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Tuesday, February 21, 2006

"And the steam has gone completely out of the Spanish sails..."

Truly, Arsenal should play in Spain. Real Madrid simply did not have the physical might to disrupt The Goon Show the way so many English teams have this season. Only Gravesen, Beckham and perhaps Woodgate had the stomach for it - no surprise, given where they played most of their careers - but Woody was gone after just a few minutes, thanks to a nagging leg muscle.

The Gooners cut through the Merengue defense like a chainsaw through custard. The through balls - half a dozen of them - were exquisite. In the second half, four Madrid defenders at a time were helpless to stop the Fabregas-Henry link. Ljungberg was a constant menace. Even Hleb looked lively, though Robinho tied him in knots with ease.

Lopez Caro made a slightly idiotic play by switching L'il Rob, who was providing decent service to a not-quite-on-song Ronaldo, for Raul. For his first touch, Raul got the ball right at the top of the box and froze. Then he missed a good chance. And then Julio Baptista came on... for Gravesen. Whaaaa?

He Who Sees No Incidents actually had almost as many Spaniards in his starting XI as Lopez Caro did: Fabregas and Reyes versus Guti, Casillas and Sergio Ramos. TDH waited eagerly to see if Theo Walcott, too young for the Premiership but not for UEFA, would make an appearance and add some English flavo(u)r to the visiting side. But it was not to be.

Meanwhile, two teams that actually have quite a few of their home countries' citizens in their squad lists slugged it out in Munich. Fantastic strike by Ballack and a rather fortunate away penalty for the Milanesas (which means "the breaded cutlets" down here), but I'll let Mara supply the rest of the commentary....

5 Comments:

Anonymous Dodgy said...

Would've been nice to have seen Walcott on the pitch, but that was never going to happen. Not with both sides trying to pull some respectability out of sub-par seasons.

I'd wager it'll be 1-0 to the Arse at the library on the next leg. Home turf + dodgy weather + dull tactics + Henry = arsenal win.

But Barca v. Chelsea, now that might be a good 'un. I trust you will be reporting post match?

1:50 AM  
Blogger The American Geordie said...

Agreed on the Arsey bunch. It's grim up North London, as Florrie's beach boys will soon find out.

Yeah, TDH will be on the stick tomorrow - only to scout for the FA Cup quarterfinal of course, nothing more. We should start a betting pool on how many players, coaches and referees will be ejected, fired or brought up on charges by the end of the week. If I were Victor V, I'd coat my shirt with Vaseline in hopes that Carvalho would just slide off....

3:53 AM  
Blogger the Maradona of Malawi said...

Here in Southern Africa, 4 channels were showing the football. Incredibly, THREE of them decided to show Liverpool v. Benfica. Fortunately, the other showed Milan v. Bayern, but what a cock-up. Arsenal fans were pissed off.

Anyway, on the game - in the first half, we couldn't live with Bayern - Ballack and Ze Roberto in particular were just too much for us, and that goal was incredible.

Second half, different story. Gila missed an open goal (and had a poor game), Kaka began to beat Demichelis on almost every possession, Pirlo clicked and Sheva started to get in dangerous positions. we could have won, even if the penalty was 50-50, given Sheva's one-on-one he somehow failed to score.

Seedorf had a stinker, and Gattuso dived to try and get Bollocks sent off, which was disappointing, since we're not really that kind of side. That said, we showed in the second half, on song, we have too much for them. with GG suspended, we should play with Vogel to improve our passing and let pippo loose on them - he always scores against Bayern.

I'm almost ashamed to say it, but especially as the game went on, it looked like Kaladze/Nesta should be our first choice centre-back pairing. KK was outstanding. Maldini should move to the left when fit, and Stam should be dropped for Cafu to give us a bit more thrust.

6:29 AM  
Blogger The American Geordie said...

I chuckled as I saw Stam racing to the right corner, doing his best Cafu imitation. I was a little surprising to see him starting a European match, though, given that he's sort of a lame duck. Hasn't he already arranged a comfortable dotage at Ajax?

3:12 PM  
Blogger the Maradona of Malawi said...

that's what I'm told; not a bad idea, Stam's not going to be a Maldini, who, though not the player he was at 27 (arguably the finest defender of all time back then, and certainly the best LB) is still comfortably world class. That said, Sta,'s still virtually impassable on his best days.

our problem is mobility; cafu can still motor, and so can sergio, but neither are real defenders; this puts huge pressure on Nesta and his partner in the centre, whoever that is.

5:52 PM  

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