Posts Tagged ‘ Uli Hesse ’

Old Futbol Buffet–Being: Screwed

This weekend was filled with football from Spain and England.  Saturday I managed to catch a couple of La Liga games in afternoon, and then Sunday started early with Liverpool hosting Manchester United, which was followed by Manchester City v Arsenal.  This was followed by my Over 30 Semi Final before some beers and pizza and then bed.

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Saturday

Went up to the pub for Real Betis v Espanyol and FC Barcelona v Granada.  Haven’t totally collected my thoughts on those matches yet, but the first match was dire.  Not many chances and rarely held my attention.  The FCB match was fascinating as the Blaugrana could not break down the visitors until El Capitan made the breakthrough minutes from time.

After that I headed to Lansing’s Old Town for the Bluesfest.  While down there I listened to band while watching the first half of the Michigan and Notre Dame game.  No skin in the game and I was ready to throw my beer through the TV as Denard threw pick after pick and put pressure on the Wolverine defense.  Ugh.

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Sunday

Liverpool 1  Manchester United 2

The Reds from Liverpool got hosed.  Even as a fan of the Red Devils, there is no other conclusion from the game.  Halsey had a howler and these things happen.  He missed a trick though.  For Shelvey, if he had gotten a yellow for his challenge on Rafael towards the beginning of the match then gets a yellow (and so does Evans) and then he is off.  As for the penalty, very little contact and Valencia forced the referee to make a decision.

United were not sharp. Maybe it was Liverpool, maybe it was the Champions League virus, maybe it was the personnel.  The defense was in shambles, with players getting tackles wrong and constantly letting Suarez run at them.  In the midfield, Giggs was wasteful in possession and Nani was awful.  Can’t get him on the bus out of town soon enough.  Kagawa was decent in possession but not incisive enough.  There wasn’t a killer ball, a direct punch at the opponent.  Scholes came on the second half to get hold of the ball and pushed Giggs outside for Nani.

LFC were still dangerous after the red and deserved the lead and probably a little more from the match. Glen Johnson owned Rafael and the hosts should have exploited that more. Probably the biggest revelation of the match was the Spaniard Suso.  He was fantastic and an upgrade on Borini.

The Red Devils win was less than satisfying, as they were poor and probably didn’t deserve anything from the match.  Again the question remains:  Will LFC stay with Rodgers?  They played well but the results are not coming.

Doron and Nik focused on Fergie’s lineup for their post at the Stretford End.  The gaffer didn’t get it exactly right and was forced into changes, especially in midfield, but, in their opinion, the back five were solid and proved the manager correct.  Issues remain for United despite the three points, which they are quick to point out.

Ed at The Liverpool Offside remains optimistic despite the loss and increasing injury list for the Reds.  Suso’s performance gave him hope as did Liverpool’s performance before and after the red card.  Unfortunately the club is in the relegation zone after five matches.  A run of results will get them clear, but when does that run start?

Manchester City 1  Arsenal 1

Don’t know what to make of this match, other than Joe Hart is an amazing keeper.  City played well after the midweek disappointment but were missing a gear.  Yaya never got going and Aguero was just a half step off.  In the end, City’s directness compared to Arsenal’s patience made for a nice conflict and a fully rested side might pose more problems for Londoners.

As for the Gunners, I have started a paypal account to buy Gervinho a first touch.  Old joke but never get tired of it.  Several times he got in and just gave it away.  Then at the end, he created some space for himself and put it in row Z.  How good is Cazorla?  This year’s David Silva, we’ll see if he can do it for an entire season.  Jenkinson looked confident and was a presence both attacking and defending on the right side.

The Arseblogger was pleased with the performance, which saw the Gunners go to the home of the Champions and get something from the match.  The teamsheet was quality with a couple of quiet performances from Diaby and Poldolski.  The team was assured in possession (a little too assured for me—shoot the damn ball) and earned a deserved point.

Harkiano at Bitter and Blue still cannot figure out if the Citizens start to the season is solid, sluggish or poor and is looking to the next five matches to make a conclusion.  Again City played well but Silva and Yaya did not have enough of an influence and the strikeforce could not finish off the limited number of chances they had.

Finally, Zonal Marking looked at the 4-2-2-2 of City against the 4-4-1-1 of Arsenal, although to be fair, the formations were fluid and unbalanced times.  He focused on the match-ups around the pitch and each manager’s second half substitutions.

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Podcasts

Uli Hesse joined Anto on Beyond the Pitch to discuss the current storylines in the Bundesliga, including Dortmund’s attempt to win three league titles in a row and Bayern’s signing of Javi Martinez from Athletic Bilbao.  They also touched on the German National Team and their mentality heading into the next competition.  Finally, Uli has written a great piece on the founding of the league at ESPN FC, which I highly recommend.

The panel on the Lovely Left Foot pod gave their thoughts on this summer’s transfers and also commented on the early rounds of games across Europe, while revealing boredom with the current Champions League set up.  Have to say, Match Day One was not short of excitement.

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Other stuff

My Over 30 team, CCFC, reached our tournament final for the third year running.  We destroyed our opponents and now go for the double next Sunday.  Our opponents ground out a win against a team that one my teammates described our version of Chelsea from last year.  Hard to watch and the beers only helped a little.  Sunday we go for glory.

Currently I’m reading Philippe Auclair’s book on Eric Cantona.  Can’t recommend it enough as he tells of Le Roi’s rise through French football to his days at Leeds and United.  Learning a little bit about the history of Ligue Un and the Les Bleus as well.  Good stuff.

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Old Futbol Buffet–Labor Day Weekend

What a window!!  Friday at work was spent trying not to get sucked into the Transfer Window shame spiral as every time I checked the interwebs some deal was on or off or confirmed or denied.  Essien to Real Madrid.  What the what?   Bendtner to Juve.  Ugh.   The Joey Barton saga.  By far the busiest team was Spurs, getting in Lloris, Sigurdsson, Dempsey, Vertonghen and Dembele in and Modric, Kranjcar, Pienaar, dos Santos, Rose (loan) and VdV out.  City were also active as Mancini tries to build his squad for important season, including defense of their title and a Group of Death in the Champions League.

Tons of business was done and it was hard to keep track of it.  Surely magazine editors and writers must be used to their preview issues doomed to the dustbin the moment they are printed as late transfers completely change forecasts.  I’m looking at you Fulham.  Several Americans were involved in this window, with Dempsey finally getting out of Fulham, Bocanegra going Racing and Edu going to Stoke.

Miguel Delaney ranked each team’s performance in the transfer window for ESPN FC, noting that Chelsea, Spurs and Everton all made strong moves while Norwich is just hanging and Liverpool were not able to overcome the mistakes made previous windows.

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Weekend’s Games

Miguel Delaney was on hand at White Hart Lane as more points were dropped.  He examined the situation for AVB and gave his comments on the situation.  (At least AVB was back to the suit and tie).

Liverpool 0 Arsenal 2

Sunday morning rolled around and I got up for my first viewing of the 2012-13 versions of these two teams.  Let’s start off with the kits.  Liverpool’s home is sharp.  A striking color of red and not cluttered with stripes or accents or anything else.  As for Arsenal’s away strip, #PurpleReignPain isn’t awful on TV, with the purple fading away to create an almost black kit.

The first half was hard to watch, with lots of energy but very little finished product.  Thought Liverpool looked tasty although not nearly sharp enough in the final third, as Suarez was not at his best.  The Reds saw the passes and the runs but could not execute.  As for Arsenal, the Gunners looked all over the place and were not organized defensively.  Going forward, everyone made the same run and complicated things.

The opening goal came down to two points: Gerrard turning the ball over (looked like simple miscommunication) and then Glen Johnson not tracking back.  Just lazy and allowed the German, who started the counter to get in and squeeze a tough shot past Reina.

The second half saw a little better from both sides, especially Arsenal.  Cazorla started making a bigger impact and Diaby continued his dominance.  Thought Giroud was wearing the invisibility cloak but couldn’t tell if it was a lack of movement from him, lack of service or something else.  For the visitors, Gerrard really struggled physically and in possession and surely the confrontation is looming between him and Rodgers.  Can’t see Jose Enrique being on Merseyside next year.  His form has plummeted over the last 12 to 18 months.  I really enjoyed watching Sterling, who was very lively and almost earned a pk against Mertesacker and was a constant threat on the outside.

The game was killed off when JohnJo watched the Cazorla walk in, receive a one two and then blast a shot at Reina, who should have done better. My tweet at the moment summed up the game for me: for all of #LFC possession, defensive lapses are killing the Reds. #LFC #AFC #EPL

The stat at the end was thrown out that this is Liverpool’s worst start since 1962-63.  not time to hit the panic button yet.  They are a decent side that just needs some fine tuning.  Joe Allen was class (first time I had every seen him play).  Get rid of Gerrard and kick Suarez up the back side, and a top six finish is not beyond them.

Following the match John W. Henry wrote a letter to the fans.  Pretty interesting reading as he articulates the management style of the club.

Zonal Marking analyzed the game, focusing on the shape of each team—Liverpool’s pressing 4-3-3 and Arsenal’s 4-4-1-1.  Cazorla was able to find space inbetween the lines and his movement led to both of the goals.

Ed at The Liverpool Offside was not in the greatest of moods: The football might be changing and the personnel are somewhat different, but Liverpool still present as the same indifferent, ineffective squad that’s stumbled and stuttered their way through the past two seasons.  He made sure to call out Gerrard and Reina while also looking at the few options Rodgers has at his disposal.  Time will tell if LFC can turn it around.

The Arseblogger was very happy with the defense, from the back four the reading of the game by the group.  Also, the midfield is starting to come together which should allow the Gunners to push on after a slow start.  I would still be concerned about squad depth although it sounds like several players are on their way back.

Finally, somehow Manchester United won their match at Southampton.  I followed the game on twitter and thought for sure the Reds were done for, but RvP came to the rescue.

Doron at the Stretford End tried to keep everything in perspective after three games for Manchester United. Six points out of nine, but there is still a lot of work for Sir Alex to do as this season progresses.  The game against Southampton featured a defense that had not played together since January 2011 and a midfield that needs to gel.  Had it not been for RvP, this would have been a loss.

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Michigan State University 0  University of Connecticut 1

Rounded off Labor Day weekend with a trip to DeMartin Soccer Stadium for MSU v UConn Men’s Soccer.  Sat with the Red Cedar Rowdies for a game marked by two things: heat and lack of sharpness.

The temperature at kick off (1pm) was 90+ degrees so both teams sat in to conserve energy.  Whether by design or by accident each team attacked in an unbalanced 4-4-2 with both left wingers pushing high into space but not seeing much of the ball.  UConn went with small combination passes while the Spartans challenged them over the top and out wide with driven balls.

UConn came into the game #1 in the country but have to say wasn’t that impressed.  They rotated a number of players across the front of their attack, with Allando Matheson being an absolute beast.  Strong, nimble and aggressive, he was the Huskies’ best attacker, eventually netting the only goal early in the second half.  In the back, their central defender Sergio Campbell was a rock, combining size, strength and speed.

For the Spartans, I was disappointed by the constant play into pressure.  Rather than play a possession pass, they almost always tried to play over the top or to a teammate with a defender right on them.  They had two quality attacks in the second half, one of which went to the right hand channel but the cross was over hit and the run mis-timed, while the other was a perfectly weight through ball but Domenic Barone couldn’t outmuscle #4 and hit a weak shot.

The visitors eventually stuck one man up top and just parked the bus, which invited the Spartans on to them.  Several half chances went begging and the game closed out 1-0 to the Huskies.

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Podcasts

Uli Hesse put together a two part post of the on beginnings of the Bundesliga, with next year being the golden anniversary.  The league is far younger than most of their European contemparies, and the real story is how the league was formed, as German clubs dealt with two issues: instituing professionalism and deciding who form the inaugural first division.  Very interesting articles on the formation of a league that didn’t even include Bayern Munich at the outset.

Part 1  Part 2

Finally got around to listening to John Gregory’s appearance on the Beyond the Pitch.  They covered the future of English managers (in essence becoming more sophisticated in terms of continental players), the power of the player in modern football, and the way forward for Aston Villa Football Club.  Gregory is honest, forthright and clear, and it is well worth the listen.

Old Futbol Buffet–Team of Destiny

I became an atheist shortly after 5pm EDT on Saturday.  How?  Why?  The 2012 Champions League Final.  How could a supreme being let a team of over-aged, racist, manipulating, selfish, underhanded players win one of the biggest trophies on the planet?  Not only win but consign Spurs to the secondary European competition and start a probable fire sale?  Not only win but beat their opponents on their home field to complete a horror treble (second in the league, runner up in the domestic cup, runner up in the Champions League Final) a la Bayer Leverkusen in 2002?  Not only win but let a disgraced captain—who hacked down an opponent in the semis to rule himself out of the game, who is up on charges of racism, who slept with a teammate’s significant other—lift a trophy of the highest order in football?

That first sentence was purely hyperbole for this post.  I disavowed God years ago.

I have no idea what happened in the game in terms of tactics and personnel.  I was at a bar with over 50 soccer supporters, drinking and ranting and yelling and taking pics and trying not to pull my ample hair out.  The first half flew by and was more entertaining than I thought it was going to be. Chelsea actually came into the game towards the end and were the best team for the last ten minutes.  A critical moment occurred when Gomez received the ball, beat Cahill and then blasted the ball into the stands.

The second half reverted to the typical script. Barcelona, Bayern, whoever, dominated Chelsea but couldn’t break them down; Drogba became isolated; time ticked away.  I kept screaming at the screen for Munich to start crossing the ball, to start challenging the Chelsea rearguard.  Guess what?  They crossed the ball in for Muller to head home, a goal that had been coming for him.  Immediately Heynckes subbed in Van Buyten for Muller.  Made sense at the time but looking back that might have been the turning point.  Five minutes later, Chelsea had their only corner kick of the match, and of course Drogba got away from his defender to score.  On to extra time.

Basically Drogba committed two penalties in the last two Champions League games and got away with it.  His foul on Ribery was idiotic.  One, what was he doing in the box?  Two, what did he hope to accomplish?  Three, how could he have been so stupid?  Robben’s penalty was horrible.  Well struck but not nearly accurate enough.  As someone tweeted:  all those Germans and they let the Dutchmen take the penalty.  After that there was only one result: The Team of Destiny would beat the Team at Home.  I tweeted that and resigned myself to a Chelsea victory in the shootout.

Not much to say about the penalties other than Schweini missed his and that was that.  Epic against Real Madrid, he didn’t strike it well enough and allowed Drogba to step forward and seize the moment, which he duly did, sending Neuer the wrong way before sprinting the length of the field, ripping his jersey off and soaking up the adulation.

Chelsea—sixth in the league, on the umpteenth manager in the Abramovich era, still in need of squad renewal—are European Champions.  Those are the facts.  I can’t change them, no matter how much I want to.  All this game revealed to me is that I’m snakebitten this season.  Just that simple.  Barcelona went down to Real Madrid and Chelski; Manchester United had the title pried from their fingers in 120 seconds on #Survival Sunday; Juventus won the scudetto only after I stopped paying attention after four years of hardcore support.  So now my strategy for the Euros is to root for Portugal, ensuring that this group of talented but brain dead players can’t win the competition.

When in doubt, I refer to Zonal Marking for analysis.  ZM’s secret identity (Michael Cox) wrote this post for the Guardian shortly after the final whistle, identifying the key trends in movement and player choices, noting that Muller and Mata were critical the match.  As for the final result, the substitutes proved the difference.

Roger Bennett (@rogbennett) summed up the game as only he can with witty and incisive and confusing comparisons and metaphors, while noting that Cech had been researching Bayern penalties since 2007 (diving correctly on all six, saving three), but he hit the proverbial nail on the head towards the end of his post:

This cup was won by repeatedly summoning glory out of the jaws of defeat through collective endeavor, resilience in adversity, indefatigable belief and gutsy pragmatism. The public profile of some of its players may make Chelsea tough to love, but its achievement is hard not to admire.

Jonathon Wilson broke down the tactics of the game, noting that both teams got their formations right but the difference was in execution.  Both teams were without key players which forced interesting changes, with both teams coping—Bertrand doing admirably in such a big game and Muller and Robben swapping positions as examples—but Bayern didn’t convert their chances, Gomez being the notable scapegoat.  Chelsea rode their luck, made their chance count and then Cech did the rest.

Raphael Honigstein was in Munich for another Final Failure for Bayern Munich, as memories of 1999 came back, with an English team snatching the trophy from Die Roten.  There was talk of change, but for me only one change has to be made—Gomez.  Get a clinical forward and Bayern can truly threaten the big boys and be yearly threat.  That is all.

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A couple of pods regarding Manchester United and Juventus.

Bobby and Eddie at the Manchester United Redcast were like me in that they started to believe at 85 minutes and then the moment, and the championship, was gone. They moved on to discuss how MUFC might respond to another challenger like Blackburn, like Arsenal, like Chelsea. They finished with a hope that Chelsea would win so that the Reds could poach Tottenham players.

The gang at Juventiknows got the pod back together to discuss the scudetto victory.  They led off in terms of belief and where everyone celebrated the championship before moving on to praise for Conte and his preparation and flexible tactics.  The next topic was the transfer policy of Marotta for this season and looking ahead to what they need for next (ie Pirlo replacement).  They wrapped up with thoughts on next season, with more games and more expectations.

Paolo Bandini reviewed a Coppa Italia full of storylines—Juventus’ bid for an unbeaten double, Del Piero’s last game for Juve, and Napoli’s run at their first piece of silverware since Maradona.  In the end, Napoli ran out 2-0 winners and now face the future, knowing that key players could move on.

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Uli Hesse wrote a great column about the final weekend in Germany, with results from the playoffs and the German Cup Final, where Dortmund thrashed Bayern Munich 5-2.  This result was the fifth straight win over the German power and was the most goals Die Roten have every given up in a final.  Uli kept with the stats with this stunner: Unless the French Ligue 1 produces 167 goals on its final matchday, the Bundesliga is once more the highest-scoring of the major European leagues – for the 22nd year in row!

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