Monday, November 8, 2010

Nutmegs, Backpasses & Rollerballs

APTW loves Spanish Football. All those little tricks, tweaks, nutmegs, and back passes (literally off the back) is what makes Football down in the Iberian peninsula so much more attractive than in other parts of the world. So coming back to last weekend, APTW takes the time to run over yet another triple bomb…

Villareal vs Athletic Bilbao

Villareal celebrate after a comprehensive victory against Athletico Bilbao
Athletic Bilbao is probably the only team in La Liga which can compare with an English club’s lack of imagination. They play a thuggish variant of hoofball and the way the match started, you could be forgiven into thinking that it was an English side playing the game. The match kicked off with Iraola hoofing the ball up to Llorente who is a solid “English” forward and his hold up play was so great that if the ensuing build up was just as good Athletic could’ve been a goal up in 12 seconds. It was therefore no surprise that within 5 minutes, Bilbao found themselves a goal up in true English fashion. A looping cross in from the left flank found Llorente unmarked in the box and he headed it in past Diego Lopez; no questions asked. But that was about the only time Bilbao did something noteworthy apart from hacking and kicking the Submariners in the entire match.

Hit & Miss?
The yellow painted Madrigal spurred the home team on and almost immediately Villareal almost equalized through Rossi; once, twice and thrice, all in the space of 10 minutes. It was however, Nilmar who actually equalized for the Yellow Submarines as he scored a goal almost reminiscent of Llorente’s. Rossi got into the act soon after, making another hat-trick of misses before Cazorla scored Villareal’s second of the night just before the stroke of half time. Following a bad gaffe between Iraizoz and Ustaritz, Santi Cazorla latched on to the ball which was happily bobbing around in no man’s land and slotted past Iraizoz sending the Madrigal into different shades of yellow and the visiting Basque fans into various shades of crimson.

The second half started predictably with Rossi making hash out of three other oppurtunities. For APTW, at this point in time, it was safe to think that Rossi wouldn’t score even in a whore house that night, but on the stroke of the 80th minute, after missing nearly nine good chances, Rossi finally scored on the football pitch from a text book counter attack. The fans seemed even more relieved about the goal than Rossi himself. Then, just as these things happen, deep into injury time, following another swift counter attack, Cazorla fed a majestic through ball to Rossi who buried it for his second of the night. Not that his opinions ever amount to much (as evident above), but APTW felt that had the match gone on, Rossi could’ve got a hat-trick easily.

Getafe vs FC Barcelona

Playing Rollerball!
With the two big teams from Madrid set out to battle in a couple of hours, Madrid’s 3rd biggest team welcomed Catalunya’s biggest team at the Coliseum Alfonso Perez. The match started out as expected with Barcelona domination possession, Getafe sitting back and using a counter attack approach to score fast goals. As the first half aged, Barcelona started running riot with Villa hitting a shot over the crossbar, Villa caught offside, Messi and Pedro both coming close with ex-Real Madrid Castilla goal keeper Jordi Codina making saves to deny the latter two. There was only so much he could do as in yet another build-up, Alves toe poked the ball to Villa who faked a shot, did a roll on all four limbs with the entire Getafe backline behind him and slid a quick pass onto the onrushing Messi’s path who slotted it in neatly at Codina’s near post for Barca’s first goal. For want of summing up Villa’s move in one word, APTW will settle with calling that pass “Roller-Ball”. So sublime was the move from such a sublime player that even the Madrid based crowd had to applaud. Messi soon returned the favor to Villa who scored for Barca’s second, the game essentially over at that point.

The match continued in a similar pattern in the second half as well and Getafe’s hopelessness was summed up in Barcelona’s third goal. Codina passed the ball to Cata Diaz who was dispossessed by Messi, who then laid the ball off for Pedro to score his first and a simple third goal for Barcelona. That seemed to be curtains; but then Pique got his marching orders after being booked for handling the ball inside the penalty area (Pique had already picked up a yellow earlier for an untidy challenge). Manu scored from the ensuing penalty and Getafe decided to press on the man advantage. But they self pawned when they introduced Arizmendi. The best chances of the second half fell to Arizmendi, but let’s face it – he’s no Villa, hell he’s not even Rossi – so APTW was not surprised that he made a complete mess of all the chances he got. The clock soon wound down to full time and Barcelona finished the match 0-3 winners.

Real Madrid vs Atletico Madrid

Carvalho reacts after scoring Real Madrid's 1st goal
In what was the last match of the night, Real Madrid hosted cross town rivals Atletico Madrid at the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu with a giant banner proclaiming “Estos Es Madrid” (This is Madrid), probably a symbolic reference meaning “This is the true Madrid” or “This is Real Madrid where you do not win”. Whatever its implications, the giant banner would’ve surely been intimidating for the Rojiblancos who started out the match in their standard 4-4-2 formation.

Blood, Sweat, Tears & Goal
Real Madrid dominated possession early on with a Khedira goal rightly called offside, and within 10 minutes duly went ahead when Di Maria slipped in a ball which took a slight deflection off Ujfalusi before Carvalho – yes you heard it right; it was Carvalho – latched on to it and slotted it beautifully past David de Gea in the goal. Five minutes later, Filipe Luis took Ronaldo down just outside the box and the referee duly awarded the free kick after submitting to the linesman and Ronaldo’s cute crying puppy face, having ignored the challenge before. De Gea had positioned the wall incorrectly and this fact was not lost out on Ozil who kept his shot low and had the ball curve into the far post for Madrid’s second. The match there on was interesting in patches, since it became a midfield struggle with both teams pressing intensively for the ball. Jose Antonio Reyes had few good moments as he finked his way through Madrid’s defence for a couple of shots, one which went slightly over the bar, and one which Casillas parried away with a fine save. At the other end, Madrid had their own set of shots with Ronaldo, Di Maria and Higuain all coming close.

The second half began and continued in much the same way as the first. Mid-way through the second half Ozil latched on to a pass from Ramos on the left flank, turned Simao inside out, dodged Suarez and nutmegged Filipe Luis, before carrying the ball and feeding to Ronaldo who shot straight at De Gea. Ronaldo soon had his own share of show boating to entertain the crowd with when he backpassed – literally passed the ball with his back – to Alonso who crossed it in deep to the far post. Ramos, unmarked, powered a header from 2 yards out which went wide. Ronaldo then sent in a lobbed ball to Higuain who struck a sweet, lethal volley that left De Gea’s post rattling. Diego Forlan did the same thing at the other hand, leaving Casillas’ post rattling. As the half wore on, Benzema came on for Higuain, and while his link up play with Ronaldo and Marcelo was a treat to watch, it did not result in any more goals.

…Real Madrid are now top of the table with 26 points, highest number of goals scored and least conceded. Barcelona trail them by a point, while Villareal are third trailing the leader by 3 points.


Kaushik said...

interesting take on things. nice work, its all building up to a fantastic clasico. i can't wait for it enough. i think for the first time in maybe 2 years, we might go in the superior team, albeit slightly.

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