Tag: zlatan

Monday Musings – Bundesliga, La Liga and FA Cup Thrillers

I’d like to sit here and make a factual statement, “The Bundesliga is more exciting to watch than the Premier League.” (ok, not all that factual but still a valid opinion) GOALS ON GOALS ON GOALS. Let’s run through a few to start continue to help facilitate your drooling stupor on this lovely Monday:

Suarez continues to show that he is World Class: He takes his bike to work

Even Giroud showed a touch of class: Left magic roofed volley

Zlatan was a judo champion: Exhibit A

Robben is fast, Bayern wins 8-0: His technique is ridiculous

Dost was on another planet on Saturday (4 goals):

This is ridiculous

Last second winner

In other news:

Cristian Ronaldo still knows how to hurt people’s ankles: Elastico Nutmeg anyone?

Zlatan Ibrahimovic has a soul. He sports temporary tattoos that are names of children that are going hungry as past of his campaign with World Food Program

Messi equals most hattricks eve in the history of Spanish football (Legend)

West Brom made West Ham look mediocre at best

Stoke also got the run around from Blackburn

Lastly, Preston North End hosts Manchester United in the FA Cup today….United will need to stop this:

 

 

 

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The Golden Rule: You Do Not Touch ZLATAN

So, we all know Zlatan is good for 80-100 talking points for every game that he participates in. Here is a quick snap from his Euro Qualifier vs Austria. Too bad Sweden could not find a result. If anything, this look is enough to scare the babies out of some pregnant women all over the world. That, or the crying/diving of Ashley Young has finally found a reason to stop. Take a look and enjoy.

The Last Game By Nike

What happens when soccer gets taken over by perfect clones and the energetic and risky stars we know and love are forced out of the game? Nike takes on that harsh fantasy with this animated short and it does so with aplomb. It’s so disappointing though that every time I see Zlatan in these pre-World Cup commercials I get reminded he won’t be playing in the upcoming World Cup. I can never get enough of Super Zlatan.

Can Cavani and Ibrahimovic and Co. Coexist?

Cavani’s transfer to PSG has raised a lot of eyebrows. The surprise is not from the fact that he garnered the largest transfer fee in French history or that PSG was the team to give it to him but because of the team he went to. PSG played last year in a 4-3-3 with Zlatan Ibrahimovic as the lead striker and main focal point of their attack. The strategy worked well with Zlatan scoring thirty goals and led the Ligue 1 in scoring. However, Zlatan is notorious for being three things, two of which earn him a lot of vitriol from football fans, he is a great striker, incredibly selfish, and has gained a reputation as a mercenary. If he feels his position as center of the PSG universe is being threatened he could try and force his way out or force Cavani to play out of position. Neither of which are desirable outcomes if PSG is looking to bolster its attacking prowess.

On Napoli, Cavani played more of a central striking position while on Uruguay that position is occupied by Luis Suarez, and a lot of blame for his poor performances on the national team has been blamed on this very fact. Although to be fair, there have been many great players who have not performed at the level they are expected to on their national team because they have so little time to mesh with their teammates on their national team when compared to the time they have to mesh with their club teammates. Despite this caveat it is interesting to note how Cavani has consistently under-performed when put out wide. Zlatan never plays wide due to his style of play and body-type. If you look at PSG’s success last year it is hard to argue that Zlatan was the reason for their failure in the Champions League. Therefore, can PSG really make the case to play Zlatan out of position or change the formation that he thrived in without angering the fans and, more importantly, Zlatan himself?

Zlatan moving position seems unlikely but PSG would be foolish to not try everything to make sure their record-signing as effective as possible during his PSG career. Therefore, this is where the questions arise. Obviously, every effort must be made by a team like PSG to get one of the best strikers in the world but by signing Cavani they put two world-class strikers on the same team who have a proven track record of being unable to thrive out of position. So the real question is, can Laurent Blanc devise a formation that utilizes both strikers in a way that will get the most of their potential? Or will this signing hasten Zlatan Ibrahimvic’s exit from PSG?

There are a lot of possible formations that could be utilized. One of which is a 4-4-2 with Zlatan playing behind Cavani and a little bit to the left or right. In this scenario Cavani would be the point man and could lay off balls to Ibrahimovic who can run at defenders with some space. This is assuming Ibrahimovic will play as effectively without the service provided by two wingers. There’s also Ezequiel Lavezzi to worry about, assuming Cavani’s arrival doesn’t lead to him seeking a transfer to elsewhere, because his talent lies on the wing and having to consistently track back will hurt his effectiveness on the offense, same with Lucas Moura. Not to mention this leaves Javier Pastore as the odd man out as both wide midfield positions would be occupied by Lavezzi and Moura. PSG now has a wealth of offensive talent but a lot of offensive talent can be a bigger problem than it looks on paper because each talented player wants to play. However,too many offensive minded players can lead to weaker defense. This is because offensive players are notoriously bad at tracking back and playing defense which can overwhelm the PSG defense forcing PSG to have to outscore their opponents in way too many games to counteract their defense being constantly under fire.

Each and every formation will have its ups and downs, especially with this over-abundance of talent and a dearth of offensive positions within most formations. At the end of the day it is whether these two highly played players, and the rest of their talented offensive cast, can adapt their playing styles in order to compromise for the good of the team. Although, as the past has shown highly-paid players are usually not the ones most willing to compromise. If PSG wants to challenge in the Champions League then Laurent Blanc and company better make sure they do. However, it is entirely possible, and likely, that one of these players will have to leave in order to make room for Cavani and if Cavani does not mesh with Ibrahimovic then he could be worth a lot less tactically then the record transfer fee PSG paid for him. The only positive is that Cavani and Lavezzi have shown that they play well together after their time playing together on Napoli. Thus at the end of the day PSG’s success relies on whether Ibrahimovic and Cavani, two fantastic world-class strikers, can play at their best when sharing the spotlight.

Champion’s League Quarterfinals Round Up and Predictions

Soccer is surprising and as far as professional sports go, unusually unpredictable. Yet, we all have our prediction full of sureties and overzealous supporter’s grandeur. These very thoughts are what make soccer so enjoyable to watch. So it brings me much joy to say that yesterday’s Champion’s League matches were massive tests for each side involved. None of which could let their concentration fall because if they did, it was within any of these sides, Juventus, Bayern Munich, Barcelona and PSG, to strike at its opponent’s weakest moment. And that is exactly what happened.

PSG vs Barcelona

A game of intercontinental giants that thwarted the oil-rich Parisians and world-beating Catalans. A tie that Barcelona is always expected to win only because Barcelona is always expected to win, no matter who the opponent may be. And this night did not disappoint, although some might say it was not a typical night for Barcelona.

What an exciting game it was. At times PSG looked like the dominant side, a side capable of pulling off the unthinkable at a stage where Barca is expected to be there best. Just when you thought PSG was on the verge, the Argentinian maestro, Lionel Messi scores, largely thanks to a brilliant ball from the fiery and oft dangerous Dani Alves. Going into the half, PSG was smiling, they were only down 1-0 after squandering many chances and Messi was off with a hamstring injury. As good as Messi had been, Thiago Silva and co. had done a great job containing him. The loss was not as massive as you might think.

But what did PSG do? What did both teams do? They came out flat. The first quarter-hour of the second half lacked the liveliness of the first 45. But the last half hour provided some serious entertainment. And for PSG’s first goal is a comedy show, a flicked header from arguably PSG’s best player on the day, Silva, to the one of the worst on the day, good old Zlatan. Zlatan found himself a few yards offside but a sideline ref blinded by some oil money(or maybe a roundhouse kick from Zlatan) found it in his heart to throw PSG a bone and keep his flag glued to his hip. In every replay from every angle, Zlatan was offsides by enough to piss off all of the tv pundits, but not enough for that ref. So there it is, Zlatan gives the ball away with every touch and now, after a gift he is involved and interested in the game again. But still, Valdes kept himself composed and PSG could not break through again. The score remained this way until PSG’s keeper, Mr. Sirigu we’ll call him, shut off his brain and gave away a penalty in the 89th minute. Xavi stepped up and calmly passed the ball into the right corner and that was that, the game was a wrap. But no, the previously commended Valdes was left in a seemingly ligament tearing body contortion after a deflected shot from Blaise Matuidi found its way through. Valdes couldn’t recover and with the last kick of the game PSG knotted it at two.

The takeaways from this game are:

1.) that PSG will not go through. They will not go into Camp Nou and win. Even with Messi out of the team Barcelona will run circles around PSG in the return game.

2.) Beckham still has some juice left, albeit slower than ever, he covered some decent ground and was a calming factor in PSG’s midfield

3.) If PSG wants to win, Thiago Silva will have to once again be brilliant in the back and Zlatan will have to show up from the start. These two guys are massively important to PSG’s chances

As for today’s predictions:

Dortmund vs Malaga – Something tells me Coach Klopp will have Dortmund raring to go. This is the only competition Dortmund can still win so I expect a powerful statement-making performance from the Germans. I see this one ending 2-0 in Dortmund’s favor.

Real Madrid vs Galatasaray – In an earlier post, I had mentioned how Galatasaray could be a dark horse in this tournament. I failed to mention that dark horses are easily dumbfounded and conduct electricity well. The white lightning that is Madrid will confuse and befuddle a lack luster Galatasaray back seven and will leave no doubts about their goals in the Champion’s League. I expect this one to be in the 3-0 or 4-1. There is always a chance, even when he is out of form, that Didier Drogba could tuck one away.

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