Chile (Picante) versus Portugal (Got Nothing) 

My hypocrisy grows as the Confederations Cup enters its second semifinal game. I wrote an earlier piece complaining about how it’s basically a tournament about nothing, right champ? It’s not like the winner gets directly qualifies to the World Cup…

Here are my takeaways from the Chile versus Portugal game today:

1. Cristiano Ronaldo’s hair – It was different, it had a lining and I couldn’t help but think it made him look schoolboy-ish. Maybe the hair was a factor in him not turning those headers into goals. Hmm…

2. Why wasn’t Ronaldo within the first three to take a penalty? He didn’t even get a chance to take one today since his teammates missed the first three. In that note, I couldn’t help but think Nani and Quaresma were subbed in to not only provide width for a Ronaldo that went from provider to the spear of the attack, but with penalty kicks in mind. 

3. Vidal complaining about getting elbowed was hilarious as their was barely a touch made in him. Doesn’t he have a rep of playing in the knifes edge? 

4. Was Vidal playing as a false nine? 

5. That one pace Alexis Sanchez played for his teammate was class!

6. Bravo! Bravo! I can’t remember the last time a goalie stopped the first three penalties kicked against him! He showed why he’s a great shot stopper, and I hope he’s back to his best next season. He had a great stop during the game as well which kept the game without goals.

7. The amount of shots over the bar was unreal! I’m looking at you Moutinho and Andre Silva… 

I’ll have something up Friday. Until then keep your haircut fresh and your mouth while you’re at it. 

Diving Into El Clasico

I know El Clasico between Real Madrid and Barcelona happened more than a few days ago, but thoughts about that game still linger in my brain. I think Gareth Bale is being unfairly targeted, and dare I even say, made into a scapegoat for the reason why Real Madrid lost that day. His team started of the game keeping a defensive where all of the defense and most of the midfield stayed behind of near the halfway line to absorb the Barcelona offense. Was this a cautious approach? I think a more pragmatic tactic like this 4-4-2 that was mostly employed needs to be done if you want to halt the runs of Neymar and Messi as they dribble their way into your six yard box. Then you have Luis Saurez hovering over the final third itching to latch onto a pass and do what he does best, score.

Holding back allows you to cut the spaces your opponent has to pass the ball by rushing their decision making. It allows them to keep the ball moving, which is unfavorable when facing Barcelona because passing side to side is a way to open up spaces between players forming two lines of four and staying deep; However, Real Madrid kept their positioning and gave the center midfielders a tough time through the middle. Going back on Bale, he was deployed on the wing in a more leashed sort of way to deal with Barcelona’s attackers on the right. If Carvajal had overlapped him more on occasions or had driven up the wing more, Bale would have had an outlet to pass the ball and get help in his zone. Marcelo kept himself in his half as well, but we eventually saw him move up when the opportunity arose.

I have come to welcome the Clasicos not only for the techical quality that the worlds best players can give us when put together on the pitch, but for the drama that usually unfolds. I think these games under the Mourinho era were some of the most entertaining matches I have witness and some of the most mentally taxing. The stomping, diving, eye poking, and dirty tactics brough a late night HBO like quality to the soap opera that is the sport. The diving and dirty play is something that sometimes annoys me to the point where I question why these elements are still present in the game. More can be done to discourage players from diving in the form of longer bans or even imposing sanctions on the teams they represent. Clubs will shape up their players if they are not exempt from direct consequences like tournament participation or suspended players for important games. Some of the problem is rooted in people like me who enjoy the drama going hand in hand with the technical aspect.

If Mascherano had not dived into a pool full of lube, he was rolling and flailing like someone covered in something slippery, I would not be writing this. Yes, their was contact between him and Ronaldo when they got entangled on that one play that lead to the viewers watching going why Mascherano why? With all the writhing and rolling you would think he got knocked over by very effective +10 flair from the stands. Images like that bring up the soccer is for sissies rhetoric that drives me up the wall in annoyance. This game is easy to pick up. This game also requires many hours of practice to even pass a ball and even then your passes go of orbit. Both genders play this game, and just because you don’t have the Incredible Hulk blocking your way, doesn’t mean that physicality is not involved. Have you ever gotten hit by a free kick? Have you ever been on the receiving end of a challenge that leaves bruises on your leg and you limping the rest of the day? If Mascherano was looking to gain some sort of advantage for his team I don’t think he was wrong in trying. I’m just saying that the sport as a whole didn’t get any advantages from that image of him being on the ground a little too easily. Readers we should be the bricks that are building a wall of prevention so that the sick enjoyment of Clasico like drama that people like me get doesn’t grow any bigger.

1/2 UEFA Supercup Please!

This UEFA Supercup lit up to a very entertaining start. Preseason rust still lingered in the air, among new players Toni Kroos and James Rodriguez, but the movements are there. James had a very good play where he ends up on the wing, after switching with Christiano Ronaldo, to create a wonderful dipping cross to Gareth Bale. Later in the first half, he failed to clear a cross in his own half. This almost gifted Sevilla FC a goal. Iker Casillas prevented this from happening. On that note, he is looking very composed this first half. What decline? The competition between him and Keylor Navas will slow done the decline of Casillas due to age and a rotation policy that has him playing the cup matches. James’s passes have been both good and bad from my point of view. This will be nothing to be alarmed about because more games will ensure he develops an understanding with his teammates.

Toni Kroos has been dictating play like a summer dress does to my eyes throughout this game. He decides in what sector the ball will be. The teams attacking movements shape up based on his composure with the ball. Granted, he had a passed blocked, and a few long passes cleared. He is a good acquisition for Real Madrid and you get the impression he was needed. Daniel Carvajal has been the weak link in this game. An assumed finger wag will be needed in the locker room after his performance! On the opposite side, left back Fabio Coentrao, has ran up and down the sideline providing depth in the attack by being another option. His link up with Ronaldo and good crossing are an extra topping on the pizza.

Denis Saurezwas the bright spot for Sevilla FC. Going from Barcelona B to a two year loan at his current club doesn’t seem to faze him. It didn’t show in this game as he was making runs forward and giving solid passes to his teammates from the flanks. It shows that he has honed his craft at Barcelona. We have seen world class players make their current team debuts and Ronaldo has scored a wonderful go to make this game 1-0 for Real Madrid. However, the rumblings of my stomach will cause my analysis to end here. The begging in my gut leads me on an adventure to consume different snacks that will lead to wall of satisfaction once they all dissolve together in my stomach. Good day.

  • UEFA = Governing body of European football
  • Real Madrid (current Copa del Rey, Champions League, and UEFA Supercup holders) are a Spanish team
  • Sevilla (Europa League holders) are a Spanish team
  • Results ended up being Real Madrid 2 Sevilla 0
  • April WaffleCone and Ted Nyguyen from my Unlocking Time post are fictional characters I made up.