Tag Archives: Joe Hart

4 Best Goals Of The Champions League: Round 2

Check out Round 1 here.

More mismatched ties in this week’s round than the previous one was always going to mean more goals, and it didn’t disappoint. Madrid, Chelsea, PSG, Olympiakos, and Dortmund all crumpled their opponents with crisp play that lead to effective goals and comfortable wins.

Meanwhile, Man United let a fortunate win slip to a draw against Shakhter, Arsenal defeated Napoli with a searing opening 20 minutes, and Man City found out just how powerful a real super-team is when they became Bayern Munich’s submissive for the night.

Might as well just laid down in the goal and hoped…

But we’re not here for results, we’re here for goals! Feast on these beauties:

Mesut Oezil for striking a pacey ball from the right with his left instep and fading it left – all while making it look he was just down the park:

Julian Draxler for striking a volley that didn’t need power because his boot is actually made from da Vinci’s paintbrush:

Jens Hegeler for his inch perfect 90th minute free-kick that seemed to pick up pace and was getting harder to save with every spin:

Radim Reznik (O.G) for this absolutely disgusting own goal that made Hart look like Gianluigi Buffon in terms of net protection:




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Capello’s Regressive Team Taught a Lesson in Passion

I ‘got my English on’ for what should’ve been a qualify inducing win; a microwave curry, German beer, even a hoody and tracksuit bottoms – all the things England is built on. But before I could purchase a horribly inbred Bulldog and complete the package, I noticed England’s lineup and my heart sank.

Montenegro are defiantly a team to treat with respect. Just Mirko Vucinic commands respect, let alone the away win against Bulgaria and the draw at Wembley. I think England gave too much respect with their starting eleven though, and that’s not the only thing that disappointed me about the team sheet.

I haven’t enjoyed England’s qualifiers thus far. Even when we’ve won comfortably it feels more like the caliber of the opponents controlling the scoreline, rather than our ability. The naive hope of an enjoyable game rose in me before this tie however, perhaps because it was to be the final step to qualification, perhaps because I knew there would be goals. This hope was given a open-handed slap by the lineup straight away.

I felt like a beachball at Merseyside. (deflated)

It was the two men in the middle that saddened me initially. Look Capello, I know two holding midfield players are in vogue right now, and have been for a few years, but they aren’t for us – they are for teams who are capable of passing the ball, or endlessly attacking with it. The World Cup in South Africa demonstrated the value of the central two: Busquets and Alonso for Spain, van Bommel and de Jong for Holland, Arevalo Rios and Perez (or Gargano) for Uruguay – the list goes on in terms of international success, but not for us.

I don’t rate Barry very highly. He showed me all he’d ever need to when Germany beat England 4-1; Barry sticking perfectly to the 30 yards Oezil was in at all times without ever getting near him was impressive. I understand the need for a defensive midfielder with someone who supports the attack a la Gerrard or Lampard, but with neither of them starting tonight he is a bit meaningless, as is Parker. Surely Lampard, after a fantastic game for Chelsea against Bolton, deserved a game? Failing that, Milner (who actually has a future) would have been great to see.

Even though selection risks should have been kept at a relative minimum for such an important game, they were far too conservative. There was barely any sight of England’s future in the starting eleven. Joe Hart isn’t giving a chance to a youngster – he’s the only good English keeper! Walcott is there because Aaron Lennon forgot how to play. Yes, Young is moving into England’s eleven nicely but as opposed to who? In fact, I was desperately disappointed not to see Adam Johnson not used at all.

England Soulessly took a two goal lead in the first 35 minutes, Walcott and Young looking both like a promising partnership and individually impressing. This could be because they were the only attacking players; Rooney playing deep, and Bent pushing the line both disappearing into ball retention.

Has it come to this?

Phil Jones made his international debut which was a progressive move. Without being too cynical, I’d rather he didn’t though. In the end he played well, but there were some hairy penalty moments. I know United fans enjoy his marauding runs up field, but it’s something I would look to cut out of his game. That could be bitterness due to him being caught drastically out of position for Montenegro’s first goal.

Not that it mattered as Terry and Cahill decided it was acceptable to let the hero from Sofia, Zverotic, chest the ball down, let it bounce, then take a pop. After the game J.T said Capello blamed the goal on the first half being too easy for England. Well if it was so easy maybe the Three Lions should have scored a few more to pass the time.

Montenegro played well, never letting their head’s drop and playing good, probing football around England’s box, constantly testing the defense. With a man down (I’ll get there) the goal was coming, a combination of skill and drive forcing it in the net.

After a delightfully skillful turn by playmaker Simon Vukcevic, Cole decided the promising Man City youngster Stefan Savic didn’t need marking and left him to put in a cross. He didn’t let Ca$hley down, a looping backpost cross that left Hart looking incompetent, was headed in by a determined Delibasic.

I wasn’t remotely upset by the equaliser for several reasons. Firstly England were still going to qualify top so it didn’t affect that, and secondly because England didn’t deserve the win, and I wanted Capello and co to know that. But more importantly, I didn’t mind the goal because I was delighted for the Montenegrins.

As the players bundled into the crowd I saw genuine passion overtake sense. England celebrated like they expected it, Montenegro celebrated like they’d earned it.

Scoring for your country or completing a tax return form?

The ex-Yugoslavs didn’t just trump England’s passion out of play though – just look at the way Delibasic wants to get on the ball more than Cahill for the equaliser. He knows to head the ball in he is going to hit the post at full speed, but was anyone else going to win that ball? Definitely not. Perhaps Paul Ince wasn’t far off the mark after all.

Eclipsing all these points in the headlines will be Wayne Rooney, whos old self resurfaced to ‘do’ a Beckham 1998. I cannot emphasise enough how big a fool he is. For me, he is one of the current greats along with Messi, Xavi and co. But to remain in their league he’s got to cut this petulance out.

I don’t mind his natural aggression and the odd yellow but he needs to handle his frustrations. I’ve seen Messi in Argentinian colours pounding the floor when decisions go against him, I’ve seen him express displeasure to team mates after failed passes, but I’ve never seen him jeopardise his team’s chances like Rooney has (2005 doesn’t count at all).

Despite Capello trying to stop me enjoying the game (switching to a defensive 4-5-1 after an hour? Are you fucking kidding me?), I did enjoy it and I hope that team do well in the Finals. Montenegro that is.

Oh, I went there

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Bayern Munich 2-0 Man City: Tantrum Time!

Blimey, you’d think the game was in Milan for all the handbags that were thrown around during it. I’ve seen happier benches in graveyards. But we’ll get to that.

Munich had only conceded one goal in the league so far this season and it wasn’t hard to see why, they were pretty damn solid. However if there was a current team that could smash a well organised defense it could’ve been City, who have really looked the part up front. Dzeko, Aguero and Silva have been fairly rampant around opposition’s boxes so far this season and, as Mancini promised, the Citizens started with a very attacking lineup full of potential. Mancini’s confidence was so high he gave Kolo Toure a chance to have a kick about with his little bro.

21 foot of man there

The lineup paid up first, and cost later. City began really well, forcing the ball forwards and creating an excellent chance that Dzeko really should have done better with inside five minutes. The Blues were keeping the ball fairly well and looked good for a goal; Silva denied a solid penalty claim. As time elapsed in the first half I began to see just how ballsy Mancini’s tactic was, and subsequently how it was going to get them owned.

The key area of the pitch was the flanks, with Nasri vs Mueller and Silva vs Ribery. These aren’t complete mismatches as all the players are attack minded, enjoy coming inside and aren’t the greatest defenders (though Silva did remarkably well at times). The dribbling ability of the Man City widemen should have been enough to push their opposing numbers back , so long as City kept possession – which they did for a while, so much so that the overlapping Micah Richards was the most attacking player on the pitch.

Bayern absorbed City’s opening pressure and soon began to enjoy the ball themselves; this is where the tactic doesn’t work at all. Nasri and Silva have nothing to offer in the form of defense to Munich’s top attacking threats: Mueller and Ribery. The european pair played on the counter in the earlier stages as Bayern were still pressuring City for the ball, and they looked dangerous then; dragging the Blues out of shape.

Richards’ threat was impressive early on and, using offence as defense, he managed to contain Ribery further back a la Dani Alves. But it was to be short lived as Yaya Toure was left inadequate to the frenchman’s pace after Richards’ was caught out of position. Hart produced a great double save and had every right to be enraged at his lackluster defense allowing Gomez to tuck in to Mueller’s leftovers. I couldn’t help but think that had Nigel de Jong been on the field he perhaps would not have allowed one of the rebound shots.

Yeah, Nigel. Yeah, get him on. Nah, I'm sure it doesn't matter who for...

Gomez was once again quickest off the mark and Hart was once again unlucky as City were dealt a low punch as halftime settled. Without being too critical, perhaps Hart wouldn’t wonder how many saves he had to make if he didn’t spill the first one into opposing strikers each time. Still City’s defense were too slow and unfortunately for them Bayern’s were just getting stronger as the game progressed, becoming a black hole of possession at times in the second half. Ex-Blue Jerome Boateng was particularly excellent, nullifying the threat of Aguero competently.

55 minutes in Mancini decided to bring de Jong on. Of course, this could appear a ponderous decision to some, a train of thought that soon gathered momentum as Edin Dzeko’s number went up on the board. Commentators were puzzled, fans were confused and the big Bosnian forward was not best pleased. Players, particularly of the Striker breed, rarely want to come off. We saw Luis Suarez looking all sad when he was withdrawn last weekend. But there is a difference – Suarez had been playing well, Dzeko had failed to make an impact.

By now ze Germans were in their comfort zone and passing for fun, whilst also pressuring City into losing possession really well. In that situation as City you have to take chances whenever you can get them and sometimes that means getting ugly. As Bolton fans will tell you, launch enough long balls at a capable-in-the-air (big lad or Kevin Davies) player and you’ll eventually get a chance. I don’t condone this style of play but there are times when it is understandable.

I don’t feel de Jong was the wrong choice at all; they needed the ball back and they needed to keep it well, two things the dutch holder does exceptionally well. I do think Aguero should have come off though, especially considering Dzeko’s experience at the Allianz Arena for Wolfsburg.

Pictured: the flight home

I think Mancini’s beginning tactics were a bit audacious, though I applaud him for it. His team is playing well, scoring relatively freely. Why shouldn’t he go to Germany and play a very attacking setup? (he’ll lose) I’m getting a bit tired of watching managers play intentionally conservative teams or reserve players away and I applaud the Italian for his ambition and faith.

The area he has/will come under attack for is the substitution,

  • At 2-0 down you can’t bring a holding midfielder on.
  • You have to create more attacking options.
  • You can’t take a striker off in this situation.

Above is a list of comments you might have heard/said/thought. They directly correlate with a list of comments someone who thinks Roberto Mancini has had a lobotomy might say. With an attacking formation sent out like it was, Mancini was hardly going to pack up shop 2-0 down. City were being played off the park and de Jong was brought on to take possession back and see that they string several passes together.

After this de Jong inspired ‘cooling phase’ Mancini was to bring a striker on for one of the current holding midfield players, most likely Barry, this striker would then capitalise on the new-found possession. All I can see wrong with that sound tactic is his choice of striker to bring on.

"What's this training bib for? Wait, you don't expect me to... you've got to be kidding"

Sadly, Argentinian gorilla impressionist Carlos Tevez decided he’d had enough of the world thinking he had some integrity, and was disgusted by the thought of people respecting him. According to Mancini after the game (via a loaded-question) Tevez just flat out refused to come on. I really felt for old Bob in the post-match interview, you could clearly see emotion on his face. Not just immense rage, but disappointment and betrayal too.

Perhaps Tevez had unimaginable reasons, perhaps he had soiled himself. Perhaps this was all a cleverly timed ploy to get his contract terminated away from the £150,000-a-week nightmare.

Roberto had a tough enough game to play without all the gross-unprofessionalism surrounding him on the bench but I do have one hindsight-tinged question: why was Tevez on the bench in the first place? Mancini knows the striker wants out and must be aware that depending on him would cast him as the man who built his house on sand.

If I were Roberto I would barely play Tevez, instead relying on the players that were going to make it past January. Mario Balotelli came off the bench at the weekend to break the deadlock with Everton and, injury permitting, I just can’t see why he wasn’t on the bench. God knows he’d welcome the chance to play.

Might have an issue with him getting the warm-up bib on as well though…

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