Wednesday, April 30, 2008

There's Always Next Year (Or Is There?): Thoughts On Barca And Phoenix

Really quick before I go to bed:

I watched the fourth quarter of Phoenix-San Antonio. There is absolutely, positively, no doubt about the reason the Suns lost: Steve Nash. He had three or four really costly turnovers in the space of about three minutes, missed a couple of shots, and didn't take command at crunch time the way we have grown used to him doing so. It wasn't just this game either; he was stymied this whole series by Bruce Bowen and his buddies. When considering Nash's place in the game, ask yourself this: do truly great players, I mean super-duper-stars, ever get taken out of an entire series? Right, didn't think so. I think it's time to face the facts, as difficult and sad as they may be: Nash and the Suns are done. He looked old, slow, and worst, incompetent in this series, and next year will only be worse. Thanks for an absolute blast these last four years, guys.

I also watched the whole of Barca-United. First, my heartiest congratulations to regular reader Asfand. United were the better team on the day and they deserved to go through, notwithstanding Barca's domination of possession. Barca simply lacked that cutting edge in the final third. Time after time, I found myself pining for Ronaldinho. Not this year's fat, lazy, and uncommitted version. I'm talking about the '06 Ronaldinho, the guy who got standing ovations at the Bernabeu and played the game with a mix of intensity and joy that I have never seen replicated by any other athlete in any other sport. In this game, Barca got a multitude of free-kicks in Ronaldinho territory; moreover they were times when Messi was looking to link up with someone up front, and sadly Eto'o simply wasn't up for it. Messi and Ronaldinho have shared a prolific, and poetic, partnership these last few years. It's sad that it wasn't there today, on the grandest of stages, and it's sadder that it won't be there at all next year, when Ronnie's in Milan, London, or Manchester (City).


Asfandyar said...

I think a wide grin is now permanently etched on my face :D

Scholes' goal though. THAT, was rolling back the years. Great game, all round. I thought that we looked more dangerous when going forward simply because we were more direct; Barca had a ridiculous amount of possession around the 30 yard box, but through a mixture of United's defending and a lack of worthwhile support for Messi, nothing ever happened.

So many times Messi would slide past 2 players and look for a pass, only to see no one making any runs and then he'd just try to take on the whole defense himself...which really wasn't going to happen yesterday.

Messi's close control is out of this world. And he seems to want it too. Evra essentially marked him out of his usual position, but rather than moaning or slumping his shoulders, Messi just decided to go somewhere else and start all over again.

Every United player yesterday was immense, except maybe Nani whose decision making could've been better :@

Anyway, bring on the right-wing fascist nutters of Chelsea or the whinging self-pitying morons of Liverpool!

Frank Rijkaard said...

It's not my fault.

Lionel Messi said...

i'm quitting football and starting a Beatles tribute band

shariq said...

I'm not sure if this the right word but Barca's play struck me as decadent and self-indulgent. A bit like Arsenal towards the end of the Henry era.

As Asfandyar points out Messi was gliding past people but none of the other players were showing any urgency in their runs. United played desperate (in a good way) and won because of it.

On Messi - The way he beats people is phenomenal. Kind of reminds me of an Nba point guard. Maybe he should hang out with steve nash over the summer to help him improve his playmaking after he dribbles.

Using that segue, if there's one thing which D'Antoni should be blamed for its not developing a backup for Nash. Everyone knows that Nash suffers with his health and that Barbosa isn't a point guard. With the playoffs starting in the regular season this year, Nash wore out.

Marcus Banks is not a great player but he's a pretty good defender who can shoot 3's. He would have probably done a decent job defensively against tony parker. Why didn't he get a chance to play more?

Anyways, D'Antoni is still a good coach. Hopefully he goes to Toronto and lets Calderon run the show over their.

Finally, Chris Paul vs the Spurs D will be fascinating. Will Popovich put Bowen on Paul or stick him on Peja or maybe even D-West.

I'm expecting Duncan to dominate and the Spurs to win in 5. Setting up Lakers-Spurs to decide who takes the title. (Boston and Detroit aren't winning)

Ahsan said...


"Marcus Banks is not a great player but he's a pretty good defender who can shoot 3's. He would have probably done a decent job defensively against tony parker. Why didn't he get a chance to play more?"
--->Uh, because he plays for another team? (The Marion trade, bro) But yes, I agree with you: they need a backup point who can play 25 minutes a game.

"Finally, Chris Paul vs the Spurs D will be fascinating. Will Popovich put Bowen on Paul or stick him on Peja or maybe even D-West."
--->CP3 is too quick for Bowen, who can no longer guard guys with a first step. CP3 has one, Nash doesn't, and that's why the Suns lost. The Spurs might be favorites, but don't sleep on CP3.

"(Boston and Detroit aren't winning)
----> I really wouldn't be so quick to write off Boston. Then can lock anyone down.

shariq said...

Know about Banks. Was thinking more about how underutilised he was that they dumped him in the marion trade.

Strange, but the best chance the suns had of winning it all was when they lost to Dallas after Bell went down injured. (They could have had iguodala coming of the bench but that was sarver's fault)

A lineup of Nash-Bell-Marion-Tim Thomas and Diaw winning the title would have been pretty radical.

Nikhil said...

You know, Messi is like Mcgrady, if Mcgrady was one of the top three players in basketball.

I wouldn't wish supporting either of them upon anyone.

Nikhil said...

And I honestly didn't think I'd ever imagine myself saying this, but I hope that Chelsea wins the Champions League - anyone but Manure. Well, except Liverpool (but they had lost in the quarters anyway).