Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Barcelona Fail To Unlock Chelsea, All To Play For At Stamford Bridge

Two hundred and forty. Two hundred and forty. No, that's not the number of players Chelsea had behind the ball (though it sure seemed like it). Actually, two hundred and forty is the number of days since the last time Barcelona failed to score in a game, home or away, in any competition. Two hundred and forty.

There are two basic ways to thinking about Chelsea's tactics today. The first is what I would call the "rationalist-instrumentalist" school. This school would say that sport is ultimately about winning, that you do what you have to within the rules of the game to come out on top, and that entertainment should complement, but not come at the price of, winning. Such a school would have no problem with Chelsea's display today, and would in fact encourage it.

The second school can be called the "purist romantic" school. This school would say it cheapens sport when you play it a certain way -- especially football. This school would have you believe that it's not just how successful you are, but how you are successful. People subscribing to this philosophy would be disgusted that a team costing hundreds of millions of pounds basically played like Greece in Euro 2004.

To be honest, I don't know where I stand in this debate. I'm obviously disappointed that Chelsea -- especially after Hiddink promised to attack -- had ten men behind the ball at all times, and played as if punting it down time and again to Drogba constituted their best chance to win. But I also understand that this was a first leg, that Chelsea know that they just have to nick one goal at the Bridge and keep Barca out, and they're through, and that at the end of the day, you're supposed to play for trophies, not photographs. Look, they came to the Camp Nou with a very specific plan, with a very specific goal, and executed it to perfection. They did their job.

I will say this though: it should never have come down to Chelsea's tactics. Barcelona played poorly. Ok, perhaps that's a bit harsh. Let's say Barcelona played well below average. Messi had a terrible game, misplacing passes and mistiming runs. I've never seen Messi not play well in a big game. This was the first time. Henry and Eto'o squandered a golden chance each -- the former wasted his by holding up the ball as defenders were backtracking (he is wont to do) -- and the latter by being a touch selfish on a two-on-two opening in the second half. Bojan missed an absolute sitter right in front of goal, and indeed deprived Messi of a simple tap-in, who had an even easier chance than Bojan did if he had just let it go. The passing wasn't as crisp, the movement not as decisive, and the final ball not as cutting as we are used to seeing. Some of the credit should go to Chelsea for that. But most of it was simply down to Barcelona's less than average performance.

I'll tell you who wasn't less than average though: Victor Valdes. He has been much maligned on many Barcelona forums -- including here -- but I have always maintained he's an excellent shot stopper (it's his positioning and judgment that's a problem). He could very well have saved Barca today with that save against Drogba. It was funny: as soon as the ball went to Marquez, and I saw him shaping up to pass it back through the middle instead of safely playing it out for the corner, I had a feeling he would miscue it into Drogba's path. I just had a feeling -- you get a type of sixth sense with these things when you watch a team week in week out. But well done to Valdes; without him, this tie would be over right now. Kudos to Iniesta and Xavi too, the two best players on the pitch from either team. And Yaya had a decent game, especially after a nervy start. But everyone else flattered to deceive, including the entire Chelsea team. Essien? Lampard? Ballack? Honestly didn't see them the whole game, except for one or two vicious tackles from Ballack.

A note on Dani Alves and Drogba: I'm actually quite speechless at their antics. Dani Alves does this every week, and someone's got to put a stop to it. I'm sorry, but it reflects badly on the entire team and the Barcelona culture, especially when everyone else plays the Right Way. Guardiola should give him a talking to. And Drogba is as bad. It cheapens the sport in general, and it frustrates the living daylights of the opposition, as well as fans watching at home. Quite disgraceful to be honest.

So onwards we march. Barcelona play at the Bernabeu this Saturday, and should expect similar roughing up. Then it's up to London next Wednesday. It remains to be seen if Chelsea will play the same way. There's always a risk that if they open up, they get scythed to pieces on the other end. And to be honest, they weren't that far off from being scythed to pieces today: it was only around the 35 minute mark, when the heavy and late challenges (and the attendant yellow cards) came that Barca lost their flow and rhthym. And Barcelona looked quite dangerous in the last ten minutes, when they adopted a more direct approach. But they'll be ruing their missed chances, no doubt.

Ultimately, the most interesting aspect of a 0-0 first leg is that neither team feels particularly comfortable in the interim seven days. I think Chelsea are happier than Barcelona at the moment, to be sure, but I don't think Barcelona are plagued by the self-doubt that they were a year ago in the same position (against United, after a similiar story in a park-the-bus first leg). So it's all to play for next week. Let's hope we actually get a game then.

UPDATE: Quick thoughts on the penalty shout. Was it a penalty? Probably. But the ref's not going to see a pull on the shirt from that distance at that angle. You can't blame them, and it wasn't an especially egregious foul. It was just bad enough to get Henry away from a shooting position, and so was successful in its aim even if it was undesirable. Kind of like Chelsea's tactics the whole night.

UPDATE II: Another point I forgot to make was the relationship between Chelsea's tactics on the one hand, and the Premier League's supposed supremacy on the other. I have a simple question: if the premiership is all that, why do it's best representatives come to the Camp Nou every year and put 10 guys behind the ball? Do they not have the self-belief and courage to play against us the way they play against each other? Would Chelsea have ever played like that against United or Liverpool, home or away, League or Cup? And if not, what does it say about the purported gulf in class between the leagues?

UPDATE III: Quote of the day, from Sid Lowe's review of the Spanish press:
"What would you take on a desert island?" asks Carles Rupiérez. "You could always go to Didier Drogba for suggestions. He had 89 minutes to think about it last night, 89 minutes to choose a book, a CD, to go for a mobile phone or a Swiss army knife or a lighter to make fires. Every now and then Piqué or Márquez visited him as they went to collect some strange object his team-mates occasionally sent his way, always by air mail."

UPDATE IV
: Just got done watching the Arsenal-United game (except for the first twenty minutes of the second half). Man, I feel stupid picking Arsenal. Whether it was because I have an affinity for Arsenal's Diet Barcelona style, or whether I felt sorry for AKS and Nikhil, or whether I just wanted to pick against Ronaldo's team just because (rooting against Real next year will be even more fun), or whether I just wanted to hear the end of the constant quintuple/quadruple chit-chat on the Guardian blogs from annoying United supporters, it's clear I went with what I wanted to see rather than what I would see. Arsenal didn't even arrive on the pitch until the 25th minute, by which time they really should have been three down if it weren't for Almunia.

In general, there was a massive gulf in quality between the sides, at least based on today's evidence. I don't know if time (6 days) and a change in location (from OT to the Emirates) is really going to change that. United simply looked a better team -- much better -- and I've rarely seen a game in the latter stages of the Champions League where one team simply doesn't seem to cut it.

Am I allowed to revisit my pick? Ah, nevermind.

26 comments:

Augustus Fink-Nottle said...

Deja vu, non?

I didn't see the game but I'm guessing all our talk about Essien on Xavi amounted to nothing? And with Xavi free it was blocking the front trio that led to this result, however fortunate?

Also, what is the word on Marquez's injury? With Puyol suspended for the next leg where does that leave you in terms of handling Drogba?

Lastly on the supremacy of the leagues. Sounding bitter there Ahsan. I don't think anyone doubts that Barcelona is the superior team and no-one really doubted that last year either from an offensive point of view. As you said further up, if you belong to the school of winning at any costs then thats what you do a la Mourinho. When you say would Chelsea play like that, if they believe the opposition's attack is that good I believe they will. The top 4 do such things all the time against each other though in the last year thankfully they haven't. Chelsea-Liverpool semi-finals from the past are a good example. Both teams parking the bus and then chilling, waiting for a mistake.

When AC Milan were winning Champions Leagues for fun a few years ago did we say the Serie A was supreme? Match-ups are evaluated and strategies formulated accordingly. It worked against Barcelona last year and Hiddink for his treacherous words feels it can work again. Fair game to him if he pulls it off.

IceMel said...

Hey Ahsan, I just came over from the Barca Offside on the power of your fantasic pre-game Ode To Beautiful Football Barca 08-09. Nice!

Ananth Krishnan said...

Given that im firmly located in the rationalist camp, I loved chelsea's performance. Thought Terry was superb. For all Barca's possession how many clear-cut chances did they have? Barca cant feel aggrieved. Arguably, the easiest chance of the game fell to Drogba.

I dont buy into the whole gulf in 'class' between the two leagues argument -- its too simplistic. I mainly blame Liverpool's thrashing of Madrid for the hype this year, but I've seen Madrid play and that was a strange performance.

Having said that, you cant ignore the fact that 3 English teams made the semis for the 3rd year running -- when was the last time Spain had that?

One reason is they simply know how to win in Europe better (includes bus parking on occasion). Helps that the same 4 clubs have made it to Europe time and again, and thats given them experience. A few years ago, United would naively try to 'play' away from home and get ripped to pieces. You can say all you want about pretty football but its just stupid to do that. We play so, so differently away in Europe now, and it works.

In Spain, the fact you have different clubs in the Champions league every season I think ironically reflects the strength of La Liga, but works against the Villareals and Sevilles and Atleticos.

Beats me why Real are so crap in Europe though.

Ahsan said...

AFN:

Yes, it did feel a little deja vu-ish, except Barca were a touch more direct and attacking this year. But it made little difference in the scoreline.

The Marquez-Puyol double whammy is wholly troubling. The two options are:

1. Slot in Abidal (a natural left back) and play Sylvinho at left back (tries hard, but old and slow).

2. Slot in Caceres at CB (young, energetic, excellent at getting the last-ditch tackle in, but prone to rashness and silly mistakes and nerves).

Bummer on both counts, but if Chelsea play like they did today, I could be playing CB and it wouldn't matter: the ball simply wouldn't show up.

On the supremacy of the leagues question, I will simply copy and paste what I wrote in another forum:

Again, I should emphasize that I don’t have a real problem with the logic of Chelsea’s tactics: they were here to get a 0-0 draw, maybe nick an away goal if they got lucky, and roll the dice at the Bridge. That is fine, as far it goes.

But what I have a problem with is EPL fans claiming their league is the best. How can their league be the best if the two top teams in the last five years are SO intimidated by us that they completely abandon their style of play? Even Real Madrid, who walked in to the Camp Nou in December in complete and utter disarray (sacked manager in mid week, bad run of results) meeting an absolute rampant Barca team (Barca’s best run this year was probably October to December) played more aggressively (not by much, mind).

IceMel:

Nice of a fellow Offsider drop by. It's not actually as depressing over there as I thought it might be.

Ananth:

Barca had about 4-5 clear cut chances, which is pretty good when you have 10 guys behind the ball. Not being bitter, just stating a fact.

And look, I agree: the English teams have worked out a system which enables them to succeed in Europe. Well done to them. But the argument that the EPL is "better" because of their success in Europe is quite dumb, because it leaves out teams 5-20 from the discussion.

And I can't figure out why Real are so crap in Europe myself -- even by accident, they should have got to the quarters or semis these last few years at least once or twice. Interesting question, actually.

zeyd said...

That was a pretty tense game. I thought Barca started to lose the plot a bit mid-way through the first half when they realized Chelsea weren't going to roll over and die like most of the teams they've played this year. The frustration began to creep in and it manifested in some shots outside of the box, which isn't Barca's game.


Credit to Guus, he said he's never lost a game in his mind and I think that was the objective today: not to lose. The pre-match talk about wanting to attack and getting an away goal, I believe, was dependent on what Barca did. Barca didn't score and therefore Guus didn't feel the need to get one himself. It would have been interesting had Barca scored; would Guus have changed the tactics then? Who knows?

I have to say that I'm a little disappointed. Not about the whole parking-the-bus thing, sometimes you have to do that in Europe, but about how unsure and wasteful Chelsea were in possession. There was just no fluidity whatsoever in their passing and that was disappointing to see. Perhaps the formation had something to do with that. Poor Essien on the wing - the guy will play anywhere. Imagine Xavi playing in Messi's position!

Speaking of Messi, I think Pep may need to give Bosingwa a call and ask him to return the Argentinean; figure Barca will need him for the weekend.

Ahsan: English teams park the bus at the Nou Camp because they know Barca are pretty one-dimensional in their approach to the game. Snuff out their movement by packing the final third of the pitch with defenders and Barca will get frustrated. It's a tried and tested method which works. Almost worked to deadly effect had The Drog or Ballack put away their excellent chances.

Keep in mind that in both of Chelsea's previous away ties, they went a goal down early (at Turin and Anfield) which forced them to come out and attack. If Barca had scored early I'm sure Chelsea would have tried harder to nick one themselves.

But yeah, the second leg will be intriguing as Chelsea need to win. That need will afford Barca greater space and I can't see them not scoring, which in turn means Chelsea would need 2.

There will be goals.

Ahsan said...

Zeyd:

On whether or not Hiddink would've changed tactics if Barca had scored one, I doubt it. I think he would've been happy with a 1-0. 2-0, and it might have been different.

Bosingwa had little to do with Messi's bad game -- the Messiah simply played badly, nothing to do with the left back. My feeling is he is tired, because the schedule is so heavy and he's had to do a lot of heavy lifting this year.

As for the idea that parking the bus works against "one-dimensional" Barca, I think putting 10 men behind the ball would quell any team. It has little to do with Barca's style or quality -- no team would be able to penetrate 10 men behind the ball, especially if 5 or 6 of those men are top quality players (which is true in this case).

mike said...

@zeyd: chelsea does not need a win. 1-1, 2-2...n-n would suffice as long as n#0.

zeyd said...

Not sure what Guus would have done had Barca scored, but I imagine the thought of an away goal would have surfaced, just as it did at Anfield.

Disagree about Bosingwa having little to do with Messi's no-show; I thought he played him really well. His positioning was great, constantly showing Messi the byline and tempting him to use that route. Whenever Messi did, Jose had the pace and strength to stay with him. When Messi did cut in, Jose was once again strong enough and quick enough to stay with him and not give him any space to work with. He played him so well that Messi had to move centrally for large portions of the game. Did a fantastic job for a fullback who's been injured for weeks and had to play out of position.

And I don't buy the 'tired' argument. Big players lift themselves for big games, whether it be on one leg, or with 103 fever (couple of NBA references for you).

Barca are pretty one-dimensional; they like to press high up the pitch, catch the opponent out, scythe through the defense with a few passes, and walk the ball into the goal. When faced against a team that's physically stronger than them, full of self-belief (which spanish teams haven't been this year, hence the rabbit-in-the-headlights destruction of so many of them) and discipline, then Barca will struggle, just as they did in last years semis. Man U could have nicked it at last year, Chelsea could have this time.

It's a lot more than just putting 10 men behind the ball and hoping for the best, otherwise more spanish sides would come away with something rather than getting smashed. It's about strength, resilience, belief, and discipline; that's the difference between many English and Spanish sides.

Augustus Fink-Nottle said...

Ahsan, having the best team or the most attacking team in football does not necessarily make the best league. I feel you are making the same mistake that those who promote the EPL do. The best league is not judged on just one team (Barcelona) or four teams (no need to name them). If we judge that the best league is on number of goals then it will be the Primera Liga. If we judge it on the basis of most watched, most money then it is the EPL. That may have to do with English being the lingua franca for all you know.

If we judge in terms of success in Europe's top competition then again it is the EPL. If you include the UEFA Cup then Primera again. There needs to be a clear distinction on what basis is used for judging the best league.

Your saying that the two top English teams decided to play ultra defensively to win means that the Primera Liga is better makes no sense. So Real Madrid decided to play with you in the league, but then that is the league. Liverpool and Chelsea also used to play football in the league. The Champions League is a knockout tournament. That is the nature of the beast and football is often defensive as in most cups around the world.

In my view, the EPL throws up 3-4 teams for the champion every year. Spain had that when Sevilla rose up 2 years ago. Whenever Valencia or before them Deportivo were winning, one of Real or Barca were not. You may argue its Man Utd, Chelsea only but Arsenal proved that wrong last year and in Chelsea's last title again there was competition for half the season.

To me it doesn't matter which the best league is simply because I will support my club regardless of the quality of the league. And if the matter to be decided is which is the better club across Europe that year, well we're debating in a forum about that competition, aren't we?

karachi khatmal said...

@ AFN, Ahsan etc

people who argue about the best league being the EPL are the sort who think Germany and Italy are better than Holland, Spain or Argentina at the international stage - the former have won far more than the latter.

it's also people who would think garth brooks is better than the beatles because the former outsold the latter.

*scoff*

Mosharraf said...

Barca's failure to penetrate is not a big deal. Messi inn kanjaraan noo khaa jaaye gaa. Uddee lore naa karr.

Laikin rabb noo yaad ker puttar. Utthey final ich kee hona teray Messi naal. Vidic unnoo khaa kay, dakaar jaddoo marey ga tey meinoo naa kaeen... EPL is naat best leeg. Oh but it is puttar. Aur Sri Alex Chacha uss too ziyaaday best hay ga.

Jai Shri Alex Chachay Dee.

Augustus Fink-Nottle said...

Lol Karachi Khatmal I don't think you'll find a non-German, non-Italian soul who would claim that comparison now. In 2006, you may have found a few. My point was simply best league on what basis. In your intl football analogy if winning over all time ever is the measure, then sure they are better. I think we'd say they aren't if they had to play each other this summer as some of them will.

On Garth Brooks, why pick on the gentle-hearted soul. And I do believe his outselling the Beatles is a bit of an RIAA myth. At least Wiki believes the Beatles outdid him.

Nabeel said...

@ zeyd:

Bosingwa was initially owned by Messi, but fought back well. But it was more to do with Barcelona's poor team performance and Messi's poor individual performance and Chelsea's great TEAM performance than to do with Bosingwa's great individual performance. Whew. Lots of performances there. Messi was very tightly marked by multiple players at all times and he realized pretty early that it was useless to get into a crossing position because Alex and Terry were not going to lose headers. He doesn't go to the corners a lot anyway, his style IS to run from the byline to the D. And he was stopped there by not Bosingwa, but by Bosingwa, Malouda, Mikel/Ballack/Essien/Lampard at ALL TIMES. And he wasn't on song today.

Yes, Barcelona are one dimensional if they choose to play only one way, which is attacking through pace, passing, and great team movement. They do not do Route 1. They do not throw long balls into the area and hope for something to happen. Even if they had Peter Freaking Crouch (using him as an example only for height), they probably wouldn't do that.

Chelsea played with 4 defenders, 4 defensive midfielders, and 1 attacker. That's the truth, and it's nearly impossible to crack that, no matter how slick you are, because there simply isn't enough space. Ballack, Essien, Mikel, and even Lampard were just defending. The only midfielder with any attacking verve was Essien. I didn't see a single attacking play from Lampard. Did you?

And even despite that, even despite Chelsea having some of the very best players in world football having a great game, and Barcelona having a not-so-great game (none of the attacking trio was on top form today), Barcelona came VERY CLOSE. It was only their poor performance that prevented them from scoring - Eto'o and Bojan had two VERY open chances. There are some people here arguing that Chelsea had better, more clearcut chances - what are you high on, folks? Chelsea had one decent chance. Barcelona had AT LEAST 3. Bojan controls his header, Eto'o keeps his head, and despite that brilliance from the Chelsea team collectively, Barcelona lead.

You may want to check out some of my comments too:
http://nsahmed.wordpress.com/2009/04/29/shame-chelsea/

I'm still wary about Barcelona this season. The lack of squad depth has clearly hurt. El Clasico has jumped up in importance - if that were possible.

Ahsan said...

I never said La Liga is better than the EPL. Not once. This is because, in general, I find comparisons between leagues absolutely asinine. But what I also find asinine is the idea that the EPL is better because of the way its top four teams perform in Europe's top club competition. It's a dubious piece of evidence for a dubious conclusion. That is all.

Nabeel, what say you to the following lineup at the Bernabeu this weekend:

Valdes

Alves---Puyol---Caceres--Abidal

Gudjohnsen--Keita--Busquets

Pedro---Bojan---Hleb

I say let the kids rock out with their cocks out, and let US park the fucking bus for once. The big boys need the rest.

Junaid said...

As a neutral I believe the second leg will make for an outstanding spectacle. And I would like to point out the best player on the pitch last night: Petr Cech. He made six crucial saves and had it not been for him we might have seen a rout last night. And at the end of the day you have to hand it to Hiddink, he does know his tactics. Anyway I'm rooting for a United victory tonight. 3-1! :)

Nabeel said...

ahsan,i say that's probably our copa del rey final lineup, give or two a few players ;)

and even that lineup of ours can't park the bus, even if it WANTED to. Gudjohnsen,lest we forget,was once a CF, Keita is an attacking DM, and Busquets is not much of a tackler, more of a get-in-the-way harrier.

i would actually have considered that with any lead over 6 points btw...

and junaid, that's what we thought against Man U too. That they'd have to come out to play and would leave gaps and we'd have an away goal. Granted, it's much more likely that we'll actually do it against Chelsea, but that's only if they do come out. Man U last year wasn't as defensive as Chelsea.

Ahsan said...

I will say one thing about the United-Chelsea semis comparisons. Not one of us knows what's going to happen next week. Not one of us can accurately predict the future, or even what teams will line up. But I can say this: Barcelona this year is not the Barcelona of last year. This much is a fact beyond doubt. Take from that what you will.

zeyd said...

@ Nabeel


Discredit Bosingwa's individual performance as much as you want, but for me, to take a guy who's been injured for weeks and have him play out of position against the best player in the world, and to have him do so with success, deserves some kudos.

None of the Chelsea players, bar Cech and Bosingwa, had a great game. In fact, most of them were quite shit and couldn't even string a few passes together. Offensively it was an abject performance and one of the worst I've ever seen from a Chelsea side.

Despite that, and despite the fact that they parked the bus, with clamps and all (which, ironically, teams do every time they play Chelsea in the league), they still had 2 big, big chances to take the lead. You may have forgotten the Ballack header, but IMO it was an even better chance than the Bojan one because Ballack is such an aerial threat.

For all of of Barca's possession and passing, they created, what, 3-4 good chances? That's a couple more than Chelsea?

Either way, as I've mentioned, it sets it up wonderfully for wednesday as chelsea have to win. It'll be fascinating to see how Guus plans for that.

zeyd said...

Oh and I wanted to put forth my congratulations to Man U for making it to another final, that's quite some achievement.

Hopefully whoever you meet in the final will destroy you.

Anonymous said...

there is some truth to the epl being superior to la liga.

it isn't black and white, but having watched both for several years i think the levels of intensity in the epl are much higher - with less time on the ball, more aggressive tackling and defending and generally greater tenacity.

if theoretically barcelona and chelsea were to switch leagues, i think chelsea could easily be top 4 in la liga whilst barcelona would struggle to be the same in the epl. ahsan's point about teams 5-20 being better in la liga is non-sense.

ex-epl players in la liga (and italy too) say they moved to prolong their careers as the epl is too intense. football is more attractive in la liga, but also less demanding.

almost every member of the barcelona squad cried about the tough tackling of chelsea after the game - imagine what would have happened had the come across bolton or blackburn?!?

yes, barcelona have amazing individual talent and are fun to watch - but for a team that is SO bloody talked about to only be 4 points above a Real Madrid side which has gone through catastrophe this season (desperate enough to hire a manager who lost his first 7 games in the EPL in the same season!) says a lot.

its not surprise that first EPL opposition to nou camp forces barcelona to draw blanks... they passed ad ininitum laterally, hardly ever looking like penetrating when coming up against quality opposition...

Ahsan said...

Anon125:

You're entitled to your opinion, but I'm entitled to say your opinion is quite dumb and is quite typical of EPL chauvinists.

First, you base your assertion that the EPL is better on the fact that tackling is more aggressive and players play at a higher speed. I don't see why that makes for better football (it's more thuggish than anything else in my opinion). Some people value speed and power, and others skill and touch. You may prefer the former, so well done to you. But it doesn't make one league better than the other.

And after the coaching change, Real have had a magnificent season. They've dropped only four points since the change (a loss to Barca, and a draw with Atletico if I recall correctly). The whole argument that Real are playing badly this year is based on their very average showing against Liverpool, which is the only time EPL fans actually watched Madrid play.

Finally, Barcelona "drew blanks" as you say because (a) Chelsea played timidly in putting ten men behind the ball (and that's putting it very kindly), and (b) the front three of Barca had decidedly average games (which can happen at this level). I don't see either of those factors says something especially cogent about the purported supremacy of the EPL.

Anonymous said...

my comments may be typical of an epl chauvinist but my thinking is more reasoned.

your comments on the other hand are of a typical barcelona bandwagon supporter who probably has never kicked a football in his life and couldn't if one was placed in front of him.

la liga is much slower paced than the epl and it doesnt take a genius to know that the more time you have, the easier it is to have 'skill and touch' - qualities you think you appreciate but don't really understand because you're an armchair expert.

when you have skill and touch and incisiveness in a high-tempo, aggressive match it means something. prancing around on the pitch with 'skill and touch' while you have all the time in the world and you know nobody is really going to tackle you hard (but fair) is much much easier.

this is why, as much as i hate ronaldo, i think he is better than messi. until messi can prove he can do it in an epl environment, day in day out like ronaldo did last season, it doesn't make him the best. some of his 'wonder' goals are funny because you know in the epl he wouldn't have got past the first defender, let alone five.

stick to cricket man - leave football to those who know...

karachi khatmal said...

@ Anon above me

wow

you are a curious mixture between a well informed epl-acolyte and an a-one a-hole

having played some football, i can tell you this simple scenario. if you try and play pretty football, others come and try to break your legs. you can try and dodge them all you like, but they kick you stab you with their cleats, push you etc.

so you think what shall i ever do?

then it comes to you. you start diving like an enthusiastic cunnilinguist. i mean someone breathes at you and down you go. people call you a cheat, but you only accentuate the dives, and learn how to contort your face with so much pain that the referee starts dishing out cards to all the defenders. soon football becomes more about gamesmanship and less about being an aesthetic pursuit.

hence, you get a messi who never ever dives, versus a crying prima donna bastard who would dive even when his mother blows him a kiss.

and as for your previous comment that english sides do much better than spanish ones, consider this. no english side has ever played a fluent flowing game against barca. i would have added real as well, but they have their horror shows quite often. when english sides have tried, ala man u in 2002, and chelsea in 2001, they were humiliated.

in fact, playing to win at all costs employs the same logic as a suicide bomber. you know, the ends justify the means bullshit. it's the kind of people who would consider sex as masturbating with a vagina.

AKS said...

@ epl v laliga debate

This is a ridiculous argument. Ahsan mentioned above that Real Madrid have had a pretty good season, what he didn't mention was that they played at a high tempo and at a pace reminiscent of premiership sides. Villareal is another side that plays at a quite a high tempo. And Barcelona is hardly a slow paced side.

There may be some truth to the premiership being faster paced and the tackling being more intense. But then tacking is even more intense in places like Romania; does it make Romanian football better?

I prefer watching the premiership because it was the league that introduced me to football and because I support Arsenal. The premiership excites me because I'm aware of the competition i.e. team rivalries, player rivalries, etc. As we head to the final leg of the season I'm most interested in the bottom of the table because that's where the real competition is taking place. There's little chance of the football being pretty but the competition and the drama will be intense. I'm sure the same will be the case in most other leagues.

Coming back to the question of 'better football' - how the hell do you judge that? Even if you somehow manage to ignore personal team affiliation, the drama and competition, and focus solely on the 'football' there is still plenty of room for diverging views on what constitutes better football.

In essence I find this whole debate to be stupid.

P.S. @ anon - Ronaldo > Messi, are you fucking kidding me?

Ahsan said...

Anon116:

Hahahahahah. You're right. Messi doesn't face tackles in Spain. You know why? Because he can side step them -- he's too quick, his ball control is too good, his thinking too sharp, and his center of gravity too low. Funnily enough, the same applies to English teams, who can't work the ball off him -- the only thing they can do is put 4 guys on him so he has no option but to pass, and stop him from scoring. The only time an English team had fewer than 3 people on him was at Stamford Bridge in February '06, and we know what happened there. So there goes your little theory.

And Ronaldo better than Messi? You must be joking. Someone who might know a little bit about both La Liga and the EPL thinks about this:

http://www.topnews.in/capello-chooses-ronaldo-very-good-messi-brilliant-2120788

And that's just one source. I can dig up many others but I won't bother, because the comparison is facile.

Asfandyar said...

Man I really hate Messi-Ronaldo arguments.

Seems to bring out the idiocies in both pro-Messi and pro-Ronaldo camps.