Sunday, April 24, 2011

Mas Que Nada

Real Madrid: 2011 Kings of Europe?
Mas que un club ("More than a club") - FC Barcelona motto
Mas que nada - In Brazilian Portuguese slang: "Yeah, right!; in Spanish: "Better than nothing"


Royal Pain: Real Madrid hoists the 2011 Copa del Ray trophy

It pains me to say this, but I predict Real Madrid will win the 2011 Champions League final against Manchester United in an historic victory that will make Jose Morinho the first coach to ever win three European soccer crowns with three different clubs. I hope I'm wrong, but if I was a betting man, I wouldn't bet against it. And it pains me because I am an FC Barcelona fan through and through. Every night when I go running, I proudly don one of my three Barca jerseys (usually getting sympathetic car honks from cab drivers and only the occasional raspberry from Real Madrid or Man U detractors) as I pretend I'm Lionel Messi, Andres Iniesta or Xavi Hernadez repeatedly running the length of the Camp Nou for a 5K jog.

But anyone who's a realist, anyone who's been following soccer lately has to admit it: Real Madrid may be second in La Liga (8 points behind Barcelona), but in everything else their current form is world-class. Even Barca coach Pep Guardiola agrees, admitting that the recent extra time loss to Madrid in the Copa Del Rey final and the 1-1 La Liga tie at the Bernabeu makes his team underdogs for the upcoming clash with their arch-rivals in the first leg of their Champions League semi-final meeting at the Santiago Bernabeu on Wednesday, April 27.

Barcelona may be "more than a club" (as in their motto, mas que un club), but they aren't more than human.


You got the silver: All that glitters isn't gold at Barca these days

Both sides were exhausted by the long and extremely physical Copa del Ray final, but Mourinho's "reserve" team - if one can call last year's leading Madrista scorer Gonzalo Higuain, Brazilian former World Player of the Year Kaka (also the second most expensive player transfer in history, after Ronaldo), and Karim Benzama a "B-side" - was much more impressive in its next game, a 6-3 win over a very good 3rd-place Valencia team, than Barca's reserves were as they struggled at home to beat an outclassed 17th-place Osasuna side 2-0; Barca reluctantly had to insert its exhausted superstars Xavi, Iniesta, and Messi into the game to ensure the victory, with starter Dani Alves having to play the full 90 minutes despite running his legs off in the recent Copa del Ray clash.

The problem with Barcelona is simply this: they are small and they are thin of bench - and they rely far too much on one player, Lionel Messi, whose 31 league goals and 50 (!) total goals (in all competitions) this year have carried the Blaugrana on his miniscule back.

Counter that with a Real Madrid side of Galaticos who are big and tall (Ronaldo, Bezema, Adebayor), deep (the midfield in particular is positively bursting at the seams with Xabi Alonso, Sami Khedira, Mesut Ozil, Marcelo, Angel di Maria, Lassana Diarra, Sergio Canales, Estaban Grenaro, Fernando Gago and - oh yeah - Kaka vying for playing time) and, under The Special One's stewardship, more disciplined (especially defensively, with Morinho adding his reliable former Chelsea stopper Ricardo Cavalho) than ever. But that's what you get when you break records spending in excess of $220 million dollars to sign peeps like Ronaldo ($80 million), Kaka ($56 million), Benzema ($30 million) and Alonso ($30 million). And play defensively, which is Morinho's style.

In the Copa del Ray game, I didn't notice until the second half (when Manuel Adebayor came on) that Ronaldo was being played as the lone striker in Real Madrid's 4-5-1 attack - backed by a packed midfield of Ozil, Kehdira, Marcelo, di Maria and Alonso. They had Benzema, Adabeyor, Higuain, and Kaka sitting on the bench! And the game plan was obvious: Morinho's men were told to sacrifice their bodies contesting every ball - especially Khedira in his best game as a Madrista, who gave so much that it looks like he may now miss the rest of the thigh injury he suffered giving it his all - and clog up Barca's creative generals in the midfield. Morinho deployed three defensive midfielders (Khedira, Marcelo, Alonso) in that clogged five-man midfield, with only Ozil and di Maria left to create crosses and chances for the well-marked strikers. Real Madrid played ugly and won; Barca tried to play with class and lost, thrown off their game by tactics dictated by a master tactician.

Barca has a paper-thin bench (thinner, in fact, than Guardiola's increasingly gray-flecked hairline), with Puyol (and now after the cup final, Adriano) and Eric Abidal (first a liver tumor, now a thigh boo-boo) out injured, Bojan out for the year, Milito coming back from almost two years of inactivity, Maxwell out with a back injury following the Osasuna game...and everyone outside of Sergio Busquets, Gerard Pique and Abidal are tiny!

There's a reason why Ronaldo got that header to win the Copa del Rey for Madrid: he's a big boy! Little Brazilian Adriano played his heart (and now injured legs) out marking Ronaldo for all but one play in the match, but he couldn't match the soaring girth of Ronaldo and that sky-high header. Size matters. That's the main reason why set plays for Barca are so anti-climatic. They don't have anyone - even Messi - who can take a free kick and score from distance like a Ronaldo. And with the departure of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, they don't have any big bodies to throw into the box on corner kicks other than defensive midfielder Busquets or defender Pique (who have to hurry and get back to guard as against counterattacks) - which is why they so often play the ball short and outside on corner kicks.


Big little man Messi and Little big man Ronaldo

And, post-Ibrahimovic, there is no big, Didier Drogba or Andy Carroll-type striker who can play with his back to the opposing goal and hold the ball up. It's all the burden of Villa and Messi to get the perfect pass from the tiny midfield trio of Pedro, Iniesta, or Xavi, or for Pedro or Dani Alves to make exhausting runs on the wings to snake through. And, unlike Ronaldo, Lionel Messi never flops in the box, always staying on his feet no matter how hacked he gets with his legendary footwork. Ronaldo may have more weapons (size, scoring at will from free kicks, deadly with headers), but Messi's heart and spirit-of-the-game are stronger; he's no cheat.

"We accept that Madrid are in the role of favourites in the Champions League," Guardiola admitted to the Spanish media. "I understand that is so, because they won the Copa and they are playing well. We also accept the challenge. We have great faith in ourselves and I have faith more than anything in my players."

I too have faith in Barca, but as I've seen over the course of the 2010-2011 season, faith is an intangible. Reality is tired legs, injury, limited bench options, and the burden of knowing you must play a perfect match every time out against a foe who can concede bodies, who can survive red cards (Madrid ended up with 10 players in its last two Barca clashes - a tie and a win), and still throw more world-class bodies at you. So while it looks certain that Barcelona will soon win its third consecutive La Liga regular season title (they now only need just two wins and a draw in the remaining five games to clinch), in the scheme of things it's really not much mas que nada. Better than nothing (as mas que nada translates in Latin American Spanish), but no silverware. No European glory.

Of course, Sir Alex Ferguson's Red Devils will have a say in the finals as well. It's a given that they'll get past a "Cinderella" Schalke 04 squad inspired by Madrid cast-off Raul, as the 10th-place Bundesliga team is clearly playing over their heads. Though two other Madrid cast-offs, Bayern Munich's Arjan Robben and Inter Milan's Wesley Sneijder, powered their respective sides to last year's final, it's unlikely given run of form that Schalke will repeat the trick (though Inter would argue otherwise!). Certainly Ronaldo is looking forward to this potential final against his former team; his outspoken critism of Sir Alex's tactics in Man U.'s loss to Barca in the 2009 final led quickly to his ouster there.

Time will tell. Until then, I'm keeping the faith, but accepting that this may not be Barca's year for European glory. Barca's aura of invincibility has passed since that infamous 5-0 drubbing of Real Madrid last November that now seems so far away and insignificant. Barca will continue to play the beautiful game of attacking football (that's why they're Barcelona!), but I'm afraid Morinho will continue to win titles, if not beauty contests.

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7 Comments:

Anonymous Maillot de foot pas cher said...

Messi, 18 ans, le meilleur joueur du monde aux côtés de Ronaldinho.

9:26 PM  
Anonymous maillot de foot pas cher said...

Pascal Dupraz ( técnico do Toulouse): "Admiro Neymar. A atitude de Neymar é excepcional em serenidade e velocidade. É bom para o futebol. É refrescante. Eu o vi em Barcelona

9:56 AM  
Anonymous Maillot Frankfurt said...

Enrique Cerezo, président du club de l’Atletico, s’est également rangé aux côtés de l’attaquant onéreux, un buste depuis son retour de Chelsea en janvier 2018. «C’est dommage car chaque joueur a un tempérament différent sur le terrain», a-t-il déclaré. «Ils souillaient beaucoup Diego et il arrive un moment où il faut se mettre en colère. Mais ce n'est pas justifiable car une insulte n'est jamais justifiable. "

Ils manquent tous les deux le point.

Il n’existe aucune «circonstance» ou seuil d’encrassement »qui justifie de dire ce genre de chose à un arbitre.

La Liga avait raison de marginaliser Costa aussi longtemps qu'elle l'a fait. Parce qu’à un moment donné, Maillot de foot pas cher les messages sur le respect des arbitres s’effondrent s’ils ne sont pas sanctionnés par une sanction adéquate. Regardez les joueurs interagir avec les officiels des matches des ligues les plus prestigieuses au monde, et il n’est pas nécessaire de faire lire aux lèvres pour voir ce que les arbitres doivent faire chaque semaine.

1:51 AM  
Anonymous maillot de foot said...

L'avenir de Gervinho à Parme est incertain après que le joueur a raté plusieurs séances d'entraînement alors que le club a tenté un transfert vers le club du Qatar Al-Saad, qui a finalement échoué.

Les ajouts de Jasmin Kurtic et Gianluca Caprari combleront le vide laissé par Gervinho, tandis qu'Ionut Radu renforcera la défense. Bien que Bologne se soit améliorée avec la signature de Musa Barrow, le Rossoblu finira finalement en dehors du maillot de foot 2021 pas cher top 10.

3:47 AM  
Anonymous maillot de foot said...

Le Napoli de Rino Gattuso joue actuellement contre la Fiorentina de Giuseppe Iachini en Serie A italienne ce soir. Plus tôt dans la journée, la Lazio de Simone Inzaghi a battu la Sampdoria par une impressionnante ligne de score 5-1 car ils ont été en feu récemment. Gattuso espère sûrement remporter la victoire aujourd'hui alors que Naples a du mal. L'équipe d'ADL vient de perdre 1 à 0 contre la Lazio en Serie A, mais elle a battu Pérouse en milieu de semaine en Coppa Italia. D'autre part, la Fiorentina vient de remporter une victoire 1-0 contre SPAL en Serie A et ils ont également battu Atalanta en milieu de semaine en Coppa Italia italienne. Ce devrait être un match solide car il n'y a que trois points séparant les deux équipes au classement. Avant ce match, le réalisateur de Naples Cristiano Giuntoli s'est entretenu avec DAZN, voici ce qu'il avait à dire:

«Lobotka et Demme? Ils se portent bien tous les deux, mais nous devons leur donner le temps de s'installer. Nous devons être patients mais je suis sûr qu'ils nous donneront beaucoup ... ». Plus à venir...

Lobotka et Demme ont tous deux récemment été signés par Napoli, car Gattuso espère sûrement changer la saison de Napoli. Pour plus d'informations, cliquez ici
 Annonces de Revcontent
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Inspiredot

L'AC Milan tentera de démarrer la deuxième moitié de sa saison 2019-2020 mieux que la première moitié quand il accueillera l'Udinese dimanche.

10:19 PM  
Anonymous maillot foot pas cher said...

Le joueur de 20 ans a fait sa première apparition de la saison mercredi soir en remplaçant Simon Kjaer pour les huit dernières minutes de la victoire 3-0 des Rossoneri sur SPAL en Coppa Italia.

Malgré le fait que le personnel d'entraîneurs ait décidé de le garder au-delà de l'été pour le laisser évoluer avec l'équipe senior, Gabbia pourrait être autorisé à partir en prêt ce mois-ci si le club juge que c'est une bonne idée pour lui d'obtenir plus de temps de jeu.

Selon les dernières nouvelles de MilanNews.it, l'agent de Gabbia, Tullio Tinti, a eu des discussions avec la direction de Rossoneri à Casa Milan concernant l'avenir de l'international italien U21, avec un certain nombre de demandes reçues.

Selon Daniele Longo, journaliste à Calciomercato.com, la SPAL de Serie A s'intéresse à la Gabbia, tandis que la Serie B en raison de Crotone et de Bénévent, mais Milan ne maillot foot pas cher le laisserait pas partir sans remplacement.

Le Napoli de Rino Gattuso affrontera la Fiorentina de Giuseppe Iachini en Serie A italienne ce soir. Plus tôt dans la journée, la Lazio de Simone Inzaghi a battu la Sampdoria par une impressionnante ligne de score 5-1 car ils ont été en feu récemment. Gattuso espère sûrement remporter la victoire aujourd'hui alors que Naples a du mal.

10:26 PM  
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3:18 AM  

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