Thursday, January 26, 2012

Cry "referee"

Whenever Jose Mourinho (who notwithstanding anything, is still the best coach in the world) loses a match, he blames the referee. Do not mind the other team has played great football, or that some tactical choices have been wrong. No, the referee is to blame! So when it actually happens, it just seem like yet another lame excuse of "cry ref".
And this is what happened today.
Barcelona has lately always been superior to Real Madrid, but today, in the second leg of the Spanish Cup quarterfinal, Real Madrid was clearly the better team. They should not have been down by two at halftime, but many missed chances, a brilliant play by Messi (scored by Pedro), and a lucky shot by Dani Alves, put them undeservedly behind. Still, they rose in the second half, and the most nervous Barcelona side I have seen for ages had their luck and a very friendly referee to thank for making it to the semifinal.
I am not a Real Madrid fan (nor a Barcelona fan either, but they do play great), and they often have had favorable referee calls. But today, the referee was against them, and can be largely blamed for the loss.
Still, the remains the most boring tournament in the world. It is only the quarterfinals, but as the ESPN commentator said, Barcelona will now win the Copa del Rey, and Real Madrid and Barcelona can continue their fight for the league.
Sadly, it is true, and I still think they should just cancel all other matches in the Spanish league or Cup, that do not involve Real Madrid or Barcelona.

Sunday, January 22, 2012


Last night I watched an interesting and rather entertaining friendly match between the USA and Venezuela. As this is not season for FIFA encounters, both teams largely played with their reserve side, but it was interesting nevertheless, as both nations are in a very good process of preparing for their World Cup qualifiers under two very good coaches, Cesar Farias from Venezuela and (the German) Jurgen Klinsmann from the USA.
Venezuela played rather more defensively, basing their match on occassional counterattacks. But Venezuela did nevertheless seem shaky in defense, and in particular the air game was giving them problems; Venezuela's defense is very vulnerable without Vizcarrondo and Amorebieta.
On the other hand, the USA was more interesting. Klinsmann wants to attack, as well as try new young players, and they tried this in the match, with mixed results: they missed many chances, but in the end, in the very last seconds of the match, pulled home a 1-0 victory on a goal by Ricardo Clark, the Eintracht Frankfurt defender.
It was a good match, with a bit too much drama for the lack of importance of the match, but I think it was more useful for Klinsmann than for Farias.
Finally, I had thought that no commentators in the world were as bad as the Danish ones, but I must say that the Venezuelan commentators are...

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Africa Cup of Nations 2012

Over the last years the African Cup of Nations has grown in importance and is surely one of the best international tournaments in the world today, assembling some of the strongest African talent. As often, the tournament is surrounded by political controversy, and no less this year, being hosted by two nations, Gabon and Equatorial Guinea.
But far beyond this, the most interesting part is the football. The defending champions, Egypt, were unable to qualify, and so were the (former?) giants of Nigeria, who still seem to be unable to take advantage of their huge pool of talent, South Africa, who did not qualify in the most ridiculous way, and Cameroon, who were eliminated by Senegal.
On the other hand, some rather previously unknown nations have come forward: Equatorial Guinea, Niger and Botswana are all participating for the first time, while Burkina Faso, Libya and Sudan are all eager to show their footballing passion at the highest level. Zambia, a nations with enormous footballing talent, but who suffered by losing their entire football team in a fight accident, is back with a strong talented side, while Tunisia and Senegal will want to return to their previous times of glory. Mali also has a very interesting side that is worth watching.
Although the tournament has many interesting and powerful sides, the favourites are surely the Ivory Coast and Ghana. Both teams have a strong base of experienced European-based players, and both have experience of international tournaments at the highest level.
My support and heart is with the Black Stars! And I hope to be able to watch some African football from here in South America!