Monday, February 12, 2007

Weekend Soccer Wrap Up: 2/12/2007

Manchester United 2 – 0 Charlton
In the end of this match, United walked away with all three points and moved their magic number to 9 for the EPL championship. However, the beginning of the match seemed less likely to have this result. Not to say that United were lucky, but this was a different game for United when compared to their last two outings.

After the first 15 minutes, I was certain that the match would end up a 1-1 draw and the title race would be much tighter. However, despite all of the problems that United were having in the final third of the field, Charlton were having just a little more trouble finishing and getting their defense together. Park’s goal came more from a lack of aggression from the Charlton defense and goalkeeper than Evra’s cross or Park’s head. Ryan Giggs damn near made it 2-0 because he wanted the ball more than the Charlton defense. Fletcher’s goal was made out of the same premise, Charlton’s defenders were a step off their pursuit, which gave Rooney the chance to take his shot and still get his rebound for the cross.

I was pleased in the end of the match. United picked up the points, kept their third consecutive clean sheet and were able to give Saha a start, Carrick a full rest, Giggs only 60 minutes of work as well as Larsson 30 minutes of work. Damn near everyone got some time in or was rested enough.

This Saturday United host Reading in their FA Cup clash at Old Trafford. Van Der Sar is expected back and I hope to see a full line-up sent out for the opening whistle. Even though United have a 6 point lead in the league, bringing home the FA Cup should still be a priority. If keeping Ronaldo out until the last 30 minutes is possible, I would still be ok with that. It would give him some time on the pitch, yet keep him for the mid-week clash with Lille. I would also like to see Saha get his second straight start and have Larsson or Ole start along side him, keeping Rooney out until the Lille match.

Bayern Munich 1 – 0 Arminia Bielefeld
In a match of under achievers, Bayern finally put up a victory for the first time in five matches. Roy Makaay’s 9th minute goal sealed up Ottmar Hitzfeld’s first home match of the season. Bayern remain 4th in the Bundesliga with 37 points.

I sat down and watched the match on Gol TV and as the match unfolded, I was impressed for the first 15 minutes. Bayern were attacking well and actually should have definitely had two goals, maybe a third as well. After the first 15 minutes, the match really slowed down and was stagnate. Bayern’s defense wasn’t the most composed, yet they got the job done against a Bielefeld side that had their own finishing problems. If Bayern were facing any of the top three Bundesliga clubs, they would have surely lost 2-1.

Ottmar Hitzfeld has his work cut out for him. He has got to get Bayern up to at least 2nd place, which means they must overhaul the five point gap between them and Bremen. However, I have got to believe that Hitzfeld is primarily focused on the Champions League match up with Real Madrid. He has two more weeks to get his squad in order and get them playing his brand of football. If that doesn’t happen, Bayern will get dumped out of the Champions League, by a much more confused Real club. Bayern have one more Bundesliga match up this coming weekend against Alemania Aachen, so Hitzfeld has one more shot at getting his squad right.

Hopefully Hitzfeld can get his men to regroup and they can get a good result from the Aachen match and carry it over to their Champions League match up with Real. If not, Bayern look to finally be losing their position as top dog in the Fatherland.

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