Posts Tagged ‘Spain’

& The Evil Superpowers out to curtail its mission.

That’s one way to stop him – Iniesta takes on Croatia


I am amazed at the current crop of journalists and fans who have now become ‘bored’ & disillusioned with the pure, passing game of the Spanish national side and the most-widely associated protagonists of  ‘tiki-taka’ football,  FC Barcelona. They say these sides are killing games with their passing, putting teams and viewers to sleep with their monotonous, robotic combinations.

But I believe the reason behind this sudden negativity aimed at the beautiful game, is the negative anti-football set-up which is becoming a regular theme in the new battle for silverware. How ever many times the pundits at the European Championships compared a team with a defensive mindset to doing “a Chelsea”, and no matter how annoying it was, part of the annoyance was that they had a point.

I was publicly slated on the evening of the Champions League final for my purist beliefs about how the game should be played, & how the Blues had now ruined what could have been potentially, three great games in the lead up to, & including the Allianz arena showpiece.

Roman Abramovich has bankrolled an impressive cast list at Stamford Bridge during his tenure as owner, and no way is every purchase aimed at a negative or defensive footballing mindset. They have great players, they have firepower, and they should utilise this. You are playing in UEFA’s elite club competition and representing English football in the most prestigious final of the calendar. For that reason alone, you should give your opponents and fans the respect they deserve by at least attempting a foray upfield before the eighty minute mark.

The historical beacon of bigotry, cheating and evasion that was Rangers FC, I think deserve a slither of credit for the shocking lack of attacking intent they portrayed at Ibrox against Messi and his beautiful Barcelona bandwagon in the Champions League in 2007. Under Rijkaard, the monopolisation of possession was starting to take shape prior to the leadership of Pep Guardiola through 2008-2012, who highlighted the style & introduced it to the masses.

Bayern captain Lahm aims to breakdown Chelsea

Walter Smith’s side were not able (that particular year anyway) to financially match the wages or go toe to toe on any level of talent or class with the Catalan giants – therefore their only option was to allow the football to be played out in front of them and for an embarrassment of possession to be forsaken in the hope their goal was not breached.

Lionel Messi was very aggressive in his post-match comments about anti-football, but we have witnessed Celtic ride their luck in the Camp Nou on occasion in a similar vein and not complained about the outcome when it was a positive one for the Hoops. What we require, is a new direction in the ongoing struggle against pure, beautiful, inventive football – and I think actually attempting to play football may, to a certain extent, work.

France were a massive disappointment  during these Championships – they came into the tournament on a great run competitively, with Laurent Blanc installing a belief in the players and the country, that they could replicate the past glories of World Cup ’98 and the 2000 European Championship in Belgium & Holland. Looking through their squad list, there was an abundance of great  flair players who could light up any game – and I’d lost count at the number of punters who had wagered Karim Benzema adding to his Real Madrid club total of thirty-two goals last season, by becoming the tournament’s top scorer.

Watching the quarter-final on Saturday against Spain was not only upsetting for the neutral, like myself, but bewildering for the French team it seemed who looked stuck between a rock and a hard place at times. At points during the match they looked threatening going forward, and when they put Spain under pressure, del Bosque’s side made mistakes.  Then they would remember the game plan outlined at the outset of the match to contain their opponents, and have to fight the natural urge instilled in themselves to exert their fluency and offensive charms.

On the domestic front, Real Madrid managed to stop Barcelona from a fourth consecutive league win last season aided by a glut of goals from a certain Portuguese superstar. When the El Clasico came about though – the tactics shifted slightly, and it seemed their main ploy was to dismantle Barca rather than go toe to toe.  Last season even though the possession statistics were heavily stacked in the Catalan sides favour, Los Blancos attacking prowess was almost identical and their daring was rewarded with a two one victory in the Camp Nou which all but finished off Guardiola’s side in the title race.

So are those now rebelling against their former love, bored with the actual tactic or frustrated with the antidote which has spawn in an aid to curb the success? The problem surfaces when teams are too scared to lose, rather than wanting to win. This in turn has produced an agenda focusing on the incessant and somehow, robotic, pass and move style modelled by Xavi & Iniesta et al, rather than further criticism which should be heaped on the men trying to eradicate the beauty of it.  If more managers and teams broke the shackles of their destructive strategy, and stood toe to toe with the tiki-taka culture – the positivity could return, and the winners would be two-fold. I expect Portugal to rise to the challenge on Wednesday – I hope the magnitude of the evening does not cause them to retreat into their defensive shells.


Torres enigma set to unravel

Posted: September 19, 2011 by thebhoymcclay in Football, Uncategorized
Tags: , , , , , ,

A sight we may well get more accustomed too? (But in Blue!)

You may not know it following yesterday’s match headlines at Old Trafford – but Fernando Torres has made an impressive start to this season. An abundance of journalists and onlookers chose to highlight the glaring miss late on from the Spaniard which may well have made the closing stages interesting, and in retrospect would have galvanized the strikers reputation in an instant. It’s funny how the margins of error in football are so slight that they can turn one outstanding individual performance,  into a moment in time which now defined the 90 minutes.

Much has rightly been made of the strikers £50m move to Chelsea which has for the most, been unsuccessful, but could Andres Villas-Boas’ faith in Torres’ ability and his footballing approach revitalise the striker? Early indications are positive – a Man of The Match performance away to Stoke, two assists in a Champions League win against Bayer Leverkusen and a goal yesterday, to cap off a not too shabby six appearances in a Chelsea shirt this season. His manager rightly backed El Nino after the game yesterday and even drew comparisons with Rooney’s penalty slip to his own players’ off balance gaffe.

ATLETICO: 249 games /91 goals

LIVERPOOL: 142 games / 81 goals

CHELSEA: 24 games / 2 goals

Since that transfer at the end of January, it took Torres 903 minutes to capture his first goal in a Blue jersey and for some fans, they thought it may never have come.  Toward the end of the 2009/10 campaign with Liverpool,  the striker went in for his second knee operation in five months. The ongoing problems on that right appendage since Christmas told the story of an uncomfortable and inept few months when Rafa Benitez still regarded Torres as the talisman – a weight of burden which was too heavy on his shoulders. He went straight from the surgeons table to the World Cup and was again visibly not ready to compete at the highest level, he made only two starts as Spain went on to become champions with no scoring assistance from their one time star man.

The following twenty-six appearances for the Reds’ under new manager Roy Hodgson, in which he found the net nine times, did not bode well for player or club and at the start of January, the former Fulham man left the hotseat. Torres decided to cut out this disastrous spell in his career by moving to Stamford Bridge and only now after Villas-Boas’ appointment has any sign of a resurgence been noted. This early run has also coincided with an injury free period in the side and a full pre-season without any niggles or major international competitions to contest with. The new look Chelsea dynamic with Torres at the head of a three-pronged attack (Juan Mata & Sturridge yesterday) can reap rewards and I believe the Spaniard could have one of his most productive seasons in the Premier League and Europe – El Nino ready to take the country by storm again?