27 February 2013

Totally Different Barca Performance

Last night’s second leg in Copa del Rey semifinals between Real Madrid and archrival Barcelona at Camp Nou was indeed another “El Clasico” matchup. But Barca played a totally different performance in front of the home fans that resulted in the same outcome when they played AC Milan at San Siro last week. What’s more painful, this time they were demolished by its fierce rival Real Madrid right at their own turf. 

Perhaps, Real Madrid learned a lesson or two from what AC Milan did when they stunned the football world by defeating the Catalans (2-0) with excellent defensive walls and limiting the passing lane. Barcelona’s highly structured “Tiki-taka” style of play failed to produce victory in two successive big occasions and can only manage a single goal against five (AC Milan -2; Real -3).
More similarities can be found in AC Milan and Real’s magical night, by containing the passing lane with organized defensive walls but Mourinho has also deployed a clinical counterattack that caught the Catalans flat-footed, exposing again the vulnerability of their defense. In fact, Ronaldo’s two goals are a direct result from excellent counterattacking strategy and were very evident throughout the match. Or maybe, that is just what “El Clasico” is being played. 

Stats say that it was Barcelona’s worst defeat among “El Clasico’s” since losing at the Bernabeu in 2008. And the last time Real Madrid won 3-1 at Camp Nou, they won the Copa del Rey by beating Sevilla. And if there’s more coincidence of it, Sevilla on the other hand, is hosting Atletico Madrid tonight in the other second leg semifinal match but the Sevillistas is thrilling 1-2 in aggregate.

26 February 2013

A Crucial Match for Barca

I was talking in my previous post about the crucial eight days that will define Real’sseason and perhaps Jose Mourinho’s fate as Real Madrid’s manager. A lot of rumors coming out and of all sorts there is that have something to do with the erratic games of Los Blancos in the past six months. They either draw or win in big games but were the exact opposite against mid-table and struggling teams, in general.

Real is highly spirited after thrashing Sevilla (4-1) at the Bernabeu on 9 February but can only manage to a 1-1 draw with Manchester United in the first leg of their Champions League last-16 tie at the same pitch four days later. Then they barely managed a 2-0 win against Rayo Vallecano on 17 February and almost lost to bottom club Deportivo six days later as Mourinho rested several key players in preparation for another “El Clasico” matchup in the second leg of the Copa del Rey semis at Camp Nou.

While Barca just came from a stunning 0-2 loss at San Siro in the first leg of the Champions League last-16 tie against AC Milan. Milan, on the other hand, was able to find ways on how to tame Barca’s highly structured tactical framework of attacking and created an almost impenetrable defense. More so that Milan hasn’t conceded an away goal and today’s “El Clasico” will be a crucial match for Barcelona if they want to progress in the Champions League quarterfinals.

NB: Image from wikipedia.

23 February 2013

Eight Days That Will Define Real Madrid’s Season

To the fans of Real Madrid, we all know that their current La Liga season is an ongoing roller coaster ride and defending the La Liga title is almost impossible. Perhaps, even Mourinho has already given up the pursuit for another La Liga title and was instead focusing on other important titles that are still very viable to accomplish. 
As of the moment, Real Madrid lays third place in La Liga standing with a massive 15 points to catch up the league leader and arch rival Barca, making it very gloomy to overtake with the current performance displayed by Barcelona. And when Real Madrid had a 1-1 draw against Manchester United in the first leg of their Champions League last-16 tie, their upcoming games within the span of eight days, will define Real’s season starting on the 26th February. 

First, the Los Blancos will face Barca at Camp Nou on 26 February for the second leg in their Copa del Rey semis. Madrid earned a 1-1 draw in the first leg and a win will give them a better chance to finish the season with silverware. A loss would mean giving all they got to at least trim Barcelona’s 15-point advantage in the second El Clasico at Bernabeu on 2 March. And lastly, if they don’t succeed, they will have one more chance to salvage a trophy-less season in the return leg against Manchester United at Old Trafford three days later (5 March) for another break in their pursuit of “La Decima”. 

That is indeed, a crucial eight days to define Real’s Season.

20 February 2013

The Champions League Season: Third Day

After the first two games of the Champions League last week, the pressure is on for Bayern Munich and Malaga as no visiting teams lost in those games. And earning an away win or even just scoring goal is vital for each team in advancing to the quarterfinals. It is very crucial for every visiting team to score since away goals matter so much when teams are tied on aggregates. There’s no need for an extra time to play when both teams end up tie on aggregates considering that an away goal holds stronger than home goals. 

And Malaga became the first visiting team to lose in the round of 16-matchup as they succumbed to their defensive style of game. Although Porto, on the other hand, dominated an overwhelming ball possession in what was a one sided match but they struggled to breach the defensive stance of Malaga and only managed a slim advantage going to the second leg at La Rosaleda in three weeks. Yet it is enough for a win as they prevented an away goal from the visitors. 

In the other game, Bayern Munich showed why they are on top of Bundesliga, with a massive 15 points lead, as they comfortably demolish Arsenal right at their own turf. It did not take that long for Bayern to thrash Arsenal and they are already down 0-2 after just 21 minutes. It became another miserable day for The Gunners after they were defeated by second-tier Blackburn for the FA Cup fifth-round at the Emirates Stadium last Saturday and subsequently knocked out of the FA Cup. Arsenal is facing an uphill battle at the Allianz Stadium as The Bavarians only lost once this season and it was still late October 2012 when they lost to Leverkusen.

13 February 2013

The Champions League Last 16 Tie

The Champions League season has started again and thanks to AJS channel, I wouldn’t watch it anymore on my laptop as I usually did with other football matches in the past. And I also used to hook it in our 40-inch LCD from a live online streaming but I wasn’t able to do it anymore for quite some time now due to the S-Video port connectivity issue. So anyway, last Tuesday, 12 February 2013, the Champions League is back in action for the last 16 tie. 

The first two matches saw visiting teams earn wins and while Juve enjoyed a comfortable lead (3-0) going into the return leg at Juventus Stadium, PSG on the other hand, should have a relaxed match at Parc des Princes with superb goals from Lavezzi and Pastore in the first half. But they seem to be celebrating it prematurely and not concentrating on defending the net before the full-time whistle was blown. PSG threw away their 2-0 half-time lead when Los Che, salvage a stoppage-time goal and it was even made worse when Ibra was sent off with a bad tackle then Verratti will miss the return leg as well after picking up his fifth yellow card. 

The second day of Champions League action had given me a chance to see it in a much better resolution rather than watching it in a crampy 15.6 inches Vaio laptop. It’s nice to watch the most anticipated Champions League, round of 16, matchup between Real Madrid and Manchester United in a much wider screen.

11 February 2013

Renouncing the Ministry of the Bishop of Rome

The world is stunned and full of disbelief when the head of the highest office in the Roman Catholic Church announced his resignation due to age and declining health. And by doing so, he became the first pontiff to resign in 600 years, perhaps since the middle ages. 

Monday the 11th of February 2013, Pope Benedict XVI called a meeting of cardinals to tell them of "a decision of great importance for the life of the church", reports have said. Least that the cardinals have known that it will be the renouncing of the ministry of the Bishop of Rome. And according to one of those summoned to hear the announcement, none of the cardinals had expected it and they were all left in deep silence and astounded then were just looking at one another. 

Pope Benedict’s resignation was left with intense speculation as to the real reason why he step down and leave the papacy. And there must be something deeper than of his age that he can no longer carry his duties of the Petrine ministry and that he lacks strength to accomplish his job as the Bishop of Rome. One report have said, that the pope simply took a sheet of paper and read from it that he was resigning on 28 February 2013 and end his almost eight years papacy. 

Pope Benedict XVI, age 85, will become Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger after 28 February 2013 and the papacy, the Holy See, the See of Saint Peter will be vacant until the conclaves of cardinals convene to elect a new supreme pontiff.

NB: Image from wikimedia commons.

10 February 2013

The World is waiting for Real-United Matchup

I guess I don’t have to say it that you have to mark your calendar on 13 February 2013 and you must not forget what you must do when your clock turns 1945GMT because as the Special One have said that the Champions League round of 16 clash between Real Madrid and Manchester United is what the world is waiting for. It is the matchup that the world wants, added Mourinho. 

It is perhaps the most anticipated match between Premier League and La Liga giants and probably much better to outshine the Champions League finals, but that was just me saying. ManU has never lost a single game since the start of 2013 and are victorious in 13 of their 17 past games. While the Los Blancos, on the other hand, perhaps are still enjoying their roller coaster ride of the season by winning those big matches just like what they did to Sevilla last Saturday and then dropping the ones against lowly clubs on the table. 

And so Mourinho continue that people are not waiting for any other game, so you better not miss out what the world is waiting for as Real Madrid and Manchester United face each other in the last 16 first leg tie at the Bernabeu on Wednesday, 13 February 2013, 1945GMT. As both teams are desperate to win their Champions League showdown but the obsession is much for Real as they seek to extend their record 9 Champions League titles.

The Roller Coaster Ride of the Season

It is undeniable that I am a die-hard fan of Real Madrid and it is one of the motivations that prompted me to watch “The Battle of the Champions” between Spain and Uruguay at the Khalifa International Stadium. But unfortunate events happened days before it was staged and some of Real Madrid’s Spanish players did not made in the line-up due to injuries they sustained during one of their La Liga matches. Most notably is the number 1 player and captain, Iker Casillas, hand injury from accidental kick by Arbeloa during their match against Valencia. 

But that’s not what this post is all about; I just don’t seem to understand what’s happening now for the reining La Liga champions this season with their see-saw games starting from the opening match. They won today with tough opponents and lose tomorrow with lowly and struggling clubs. They seem can’t gather themselves to get into the winnings ways that made them Spanish champions last season. Many have said that Real Madrid is mathematically cannot defend the La Liga title anymore as they lie third in the table and a whooping 16 points behind leaders Barca. 

So they are now focusing their view in winning the Copa del Rey and the Champions league instead but that won’t come very handy as they face not just tough but arduous opponents. In the former, they’re against arch rival Barca in the semi-finals, drawing 1-1 in the first leg at the Bernabeu and the return leg is later this month on 26 February at Camp Nou. While their Champions League quest in round of 16 will start on Wednesday at the Bernabeu against Premier League giants Manchester United. 

And of course you know then what I’d love to have from the results of the match yet have mixed feelings as they lost to Granada last weekend then dismantled Sevilla yesterday. With that alone, you can now imagine Real Madrid’s roller coaster ride of the season.

NB: Image from wikimedia commons.