The special one does it again!

22 05 2010

Two teams with tremendous histories met in this years Champions League final. A final sans english presence but for the referees. Internazionale under the aegis of the special one, Jose Mourinho locked horns with Louis Van Gaal’s FC Bayern Munchen.

An energetic first 30 minutes had all the trappings of a close game in the making with both sides having an equal number of opportunities to broach the opposing defense. Sneijder had two good corners for Inter while Bayern Munchen had Robben marauding ahead with dangerous intent.

It was Inter who would break the deadlock five minutes shy of the 40 minute mark through an important strike by Milito, who has found himself among the goals with threatening regularity – his 5th champions league goal in 11 games. It didn’t help the German team that they were missing Ribery who was suspended for this game.

Scuzi!

Scuzi! (Milito Scores)

Sneijder and Milito linked up late in the first half to construct yet another goal but the Bayern goalie, Butt, was up to the task and earned his paycheck by disallowing an incipient rout from taking place. The one minute of stoppage time saw Bayern try incessantly to puncture the steadfast Inter defense but fail. However, this beautifully set up what could be a mouth watering second half.

Bayern Munchen were relentless in attack in the second half as they should have been. Inter weathered the early storm well and even produced an attack of their own that elicited a spectacular save from Bayern goalkeeper, Butt. The 35 year old goalie was none too happy about his frequent involvement in the game.

Bayern continued to toil hard while Inter were not too shy in their attacking forays either. Munchen made the first substitution on the hour with Miroslav Klose coming on for Hamit Altintop, the latter clearly being an ineffective replacement for Ribery.

Robben got Inter goalkeeper to keep his shot out soon. It was becoming  obvious that Bayern Munchen would need to rely on some Arjen Robben magic to get them back in the game. Dejan Stankovic, meanwhile was being readied on the sidelines to make an appearance for Inter. He came on for Christian Chivu, the left back, who was on a yellow card after all.

Milito Again

Abruptly, Diego Milito got his second goal of the game from a mundane counter attack. With only 20 minutes to go, Bayern were condemned to being 2 goals down with little hope of a return.

Inter made their final change as Suli Muntari came on for Goran Pandev. Little happened between then and the end of the game. The three minutes of stoppage time were probably the longest for both sides, for opposite reasons. Milito came off to rapturous applause as Materazzi replaced the hero of the hour.

As the final whistle blew, Inter were virtually hypoxic as a result of their jubilation! The special one had done it again!

Internazionale! Champions of Europe!





Kissing fourth place goodbye

13 04 2010

Optimists (read ‘people who see the bright side of a plague’) might say otherwise but I think I am bracing myself for Liverpool’s absence from the Champions League next season and possibly the Europa league as well.

I might sound fatalistic but I think we need to face the facts now. If the two consecutive draws against Birmingham City and Fulham were not bad enough, Manchester City continue to make a case for themselves as far by netting 3-4 goals every game.

This brings me to think what was amiss in Liverpool’s season and this is what I conclude:

  • Lack of world class strikers other than Fernando Torres. Ngog is no where close to Torres and LFC effectively play with one striker in their whole squad. Shameful.
  • Lack of a play-making midfielder. Ever since Xabi Alonso left Liverpool, Alberto ‘I am injured’ Aquilani has done little to fill the rather gaping hole in midfield. Lucas doesn’t belong to the same mold as Alonso and it is safe to assume that Lucas may be on his way out although I might be wrong about that (sitting on the fence in an ambiguous manner there!)
  • Steven Gerrard’s less than fruitful season. Captain Fantastic hasn’t clicked this season and has lost his touch. Some say that he might be on his way out. I sincerely hope not.
  • Have the wingers ‘provided’? Barring a some good performances by Glen Johnson who isn’t really a right side midfield player, LFC clearly lacks wingers who can provide devastating crosses. The one hope that they have, Ryan Babel, has featured less than he would have ideally liked (and made that quite clear on his Twitter page!)
  • Bench strength. Lets face it. Liverpool have a weak bench. Reinforcements are sorely needed.

Anything you might want to add to this, please leave a comment! I guess we just need to bring in the changes now.





Liverpool v Fulham – European supremacy Part 1

10 04 2010

The title shows an obvious lack of ideas for … er …titles. However, it is rather surprising that given their antecedents this season, Liverpool and Fulham are the only two English sides still in any European competition, a stark contrast of a situation as compared to the EPL’s supremacy in Europe.

Anywhooo, this isn’t about the Europa league. Or the Champions League. This is about the Premier League. It is about whether Liverpool would reclaim fourth place which has so often been their’s over the last couple of seasons.

Given that Fulham are in the lower middle half of the table, I have a sneaky suspicion that they may rest a few key players  so as to avoid injuries to key players which might hamper their European adventure. On the other hand, Liverpool should probably play a full strength squad with Ryan Babel, possibly, returning to the starting line up after sitting out Liverpool’s mauling of Benfica. Having said that, if you know Rafael Benitez then there’s a good chance you can’t quite predict the starting line-up for tomorrows clash at Anfield!

On a side note, would we see Lucas Leiva start again or would the gaffer prefer 20 mil. man, Alberto Aquilani?

Predictions, predictions, predictions… Liverpool can’t afford a sub-par performance like the one they demonstrated against Birmingham, so I would say it would, in all probability, be a Liverpool victory: 2-0 or 2-1. Please do note that the key phrase here is “in all probability” and everyone who has followed Liverpool’s dismal season would understand my lack of confidence!





Liverpool exit Champions League despite win

24 11 2009

Liverpool’s Champions League progress will be curtailed this season as they will not progress to the knock-out round this season. Despite securing a 1-0 win away at Hungary, a similar score line in Fiorentina’s favor.

Debrecen’s fate was written in stone even before the start of this match and Liverpool’s after the 90th minute. A 4th minute goal that David Ngog scored in Kung-fu style decided the game for Liverpool. Steven Gerrard played 90 minutes of the game with the help of a painkiller administered before the game.

There were hardly any positives to be gathered for Liverpool from this match. Although the scoreline suggests a good clinical performance, Liverpool did have the knickers in a twist a few times in the match and only Debrecen’s lack of class and predatory instinct kept the scoreline in the favor of the reds.

Liverpool will look to end their hollow Champions League season with a Pyrrhic victory at in their next match against Fiorentina.

NOTE: Aquilani made an appearance, although brief in the 90th minute to Replace Gerrard.





Barcelona edge past Chelsea in thriller

6 05 2009

Chelsea and Barcelona provided an amazing fare to all the neutrals following the semi-final at Stamford bridge in England. Although the blues went one-up over the catalans in the 9th minute through a Michael Essien humdinger, it was Barcelona who would be eventually breaking at least 50,011 Chelsea hearts through Iniesta’s 94th minute equalizer which meant that the Catalans would meet a certain team from Manchester in Rome.

Chelsea looked to strong arm Barcelona as they did at the Nou Camp a week ago and were hugely successful in doing so. By half-time, Chelsea’s adamance in defense was overly obvious with Barcelona having ZERO shots on goal.ZERO. That was disastrous from a side that has scored 100 goals in the Primera Liga in Spain.

By the hour the final score was almost being etched in stone with Barcelona’s attempts at goal getting feebler by the minute. And to make matters worse, the spanish outfit lost their defender, Eric Abidal, to a contentious red card — the second of two games, over the last two days.

As the final whistle approached, Barcelona were cutting a forlorn figure while Chelsea were sporting ear-to-ear grins. This was all going to change, quite brutally for Chelsea. In the 94th minute, the ever marauding Barcelona midfield and forwards concocted an assist for Iniesta to put away with the kind of skill usually engendered by Barcelona. Pandemonium ensued. The Chelsea team were emotionally breaking down. The next 3 minutes of a really long stoppage period saw Chelsea flail around to no avail. The dreaded final whistle brought tumultous cheers in the Barcelona camp and tumultous tears in the Chelsea camp.

It all ended with the ground security stewards trying to ward of a visibly upset and confrontational Didier Drogba from flinging himself at the referee who would want to revisit his decisions.

Barcelona play the team from Manchester on the 27th of May in what promises to be one of the most hotly contested Champions League finals yet.





Istabul-esque… nearly

14 04 2009

With Liverpool staring at a 2 goal deficit from their home game against Chelsea and requiring a victory with a difference of 3 goals, this quarter final promised to deliver an unusual level of hijinks and hijinks were what it delivered although Liverpool fans, including me, won’t like the denouement.

It started with a brisk pace with Gerrard-less Liverpool taking the lions share of possession. A brilliantly cunning freekick from Fabio Aurelio and a cool penalty from Xabi Alonso put the guests 2-0 up at half time with quite a few Chelsea players on the verge of throwing the towel in.

However, an unfortunate own goal by the Pepe “Clean sheet” Reina was the turning point as Liverpool were looking at a mountain to climb. The reds did score 4 goals, what with their rich vein of goal scoring form, but so did the blues which was unfortunate as Liverpool’s champions league run was cut off this year. Although they are sure to return next year, it would have been nice to see them go all the way again!

If Porto successfully shut out the team from Manchester tomorrow, that would leave Chelsea to assert themselves at the highest level in European football as they would be favorites to lift the trophy in Rome come May.





Liverpool ‘Really’ thrash Madrid

10 03 2009

Corny headlines are back as I have almost completely recuperated from a vile bout of pneumonia!

I was overjoyed with Liverpool’s result against Real Madrid today. A 4-0 emphatic win coupled with the away goal from the previous tie at the Bernabeu gave the reds a 5-0 aggregate win over the galacticos, the latter certainly seeing stars. With a blitzkreig opening half hour performance, Liverpool had notched up two goals, one each from talismanic players Torres and Gerrard.

Gerrard then doubled his tally immediately after half time. Real huffed and puffed but to no avail as the Liverpool defence line were steadfast and strong denying the spanish side even half chances. Alonso and Gerrard were soon brought off with a good quarter of the game to go as Benitez had his eye on the (tantalizing) trip to Old Trafford that awaits the Liverpool side this weekend. Finally Andrea Dossena scored (woah! thats strange!) in the 88th minute to further emphasise Liverpool’s domination of today’s game.

Elsewhere Chelsea knocked Juventus out and Bayern Munich made merry with a 7-1 thrashing over Sporting Club de Portugal to add to their collection of 5 goals from the previous tie.

I am looking forward to see who Liverpool will be paired with in the quarter-finals after tomorrow’s matches unfold!