a while, United played better down a man, at least pinning back City for a time, but some neat interplay in the right hand channel ended with Milner fizzing the ball across the goal for Balotelli to tap in for his second.  After that United slowly lost the plot, shipping a third and then absolutely throwing in the towel at the end, giving up three goals in about three minutes, losing 6-1.

The swagger and edge of the opening weeks is totally gone, with tepid European performances and lackluster matches in the league being the order of the day.  They have played the contenders (mostly at home) and have gotten 10 of 15 points, but gone is the home unbeaten streak, the goals seemed to have dried up, and the team is trending downwards.

The return fixture is six months away, and United are down five points (essentially six due to Goal Difference).  It is far too early to hit the panic button.  All you have to do is look at Chelsea’s start to the season last year and know that almost no lead is safe.  It may be that the gap will close after Christmas as United starts their typical second half surge and City has to play some of the big guns between now and then.  City have had a great week, grabbing a last gasp winner against Villarreal to keep their European ambitions alive and putting their local rival to the sword in crushing fashion.  They are slowly gaining the winning mentality and maybe they will have enough to raise the Premier League trophy in May.

——————

I didn’t get to the rest of the games.  Not surprising when there are fliers to be taken down, a child to be taken to his drum lesson, and a house to be cleaned for church.  It happens.  But I am looking forward to the midweek league fixtures in Spain and Italy this week.  England teams will be participating in the League Cup.  ZZZZZZ!  Here are some of the matches I’m looking forward to:

Tuesday

2:30 PM  Juventus v Fiorentina     FSC

Wednesday

4:00 pm  Real Madrid v Villarreal        GOL TV

Thursday

4:00 pm  Athletic Bilbao v Atletico Madrid      GOL TV

As for the weekend . . .

Saturday

12:00 PM  Roma v AC Milan (11:55am ET)          FS+

2:30 PM  Inter Milan v Juventus               FSC

——————

I am super behind on my podcasts, so not much to share there.  One pod I did catch over the weekend was Beyond the Pitch, who had Daniel Taylor and Roberto Gotta on.  Taylor was on to preview the Manchester Derby and provide insight into the Tevez situation.  Gotta and Anto talked about the news at the big Serie A clubs–AC Milan, Inter and Juventus.  All three are in transistion and future successes are still in doubt as the respective managements sort out finances and squads.

Speaking of Serie A, Paolo Bandini recapped Milan’s stunning comeback away to Lecce in the Guarian, featuring a hat trick from substitute KPB.  This may be the kickstart to the league campaign that Rossoneri fans have been waiting for.

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    • Samuel Long
    • October 24th, 2011

    Had to watch the Manchester Derby via footytube as I was busy preaching Sunday morning. I knew the score going in so I was surprised that there was no Nasri to start with. Obviously City didn’t need him. 2 comments by my highlight commentator I thought were interesting. Early on he said, “Silva is the best player in the Premier League.” Thoughts?
    Then later, with City up 3-1 and only 15 minutes left in the game he said, “This could get very embarrassing.” How right he was.
    While it was a whoopin’ by City, I think that all we really learned was – City is far superior than United when they have an extra man.

    • silva has definitely been one of the stars thus far. his movement and vision have increased 10 fold from his first season. part of mancini taking off the hand break.

      evans may never play for united again. that mistake was ridiculous and cost the team any chance for a point.

    • Samuel Long
    • October 24th, 2011

    Oh, and the reason why the stadium was so quiet was because all of England caught the NFL fever and were tailgating in the Wembley Stadium parking lot.

  1. i heard about the glazers having a helicopter taking up parking spots so that they could get to the game. ludicris!!

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