The Milan clubs have been in trouble for years but it just continues to get worse. After a lack luster 10th place finish in the league, rumors of Inzaghi’s started instantly. If you look at Milan, the problems stem from a much deeper problem than who the head coach is. Seedorf and Inzaghi out. Siniša Mihajlović already lined up and spoken about publicly weeks before Inzaghi was fired? We’ll see what this switch brings but president, Silvio Berlusconi, has not been making fruitful decisions over the past few years.
They say a picture is worth a thousand words. I am more partial to “Ronaldinho’s soccer skills are worth 100 million views.”
One of the most skillful players of a generation, Ronaldinho is calling it a career. Always playing with a smile and always playing with respect for his opponents, he was a joy to watch both on the club and international level. Ronaldinho is currently in the midst of a 2-year contract with Mexican side, Queretaro but will void the remaining time to retire this summer. This comes at the end of an incredible career including stints at PSG, Barcelona, and AC Milan. Known for his happy-go-lucky playing style and incredible skill, the 35-year old Brazilian goes down as one of this generation’s the all-time greatest players.
Ronaldo Luis Nazario de Lima aka Ronaldo aka Fat Ronaldo is arguably one of the greatest players of all-time. Not one to shy away from the media and the flashy, Ronaldo is known for the elegant & explosive playing style, as well as his shoes and hairstyles. Known as the “phenomenon,” he won Fifa World Player of the Year three times, the Ballon d’Or twice, two World Cup titles and numerous domestic championships.
One of the best dribblers of all-time, Ronaldo was known for his mazy runs and acrobatic finishes. He is the second leading goal scored in Brazilian National Team history and held the World Cup all-time scoring record with 15 goals his four trips to the tournament. (German, Miroslav Klose, recently broke this record) If you have 15 minutes to witness some majestic brilliance, check out the video below:
Let’s run down some stats on this prolific goalscorer:
Cruzeiro: 14 appearances – 12 goals
PSV: 46 appearances – 42 goals
Barcelona: 37 appearances – 37 goals
Inter Milan: 68 appearances – 49 goals
Real Madrid: 127 appearances – 83 goals
AC Milan: 20 appearances – 9 goals
Corinthians: 31 appearances – 18 goals
It is safe to say that in whichever country Ronaldo played in he scored goals. His completeness was always something admired by other attackers as Zlatan Ibrahimovic says, “”The best opponent of my career? Ronaldo, Il Fenomeno. Why? Because he was my idol and because, as a football player, he was complete. There will never, in my view, be a better player than him.” He was also feared by defenders as legendary Milan defender, Allesandro Nesta states here, “Ronaldo is the hardest attacker I’ve ever had to face. He was impossible to stop.” Even Messi had something to say about the mercurial Brazilian. “He was the best striker I’ve ever seen.”
Ronaldo was not without his fair share of controversy. He was a bit of a partier and on occasion, he found himself in less than desirable romantic situations. This includes the most public of his misgivings, a scandal involving three transvestite prostitutes which he met in 2008. This occurred while he was engaged to the future mother of this children, Maria Beatriz Antony.
The first their third child together would be born later on in that year and the couple continues to live together in Sao Paulo.
Currently, Ronaldo co-owns the sports marketing company 9INE with mixed martial artist Anderson Silva. He recently became part owner of the Fort Lauderdale Strikers of the North American Soccer League and was rumored to want to attempt a comeback by playing with the side. With stints at PSV, Barcelona, Inter Milan, Real Madrid, and AC Milan, it is tough to put anything beyond the 38-year-old wonder-striker (including a shock comeback) and that is why he is this week’s Throwback Thursday player of the week.
Throughout his career David Beckham has been harangued for being over-glorified and fawned upon despite his less than world-class talent. It was a favorite tactic of dissenters to point out how David Beckham was not even the best in his position, let alone the best in the world. They used this evidence to prove that David Beckham’s popularity was a result of his good looks and marketability, not his actual skill. However, all these arguments are deeply rooted in jealousy because at the end of the day who are we to say that David Beckham’s popularity was undeserved? An athletes popularity does not all have to be a result of skill in order for it to be valid.
First off, it must be addressed that David Beckham was a fantastic midfielder. Of course there have been better midfielders but make no mistake about, he was very talented. He possessed an incredible vision and poise on the ball. Everyone can also agree that he was fantastic at taking free-kicks. Of course he was not the best defender, he was not the fastest player on the pitch, and he did not possess the tremendous goal scoring ability of Lampard or Gerrard but he made up for these on other areas of his game. The quality of the teams he played for: Manchester United, Real Madrid, AC Milan, LA Galaxy (best MLS team of recent memory) and PSG speak volumes of how highly valued his talent was. International powerhouses like those (with the exception of the LA Galaxy) do not need Beckham to sell tickets, they acquired Beckham to help their teams excel.
It can be conceded that Beckham would not be as popular as he is now if he looked like Marouane Fellaini, that much is obvious. No one wants to look at an HM advertisement of Fellaini in only his tighty whities. In sports business, brands are very particular on how their brand is portrayed and David Beckham had a personality and look that fit almost any product you put his face on. Should we judge him for being handsome and likable? No, we should celebrate him for that. At the end of the day he brought a rock-star like persona to football and that was good for the sport. He was a trailblazer for future football stars to turn their talent and marketability into larger endorsement deals and further reach for them and their teams. Not every country produces rock-star athletes like the US does. It is good for football that countries with less football superstars can look up to football players such as Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi, and David Beckham who do not even play in their country.
David Beckham’s mixture of skill, personality, and good looks made him capable of spreading his brand across the world. It has become commonplace for kids in places as far away as Thailand to be wearing Beckham jerseys. Most of these kids probably have had little to no chance to actually see David Beckham play. Instead, they wear these jerseys as a symbol of their pride in soccer and a reflection of what they dream to be one day, international football stars. Therefore, what David Beckham has done could not have been achieved through skill alone. He needed to combine his skill and magnetism to create a symbol of the power of football in the world. Football is a several billion dollar industry and through David Beckham we got to see the power it yielded if the right footballer were to utilize it.
So many words can be used to describe the performance Barcelona put together yesterday versus Italian giants AC Milan.
Brilliant, majestic, seamless, true.
Barcelona gave Milan no chance. The high line and relentless pressure was too much for a Milan side that lacked any real potency on the counter and looked scared for most of the game. The first line was so sprawling and important for Barcelona, Milan had trouble getting out of their own half. Two goals from an incredible Lionel Messi and a two-nil lead going into halftime. It could have been more, had a blatant penalty been given early on when Pedro was obviously dropped by a beaten Abate or if Messi found the back of the net with his header after a wondrous volley from Iniesta. Still, Messi found the back of the net just how the best player in the world should in the biggest games. A clean first touch set him up for a half-volley that found the top corner to put the Catalans up 2-0 within five minutes of kick-off, an absolute dream start for Barca.
The way Barcelona kept the ball for the 30 minutes of the game must have put their own centerbacks to sleep. The only time they had to be involved was either after a clearance from Milan found their feet or there was a set piece for Barcelona. Barcelona was dynamic. Victor Valdes could have pulled out a lounge chair for much of the game. The central combination play from Iniesta, Xavi, Busquets, Messi and Villa combined with the width Dani Alves found on the right was a ridiculous force that Milan had no answers for. Milan tried to “park the bus,” and just sit in and counter-attack when possible. The buildup to Barca’s attacking play was smart and taken with much more urgency than in the first leg of this matchup. Barcelona made it look easy to penetrate a ten man wall behind the ball and made it impossible for Milan to find a way out if they ever won the ball back. Yet, might the post have saved Barcelona’s Champion’s League chances? What a break it was when Milan found a way out and the breakaway was saved by the post.
What happened next? Milan tried to bruise Messi, they had three men around him whenever he saw the mall, they hit and viciously attacked him. He might have been fouled ten times in this game. Still he conquered. When Messi scored for a second time, just before half-time, you knew the game was over.
You knew that Barcelona were finding a way through, that Milan did not have any answers. They already looked devastated. They looked drained. The focus necessary to maintain the organization they needed to combat Barcelona’s flowing movement is massive. It took a toll and you could tell that as the game went on they were worn down little by little. I don’t even think Maldini could have helped Milan thwart this Barcelona attack. Barca took the 2-0 lead into halftime. Still, a goal from Milan changes it all and would force Barcelona to score two more goals to find their way through.
The second half started well. In the first half, I don’t remember David Villa’s name being mentioned. Xavi played an intricate ball into the path of Villa and his composure took over from there as he smartly finished in the bottom left corner. Let the euphoria begin. Let Milan begin to open up and chase the game. Let Barcelona control the game even more. Let’s call on Sergio Busquets to run the game. Barcelona’s pressure never dropped and the incredible amount of possession remained, largely due to Busquets presence as a link between the back four and the front five and his willingness to play one/two-touch football. Changes were made when the once illustrious Robinho came on, but to no avail.
Milan did enjoy spells of pressure and some shocking defending from Barcelona did lead to a few chances but none found the net. Barcelona remained a constant whirlwind of passing and movement. The Catalans wrote the script on why they call it the “beautiful” game and they did not let us down. Still, Milan found some joy in the final ten minutes, largely thanks to some awful defending from World XI centerback Gerard Pique (there is no sarcasm there). He was not good on the day and should be eternally grateful for a brilliant tackle from Jordi Alba which saved the day. I guess left backs who cover you well and having Shakira as a wife is enough to get you in the world team. Insert obligatory picture of her here:
I have never seen more players behind the ball for Barcelona than in the last ten minutes. Still, they found a way to grab and fourth and decisive goal that shut the door on any Milan hope. “Let’s keep it in the corner,” said Puyol. “No, let’s get a fourth,” said Jordi Alba and company. And there it is, Barcelona is through. The Nou Camp’s electricity is ignited and Barcelona will be winning the Champion’s League this year. What a performance it was!
Not for nothing, a little while ago in my post “Is it Time to Fear Galatasaray and Porto?” I predicted Galatasaray would get through and they did, albeit tougher than I thought it would be. Still, they pose a threat to anyone (besides Barcelona) in the next round. My expectations remain high for Porto moving through after today’s match. My expectations are not as high for Arsenal, who were dealt a huge blow when Mr. Wilshere was ruled out for the rest of the month.
They were already struggling in the midfield and this just solidifies Bayern Munich’s hold on that tie. Munich will be through. The next round will bring some giant match-ups for us to enjoy.