Sunday, March 11, 2007

Weekend of Football

I just finished my weekend of football. In three matches, I was able to see five of the biggest clubs in Europe, if not the world. We had one winner and one really, really great match in Spain.

Super Classico
Barcelona hosted Real Madrid in the second Super Classico of the La Liga season. Both clubs were coming in off of their midweek Champions League matches that saw them both dumped out of Europe, which made this match just that much more important. The club that showed that it had already moved on from their midweek loss would be able to put their domestic league season on track.

This match did not disappoint. A 3-3 affair with Messi picking up a hat trick for Barcelona, saving them from embarrassment in second half stoppage time; it was a great match to watch. Ruud van Nistelrooy picked up a brace for Real in the draw.

This was one of the fastest and most exciting matches I have seen in a long, long time. Both clubs were going full tilt and charging right at each other. It was a great match, if you missed it, you missed out.

Milan Derby
The second Milan derby was held earlier today, with Inter further cementing its hold on a true Sudetto with a 2-1 victory over rivals, AC Milan. This was a much different match from the first Milan Derby, a more controlled and structured match when you compare the two.

Ronaldo played against his former Serie A club and opened up the scoring with a 40th minute strike for Milan, giving the “visitors” a 1-0 lead for most of the match. Cruz and Ibrahimovic picked up the goals for Inter in the second half.

Despite the fact that Inter have been dumped from the UEFA Champions League, you have still got to give them a lot of credit for this season that they are having. They are undefeated in the Serie A in something like 20 matches and had a 17 match win streak. Unless they monumentally slip up, they should have the Scudetto on their jersey’s next season.

Week of Truth
So in one of the worst seasons that Bayern Munich has ever had, current “interim” coach Ottmar Hitzfeld labeled this last week as the “Week of Truth.” They faced off against Hertha Berlin last Saturday and came away with a 3-2 victory. They then followed it up with their midweek UEFA Champions League home match against Real Madrid, which saw Bayern dump Real out of the Champions League. The final test in the week of Truth was their home match against Weder Bremen.

I would say that going 2-1-0 in the three matches is a very good record, considering that Bayern are still alive in the Champions League and are only 6 point sback of first place in the Bundesliga and 3 points back of second. Bayern played well in all three matches, so they have nothing to really be ashamed about. That said, I have two nitpicking points.

Claudio Pizzaro is a wasted player now. I have watched him play over the last few Bundesliga matches and he has really lost a step form the guy I watched several years ago. Last week against Berlin and this week against Bremen, he was always crying for the ball when it was never sent anywhere near him and when the ball was near him, he would either stop his runs or he would flail at the ball in some child like action. His killer touch has left him and Bayern should seriously consider trying to get him moved out of the club.

Oliver Kahn is showing his age. He is still a great goalkeeper, but his timing is getting a bit slow for him, as he showed in the collision that gave Bremen their goal. Was it is timing or was it his decision making? Bayern had Van Buyten and Lucio around around Almeida who had the ball, yet Kahn still ran out to try and get the ball, allowing Almeida the chance to chip the ball at the goal. Hopefully the next week he gets some amount of rest and will be able to pull things back together for their match with Frankfurt.

All in all, three very good matches to watch as I spent time on the couch drinking beer. None of the matches gave me the desire to channel surf, which is always a challenge after several beers have been emptied.

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