Tag Archives: Lionel Messi

Top Moments of 2011

31 Dec

Happy New Year one and all!  2011 has been quite the year and here are my favorite moments:

1. Abby Wambach’s game-winner against Brazil – This goal was one of the greatest things I’ve ever seen.  Playing a man down and a goal down in stoppage time of extra time, Megan Rapinoe picked out Wambach with a pinpoint cross and Wambach’s header sent the game to penalties, which the U.S. dominated.  Not going to lie, definitely made me cry – on par with Landon’s Donovan’s late winner against Algeria in 2010.  Amazing moment.

2. Hodgson out, Dalglish in at Liverpool – After reigning over one of the worst starts for the Reds in a long time, Roy Hodgson was finally shown the door in January 2011.  His replacement?  None other than the legendary Kenny Dalglish.  The team was revitalized under Dalglish, showing the passion and desire that was missing the rest of the season and moving up the table to finish seventh.  Dalglish was given a three year contract in May.  New ownership, combined with the return of Dalglish changed the outlook for fans all over.

3. Japan’s Women’s World Cup victory – Even though it came at the expense of the U.S., it was impossible not to feel good for Japan.  Homare Sawa equalized for Japan late in stoppage time and the team went on to win the penalty shootout.  It was the first World Cup title for Japan, which was  (and still is) battling with the aftermath of the horrific earthquake and tsunami.  The victory was about more than just soccer.

4. Barcelona’s triumph – Barcelona showed why it truly is the best team on the planet, winning the Champions League title in convincing fashion over an outclassed Manchester United.  Barcelona also claimed the La Liga title and recently the Club World Cup title as well.  The team was (and is) mesmerizing to watch, especially player of the year Lionel Messi and midfield maestros Xavi and Iniesta.

5. City thrashes United – I don’t think it’s any secret that I am not the biggest fan of Manchester United.  Manchester City totally embarrassed the defending champs, 6-1, in mid October, much to the surprise of all but the most delusional of fans.  It was quite the win for City, a warning shot that they are to be taken seriously in the league race.  And let’s be honest, who doesn’t like to see United get knocked off its high horse every once in a while?  To top it off, United (along with City) was eliminated from Champions League play in early December.

What are your top moments from this year?

Barcelona sublime in Champions League win

29 May

If you didn’t get a chance to watch the Champions League final yesterday, you are missing out. Barcelona put on a masterful performance to win the European title over Manchester United, 3-1.

  • Thank goodness the game was decided on the field, by the players.  There was no controversial sending-off, no shot-from-the-stands diving and no B.S. penalties – as it should be.
  • I love watching Barcelona play.  They all work so well together, it almost seems unfair.  And of course, there’s the passing, which is jaw-dropping.  They are so patient with the ball, watching for just the right opportunities to attack the goal.  And because of their ridiculous amount of possession, it made United work all the harder to even try to get the ball back.
  • I wish I could play like Xavi.  That man has phenomenal vision.
  • United started the game strongly, forcing Barcelona into uncharacteristic bad passes and mistakes.  The Spanish side soon settled down and took over proceedings.  United got some fire back after Rooney’s equalizer, but the second half was all Barcelona.
  • Why, oh why would you give Lionel Messi any room to operate?  Even though Nemanja Vidic and Rio Ferdinand made some excellent last ditch tackles, Messi had all the space in the world to receive the ball and run at the defenders at pace.  One of the reasons he was able to score his goal was that neither Vidic or Evra closed him down.  I still can’t believe the best player in the world is only 23 years old.  Scary.
  • Even though Barcelona was clearly the better side, props to Manchester United for not giving up, especially after the third Barca goal.
  • United tried to play the same way they have all year, but they were unable to come up with a way to contain Barcelona.  Michael Carrick and Ryan Giggs were outclassed in the midfield.  Antonio Valencia had a less than memorable outing and Chicarito was unable to take advantage of his speed up top.  Rooney played well, but couldn’t spark a miracle comeback.

Messi is awesome, game was not

27 Apr

Lionel Messi scored twice in the final 15 minutes to give Barcelona a 2-0 win over Real Madrid at the Bernabeu.  He has now scored 11 goals in his last 11 Champions League games and as is typical, his goals were quite nice.  What wasn’t so nice?  The vast majority of the rest of the game. Thoughts and observations below:

  • Pepe’s red card was on the harsh side.  I probably would’ve given yellow if I was the ref. (But let’s be honest, I’d be a terrible ref because I’d never call anything unless you were bleeding and/or a bone was sticking out of your body.)  More deserving of a red card?  Emmanuel Adebayor’s blatant face shove of Sergio Busquets.  I realize you’re frustrated, but still, that was unnecessary and you were lucky to only see yellow.
  • Whether it was completely legit or not, the red card completely changed the game.  Pepe was the key cog in the clogging of the midfield and a vital piece of Real’s success against Barca in their last two encounters.   Barcelona was finally able to break through because they were finally able to string together passes through the midfield.
  • For the love of all that is holy, enough with the diving.  If you get knocked over, fine, but grow a pair and get back up.  There is no need to act like you just got shot from the stands.  It’s embarrassing.  Players should be able to be carded and/or fined after a game ends for playacting.  Games should be won and lost because of the product on the field, not because someone (cough*Dani Alves*cough) is a good actor.
  • Also, there’s no need for 15 people to get in the ref’s face after every single foul call (and there were a lot of them tonight).  He made a decision, now let’s move on.
  • This game never got into any sort of rhythm.  There were too many whistles and too much bitching.  (Not saying they weren’t legitimate fouls, but hot damn, there were a lot of them.)
  • Yeah, Messi is kind of amazing.  His first goal required an excellent touch off a great cross and his second goal was pure brilliance.  Talk about a difference maker.  I love how he doesn’t always go for pure power on his shots.  It’s all about the placement.
  • Jose Mourinho is an excellent coach and a brilliant tactician.  However, me thinks he runs his mouth a bit too much.  After the game, he said, “Barcelona has qualified for the final. Sometimes I feel disgusted about this football world of ours…No one has any chance against Barca. Where does all this power come from? To win like this is very nasty.”  Huh.  If I recall correctly, your team beat them in the Copa del Rey final last week.  Also, you beat them as manager of Inter last year.  So you got a player (and yourself) sent off, get over it.  If it had been the other way around, would you be bitching?  Doubt it.  I realize that being rational isn’t necessarily Mourinho’s strong point, but please, you just sound way too bitter.
  • Halftime fight in the tunnel.  Seriously, people?  I realize tensions are high, but that’s just stupid.  What if Victor Valdes had gotten hurt?  Barcelona would’ve been screwed since Jose Pinto was sent off during the fracas.
  • Real has an uphill battle going into the second leg at the Camp Nou.  They won’t be able to sit back and let Barca control the ball 80% of the game if they want a chance at the final. (Which it sounds like Mourinho has already given up on…or are these just more Special One mind tricks?)

What’d you think?

United, Barcelona through to semis

13 Apr

Barcelona only scored one goal, but it was more than enough as they cruised to a 6-1 victory on aggregate over Shakhtar Donetsk.  Lionel Messi scored the game’s only goal, his 48th of the season in all competitions.  I guess you could say he’s a decent player.

In England, Manchester United claimed a 2-1 win over Chelsea to go through 3-1 on aggregate.  Javier Hernandez struck first for United, but second half substitute Didier Drogba made things interesting with a goal of his own.  Chelsea’s hope didn’t last long as Ji-Sung Park put United ahead pretty much immediately.  Once again, a Chelsea player was sent off as Ramires earned his second yellow, which clearly didn’t help the situation.  And once again, Chelsea fans were left to question the decision to include the craptacular Fernando Torres, who was subbed off for Drogba at half. 

I understand the Chelsea spent a lot of money on Torres, but if he is not producing, why play him?  To appease the owner?  Me thinks a Champions League trophy would please him more.  Sometimes you just have to say screw that and play the lineup you think will win.  Sure, you might incur the wrath of said owner, but still, wins and strong performances should trump egos, regardless of what team it is.

Champions League Quarterfinals Continue

6 Apr

Hopefully today’s games will be more competitive than yesterday’s slaughter.  Today we’ve got Barcelona, the “best team in the world”, taking on Shakhtar Donetsk.  Lionel Messi picked up a knock while playing with Argentina and only saw sub action against Villarreal this weekend, but I’d be surprised if he wasn’t in the starting lineup today.  While Barca is clearly the favorite, Shakhtar has the ability to surprise.  They dominated Roma in the round of 16, winning 6-2 on aggregate.

On the British isles, we have Chelsea hosting Manchester United.  Will Chelsea avenge its 2008 Champions League final loss?  Will Fernando Torres finally score a goal?  Will Wayne Rooney go apeshit?  These are all vital questions being asked in the buildup to the game.  Chelsea will miss the playmaking ability of their better January transfer, David Luiz, who is cup-tied.  Of course, if I were Carlo Ancelotti, I wouldn’t be playing Torres either as he doesn’t exactly deserve it.  Didier Drogba and Nicolas Anelka would start instead since they actually know how to score goals.  Stamford Bridge hasn’t exactly been a great place for ManU to play either as they have lost six of nine at the stadium.

TV Schedule
Chelsea vs. Manchester United – 2:30 p.m. ET/Fox Soccer (Live)
Barcelona vs. Shakhtar – 2:30 p.m. ET/Fox Soccer Plus (Live)

Barcelona-Arsenal highlights Champions League action

8 Mar

Barcelona is in the surprising position of being down going into the second leg of their Champions League clash with Arsenal. The English side claimed a 2-1 win at the Emirates last month. Playing the return leg at the Camp Nou is no easy task and it will take a strong performance from Arsenal to come away as winners. The Gunners will be boosted by the return of Cesc Fabregas and Robin Van Persie, while Barcelona will be without key defensive players Carles Puyol (injury) and Gerard Pique (suspension). Of course, there is always the Lionel Messi factor to contend with, but Arsenal did a good job of containing him in the first leg. Is it possible to do that twice?

In the day’s other match, Shakhtar looks to hold onto its lead over Roma. The Ukrainian side scored a big 3-2 win in Italy in February. With the second leg in Ukraine, Roma have a tough task ahead, especially with the suspensions of Marco Cassetti and Jeremy Menez. The home side will be boosted by the return of Fernandinho, who has recovered from a broken leg.

TV Schedule
2:30 p.m. ET – Barcelona vs. Arsenal (Fox Soccer/Live)
5 p.m. ET – Shakhtar vs. Roma (Fox Soccer/Delayed)

Time for friendlies

9 Feb

It’s that wonderful time again…that’s right, it’s time for meaningless international friendlies. Woo. The U.S. was supposed to play Egypt in Cairo today, but the game was cancelled last week amongst the political turmoil happening over there.  While it would have been a good match for the U.S., it was clearly the correct decision to cancel.  There’s more important things to worry about than football sometimes (shocking as that may be). 

One of the day’s best matchups should be Lionel Messi’s Argentina vs. Cristiano Ronaldo’s Portugal.  The duo shares top spot on the La Liga leaderboard with 24 goals each.  Will either of them play enough to really make an impact?  We shall have to wait and see.  Meanwhile, Frankie Lampard will captain England against Denmark as both Rio Ferdinand and Steven Gerrard are missing out with injuries (don’t worry LFC fans, Stevie G will be back for the weekend’s game).

The nice thing about this international date is that it is only a midweek thing, which means we will be back to the fun of league matches this weekend – none of this two weeks without real games crap.