FA Cup Winners, not losers (Chelsea)

Arsenal denied Chelsea the pleasure of completing the double. Double the pleasure wasn’t to be for Chelsea, but to say us Arsenal fans had half the pleasure is just wrong. It was a performance that pinged out assurances that the Arsenal machine was going to give its update a run for its money. 

The club should get new players and move on those who aren’t needed. The club should also give those youngsters on the cusp of a first team breakthrough a more relaxed opportunity to play. The club should not use the League Cup to give youngsters minutes. Afterall, it’s another cup English teams have to play for. Can we really be picky about silverware at this stage? The club should break its wage structure to keep Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil. Speaking as a fan of the club, all I want to see is a winning effort being made to keep these two. I will not talk ill of Arsenal’s ability to keep world class players if one or both move on, as long as the effort being made uses all the resources allocated to the cause. It has to be less of an Arsenal effort and one more on par with the other top teams in Europe. 

It pains me to say this, but maybe Arsenal should ease the burden on those essential players who always end up getting hurt. Have them compete with other class players for their spot. On that note, I want all of us to take a moment and daydream about Mertesacker blocking the rain for us and intercepting on our behalf to bring the club another dash of sunshine in the form of an FA Cup. 

His performance was truly inspirational. One would not know that he spent over a year on the sidelines based on the cup final performance alone. I also want to give a shout out to Rob Holding for not falling victim to Diego Costa’s shenannigans. It was hilarious to see him smile over the fuss Costa was putting up. He also put in a mature performance that deserves recognition. Cannavaro who? Ramsey should always play finals. It was interesting to see Mezut drop back a line and play as a central midfielder of sorts. 

P.S. Excuse my shitty attempts at being clever!

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A Defensive Copa Libertadores To You

In this recent World Cup we saw national teams employ really good defense (0-0 quarterfinal and semifinal draws) or really bad defense (Brazil anyone?). My jaw dropped like a guillotine from the French Revolution to unleash cheerful yells after every goal in that 7-1 German victory over Brazil. In those other draws, the lack of goals was compensated for by the tactical battles presented. Defense is still part of the game folks!

I was watching the Copa Libertadores final last night in a state that can only be described as mad. Missing an opportunity to go out with a lady will do that to you! While watching, I noticed how narrow Nacional were playing. Their attacks came from long balls to their attacker and counter attacks. The formation was rigid and the positioning was not to be broken. This went on to absorb attacks caused by San Lorenzo having the ball for extended periods of time. Also, in the first half, the ball was lost and recovered in the half way line area by both teams. A mistake, in the form of a bad pass or interception, was taken advantage off. A series of turnovers is how I would describe it. No, I have not lost track of what sport I’m writing about.

Pressing in concentrated areas is another thing Nacional did with more than one player pressing whomever had or was going to receive the ball. The narrow way of moving did not have them spread all over the pitch. San Lorenzo used the sides of the pitch a lot more than Nacional did. That combined with Romagnoli’s play opened up spaces and allowed them to drop into the channels.  Of course, the Nacional fullbacks would stop these attacks on the wing by following the runs and blocking them. The center backs would throw their bodies to clear the ball from danger. This showed how much they wanted the cup. Piris, the captain, lead his defense to a 1-1 draw against San Lorenzo in the first leg of the final. He was Leonidas holding back the Argentinians in Estadio Defensores del Chaco. This defender, Piris, broke up runs, tackled, and helped transition the ball from his defensive area to the midfield. This was achieved by passing the ball into midfield without going for a long pass or cross.

I’m writing this to highlight the defensive style of play present in this first leg of the Copa Libertadores final. My attention glued on to it like flies on poop! The defenders knew they were the anchor that was holding the boat.The formation held because it was defensive and movement off the ball was needed to break attacks and absorb them. Defense is a concept that compliments well with offensive play.

  • Copa Libertadores – continental club South American tournament
  • Club Nacional – team from Paraguay
  • Club Atletico San Lorenzo de Almagro – team from Argentina
  • Raul Piris – A Paraguayan footballer (defender) who captains Club Nacional
  • Leandro Romagnoli – A Argentinian footballer (midfielder) who plays for San Lorenzo