Friday, March 14, 2014

Dispatched: Ruminations on Manchester City vs. Barcelona and Spurs vs. Benfica

photo by geezaweezervia PhotoRee

Ed offers a dispatch on how Spurs and Man City were dispatched:
o Was I the only one watching Manchester City play Barcelona at the Nou Camp?  It seemed the English media -- all the English media -- got it wrong (and not for the first time).  While City did have a spirited first 20 minutes or so, and while they did play better than in the first leg, they were once again completely outclassed by Barcelona.  The slick and counterintuitive interior passing of Barca left City's expensive lineup swinging madly at the ball as it bounced between them, and it could have easily been 2 -0 pretty early in the game if not for a poor offside call and a missed penalty call on a clear foul against Messi.  The idea that City is "still a year or two away from European football success" is stupidity.  Or that they're still missing a few players to get them over the top.  That's wishful thinking apologists talking.  City isn't too NEW to compete in Europe, nor are they just missing a few players: the reality is Barca is simply far better than what may be the top English club, and they're far better than most other Clubs in Europe.
o Part of the reason is Messi, who is  finally returning to full form.  Messi looked so much faster and quicker than all of the City players it was bizarre.  He darts past their entire lineup when he wants to.  Neymar ain't bad either.  Or Iniesta.  Or Fabregas.  Wow. are these guys good....
o I understand that the Spanish media have been all over Barcelona's manager due to poor league play.  Having never watched them I can only speculate.  But perhaps the teams in La Liga are finally learning how to play against their system.  Clearly the zone doesn't work;  I'm still not sure why teams don't man mark Iniesta and Xavi in the middle.  Regardless, I expect to see this team in the finals.  Wouldn't Bayern v. Barca be a dream to watch?

o Speaking of dispatched, today Spurs were all but booted from the Europa League by last year's champions Benfica.  Tim Sheridan also had a meltdown, both before and after the game.  The before the game meltdown was actually after the Chelsea game, when he called out his players to the press and in the locker room.  Hard to have much of a problem with that, though I'm not sure effort would've gotten it done regardless.  As for his meltdown in the Europa League, I'm not sure I mind it either as by all appearances the Benfica manager was trying to show him up with some gloating from the sidelines.  The English press have made a big deal of it.  To be sure, Tim has clearly never coached U-9 travel soccer because it can get far worse than that.  But all of that said, the reality with this team is it has little creativity, a suspect defense, and one mediocre finisher.  That just doesn't get it done at the highest levels whatever your tactics are.  Thank AVB and Chairman Levy for bringing in a half dozen holding midfielders, a striker that can't finish, and an Italian that can't make his way off the bench.  Way to spend 100MM guys!
This is farlieonfootie for March 14.


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