Man Utd 1 Arsenal 0

Another lame match at display in the first leg of the second semi finals of the Champions league.

Man utd started out all attacking and had a chance just after 2 minutes as Almunia was forced to make a fully stretched save.

Man Utd took the lead from a somewhat unlikely scorer in John O’Shea as he found space after Arsenal failed to clear a corner in the 17th minute of the match.

The goal did calm the nerves at both ends but made the game a lot boring. It was a night of good defense at both ends which was followed by measured attacks.

Almunia made around a dozen saves to limit the scoreline to 1-0. He was a man on a mission to make as many saves as the number of shots that came towards his goal. He did let one go past him from O’Shea but that was more to slack defending from Arsenal that his mistake.

Kieran gibbs at left back was phenomenal. He had to handle Cristiano Ronaldo in the first half and Wayne Rooney in the second half and did he do a fantastic job keeping tabs on both of them. He looked a bit nervous against Middlesborough the other day and i was so not sure about him being pitted against Ronaldo tonight. Maybe all the hype in the newspaper got to the kid. He was out to prove that Clichy should be looking over his shoulders going forward. He had one of the best games of his career without doubt and Weenger would be extremely pleased by his showing tonight.

Arsenals creative 4 i.e. Fabregas, Nasri, Walcott and Adebayor didn’t have much of a game and that was the reason there was no finished product to any of the Arsenal attacks.

Song i think was excellent once again and the more i see of the lad the more sure i am becoming of the fact that he will be one hell of a Star player for Arsenal in the future. Diaby though was disappointing as he kept losing posession and hardly created an attacking move.

Silvestre and Toure were pretty solid at the centre of defense. The defense surprisingly looked pretty good for Arsenal. And that would be a positive thing for Arsenal going into the second leg next week.

I still think Man Utd will prove too much for Arsenal in the second leg. Though i wish Arsenal can nip it with 2 goals in the second leg.

See you next week. Till then Adios…

Arsenal v Manchester United Semi Final no. 2!!!

A wonder strike from the World’s best footballer helped Manchester United become the first English side to beat Porto at home and go through to the Semi Final of the Champions league.

The Red devils slayed the dragons in their own home ground after Ronaldo scored a stunning strike from all of 40 yards to give United the cushion they needed to sit back and absorb any attack from the dragons.

It was a classic European job by Fergie’s men.

They will now face Arsenal in the semifinal after Arsenal comfortably defeated Villareal by 3 goals.

Wonderkid Theo Walcott opened the scoring after just 10 mins with a delightfull chip over keeper Diego Lopez. Walcott was a constant thorn in the right side of the midfield troubling Capdevilla on more than one ocassions…

Adebayor scored the second at the hour mark and after the next few mins Walcott won a penalty for Arsenal. The decision was dubious and Villareal players protested to no avail.

Robin Van Persie converted from the spot to make it 3-0. Arsenal are comfortably through.

Once again we have an English side assured place in the Champions league final and who knows we might have another all English Final…

Great game by Arsenal and Good European display by the Red Devils.

Catch you all at the Semi finals again!!!

Football Manager 09: – Second Coming

Since my earlier post on FM 09 received such positive response, I have decided to write more Football Manager 2009 related posts on my blog…

So here’s an update on the game I have been playing. I had chosen to Manage Manchester United at the start of the 2008-09 season. Been two seasons at the club now. I had purchased Messi (82 Mil) and Andres Guardado (19mil) in the second season itself…I have sold Berbatov and bought Bojan for more or less same amount this season…Also Real Madrid wanted Guardado bad this season coz of his excellent performance for my team in my second season in charge. So I decided to Cash in on him by selling him for 50 milJ. I bought Stevan Jovetic for around 15 odd millions as Guardado’s replacement. I have also bought Johnny Heitinga as the replacement to the tired legs of Ferdinand. To replace Gary Neville, I trained Johnny Evans to play as right defender and he has become a really good right back for me now.

 Also I am training Mamadou Sakho to be the long term replacement for Evra, I dunno why I usually feel the charm of a player ends when he reaches 29/30. So I prefer buying young players to replace the old ones once the senior players start nearing 30.

 I am trying to sell Evra now but there seem to be no takers already for the 29 year old. Also i wanted to buy Fabregas as the centre midfield man for my team, but could not as Arsenal are unwilling to sell him even for 85 Mil. Will try and buy him again for 90/95 mil.

 Also I bought this really promising  young South American AM/FC from Villareal for 10/12 Mil called Roquero. He is good at free kicks and has already scored some really good goals for my team. Also had bought Bojan at the beginning of the season. So now I have got some really good forwards, like Rooney, Bojan, Alex Texieria, Roquero and Tevez. So I am trying to sell Tevez for around 60 mil. So that I have sufficient funds to buy both Fabregas and Pato (remember that I already have around 75 mil as of now). 

 I have already reached the January transfer window and am re-inforcing players for next season. I have already signed the brazilian attacking midfielder from Bremen, Ribas Diego on a free transfer. Also trying to rake in Rosina from Italy on a free transfer, but AC milan, Inter, Roma and Chelsea are interested in the player and have bid for a transfer in January window itself. So I also have bid 20 mil for the player and offered him a great 135,000 pounds a week salary so that he cannot reject joining my team. Then when the transfer is supposed to go through, I will keep delaying it again and again till the end of the transfer window. And when the window closes I will offer him a much lower salary and effectively sign him on a free transfer for the next season. This is a very effective strategy i have been using and works like a charm… 🙂

 Also better way is to keep delaying the transfer till end of season and once the player is out of contract he will join for a much lesser amount. Had once used this technique to sign Robinho when managing Barcelona. When I wanted to offer him a contract in the January transfer window, he wanted a very high salary, somewhere in the range of 125,000 pounds etc. So i kept delaying the transfer and once cancelled, used to offer him a new contract again only to delay it further. This way I pushed the transfer till the end of the season. Then when he was out of contract from Manchester City, I offered him a contract and guess how much he wanted to join my team? Just 55,000 pounds a week compared to almost 2 and half times he demanded earlier 🙂

 I am also on the look out to sign the young Russian Goalkeeper Igor Akinfeev on a free transfer at the end of the season so that he joins me in the January of next season. Lot of good English players will also be out of contract and I plan to snap them up on free.

 Another great way to build up a great youth team without spending much money is to search at the end of each season for youngsters who are out of contract. For e.g. I search for players who are 16 yrs old and sort them by clubs. Then i see players from large clubs like Barcelona, Athletic Madrid, AC Milan, and Real Madrid etc… All clubs from top European leagues are worth a try. Offer contract to each of these top club players and your assistant manager will let you know if the player would be a quality/good/Decent/last resort signing. When starting a new youth club, I always sign all that are decent and above. Once I have a established youth system in place, i offer contracts to only players who would turn out to be good/quality players. This wont cost you a single penny and you can build up a great youth squads. Based on training and potential some of these youngsters can eventually turn into good first team players and if nothing will definitely rake in good transfer revenue for your team.

 I have won the super cup and the club world championship this season already and am well on track to win the championship, Champions League, League cup and FA cup tooJ

 I recently bought a Bosnian player, a defender for around 2.5 mil. He didn’t get a work permit, but has still been added to my club. I don’t know how I can re-apply work permit for him and I cannot even play him in competitive matches. Don’t know what to do. If anyone has faced such a situation and knows how to get rid of such a player or how to get a work permit for the same, let me know.

 I will soon post more about the tactics I use and the details about my team and how to optimize the tactics for effective match play once I’ve figured out how to upload the prt screens from the game here on wordpress.comJ

 

Till then keep looking at the space for more FM 2009 updatesJ

 

The Phenomenon that is BARCELONA

The team that Europe is scared of at the moment!!!

The team that Europe is scared of at the moment!!!

Barcelona sit 6 points clear at the top of the spanish league table and are comfortably through to the quarter finals of the Champions league. They are hot favourites to win this seasons European tournament.

The team has thrived under the leadership of Pep Guardiola. Guardiola took over the reins from Rijkaard in the summer and re-organised the squad to create one of the most beautiful attacking team in Europe. Only Manchester United might come close to Barcelona in the amount of Matches won and goals scored and conceded and more prolifically for the amount of dominance in the league.

Guardiola spent around 90 Million to rebuild the squads buying the likes of Daniel Alves, Seydou Keita, Caceres, Pique, Hleb etc…

Barca play the 4-3-3 formation and they play it without any disguise as done by the likes of Chelsea who indeed play 4-3-2-1. the front 3 of Barca are out and out forwards and can in no way be classified as wingers. Eto leads the front 3 through the centre. Bojan is used in rotation or as a substitute and is definitely capable of reaching the high standards as set by the front 3 playing for Barca.

The Barca trinity: - Attack any defense would be terrorised of

The Barca trinity: - Attack any defense would be terrorised of

In the midfield Barca either play the young but highly promising Sergio Busquets, or Yaya Toure or Seydou Keita in the holding Midfield position. Then they have the ever dependable Xavi and highly creative Iniesta leading the midfield in attacking positions. Hleb and Gudjohnson are also available as options to the coach.

Iniesta & Xavi: - The creativity behind the team

Iniesta & Xavi: - The creativity behind the team

2 dependable centre backs

2 dependable centre backs

 Puyol and Marquez are the centre halfs where Pique or Caceres or Gabriel Milito also play under rotation. Daniel Alves has been a revelation and he and Messi create a hovoc down the right hand side. On the left the french duo of Abidal and Henry are no less and Henry especially seems to be finding his form and is as lethal as Eto or Messi if not more.
2 explosive full backs

2 explosive full backs

The defense has seen many a rotations and thats the only thing where Pep Guardiola havent been able to find his best 4 which has led to a lot of goals being conceded by Barcelona.

Going forward the team has scored a phenomenal 76 goals in 26 matches averaging almost 3 goals a game. they have conceded 24 in the league too, which at 1 goal a match for a team like Barcelona is a bit of a worry. The fact that they score so many up front almost always overshadows the fact that they leak quite a few at the back.

the front 3 alone have scored almost 55 goals in the league alone this season and there are still 12 matches to go. which goes to show the sheer terror they might be causing to the opposition defenders. Henry as i mentioned earlier is finding his groove as at Arsenal and Messi is turning into the Best player in the world that everyone debates he is. And although Eto is scoring goals for fun in the Spanish league, question remains open about his future at the camp nou.

The success should also be attributed to the abundance of talented home grown players Barca has been able to produce. With the likes of Puyol, Xavi, Victor Valdes, Iniesta, Messi, Bojan all coming through the ranks from the Barcelona youth setup one can just imagine how much talent the youth setup at Barca has been able to produce over the years. 

The academy at Barcelona has been able to produce stars over the years

The academy at Barcelona has been able to produce stars over the years

There is also the right mix of youth and old at the club. The clubs have experienced players like Puyol, Henry, Marquez, Xavi, Abidal, Valdes and Sylvinho and at the same time budding stars in the form of Messi, Bojan, Pique, Caceres, Busquets.

young players en route to develop into stars at Barca

Young players en route to develop into stars at Barca

With the guidance of Puyol and Xavi, surely we can imagine Pique & Busquets to be the next big names at Barca.

Surely a superstar in the making!!Another Raul Gonzalez for Spain?

Surely a superstar in the making!!Another Raul Gonzalez for Spain?

And Bojan has been a revelation since a very young age. He has been a breeze of fresh air when the old legs look tired. He has lot to learn and I am sure with the right guidance from Henry and Eto he will be one of the best players in the world in the years to come. Then there are other youngsters like Caceres and Sanchez who have shown potential and with time will surely earn a place in the starting 11. Messi though young is a star as it is now and could only bring more fame and awards to the club.

With the current future in the hands of dependable stars like Puyol, Valdes, Henry, Eto, Xavi , Iniesta and of course Messi and the future in the hands of promising youngsters like Pique, Busquets and Bojan it is all but certain that the club is in the right hands and going in the right direction.
All that remains to be seen is how well the team fares this season and how they take it from there. As of now the treble is on for Barca and my money is for them to at leats win 2 of the 3 competions they are competing in. Who knows they may win all 3 too. Real Madrid sure has some catching up to do. If i was the president of Madrid, I’d be lining up bids for the likes of Vidic, Villa, Ronaldo and the likes to be anywhere close to where Barca are right now.
Watch out Madrid and Europe the Barca juggernaut is not to be stopped anytime soon…

Manchester United manage to keep cool “Heads”

It was a typical European night of Football. The match kept dilly dallying from one end of the pitch to another. Manchester United settled the initial nerves when Vidic scored the opening goal. Despite the first goal Man united looked far from the convincing side which outplayed Mourinho’s Inter all over the pitch in the first leg of the fixture.

Vidic opens the scoring for the European champions

Vidic opens the scoring for the European champions

Even experienced players like Scholes and Giggs kept losing posession and game was very much open when the sides broke for half time. Inter just needed one goal and they’d be through on away goals rule.
SAF must have given the hairdryer treatment to his team as the team that turned in the second half was a much more composed one. Any nerves that were still present when Rooney and Ronaldo combined to create a stunning goal to give Man United the much needed 2 goal cushion.

Ronaldo heads in for United's second of the night

Ronaldo heads in for United's second of the night

Ronny and Rooney- deadly combo

Ronny and Rooney- deadly combo


Rooney sent a sublime cross in the box which was brilliantly headed in by Cristiano Ronaldo. The game was beyond Inter from that point, though the visitors did scare the Man United defence a few times. Adriano almost scored right after coming off the bench but was denied by the wood work.
At the end of the day it was an efficient European performance from Manchester United to go through to the Quarter-finals.
Barcelona look like the only team that can stop the Man U juggernaut at the moment. Though Liverpool will try to stop Man U when they travel to Old trafford tomorrow.
Rooney: I hate Kop

Rooney: I hate Kop

Rooney versus Torres, who will win??
Fernando: I'll Tor United apart

Fernando: I'll Tor United apart


Zinedine Zidane has just said today that Gerrard is the best player in the world. I wonder what World player of the year Cristiano Ronaldo has to say about it…

Zinedine Zidane believes Steven Gerrard is the best player on the planet!!

Zinedine Zidane believes Steven Gerrard is the best player on the planet!!

Whether Manchester United should buy Tevez or not?

This question would have come in Sir Alex Fergusons mind many a times this season especially after spending more than 30 million pounds on Berbatev in the summer who essentially plays at the same position.

Well if someone were to ask me, i would say, yes definitely.

Tevez was stupendous for Manchester United in their double last season. the understanding between him, Rooney and Ronaldo brought the best out of everyone and Manchester united were scoring goals for fun demolishing opponents on their way to both Premier league and European glory…

This Season on the other hand they have not looked the same and have struggled. Berbatov’s performances though good have not been consistent and so  flamboyent as to warrant him a starting place ahead of Tevez whose dedication and committment is second to none on the field for United.

Berbatov just walks in the side and gets a starting 11 place? brutally unfair on Tevez who scored 19 goals last season at a time when Ronaldo was having an exceptional year,  going on to score 42 goals in all competitions. Thus the 19 scored by Tevez was definitely good enough given that his role was more of a creater than scorer last season and in the abscence of a tall striker like Berba last season Rooney played that role and Tevez played a lot deeper creating space for his other high profile team-mates.

Lets look at what are the factors that could influence SAF’s decision to retain the services of Tevez beyond this season.

  1. High Price: – Well some might consider the 32 million price tag out on Tevez as high, but is it really high these days compared to the inflated prices doing the rounds in the transfer window. for e.g.  – Bellamy – 14 Mil, Wilson Palacios – 14 mil, Lassana Diarra – 20 mil and so on. Also Fergi spent 20 odd million pounds to secure the services of Nani last summer and Nani has hardly featured this season at all. Also 30 + million for Berbatov clearly means Tevez can easily be measured at par and the benefit Manchester United have in the Tevez case is they have already paid some 10 million pounds of the 32 Million required to buy Tevez. So 22 million for Tevez really doesnt seem that bad.
  2. Formation: – Well the only true argument here is that there is no way for Fergie to accomodate all 4 of his star players and since he has already paid mega bucks for Berbatov he doesnt want to spend another 22 million for a squad player. Fergie can always use Tevez and Berbatov on a rotation basis and having someone of Tevez’s quality in the side will keep both Rooney and especially Berbatov (Who is deemed by many as a lazy player) on their Toes. Injury lay-0ffs are something no team can avoid and Rooney has recently been lost for a few weeks to injury. Tevez can come in as a seamless transition in such cases. Also for a team like Man U who aims for glory in all competitions it enters, Squad depth can prove so much critical especially in the knock out stages of the Champions League.
  3. Lack of Quality: – Another question that Fergie may have is that he may not consider Tevez to be the same quality or level as the other 3 stars in his sqaud. But that argument has been put to rest even before it started by Tevez’s performance last seaosn at Man U and the season before that at West Ham, where he almost single handedly saved West Ham from relegation. Everybody knows that when Tevez loses possession of the ball he runs to all the ends of the field to get the ball back and to restore possession. His energy levels on the field are unmatched. He may not have the technical expertise as Ronaldo or Rooney, but his Hard-working skills make up for most of it.

All in all i think letting Tevez go and replacing him with anyone who would take time to adjust to the pace of the premier league and the type of football Man U play would be a big gamble fergie should avoid. If funds are indeed a problem, Man U should sell the young prodigy Fraiser Campbell for around 8-10 millions with a buy back clause and use the same funds to buy/retain Tevez.

Given enough starts in the premier league Tevez will proove even this season how important a member he is of the Man U squad.

More later… till then, Keep smiling…

 

Overhead goal by Coruch this weekend

The Overhead kick which is also called as the bicycle kick, chalaca, chilena, or scissors kick. It is a move in football which is made by throwing the body up into the air, making a shearing movement with the legs to get one leg high overhead to reach the ball (in original head height), which gets kicked backward over the layer’s head. One of the all time greatest footballer Pele described the kick as “not easy to do”. (Wikipedia)

Legendary footballer Pele's signed Overhead Kick poster

Legendary footballer Pele's signed Overhead Kick Poster

Seeing the stupendous Overhead kick goal by Peter Crouch this weekend, Many might have been surprised, though I wasnt too surprised. Having seen Crouch score in a similar fashion on 2 other ocassions it was very obvious to see him try to score another one similarly and also succeed in scoring the same.

Peter Crouch has always been very ambitious about his Goals. You can see him trying the most impossible goals on the field. These Goals look very nice if converted which is usually like 1 out of 10 times if not less…But when it is not pulled off properly it looks kinda foolish and you may get injured if you have a bad fall while trying the overhead kick.

Just some pics showing some very good overhead kicks and the players who are good at pulling it off..

Crouch scoring with an extremely acrobatic overhead kick against Galatasaray

Crouch scoring with an extremely acrobatic overhead kick against Galatasaray

Croch scoring with an overhead kick agaisnt Bolton during his Liverpool days

Crouch scoring with an overhead kick agaisnt Bolton during his Liverpool days

David Villa of Spain scoring with a stunning Overhead kick against minnows Liechtenstein

David Villa of Spain scoring with a stunning Overhead kick against minnows Liechtenstein

Brazilian Legend Rivaldo - The Master of the falling overhead kick scoring one against Valencia

Brazilian Legend Rivaldo - The Master of the falling overhead kick scoring one against Valencia

Former World Player of th eyear Ronaldinho scoring with a superb overhead kick against Athletico Madrid

Former World Player of the year Ronaldinho scoring with a superb overhead kick against Athletico Madrid

Tim Cahill scores from an unbelievable Overhead Kick to deny Chelsea all 3 points at stamford Bridge last season

Tim Cahill scores from an unbelievable Overhead Kick to deny Chelsea all 3 points at stamford Bridge last season

Ajax's Klass Jan Huntelaar scores from a superb Free kick

Ajax's Klass Jan Huntelaar scoring from a superb bicycle kick

World Player of the year contendor Cristiano Ronaldo attempting an overhead kick

World Player of the year contendor Cristiano Ronaldo attempting an overhead kick