Monday, October 18, 2010

A Triple Sundae

Unstoppable Quartet
Alright the title is a bit misleading since it covers matches that were played on a Saturday, but then the matches served up were comparable to the joys derived from eating the famed dessert and it was one of the most enjoyable weekends I’ve had because of two reasons: Firstly, it was a weekend featuring club football after 2 long weeks and secondly any match involving Real Madrid is “Special” (pun intended) these days.

Atletico Madrid vs Getafe

Moving on to the first match, Atletico vs Getafe was a brilliant, entertaining match and had me and my dad on the edge of our seats. Now, my dad isn’t a football follower, but stayed up to watch what I was serving him on the telly, and surprisingly he enjoyed it. I had originally expected this match to be a high scoring one given the fact that Madrid derbies are generally high scoring; and it sure was end to end stuff but minus the goals. That being said, Getafe looked uninspired in the final third and it was no wonder that De Gea was hardly tested in the Atletico goal. On the other hand, with due respect to Atletico, I’m beginning to think that that popular parlance of Atletico being only as good as Forlan and Aguerro together are, is true. In their absence, Atletico apart from some cameos by Reyes, Simao and Valera (for the final goal) looked out of ideas while finishing moves. Fran Merida in particular, had a forgettable night and was duly subbed out by Diego Forlan on the 66th mark. Simao netted the first goal from a wicked free kick, while Valera made a very fine overlapping run on the flank and squared the ball in to Diego Costa who put it in from 3 yards out for the second.

Barcelona vs Valencia

The second match of the night started as soon as Atletico wrapped up the 3 points and I was looking forward to the usual “Barcelona attacking, opposition defending with 70+ % possession in favor of Barcelona, but finding goals hard to come by” thingy. However, Unai Emery’s Valencia did pull out a rabbit out of the hat. In the first half, they led in all aspects: possession, shots, corners and more importantly goals. In fact, Valencia totally “outbarca’d” Barcelona in the first half; Pablo Hernandez finished off a wonderfully worked move from Mathieu on the left flank and was unlucky not to have scored another. With 45 minutes to go, the Asturians hit the showers for a quick breather, while the Catalans hit Pep’s spit shower. By Pep’s own public admission, he pisses perfume and I presume the spit too has some invigorating effects because it was a different Barca that took the pitch once the game resumed. Suddenly Valencia started getting pegged down, the possession counter shifted balance and World Cup Hero Andres Iniesta scored a trademark goal from 6 yards out; that of ghosting in through the defence, latching on to a Xavi final ball and slotting it past the keeper. While Valencia tried their best to figure out why Iniesta was not flagged down for offside, Xavi sent in a lobbed ball which Puyol brutally headed past Cesar Sanchez who until then was man of the match given the number of times he’d denied Barca a goal. At 2-1, Barca kept rolling the ball with their famed horizontal passing and saw out the match to become level on points and joint leaders with Valencia, at least until Madrid's game.

Malaga vs Real Madrid

After two entertaining matches, I was very apprehensive when Ferreira’s Malaga welcomed Real Madrid at La Rosaleda. Malaga had a piss poor home record but they have played a 4-3-3 this season with two pacey wide men in Rondon and club hopper Quincy, who drift in and could pose a threat for Marcelo and Arbeloa. Malaga, until then, also had the best goal scoring record of La Liga with 12 goals, but had a goal difference of zero. I didn’t expect Real Madrid to keep a cleansheet, rather I hoped they outscore Malaga. And exactly that happened. With the International break, everyone had read a lot about Ronaldo’s selfishness, but what they saw against Malaga was his selflessness. Around the 30th minute mark, instead of choosing to the cut outside the left back and go for glory like he generally does, Ronaldo lobbed a ball instead to the far post and Higuain slotted it past Galatto from an angle of roughly 3 degrees sending La Rosaleda into rapturous silence. The party tricks were on after that as the attacking quartet of Ronaldo, Higuain, Ozil and Di Maria meshed into a single entity allowing Malaga absolutely no respite. Ronaldo scored a penalty won by Ozil, before slotting in another one from open play, the pass created again by Ozil. Soon he sent Higuain through for the team’s fourth and Higuain’s second to finish with two goals and two assists himself. The best scene of the match was Mourinho gesticulating to a petrified Pedro Leon asking him to get his ass at the byline and start warming up, thereby quashing a lot of talk about fallout between the two. The best comment of the weekend was from Mourinho after the match when he immediately said that he was unhappy that Madrid had conceded from a set piece yet again. No doubt, The Special One will be working on some counter solution for that.


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