Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Champions League Semis: Real Madrid vs Barcelona Recap (2nd Leg)

1 – 1
Real Madrid vs Barcelona (2nd Leg)

Barcelona advances to the finals.  Recap of the el clasico series, there have been two draws and a win for both teams:

el clasico VI – Champions League Semis leg 2 (May 4): Barcelona 1-1 Real Madrid

Real started strong in the match and was more alive, offensively speaking, compared to their 1st leg performance.  However, Barca found their footing and began to dominate the 1st half having a lot of spectacular attempts, putting Casillas to work.  During the 2nd half, again, RM started strong with a few attempts but was handled quite well by Barca defense.  And then Barca scores the 1st goal when a through-ball from Andres Iniesta was received by Pedro who then beat Iker Casillas in a one-on-one situation and found the back of the net.  Real equalizes when a shot from Angel Di Maria hits the post, the ball bouncing back to him and he crosses it to Marcelo who had a clear shot to the goal.  

The end part of the match was a bit disappointing as it seemed to fall into the pattern of fouls, time-wasting and some injury feigning.  But fortunately, there were no ugly scenes of bad tempers and fighting like the 1st leg match.  Although, Real Madrid are protesting Gonzalo Higuain's disallowed goal due to a foul by CRonaldo on Javier Mascherano (I guess preventing Mascherano from defending Higuain) prior to Higuain’s attempt.  The replay happened so fast so I’ll try to look for the vid.  I wonder what Pierluigi Collina would say about this referee decision.

But, overall, it was Barca’s night as they dominated with 69% possession and had 11 shots (5 on target) and most are probably are Messi’s or had some assist from him.  On the other hand, Real Madrid only had 3 shots (1 on target) and still playing a more physically aggressive game as they committed 31 fouls compared to Barcelona’s 10.  At least this time, no one from Real Madrid was sent off in this match.

photo courtesy of Reuters

poor Messi
photo courtesy of
Throughout the match, Leo Messi was a threat to Real Madrid’s defense, making close attempts or providing assists for his teammates.  But he got pretty banged up in this game.  I guess if you’re a prolific scorer like Messi, you would be a well-marked man. He was tackled a lot, I’d say around 12 times in the match.  At one point in the 1st half he was sandwiched by 3 Real players who were tackling him at the same time.  In the 2nd half he was sent flying off from Marcelo’s tackle, then his head was pushed down by (was it) Diarra? and seconds later Adebayor pulls him down.  I worry about this coz you can pick up scary injuries from this (remember Ronaldo?).  I wonder how many times he gets tackled in a game?  Pique also had quite a good game, making great calls in tackles, suppressing any attempts from Real and dispossessing the ball from RM.

Abidal got a touching reception from teammates and fans on his return to the pitch
photo courtesy of Getty Images

Of course, one of the special moments in the match was when Eric Abidal comes in for Carles Puyol during the 90th minute.  Both players got cheers from the fans.  I’m glad Abidal has recovered from the removal of the cancer in his liver, he's a very crucial part of Barca’s defense. As the match ended, Barca teammates playfully tossed him in the air a couple of times

Karanka, Real Madrid's assistant coach.  I wouldn't mind seeing him instead of Mourinho :P
photo courtesy of Real Madrid

Jose Mourinho, of course, missed the match due to a touchline ban he earned during the 1st leg .  He opted to watch the game from the hotel.  Aitor Karanka, his assistant who took charge of the match, is quite the hottie. :P 

hhhmmmm….why is his hand cupping Morientes’ butt?? :P
photo courtesy of
Apparently he used to play for Real Madrid as a central defender during the pre-galacticos era, alongside Fernando Hierro, Roberto Carlos, Fernando Morientes, Raul, etc.

rain, rain go away… a very wet pitch.  photo courtesy of
Other match observations: The pitch was quite slippery as there was a thunderstorm prior to the match and it continued to rain until 2nd half.  Also, a fan managed to go inside the pitch before the 2nd half was about to kick off, there was a bit of chasing before they caught him.

Sighting: what’s that pink thing on CRonaldo’s right hamstring? Wish I could find a photo of it.

I’m grateful that Balls Channel has aired live telecasts of the Champions League matches but where is the half-time and post match commentary?  I know there usually is one…And I know UEFA usually flashes the 1st half stats before going to commercial break.  Did Balls cut to commercial way too soon?  Would’ve loved to see the 1st half stats.  The only 1st half stat I saw that flashed was Barca having 7 attempts and Real Madrid had 0.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Champions League Semis: Real Madrid vs Barcelona Preview (2nd Leg)

Real Madrid vs Barcelona (2nd Leg)
May 4 @ 2:30AM (Balls Channel)

The el clasico series this season will come to an end with the 2nd leg of the Champions League Seminfinals.  So far, there is one draw and both teams have one win (click here for recap, stats, etc of el clasico I & II and here for recap, stats, etc of el clasico III):

el clasico I – La Liga (Apr 16): Barcelona 1-1 Real Madrid
el clasico II – Copa del Rey (Apr 20): Barcelona 0-1 Real Madrid
el clasico III – Champions League Semis leg 1 (Apr 27): Real Madrid 0-2 Barcelona

Barca comes into this match with a 2-away goal advantage.  It’s not a big mountain to overcome but according to Real Madrid coach Jose Mourinho in his post-match comment in the 1st leg game, it’s an “impossible” task.  His skipper disagrees with him, though.  According to Iker Casillas:

"The names of the two teams that will play the final haven't been inscribed yet.  You never know what may happen. We will play in Barcelona knowing a final is set to take place in a month and that any of the four teams still in the championship may be in it."

And I agree with Casillas, never say never.  And in football, you never know.  But for Real to win this match, they need to score goals, they need to change tactics as the defensive football they played in the 1st leg did not work and honestly it was unpleasant to watch.  I mean, they have a lot of great offensive players like Kaka, Gonzalo Higuain, CRonaldo, Karim Benzema, etc. so playing offensively won't be a problem for them.  However, I wonder how the team will function with Mourinho banned from the game after he was sent off during the 1st leg.

For Barca, on the other hand, have happy news for the injury-plagued team.  Andres Iniesta and Eric Abidal trained normally and are in the squad for the game.  Eric Abidal has been out since March 17 from a surgery to remove a tumour in his liver and now the doctors have given him the clearance and he’s included in the squad for this match.  I don’t know if he’ll be in the 1st eleven or could just be an unused substitute.  Guardiola has said that, “Abi' can't play 90 minutes, he has lost weight. But he is in perfect health and he'll be able to help us.” So maybe a few minutes of game time?  But either way, I am glad he’s fully recovered.  Andres Iniesta, who was sidelined in the 1st leg because of a calf injury, has also joined the training and is included in the squad, no official word yet if he’s starting.  Carles Puyol, however, worked separately from the rest of the team as he continues his recovery.  He played during the 1st leg (he had a spectacular game, btw) but did not play in Barca’s domestic match during the weekend, probably being rested in time for the 2nd leg.

Barca can capitalize on Real Madrid missing two of its key defense players, Sergio Ramos and Pepe, due to suspension.  They may have a 2-goal advantage, but I hope Barca won’t play too defensively (although I shouldn't worry as that isn't how they play).  Guardiola has said they will attack, but attack with common sense, so maybe we'll to see some amazing goals from them.

I do hope this time it will be a showcase of great football from the best teams of this sport and not a war of the words as what happened in the 1st leg (click here to read on the 1st leg controveries/issues).  There was just too much controversy that it detracted from the amazing goals that Messi scored.  

the no-nonsense Pierluigi Collina
photo courtesy of Reuters
After three stormy el clasico matches within two weeks, tensions will be high, so I guess UEFA is not taking chances in this match as they are sending Pierluigi Collina to monitor this game.  I love this guy.  When I started watching football, he was one of the most respected referees.  A highly recognizable figure in football, he even had a sponsorship deal with Opel, how many referees could say the same?  He’s retired now but he’s considered as the best referee of all time.

So I hope both teams will play clean and fair and I’m looking forward to an exciting match.  I’ll be crossing my fingers for a Barca-Schalke finals J

Monday, May 2, 2011

El Clasico woes

I don’t really like to give opinions or comments on controversial issues on football and my opinion probably doesn’t mean much as I’m not an expert but as a fan, but I’m very disappointed on how things progressed with the whole Barca-Real conflict.  It has reached a point where the focus is no longer about the game.  If you win, then be a humble winner, if you lost, be a gracious loser. 

Tempers were probably a little frayed as they were halfway thru the el clasico series.  We can all assume that both teams were already feeling the pressure to win.  Mourinho fired the 1st shot as he criticized Pep Guardiola as a coach said prior to the 3rd el clasico (click here to read what Mourinho said).  The Barca coach who was usually diplomatic respond to Mourinho’s “statements” had responded with expletives (click here to read Guardiola’s response), Guardiola shouldn’t have lost his cool (although this article suggests that it was actually “a cool, calculated and carefully planned strategy – a premeditated message: “We won’t be bullied any longer.””)

Then there were allegations from Real Madrid on unsporting behavior/diving of certain Barca players and the infamous Pepe red card.  I can’t really tell most of the time if a player dived or not but to claim that it was only Barca who is guilty of it?  What about Di Maria and CRonaldo? How many free kicks were given from Di Maria’s “fall”? And if Barca is notorious for diving and play acting more than any other team normally does, shouldn’t they also have a history of finishing matches with opponents having 10 men left? (correct me if I’m wrong as I haven’t been following football that much until this year and I haven’t really researched this much).

And did Dani Alves really “dive”?  I don’t really know.  Here’s a video of the tackle, you decide:

But some are claiming that Pepe never really touched Alves at all, here’s a video that from a certain angle, shows that there wasn’t any actual contact between the Alves and Pepe (of course, Barca fans are questioning its authenticity):

Whether there was contact or not, isn’t there a FIFA rule about tackles with studs up and off the ground (plus Alves touched the ball 1st) are considered a serious foul play?  And if you look closely at the video, wouldn’t be very difficult for Alves’ leg to go on one direction (kicking the ball forward) to suddenly change course to the other direction and continue doing so until his whole body rotates/flips 360 degrees and land on the ground and all with only one foot on the ground as balance?  The force that made Alves flip/turn 360 degrees is very difficult to do with just one foot on the ground, there has to be some other force (like a kick from Pepe) that made him turn/flip before landing on the ground.  Just sayin’.  And the fact that Real Madrid (and Mourinho) seemed to have a bit of “history” of ending matches with only 10 men says a lot about how they play (click here to read an article listing Morunho’s experiences of ending a match with 10 men).  In this particular match, Pepe was already warned a couple of times prior to the red card.  And his tackle in the Copa del Rey? Some are saying it should have been a red card. My point is Pepe has “history” with bad tackles, maybe this is one of those instances?  And while I was trying to find the video of the Pepe-Alves tackle, I found this instead: 

skip to 0:38
I know, I know, this has nothing to do with the match and trying to use this as “proof” that Pepe does bad tackles is a stretch, but this is just one crazy ass video that I just had to share.  Pepe’s scary!  But he’s kinda hot in bad-ass kind of way… hihihihi :P

Going back to the topic now…. And lastly, Mourinho’s post game rant was way out of line, especially when he said (click here to read all what he said):

"[Wednesday] once again showed that you don't stand a chance against Barcelona. Uefa doesn't allow any team to really do something against them. I really don't know what's behind all this. Maybe it's their ties with Unicef or maybe it's because they just find Barcelona a sympathetic club. I've been wondering about this all my life and I'll get an answer one day."

He should really need to think before saying anything.  If he makes claims, he should be able to back them up.  To imply that Barca and Pep Guardiola have only achieved what they have on an alleged connection with UEFA or Unicef and alleged referee favors without offering any proof, it seems like he just wants to make trouble.  You cannot deny that Barca is a great team.  They could not have won 32 domestic games (losing only two) if you’re not a great team.  If they are as bad as Mourinho claimed, other coaches and teams should have complained by now.  If you want to prove you’re the better team and the better coach, then show it on the field, not off it.  And even former Chelsea Manager, Guus Hiddink, called out Mourinho on his post-game rant (read the whole article here).  He said:

“Before I knew it, he [Mourinho] got me involved. Jose compared the Real - Barca game with the Chelsea – Barca semi-final in 2009 when I was manager at Stamford Bridge. We missed out on the final, too.  But the big difference is that we did not moan about conspiracies. I don’t agree with Mourinho at all on this. It is right that Chelsea was badly disadvantaged then, especially with the handball penalty we were denied in injury time. That was a clear mistake from the referee.  A couple of days later, when all the emotions had gone, we realised we had been robbed of a Champions League final. But never, ever, did anybody at Chelsea claim there was a conspiracy. You just don’t say things like that. The thought would not even enter my mind.”

I found an interesting article that states that Mourinho could be guilty of what he is accusing Guardiola of (click here to read it).  And oh yeah, apparently, this isn’t the first time that Mourinho was involved in a controversy, click here for the list of controversies he has involved himself in, he really needs to think before he speaks.

I tried to be very objective in this post (I really did), as obviously I’m a Barca fan.  I tried to find articles listing Guardiola’s past misbehaviors but I just couldn’t find any (if you find one, please share it).  At this point, what I can says is, what happened to Real Madrid?  I used to like this team (especially during their pre-galacticos era where it they had Fernando Morientes, Raul, Roberto Carlos, Fernando Hierro and a young Iker Casillas).  I’m still a big fan of Casillas and I think Ozil is pretty great, too.  I don’t really care much for Kaka and I think CRonaldo is an ass.  But Mourinho is something else.  No question he’s a great coach in terms of winning trophies, but he should prove it only on the pitch and keep his mouth shut.  Let the awards and wins speak for itself.

Here’s what others have to say about this:

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Champions League Semis: Real Madrid vs Barcelona Recap (1st Leg)

0 – 2
Real Madrid vs Barcelona

Barcelona was back with a vengeance scoring two away goals in the 1st leg of the Champions League Semifinals.  So here’s the update on the el clasico series (click here for recap, stats, etc on the 1st two el clasico matches):

el clasico I – La Liga (Apr 16): Barcelona 1-1 Real Madrid
el clasico II – Copa del Rey (Apr 20): Barcelona 0-1 Real Madrid
el clasico III – Champions League Semis leg 1 (Apr 27): Real Madrid 0-2 Barcelona

All the CRonaldo vs Messi debates? Well, Messi shows them who’s boss as he scores the two goals of the match (scoring 11 goals in 11 Champions League matches and scoring on each of his last four visits to the Bernabeu).   “Another Messi master class,” according to the commentator.  His 1st goal breaks the 67 minutes of deadlock when he converted a brilliant cross from Ibrahim Afellay.  His 2nd goal was from a 20-30(?)-yard run, eluding four Real Madrid players then beating Iker Casillas with a right-footed shot to score.  As the commentator said, it was “Delightful!”  Can I just say that Messi is well marked man?  Whenever he has the ball 2-4 Real Madrid players flock to him. 

cute cartoon showing who won the Messi-CRonaldo debate in this match
Messi master class
photo from
It was another enjoyable tiki-taka football from Barca with them ending the match with a 72% ball possession and 482 passes completed while Real Madrid only had 127.   All the passing frustrated CRonaldo during the 1st half, as he ran around in a circle trying to dispossess the ball from Barca, eventually throwing his hands up in defeat.

tempers flare in this very intense match
photo courtesy of
The game was full of the tension and you can feel the pressure as tempers flared causing the game to stall twice in the 1st half as a brawl was about to erupt between the two teams on the field.  Then during half-time, both teams went at it again as they made their way to their locker rooms.  I couldn’t tell how it started as the camera only started to capture it when there was already a lot of pushing and shoving but apparently it started from a confrontation between Seydou Keita and Alvaro Arbeloa they left the field, Barca's substitute keeper Jose Pinto ended up with red card from the scuffle.  During the 2nd half, things started to get ugly again when Pepe got sent off from challenging Dani Alves.  This makes it the 4th consecutive time a Real player gets a red card in a game against Barca, I guess Real kept their “practice” of ending a match with 10 men.  Jose Mourinho got so heated up about this and Carles Puyol was seen trying to calm him down.  But Mourinho ultimately sent off to the stands after he sarcastically clapped and showed a thumbs up to the fourth official.  The look on his face when he was made to sit on the stands… priceless! Btw, they that challenge on Dani Alves looked like it hurt like hell, he was stretcher off the field.  I hope he doesn’t end up with an injury from this match, he got battered in this game, taking a lot of knocks.

the look on Mourinho face
photo courtesy of Getty Images

Mourinho sent off to the stands
photo courtesy of
Real Madrid played a very aggressive game (in the physical sense), there was Marcelo stepping (or was it more of a stomp?) on the leg of Pedro, Adebayor hitting Busquets on the face, hard tackles and challenges, etc.

Pepe sent off
Trivia: Pep Guardiola never lost a match at the Santiago Bernabeu, amazing right?

Jersey Watch: nobody asked for Messi’s jersey after the game.  I’d ask for it if I was there :P

After the match: sighting, Puyol walking around with a ball on his belly, inside his jersey.  He had an outstanding performance in this match. He seemed to be playing across the whole defence, helping out whenever his colleagues at the back made a mess of things.  I’m glad he was fit enough to play, Barca really needed his presence in this game.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Champions League Semis: Schalke vs Manchester United Recap (1st Leg)

0 – 2
Schalke vs Manchester United

I guess I could be right when I said that Manuel Neuer could be the next Van der Sar (also, I didn’t realize he was the captain).  He made a lot of awesome saves, denying Man U’s dangerous scoring attempts from Rooney, Giggs, etal.  He’s probably the main reason the score was still 0-0 by half-time.

for me, Manuel Neuer was the man of the match
photo courtesy of

But after 67 minutes of deadlock, Man U finally beat Neuer when Ryan Giggs found the back of the net from a set up by Wayne Rooney.  And two minutes later, Rooney scored another one, this time from a set up from Javier Hernandez.  Well, Neuer held it off for as long as he could.  Schalke’s defense just exposed their keeper one too many times in this match.  I’m surprised that Man U didn’t score more than two.

I was hoping for Schalke to pull off another 5-2 kind of win against the Red Devils.  But Man U’s defense was just pretty solid, neutralizing any attempts from Schalke. 

Jersey swap watch: Saw Raul swap jerseys with Giggs after the match.  Raul had hoped to swap jerseys with Giggs and actually said so prior to the match.  Neuer approached Giggs afterwards, I think he may have asked for a jersey too, but I’m only just guessing, hehe.  This is one of my favourite parts of the game, the minutes after the final whistle blows when players take off their shirts, swap jerseys… I wish the camera/coverage would be a bit longer during this part.

Christoph Metzelder wearing a face mask

On an unrelated note… I’ve been wondering why Christoph Metzelder was wearing a mask when I saw their previous games.   Apparently he broke his nose… for the 4th time.  Too bad, though, coz without the mask, he’s kinda hot J

Metzelder without the mask.  Isn't he a cutie?

Champions League Semis: Schalke vs Manchester United (1st Leg)

Schalke vs Manchester United (1st Leg)
April 27 @ 2:30AM 

Champions League Semifinals Match Schedule

Semifinals kicks off in a few hours.  Here’s the sked of Balls Channel’s live telecast of the games.  I’ll try to see if I can get the replay sked.

 Real Madrid vs Barcelona
1st Leg: April 28 @ 2:30AM
2nd Leg: May 4 @ 2:30AM

Schalke 04 vs Manchester United
1st Leg: April 27 @ 2:30AM
2nd Leg: May 5 @ 2:30AM

Monday, April 25, 2011

El Clasico

I’m back.  After posting at least one entry per day for two months, I took a little bit of break from blogging.  This entry was supposed to come out last April 15 but I got too busy preparing for my Holy Week vacation and by Holy Week, I got too lazy.

sorry, but this post is 10 days late...  Will just update it a bit.  So here goes…

In football, I’ve heard of the term derby, where in the domestic leagues there are two teams that have a strong rivalry with each other (I guess in local school sports, it’s like an Ateneo vs La Salle game).  Being not that interested in domestic leagues, the only teams I knew who had this was AC Milan and Inter Milan.  So I only recently found out that in Spain, they have what they call the el clasico.  The el clasico is any match between Real Madrid and Barcelona.  It’s apparently one of the world's great sporting rivalries.  The last el clasico was last November 2010 where Barca slaughtered Real Madrid with the final score of 5-0 (I wish I saw this match, click here and here for the match recap). 

So to the madridistas who want to see the Los Blancos avenge their 5-0 defeat from Barca, they have four opportunities to do so within 18 days. These are:

April 16: La Liga
April 20: Copa Del Rey Final
April 27: Champions League Semifinals 1st Leg
May 3: Champions League Semifinals 2nd Leg

If you were like me who hoped to see the two Spanish giants face off in the Champions League, now you have an overdose of Barca vs Real Madrid matches.

As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I have been worried for Barca in the upcoming matches against Real Madrid.  Being strong offensively may be enough against some teams but facing a strong opponent like Real Madrid, they need to fix their defense.  With the absence of Carles Puyol’s solid presence at the back and Eric Abidal still recovering from his surgery, Pep Guardiola has to figure out a way to make his back line impenetrable.  Gerard Pique is there but, I dunno, I feel like he sometimes gets distracted and needs Puyol at his side to keep him focused.  I hope Puyol will be fit in time for these matches, I originally thought his knee injury was a minor thing, but he’s been out for like two months already.

So here are the updates so far..

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Champions League Semi Finals Matches

 ronaldoAnd then there were four...

FC Barcelona, Manchester United, Real Madrid and Schalke 04 move on to the semifinals.

Champions League QF: Inter Milan vs Schalke Recap (2nd Leg)

1 – 2
Inter Milan vs Schalke

Raul scores the 1st goal
photo from
Raul proves that he still got it, scoring the 1st goal of the match.  With brilliant ball control, he beat the goalkeeper and netted in his 71st Champions League goal.  Throughout the match, he posed quite a threat to Inter’s defense and goalie.  He was either making shots or setting them up. 
Inter equalized with a goal from Thiago Motta
photo from
Inter's Lucio tried to convert with a header the corner kick from Sneijder.  But the ball deflected onto a Schalke player (sorry, couldn't tell who it was) and Thiago Motta was just in the right place to give the ball a tap to score the equalizer.

Raul sets up Schalke's 2nd goal.  He definitely is still an attacking force to reckon with.
photo from
But then Schalke ended any of Inter’s hope of even just trying to salvage some pride from a 5-2 defeat in the 1st leg when Raul, executed a clever move of chipping the ball forward, giving  Howedes the chance to break away and score their 2nd goal.

Schalke moves to next round and faces Manchester United.  Speaking of Man U, Sir Alex Ferguson was seen watching the Inter Milan-Schalke game at the stands.  I guess he we sizing up his next opponent.

Champions League QF: Real Madrid vs Tottenham Recap (2nd Leg)

1 – 0
Real Madrid vs Tottenham

It was very fast-paced match with both teams making quick counter attacks.  Tottenham actually had a lot of pretty close chances, giving Casillas quite a work out.  They even actually looked like the stronger team.  But in the end, what counts is not the “almost-made-it” shots or being the stronger team, what counts is who scored the most goals.

CRonaldo scoring the only goal of the match
photo from
The only goal in the match was from CRonaldo’s longe range shot which goalie Heurelho Gomes blocked but couldn’t hold on to the ball.  Real now advances to the semis with final aggregate score of 6-0.  And yes, CRonaldo’s teammates do celebrate with him after all.  Good to know.

is he trying to start a fad of the Jose Rizal hair?
photo from
On an unrelated note… What was up with CRonaldo’s hair??

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Champions League QF: Inter Milan vs Schalke Preview (2nd Leg)

Inter Milan vs Schalke (2nd Leg)
April 14 @

Inter Milan, will have to work really hard to overturn a 3-point deficit.  With Schalke coming in with 5 away goals from a stunning 1st Leg win, Inter would really need to score a lot of goals.  But I think It think, other than scoring goals, they should also have to fix their defense problems which was the cause of them conceding 5 goals to Schalke in the last match.  Aren’t Italians known for their very organized defense?  Or was it Germany?

Initially, I was rooting for Inter on this side of the table, but somehow the defending champions, doesn’t seem to be the strong team they were last season.  Now I’m rooting for Schalke, with Raul leading the way to defeat Man U.  And hopefully, face off with Barca in the finals J

Aggregate Score:

Champions League QF: Real Madrid vs Tottenham Preview (2nd Leg)

Real Madrid vs Tottenham (2nd Leg)
April 14 @

With a 4-point goal advanatge, it would seem that Real Madrid will most likely be advancing to the semi-finals, a first in eight years. 

There’s isn’t much to say about this match, as like the Barca vs Tottenham game, this also seems like a formality, unless of course Tottenham pulls off a miracle.  Real must be very comfortable with their lead that coach Jose Mourinho can afford to have two of his key players Sergio Ramos and Angel Di Maria miss the match to avoid picking up a 2nd yellow card (and subsequently miss the next match).

They are seriously on the path of trying to reclaim the Champions League title they have won 9 times.  But they will have to go thru Barca first.

Aggregate Score:

Champions League QF: Barcelona vs Shakhtar Recap (1st Leg)

1 – 0
Barcelona vs Shakhtar

Barca seemed to have a bit of a slow start, finding their footing around 15 minutes into the game.  It was during this time that Shakhtar really pushed their offense and made a lot of attempts.  You can see the holes in Barca defense which Shakhtar tried to exploit.  With the absence of Carles Puyol and Abidal, Barca really needs to step up their defense as it seems like they will be facing Real Madrid in the semis (and in the domestic matches).  A team like Real will really capitalize on their weak defense.

Leo Messi scored the only goal of the match during the later part of the 1st half.  It was an amazing show of ball control and dribbling skills.  The commentator said of the goal, “The little man re-writes the record books, yet again.”  Can you believe he’s only 23?!

no, this isn't the "jersey-grabbing" shot.. can't find it yet, well see if I can get the vid
photo from Getty Image

I guess Shakhtar must have felt that Messi was just too dangerous that they had to literally hold onto him to slow him down.  Ischencko, was seen clearly grabbing Messi’s jersey during the 2nd half.  And a couple of minutes later, another Shakhtar defender (wasn’t able to clearly see who), grabbed on to Messi’s jersey when he dispossessed the ball from goalie, Andrey Pyativ.  I know this is normal in football but it the grabbing was caught clearly on camera.  Ischencko held on so tight, Messi couldn't run forward anymore.  I'll try to find a vid of it if I can.

On an unrelated note, this guy’s  kinda cute, hihi J  He has that Elijah Wood-look going on.

Yaroslav Rakitskiy
Another unrelated note, Swapping Jersey Watch: saw Messi holding Willian’s jersey after the match.  Messi must, like, swap jerseys every game.  Lucky Willan, got the "record-breaking" Messi jersey.

Final Aggregate Score:
Barcelona: 6
Shakhtar: 1

Here are numbers:

Champions League QF: Chelsea vs Manchester United Recap (1st Leg)

1 – 2
Chelsea vs Manchester United

Javier Fernandez scores Man U’s 1st goal during the 1st half.   Didier Drogba equalizes in the 2nd  half but just seconds after, Man U strikes back with Park Ji Sung scoring the 2nd goal.

I never really paid much attention to the English teams.  I had this unfounded perception that Chelsea is one of the weaker teams (as they just seem to coast thru Round of 16 ).  But now, looking at their squad, they actually have a lot of strong attacking players.  You have Fernando Torres, Didier Drogba, Nikolas Anelka, Frank Lampard, etc.  How come they don’t score a lot of goals?  I know I didn’t watch their games, especially in the group stage, but didn’t they have draws or 1-0 wins?

According to the commentator, Carlo Ancelloti seems “to be struggling to find the right combination of strikers, ever since Torres came in as it changed the whole team dynamics.”  Is he like the “Beckham” of Real Madrid? (Remember the club’s Galacticos era where they put in too much money on the offense with Figo, Ronaldo, Zidane, Raul, etc. and not much on defense.  And after signing Beckham they haven’t won the Champions League ever since). 

I also wondered what the logic behind substituting Torres just before the 1st half ended was?  It’s kinda early to make substitutions unless it’s because of an injury.  If it wasn’t, then that must really affect Torres’ confidence level with his “goal-drought” problem.  Won’t things like not being one of starting players and being substituted too soon makes you think the coach doesn’t have confidence in you?  But then again, he is a professional player, so I guess, that comes with the territory.  I feel bad for him, all this pressure.  He really needs to work with the team.

Chelsea seems to be under-playing their potential.  Is it because there is no team fluidity? (for me, it doesn’t really mean much if you have all the best players in the world but if they don’t know how to play together, you won’t the best team). 

So we say good bye to Chelsea as Man U moves on to the semi-finals.

Final Aggregate Score:
Chelsea:  1
Manchester United: 3

Here are numbers:

My 100th post and my favorite #10 players

This is my 100th post!!! J 


When I started this blog, this was really just my outlet for all my football “obsession” because I don’t really have anyone to talk to about football in where I am based now.  Before, I had a  couple of football-mad friends who, like me, would also stay up all night just to watch live games and the next day we’d talk about anything and everything about the match like analyzing the strategies, reliving the highlights and just sharing the love of the game.

Sadly, Philippines is not (yet) a football-loving country, there are very few people who have a passion for this sport.  So with no one to share my brimming excitement for football and the matches I watched or planned to watch, I decided to start this blog to write things I would have discussed with my football friends.

But I never really thought I’d reach 100 posts or even to be still be blogging up to now.  As with my previous attempts to blog, I thought I wouldn’t be able to sustain this beyond two weeks.  I guess, timing was a major factor as to why I lasted this long. When I started this blog, it was during the end part of the football season where the Champions League is already in the Round of 16, making it very exciting to watch the matches.  It also coincided with the rise (and I do hope it continues) of football and the Azkals in the Philippines.

In honor of my 100th post, here are my favorite number players who donned the number 10 jersey (because there is no number 100 jersey in football J)

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Champions League QF: Barcelona vs Shakhtar (2nd Leg)

Barcelona vs Shakhtar
April 13 @ (Balls Channel)

According to the commentator during their 1st leg match, this game “looks like a formality”.  Even if Shakhtar wins, they need to score lots and lots of goals to overcone Barca’s solid 4-point advantage over them to advance to the next round.  Shakhtar captain Darijo Srna, defender Dmytro Chygrynskiy and Coach Mircea Lucescu are already saying that Barca will be advancing to the semis and even winning the finals.  Seems like they will just try to salvage what they can from the previous 5-1 defeat.

"We play for the honour of our club, the city and the fans." – Darijo Srna, demanding Shakhtar playesr a show of character on the 2nd leg match.

I will still be crossing my fingers coz in football, you’ll never know.

Here’s what the very modest Pep Guardiola has to say:

“A serious test awaits us. We should complete our task in the Champions League before preparing for the Santiago Bernabeu. I want to repeat, again, that the tie is not already won. Anything is possible in football, but we will work hard to prevent Shakhtar pulling off a miracle.”

Maybe Shakhtar can to exploit Barca’s shakey defense (they will still be without Puyol and Abidal).  Guardiola has been saying not to underestimate this offense-minded team.  But even if Shakhtar wins this match, it will tougher for them to win in the final aggregate score though.  They also need to prevent Barca from scoring away goals (good luck with that).

I am looking forward to watching the “best team in the world” play again, it’s very entertaining to watch their tiki-taka football J

Champions League QF: Chelsea vs Manchester United (2nd Leg)

Chelsea vs Manchester United – 2nd Leg
April 13 @ (Balls Channel)

The only match during the 1st Leg that ended with a low goal difference, this gives Chelsea a chance to turn this around.  Man U might be coming in with an away goal but compared to Shakhtar, Schalke and Tottenham, Chelsea’s chances are better.

But it won’t be that easy for Chelsea as Man U is hard to beat in their home turf.  Will this be the time for Fernando Torres to find his form and break his goal drought to score goals that will bring Chelsea to the next round?  Or will it be Didier Drogba scoring the goals?  But Chelsea will also have to look out for Wayne Rooney.

Chelsea: 0
Manchester United: 1

For the win: