Il Fenomeno tributes sadly lacking

Valentine’s Day 2011 saw an announcement anticipated but met with sorrow around the football world and mourned with open grief in his native Brazil. Ronaldo Luís Nazário de Lima stated at a hastily arranged press conference in Sao Paolo that he was retiring from the sport. The 34-year-old was clearly distraught and broke down several times as he explained the reason he can no play longer the game so dear to him.

I’ve lost the struggle against my body

This was a grim statement and fuel for the cynics that hilariously christened him “Fat Ronaldo”, so he would not be confused with the Portuguese impostor. On hearing the news, I expected a raft of tributes, obituaries and gushing appraisals of a career that touched the lives of millions. Unfortunately this was not the case. Continue reading

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The Unlikely Lad

Nou Hero at the Nou Camp

In the dying moments of Barcelona’s Champions League triumph in May, coach Pep Guardiola made a substitution to run down the clock. Andreas Iniesta was the player sacrificed. The diminutive midfielder produced a stirring display on the night, along with partner in crime Xavi. Both tormented the Manchester United midfielder to such an extent, Darren Fletcher was almost missed. His replacement was yet another graduate from the Catalan’s outstanding academy, Perdito. It was a surprising choice, as the young forward only appeared in sporadically during their historic treble-winning season. However, one third of the way through the 2009/2010 campaign, he is 2nd in the Barca scoring-charts, just behind a certain Lionel Messi. This season, he has grown into Pedro. Continue reading

It’s A Knockout!

Matchday One in the Champions’ League group stages had a familiar feel

Inzaghi: Still amongst the Goals

Inzaghi: Still amongst the Goals

about it. All the English teams won, both Raul and Filipo Inzaghi scored for their respective clubs, Real Madrid were involved in 7 goal humdinger, and only one of the record 8 newcomers managed a victory on their debut in the Champions League as it is today. It’s all becoming a bit stale. This year’s tournament snuck up on us, and the sense of anticipation of the beginning of what is the biggest club competition in the world wasn’t as evident as previous seasons. Something needs to be done to put the life back into Old Big Ears. Continue reading

Barce’s Own Boys Play to a Different Beat

Any time the camera focused on Alex Ferguson last Wednesday night, it showed him in an unusual pose. He was sitting down quietly. He looked lost, defeated, deflated. He realised soon after Samuel E’too’s 10th minute toe poke under Edwin van Der Saar that there was no way back.  A one goal margin was all there was, but it seemed insurmountable. Ferguson’s teams have never known when they are beaten, as we have seen all too often over the last 20 years. Against Sheffield Wednesday in ’93, Bayern Munich in ’99, Tottenham ’01. Certain defeats turned into glorious triumph. But this Barcelona team was not for bullying.

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Will Fergie’s loyalty be his undoing?

More of the usual ‘mind games’ coming from the Manchester United camp last night, with news of Cristiano Ronaldo’s ankle needing strapping, and Nemanja Vidic holding his hamstring. They have tried calling the media’s bluff on too many occasions in the past. Not even Sky Sports fell for this one. And that says an awful lot. Those two will undoubtedly start and have been vital to the United cause since for the past three seasons. But it’s Ferguson’s promise of a start to two of the lesser lights in his vast squad that has given me reason to doubt the Scotsman’s decision in the biggest game in club football. Tonight’s Champion’s League Final in Rome against Barcelona.

ITALY SOCCER CHAMPIONS LEAGUE

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Chelsea Heroics? Give Me a Break

Resiliance.Immense.Heroic. These were the adjectives used in the media to describe Chelsea’s parking of the bus on Tuesday night at the Nou Camp. I haven’t seen anything as overboard than that since Goldie Hawn in the film,er, Overboard

Glancing throught the papers yesterday, one would have thought that it was a team of cobblers and postmen that had battled their way to a goalless draw at the Nou Camp. Continue reading