Old Futbol Buffet–Mancini’s Men March On

Saturday there was not much on offer, so I spent the day running around, getting stuff done and working on research for the blog. After taking my nap, I headed up to Claddagh’s to watch Sevilla v Real Madrid. All I can is thanks Sevilla . . . for making La Liga a joke. I ended up calling my United friend and breaking down the Red Devils as Los Merengues absolutely throttled their hosts, even with only ten men.

Sunday, on the other hand, was jammed packed. With church, I didn’t start my footy until the afternoon, so I missed FCB becoming “World Champions” again, United taking care of QPR and Juventus continuing their fine league season with a 2-0 victory against Novara.

Going back to the Barcelona game, I was going to watch the replay, but once I stumbled across the result and started reading analysis and highlights, I didn’t bother.  Zonal Marking was not impressed with Santos’ lineup and strategy as the Blaugrana shredded them time and time again as these highlights show (via @barcastuff).

Manchester City 1 Arsenal 0

There was a good start to the match but each side was lacking the final ball early, until Zabaleta played in Aguero who fired high. Looked like City was playing a 4-2-2-2, and I felt that Silva did not see much of the ball, which affected him and the team. Arsenal fans correct me, but it seemed as if the Gunners started with four center backs, with Djourou on the right, Vermaelen on the left and Mertesacker and Koscielny in the middle. This worked after patient buildout from City but had catastrophic results in transition. One other thing for the Gunners, I thought Gervinho had a great game, covering a lot of ground, getting involved with RvP and causing City problems.

As for the only goal of the match, there was a great ball into the left channel that found Balotelli who went right at Song, shrugged him off and hit a shot right at Szczęsny. The Arsenal keeper parried it out right to City and the resulting scramble saw Silva banging it in. Really thought Szczęsny could have done better. Arsenal responded well and if RvP could have stayed onside maybe they would have equalized. The game become more and more stretched, but neither team could capitalize.

Couple of quick questions:

Why is Arshavin on the team?

He came on for Walcott, who was wearing an invisibility cloak except for a fine effort right after City scored.

Who this hell is Miquel?

Answer: The Reserves captain, who has flourished in the youth ranks since joining the Club as a 16 year-old.

What happened to Abou Diaby?

Answer: Recovering from injury

The French midfielder missed the start of the season after undergoing ankle surgery during the summer and his comeback was further delayed by a minor muscular problem after he returned to training.

After the match, I read up on Zonal Marking’s comments on the game and visited the Arseblog to get their thoughts.  Zonal Marking concluded with an interesting statement:

This, in part, explains why English clubs have performed so poorly in Europe this season – they’re far too open, and seem to have regressed to style of play more fitting of English football ten years ago, albeit with more technical quality. That caveat means matches like this will be regarded as a positive, but had either side played like this against Barcelona or Real Madrid, they would have been soundly beaten. A good advert for the Premier League? Maybe, but not a good advert for English clubs on a broader level.

I would say that the game reflected an English style of the mid-90s right after the Heysel ban rather that ten years ago but I understand what he is saying.  As for the Arseblog, he seemed pleased with the Gunners play if not the result.  I thought they had good patches but there were several scrambles in the back that should have been punished.

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Articles

Zonal Marking examined Luis Enrique’s Roma Project. His comments came after the Juventus game and surely the huge result against Napoli (3-1 away) will be a huge boost. While there is still a lot of work to be done, it seems that Roma are trending in the right direction. I watched the first half and the Giallorossi were all over their hosts, scoring early and putting some real pressure on a team that has qualified for the Champions League knockout stage this term.

In the wake of El Clasico and the perceived, possibly actual, choke job of CR7, Miguel Delaney examined Cristiano Ronaldo’s record in “big games”. Notice his criteria, which I found fair. Also notice the decline after he left Manchester United. Then finally notice his international record, which is awful. He could not get Portugal into the semis of Euro 2008 or the quarters of World Cup 2010. I watched several qualifiers for World Cup 2010 and Euro 2012 and noticed the some sort of selfish, pressing nature of his play. He scored a late consolation goal against Denmark in the fall but it was too late. He did help in their demolition against Bosnia-Herezegonia but he was terrible in the first leg. Anyway, Miguel makes some interesting points, and Ronaldo will have another chance to shape his image this spring in the Champions League and at the Nou Camp in April.

I came across this interesting article about the upcoming SOPA vote, which tied together possible internet censorship and the globalization of football fans. I’m exactly who the author talks about. I’ve never been to Europe—Old Trafford, Staidio delle Alpi or the Nou Camp—but follow my favorite clubs via blogs, social media and matches online. I’m not politically active at all, so I didn’t do anything and will now have to see all of this is resolved.

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Podcasts

The Men in Blazers were fantastic as usual, breaking down the big Chelsea/City game and banging the drum for RvP for MVP.  They also made some interesting and humorous comments about the Europa League, especially that it is the NIT of European competition.  Finally the lads touched on how fans find clubs and how that support manifests itself, which is a trove of humor, insight and discussion.

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