Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Shocker: Young Men Run Circles Around Old Men

AC Milan 0-1 Barcelona
Catenaccio 0-1 Joga Bonito

Match report here. First half was fairly even; 2nd half Barca scored and then completely dominated, running circles around the ageing men of Milan. As the Brits say it was "one way traffic." The goal was scored by a man named Giuly (pronounced "Julie"), who would naturally be Johnny Cash's favorite player. It was a wonderful through ball from Ronaldinho that Giuly ran onto and finished with an equally wonderful left footed volley to Dida's near side.

A man named Giuly puts Barcelona in the driver's seat

The result actually flattered Milan a bit - they are fortunate to have escaped only down a goal, as Barca had several great chances in the 2nd half, including Ronaldinho hitting the post. They were being so dominated that Milan's manager used 2 of his substitutions to bring on defenders. This means he was essentially saying "good God we are about to get stomped, I will try to hold this to 0-1 and then hope that Shevchenko or Kaka can somehow rescue us with a moment or 2 of magic next week in Barcelona." He got away with it, and if Barca do not go through next week they will really kick themselves that they didn't kill this tie off yesterday. Milan looked really old, and Seedorf was totally invisible. So Barca have the all-important road goal, meaning they only need a draw at home next week to go through to the final. But they still have miles to go before they sleep.

Oh, a word about the ever-declining ESPN. If 1) you have paid for and own the TV rights to the Champions League in the US and 2) want to go around calling yourself the "World Wide Leader In Sports", then it might be a good idea to show a champions league semifinal between 2 of the biggest clubs in the world rather then replaying Poker, which they did yesterday. Poker isn't even a sport, it is a game. Anyhow, they have been kind enough to pre-emt "Doyle Brunson's All-Star Poker Moments Volume 37" for today's other Champions League semifinal.

Today it's Arsenal hosting "The Yellow Submarine" of Villarreal (their jerseys/shorts/socks are all bright yellow) in the last ever European game at Highbury. Previews from Myles and Arseblogger here and here. Villarreal are without their 1st choice goalkeeper and both 1st choice central defenders, so hopefully Arsenal will really go for it. Stopping them all depends on containing their creative playmaking midfield general Riquelme, who is the straw that stirs their drink. Manchester United reject turned 2005 Pichichi Diego Forlan is also dangerous.

TH14: "Paris is that way. Follow me..."

The final is 17 May in Paris, so I have to think that Thierry Henry (not to mention Pires & Flamini) is supremely motivated to get there, considering it is his hometown. I think Arsenal will go for it rather than play cautiously, meaning they will either win 3-0 or lose 1-3. I sure hope that it is the former.


Anonymous said...

As a Madrista (just how I pulled that off while still hating the Yankees for the same thing is quite a mystery), I find it difficult to pull for Barca in anything. Fortunately, Barca has a rather deserved reputation for *ahem* not winning when they should. Here's hoping that they'll get in the Finals, play an amazingly entertaining match, and then lose on a fluke girl all the while blaming Franco.

And yeah, I think it's a joke how badly ESPN is bungling their rights to broadcast the Champion's League in the US. It's very difficult for me to believe that poker re-runs would draw higher ratings than a match between Milan and Barca.

Kanu said...


Madrista who hates teh Yankees? Interesting, they are kind of the same thing. I wonder what your feelings are on Chelsea then - they make Real Madrid look like Getafe.

Anonymous said...

Well, keep in mind that I started following Real Madrid back in the mid-90s, when Barca was dominating La Liga and Real was developing home grown players and wiley veterans like Raul, Hierro, Redondo, Karanka, Sanchis, Seedorf, Morientes, Guti, etc. (When I say home grown, it also includes young players that Real bought cheaply and made into stars.) And then that group somehow managed to scrap wins over much more talented squads like Juventus and ManUtd on the way to 2 Euro-Cups. Well, that kinda sold it for me.

So you see, I guess I came in just as Real Madrid was winning the "right way", using solid core of home grown players that are identified with the club from the (relative) start of their careers. How was I to know that a new chairman was about to be elected that would throw the entire squad in a completely different direction?

Truth be told, historically, Barca is much more like the Yankees than Real Madrid. Save the current edition and the famed 50s edition, Real Madrid had always been built on home grown/Spanish players, la Quinta del Buitre comes to mind immediately, while Barca had always tried to, well, import foreigners to best Real Madrid (Stoichkov, Romario, Cruyff, and on and on). So while the Yankees-Real Madrid comparison has been apt the last couple of years, historically, they have much less in common than you'd expect.

As for Chelski, screw them. I support Crystal Palace in England, that should tell ya where I stand on Chelski and all it represent.

Kanu said...

Thanks Moin - I admit that I didn't know that about Real pre-Perez.

That's one thing I really admire about Arsene Wenger - he doesn't buy stars, he creates them and competes with the best teams in the world.

Anonymous said...

A lot of reasonable Real Madrid have been clamouring for the return of the "good old days" when the club was run more like Juventus than Barca. (Actually, the good old days weren't that good either. Wasted 21 million GBP on Anelka?)

Agreed, this is also the reason why I give alot of credit to Sir Alex Ferguson. At the start of ManUtd's dominance of EPL in the early/mid-90s, he built his squad almost completely out of home grown players and made them great stars. Of course, he lucked out with an once in a generation crop of young players, but he was still astute enough to play them when others would have not.

That said, one thing I can see Arsene doing at Highbury (actually, need to get used to saying Ashburnton Grove soon) is he's kind of turning Arsenal into another Ajax. Meaning a place that is known for identifying young players and taking them to the next level. Fabregas, Toure, Senderos, Van Persie, Pennant, Bentley to name a few. And look at the bench for this particular matchup: Diaby, Djourou, Song? All under 20. Quite amazing.


Kanu said...


Remember who sold Anelka to Real for 22.3 million pounds 3 years and 25 goals after buying him for 500,000 pounds.

Wenger's astute eye for talent and ability to cultivate that talent into world class stars has also gone a long way towards getting Arsenal the finances to be able to compete - close to 40 million profit on Anelka, Overmars, Petit, Vieira alone (with Ash COle likely next).