Tag Archives: Strikers

20 October 2012 – Tottenham vs Chelsea

Tottenham-2/4-Chelsea @ White Hart Lane

47′-Gallas, 54′-Defoe//17′-Cahill, 66′- Mata, 69′- Mata, 91′ Sturridge

Chelsea used to absolutely dominate Tottenham back in the day, with something along the lines of 30+ games in succession going from Chelsea. However ever since 2005 Chelsea has had a hard time at White Hart Lane, as the Spurs have not loss to the Blues in the last 6 games there. This game is a little different, however, since Tottenham have looked strong with their new addition to their team and Chelsea are still unbeaten in the EPL before the game. So which one of the two trends would give way?

Game of the Week. EASY. A strong showing from both teams lately made this game an interesting one. However, one thing to note is that Gareth Bale was not in the starting line as reports say that his wife went into labor roughly an hour before the start of the game. Start of with some great play from Chelsea. Torres seemed to be working his magic up front as the three behind him (Mata, Oscar, Hazard) worked well to support. Obi Mikel controlled the game well and worked the team up at a good pace. 17′ minutes in Chelsea’s corner gets deflected out to Gary Cahill, who volleys a smasher right through Friedel. Not much else to report of the half other than a couple opportunities from Chelsea and something or two out of Tottenham. Mainly, Chelsea maintained control of the half and did not let the home team gain any momentum whatsoever. Going to the second half, a early set piece from Tottenham took a confused Chelsea to the tie. However, it didn’t end there as a pressing home team took the momentum of the goal to work a second one from Defoe, who was assisted by Aaron Lennon. A rapid succession of goals plus the home field advantage game Tottenham a commanding lead in the momentum, as Chelsea couldn’t come out of the back in an orderly fashion. After a long spell of pressure from Spurs was ended by a chance from Chelsea, followed by a goal from Juan Mata off a mistake from Gallas. It did not end there as absolutely amazing movement from Juan Mata tied to an amazing pass from Eden Hazard connected for the third goal for Chelsea. After that, the game seemed to go all in Chelsea’s favor as the spell of Tottenham’s momentum came to a screeching halt. More pressure from Chelsea ended up with an extra goal from the substitute Daniel Sturridge, courtesy of the trip from  Kyle Walker near the 18 yard box and an assist from Juan Mata. That would basically conclude the match, as the White Hart Lane would suffer its first Blues lose since 2005.
Man of the Match- Obviously Juan Mata. Admittedly a quiet man in the first half, but came to life after the Tottenham momentum surge in the first 20 minutes of the second half. After which Juan Mata dictated the pace of the whole game and scored a double of his own, raising his streak to six goals in five games. Second goal, however, blew my mind, as the vision of Juan Mata to make that run so much earlier than it was seen by defenders is truly the reason why he is one of the best in the EPL at the moment. This man is having no thoughts about a sophomore slump.

 

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Euro 2012- England vs Ukraine

Final Score- England:1/Ukraine:0

48′-Rooney

The co-hosts take their exit in an exciting fashion as they give the supposed favorites a run for their money. On the other side of the of the headline, Wayne Rooney makes his entrance and leaves his mark as his goal was the deciding factor in the match. Ukraine beating down on England in the first half with strong shots and quick ball movement were surprised not to have one end up in the back of the net, partly the fault of Joe Hart. He was not the only player of note in the white shirts as Steven Gerrard played unbelievably well. He was the heart of the attack today, on top of his pinpoint accuracy.  Although John Terry had a great game today, including causing the miscall from the 5th referee on Devic’s attempt on goal, but more on that later. Regardless, it was an exciting match and I felt like Ukraine deserves more than to be sent out this early. Of course, winning is just as important as playing well, and with the array of opportunities that the Ukrainians acquired it is hard to sympathize too much with the home team. Great game to watch and a great conclusion to the group stages.

In the 62′ minute, Devic from Ukraine made a break in the box and hit it over Joe Hart towards the box, just to be cleared by John Terry at the last second. Replays show that the ball was, in fact, in the goal and Ukraine deserved the goal. In the moments before this play, however, a clear offsides on the Ukraine team was not called and therefore allowed the continuation of the play up until the controversial call. Up until now, the refereeing has been remarkable, omitting the first game, of course. But this call was missed by the 5th referee, a solution that UEFA came up with in order to make a secondary solution to miscalled goals in crucial times. This officially negates this idea and brings back the idea of goal line technology, which Micheal Platini has been actively avoiding. On that note, I’ll make a different write-up about the pros and cons of goal line technology, as well as my personal thoughts on it.

Also, I will do a pre-quarterfinals write-up tomorrow on what to expect in the coming games.

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Euro 2012 – Netherlands vs Portugal

Well its’ half time! I decided to watch this game over the Germany vs Denmark game for a couple reasons, mainly because of the huge controversy over Holland failing to get a point in this stage of the tournament. Still, some of my thoughts for the teams.

Netherlands- The defense looks okay at times, but this is not enough to hold down a Ronaldo that is back on his feet. The Dutch were hoping they weren’t going to have to worry about him, but this is definitely not the case today. Without the defensive help of Mark van Bommel, Holland are going to have to pick the defense up by at least twice the amount to ensure that no looks are found on the goal. Ronaldo has shown that he will stop at nothing to put in another one in, and with the history of the previous games, we know that other players can definitely do the same. Once this happens, Netherlands needs to work on building up to get a good feel on touching the ball and get into the rhythm again, something they haven’t done since the 28′ minute after Ronaldo’s goal. Also, they have decided to go with a very aggresively-based 4-2-3-1, so looking for counter-attacks is essential and might decide the match.

Portugal- After a shaky first part of the first half, Portugal looked great coming off the feel at the half. Ronaldo’s goal has given him great confidence, and hopefully he can take that on to the next half to score that second goal he is dying for. I usually refrain from saying such things, but Nani is playing out of his mind. Beautiful touches, experienced-based movement, and destroying defense is a small amount of things that he has done in this half. Using him will be key to gaining another goal. Portugal needs to feed the corners more balls and let Ronaldo and Nani work the magic that they have been using so far. Other than that, making sure that the defense don’t get lazy and the defensive wingers help the offense like they did on Ronaldo’s goal will help the pressure of Portugal, making Holland subside into their half for at least a great amount of time.

Final Score- Netherlands:1/Portugal:2

11′-van der Vaart, 28′-Ronaldo, 74′-Ronaldo

What an exciting game. If you asked me exactly nine days ago who would move on in Group B, I would of referred to the FIFA ranked 4th place team and predicted them to take the group. But after this crazy three games, Netherlands, for the first time in history, lost multiple games in a row and exited a tournament without any points. Although I’m disappointed to see one of the pre-tournament favorites to go, everything that happened in this game was not out of the ordinary. Holland came out guns roaring and ready to put themselves in a contending position for second place in the group, with a remarkable goal by Rafael van der Vaart in the 11′ minutes. My first impressions were to think that the Dutch could make the comeback of the year, but sadly fell short and a few moments later, Portugal up’ed the tempo and put Ronaldo in the pilot seat, leading the Portuguese offense.

After that, the Netherlands offense was not to be seen again, giving up a goal in the 28′ minute to a beautiful combination of Joao Pereira and Cristiano Ronaldo, who silenced all doubters for sure with that beautiful +40 yarder at Stekelenburg. I bring up this shot because I believe that this was a major turning point in the mental minds of Holland. That shot showed that Ronaldo’s goal was not a fluke, that he was truly there to put points up and take his team to the next stage of the tournament. That shot shut up everyone who said Messi’s name in the Denmark game, and further more, let his team know that this was not going to be easy for Holland. The lethality of that man is unparalleled in this tournament, and this is something that they will have to breed on in the upcoming games.

Holland were not there for the rest of the match, as I predicted. As history showed in the games before, the goal against Holland usually spelled their demise for the rest of the game. The second goal, which was expertly created by the old Manchester United teammates, killed the Oranjes off, and everyone on the pitch knew that this was the end for Holland. Holland’s tournament showing should not stop at the lack of wins, as maybe the chemistry is something that also needs to be improved on. The counter-argument is that this is basically the team that took runner up back in 2010, but my rebuttal to that would be that this is not the same team, obviously.

My words of advice to the Portugal team is to use this momentum against the Czech. They are a strong team who showed that the Russia game was just a misstep, and with the monster Petr Cech behind them, goals will not come easy. Headers near the goal will be tough because of Cech’s height and the tight defense that the Czech play will make it hard for the Portuguese to puncture the line like they did against Holland. With the beaming confidence that Portugal acquired in this game, I suspect to see them in the semi-finals in this tournament.

 

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Euro 2012 – England vs Sweden

HALF TIME! Time for some notes. To be honest there isn’t going to be much said.

England- Great goal from the Liverpool pair. I couldn’t have saw that coming even if I was on the pitch. Regardless, the goal has put them in a favorable spot to win the crucial three points to level themselves with France. Scott Parker needs to keep shooting from far and that Liverpool connection needs to happen more often. On the defensive end, the Ibrahimovic situation needs to be sorted out because if he is shrugging off defenders, he will surely break someone in the wrong area for England. Keeping the defense solid and making sure that Parker and Gerrard have their looks, along with a little something  from the young guns like Welbeck and Young will surely secure the win.

Sweden- Surprisingly playing better defense then they usually do, Sweden needs to take advantage of this and push at the beginning of the half. Ibrahimovic is still the key to the Swedish offense, and it seems like every touch he has on the ball is dangerous. He is playing too far back in order to create for his team as well as attack with numbers. Finding a way to let him push out even further will be key to tying or winning this game for the yellow shirts. Only one goal down, they are definitely not out of it yet.

Final Score- England:3/Sweden:2

23′-Carroll, 49′-G.Johnson(OG), 59′-Mellberg, 64′-Walcott, 78′-Welbeck

After a heart-stopping game, the Swedes will take their exit. This game was unbelievable, with attacks back and forth and with every attack being deadlier than the last. In the end, England was out on top, finishing the yellows off with a beautiful redirection of the ball by Danny Welbeck. Assisted by none other than Theo Walcott, he made an amazing impact the second he got on the field, taking Milner’s place and immediately making results. Questions have gone up in the England manager’s direction as whether Walcott should be starting over Milner, but I guess that is for a different time as the next game, England will have their main striker back, Wayne Rooney, to help them in the last game of the group stages and beyond.

Sweden- Taking a dagger to the heart, the expertise of the masterful Theo Walcott ended Sweden’s rally, which seemed like it was going to upset this England side. Ibrahimovic had some amazing looks at the net, just none that ended where he wanted them. In the end, there was only a few things that could of been done to have helped rally this team through, but the counter attacks were the main problem. Two attacked with a weakened defense, Walcott knew what to do on both occasions to help his team rise to the top. Although the main problem being the defense, it wasn’t the only problem, as both goals came off set pieces. While this might say more for England than it will for Sweden, we bid the Swedes farewell, as they gave the world such an entertaining game. Being a massive fan of Ibrahimovic, it is sad to see him go, but this tournament is about great teams, not players.

England- Some heart from a team that has been criticized day after day, England really showed the amount of superstars that are present on this team. Although both goals came off preventable fouls, England found a way to push through conceding two goals in a row and score two of their own. Theo Walcott was the man of the match, in my opinion, coming on and scoring and assisting within fifteen minutes of his entrance. Carroll today had an amazing goal, but was a part of the goal against his side, creating the free kick that paved the way for one of Sweden’s goals. The other foul, conceded by Milner, makes me question his start. After an under average game today and missing the goal that would of put England on top in the France match, Milner may have become more of a liability than a help. Obviously, not all the blame goes to the fouls, as England’s terrible defense today almost spelled the demise for them. Even against a side like Ukraine, England will need to step up the defense, starting with John Terry, who must learn how to control his defense like he does with Chelsea. With the addition of Rooney to the line-up, England can have a bright future ahead.

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Euro 2012 – Netherlands vs Germany

Final Score- Germany:2/Netherlands:1

24′, 37′- Mario Gomez, 73′-Robin Van Persie

Netherlands came out guns a blazin’ aiming to get on top of their cup rivals, but a few critical misses from Van Persie and the poor defense from Holland created the opposite, with two put in the back of the net for Germany by Mario Gomez. He was assisted both times by Bastian Schweinsteiger, who played a great game and was the keystone for this German offense. Now that Germany is in the best spot and Holland in the worst, here are some key tips to note from the game and what they need to take a win in the next game.

Germany- Although both goals came in the first half, Mario Gomez showed what it meant to play for a world-class club. Scoring two goals he is tied with Dzagoev for the most goals in the tournament, albeit the difference being Gomez has all the goals for Germany. This worries me quite a lot, as it cannot be said that the others didn’t have looks. Yes, they weren’t as clear as the ones Schweinsteiger created for Gomez, but they can’t fall into a state of dependency. Regardless, Schweinsteiger did he job flawlessly today, playing a major part in the win for Germany today .Neuer had a couple of beautiful saves to keep the Germans in it, and something tells me we will be seeing more of that in this tournament from him.   I would say that a goal for Germany is to attempt to get someone else one in the back of the net before the knockout rounds for confidence’s sake. Knowing that you have multiple strikers who are scoring to work with is a good feeling as a team. Other than that, we saw the scoring side of Denmark, so Germany will  need to step up the defense, especially against tougher sides in the knockout rounds.

Netherlands- A sad game to watch if you are Dutch fan. Robin Van Persie did not have his scoring boots on despite putting a late one in as consolation. He had many opportunities earlier in the game, something that would of made the game entirely if he raised the score before Germany did. But he is not the only one of fault as Van Bommel has a terrible game through and through, along with an unconvincing Robben, who was quiet for most of the game. Sneijder had a pretty good game, as he is the most consistent player by far on this orange side. Stekelenburg is still making some weird decisions, something I am surprised that hasn’t hurt them yet in the form of a goal.  I think that Tim Krul is a better keeper, but I’m not the coach, obviously. But one thing that is obvious that the coach can’t see  is Van Persie’s track record for his national team, something that many people criticized me for bringing up before the start of the tournament because of his recent year with Arsenal. Huntulaar has had a much better qualifying show and I felt like he deserved a chance to start over Van Persie after his performance against the Danish. Regardless, after all the pain and misery, the orange team is not completely out of the tournament yet will need an amazing show from their stars to even have an chance at staying in this tournament. Portugal proved that they do not need Ronaldo to score, and this is a scary thing to bring up to a defense where Heitinga was completely out of place for most of the game. Scoring is a problem, but they need to make sure that the defense problem is solved first.

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Euro 2012- Portugal vs Denmark

Final Score- Portugal:3/Denmark:2

Pepe-24′, Postiga-36′, Bendtner-41′, Bendtner-80′, Varela-87′

A clinic of strong finishes, this game turned out to be high scoring game despite both teams have notably strong defensive players. The key to this game was finishing, as many players took their chances to finish. Many people are criticizing Cristiano Ronaldo on not being a finisher, but I will talk about that later. Regardless, this was an attacking game, and both defenses seemed out of wack and out of place. But all the goals were very clean and clinical, something that both teams would like to take to their final group stage game. With this win, Portugal has virtually put fate in their own hands.

Denmark- For a team that was prized for their defense in the earlier game against Holland, shutting out the mass array of superstars to no goals, they were outdone countless times. The line was constantly broken and easily manipulated by the attacking Portugal, making it easy to slip ball after ball behind their line. Although this isn’t how they scored, it is a problem that needs addressing. The defense needs to be more disciplined, making sure to keep their shape regardless of the tricky movement and responding to the ball accurately without leaving gaps. Another thing to note on the defensive end is that the midfield did not help on defense as much as they did on offense. Maybe this was a coaching choice, maybe they were tired and could not move around as much. Frankly, this game should of been over much earlier than it was, but the last first half goal by Bendtner kept them in the game for another half. Bendtner will have to be the key in order to pass the Germans in their next game, which will not be an easy feat. Also, they will need that tight defense that I referred to earlier, making sure that Bastian Schweinsteiger does not break the line.

Portugal- First off, Pepe played the international game of his life. A goal in the first half, another with constant beautiful defense was such a major part in the win. Another man who played unbelievably well was Pepe’s  club teammate, Fabio Coentrao, who played like Mourinho wanted him to when he made the decision to buy him. He attacked very strong  when he went up and defended strong and without fouls, something I saw out of him in the World Cup 2010 and loved him since then. Sadly, Real Madrid can’t say the same, but I guess we’re not worrying about that at the moment. Ronaldo will have a lot to think about after this, missing two easy goals that would of been in the back of the net had he be playing in a Real Madrid shirt. Portugal, being in a cup drought for quite a while now, have rested their hoped in ending that on Ronaldo, who his completely aware of his situation. In my opinion, this is his Achilles heel and until people can stop making him the savior of Portuguese football, he will not be of help. In the next game, he will need to be strong but should be reassured that he does not need to be the goal scorer against Holland. The greatest thing for Portugal in this game is that Ronaldo does not need to score to win, and both Portugal and Ronaldo specifically should take that to heart and move to the next game.

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Euro 2012 Group B Round 2 Pre-Game Analysis

With the loss that the Danish handed the Dutch, Group B has forced its second round into a do or die situation. Losing what was considered to be their easiest game, the Dutch now have to find an answer against no other than my favorites to win the tournament. Before that game, however, is the Portugal vs Denmark match, which should be another excited bout. A few notes for each team to effectively give their side the edge that they so need for this second round in the group stages.

Germany- Although my favorites, they were unconvincing in the win against Portugal. The Dutch have a much stronger offense, with the midfield filled with the mastermind Wesley Sneijder, who always plays at the top of his game. But the list of worries don’t end there for Germany, as you can add another five names to that list. One thing that Germany has that Holland does not is a win, and this will force the Dutch to be more attack focused than defensive. With this note, the Germans have to worry about getting stuck in their half, as their defense will get broken down by the array of superstars. Germany also has their set of superstars, but the absence of their work in the first game should be troubling. Of course if we see some great chemistry early on I don’t think that they will have too much problems on the opposite end, as the average defense of Holland will not hold up. The main players to note for Germany is Phillip Lahm and Bastian Schweinsteiger, who are both going to need to start the build up and keep the tempo up for Germany, in which doing so shall probably win a spot in the next round for their side.

Netherlands- After a surprise failure from my other favorites for the title, I question the idea of starting Robin Van Persie over Klaas-Jan Huntulaar, who has shown more promise internationally. Other than that, the Holland line up is fine, and honestly should work its magic in the game. Whether there will be another flop on a team chemistry level is hard to see, but it is something that needs to be found. They do need a win from this game to make the next set of matches all on them, but seeing them through Germany is a tough thought, as both teams are too strong, theoretically. If both teams played to optimum levels I would believe that the Dutch side would come out on top. I say that the best formation for this side is a 4-4-2, making sure that there is enough people behind the ball at all times, and attacking swiftly and in numbers. Germany’s defense is headed by their strongest defender, Phillip Lahm, and catching him making a run can prove to be a goal at any time. Holland’s main plan is to apply constant pressure against the Germans and put them on their back foot in order to make sure that nothing is built from the bottom up. This formation only works against the 4-2-3-1 if everyone on the team moves back and forth to defend and attack.

Denmark- With the upset against Holland, Denmark is put into a spot that no one thought would be theirs. With the weak offense that Portugal has, Denmark should not have a problem with the attacks, but should worry about the creators on both sides, Cristiano Ronaldo and Nani. The former teammates are both insanely good players and can create goals by themselves, and given the gift they will take their side to the win. That being said, conceding a goal would spell death for Denmark, as their strong defense is the hallmark of this side. The offense is lacking but in terms of power, and moving in numbers is essential for putting pressure on the surprisingly strong defense of Portugal. I think that Denmark is in the greatest position to seal the deal to the next round, even possibly winning the group against anyone’s previous beliefs before the tournament.

Portugal- I like this team for the mainly players that have been through this squad. Sadly, the main men in this squad are all alone in terms of strength, and the old teammates will need to dig deep to create for their side. Portugal’s main problem is their midfield, as it seems nonexistent, but playing the 4-3-3 is a good idea for this match, unlike the previous one. The strength of this defense should hold against the Danish unless they get stuck in a beatdown. This formation is best because it will minimize the seemingly useless defense and add more constant attack against the Danish, which seems like the only way to break this side other than a well timed counter attack with Cristiano or Nani. This is why I can see the 4-2-3-1 as an opinion, but I think that Portugal should see if this is a good idea and NOT start with this formation. For this reason, I think keeping the line up as is is understandable, given the fact that Hugo Almeida may or may not be needed for this strategy. However this needs to be executed by the unconventional 30′ or 45′ minute marks to make sure that there is enough time to settle and work this. I believe Portugal does have the strength to make it out of the group stages and these are key points to hit if they want to.

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Euro 2012-Portugal vs Germany

It’s half time in the Portugal vs Germany game. Just a few points

Portugal- Needs to switch to a 4-2-3-1. They have a strong defense. Fabio Coentrao is playing better than he does for Real Madrid and they should take advantage of this. Sub out Postiga for Hugo Almeida and throw him up top. Other than that, a tie against the favorites is not a bad turn out.

Germany- Do not look convincing on either side of the pitch. Neither their offense or defense is doing what they need to do, and it’ll take one chance for Ronaldo to break that line. Line up is fine, but they need to start thinking of solutions for other strong defensive teams like Denmark.

End Game -Portugal:0/Germany:1
Mario Gomez -72′

Germany- In my opinion, still unconvincing and this kind of play will not work against teams with midfields(see below). The midfield for Germany and their forwards need that connection that makes champions, which will lie in the crafting hands of Bastian and Khedira. Not to let the strikers off the hook, Muller has a poor show and Gomez, although making the goal, missed many opportunities that would of made the win more convincing. The good news is that the 3 points are theirs and will make their next games a tad less stressful.

Portugal – Who I thought was the better show of the match, Portugal sadly failed to find the net, despite a convincing second half and multiple healthy looks on the frame. The two play makers, Ronaldo and Nani, were on opposite sides of the pitch, and being the only two players who showed any life from the Portuguese side, its hard to create anything separately. If Portugal would like to see themselves out of this group, the midfield needs to make a stand. Sadly, the midfield of the Portuguese is not filled with the likes of the old genius Deco, but that is no excuse for that poor show. Defense and offense was disconnected by a shabby midfield, and even If they don’t have too many big names there, the pace needs to be fixed. It’ll be surprising to see this side come out of the group stages without support for the stars of this team.

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