Monthly Archives: April 2013

Germany dominate Spain in the first league of the Champions League Semi-final

Robert Lewandowski

This past week we saw two German clubs took down the two biggest Spanish clubs and two of the biggest clubs in the world at this moment in Real Madrid and that one club, I’m forgetting their name right now, oh right Barcelona. Now, the way that Bayern Munich have been playing the last couple of weeks, well really the whole season, you can easily make the case that the biggest club in the world for this season is Bayern Munich, especially after the way they manhandled Messi and company.

On Tuesday, Bayern Munich rolled over Barcelona with goals from Thomas Müller (2x), once in the first half, just 25 minutes in, and the second one eight minutes before stoppage time. Arjen Robben and Mario Gomez scored the other two goals for the Bundesliga Champions. One thing that really stood out to me was how they stifled the attacking movement of Lionel Messi, Pedro, and Alexis Sánchez. Munich’s defense it seemed like it was swarming to the ball whenever Barcelona was able to get into the attacking third of the pitch. Victor Valdes could do nothing to stop Müller’s first goal, as Robben’s cross found Dante inside the box and flicked it into the path of Müller, who just glided the ball into the back of the net.

To me, Robben was the man of the match on Tuesday as he was involved in all of Bayern Munich’s goals either by scoring, assisting them, or being a apart of the initial build up just as he was with the second goal. Robben crossed in a corner which Müller again got on the end of it, but an unmarked Mario Gomez finished it off by sweeping the ball in from right below the crossbar and into the back of the net. In the 72nd minute of the match, Robben capped off a superb bit of individual display after he got around the back of Jordi Alba before slotting the ball inside the far post. Bayern got one foot into the final for the second year in a row when Müller tucked in a ball from close range.

The Germans continued their dominance of Spain Wednesday night when Borussia Dortmund’s Lewandowski scored four goals against Real Madrid. Yes, that is correct, you’re reading that right. He scored FOUR AGAINST REAL MADRID. And oh, were three of his four goals ever so beautiful (one was not so as nice because it was a penalty kick, but nonetheless, it was good goal). Oh, and some guy named Cristiano Ronaldo scored the away goal for Madrid, you may have heard of him before. Lewandowski’s first goal of the match would come before the ten minute mark and put Dortmund up early as Götze swung in a superb cross that Lewandowski stretching out his left leg completely to redirect it into the net, after losing Pepe.

Ronaldo equalized the match right before halftime and gave Madrid a slight advantage, with scoring that ever important away goal. Hummel’s terrible back pass was pounced on by Higuan who squared it up for Ronaldo, who proceeded to slot the ball into the back of the net. Lewandowski completely took the match over in the second half. His second goal of the evening came in the 50th minute of the match after Reus’ pass hit the pole, even though Real Madrid were calling for offside, Lewandowski kept his cool and kept it low and past Diego Lopez.

Time and time again, on Wednesday night, Lewandowski was at the right place at the right time. His third goal of the match Schmelzer fumbled on the shot, but it somehow found Lewandowski who dragged the ball away from Pepe and fired it into the top of the goal. Xabi Alonso shoved Marco Reus in the back, deliberately, which gave Dortmund the chance to get their lead to three as Lewandowski converted the spot kick easily and finished off the Spanish champions at home by the final score of 4-1. Polish international, Robert Lewandowski became the first player to score four goals in the Champions League since Mario Gomez did it against Basel last season.

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FT: Juventus 0-2 Bayern Munich

It seems like no matter who the German giants from Bavaria play this season, they dominate them without so much as breaking a sweat. These last two legs against Juventus were no different and showed just how much they wanted to get back to the Champions League final.

I am sure that last year’s final is still very fresh in their heads. They had the chance of doing something special last season, which was to win the trophy on their home season. However, the dream was not fulfilled as they were defeated on penalties by the club from southwest London, Chelsea FC.

In the group stages, Bayern Munich destroyed the opposition for the most part. They only dropped 5 points out of the possible 18, which included a defeat to BATE Borisov away from home and a draw away to Valencia. Don’t get me wrong, they played some good teams in Lille and Valencia, but a 6-1 score line victory against Lille really has set the tone for the rest of their season. Bayern Munich’s domestic league form hit midseason form, right from the get go when they pounced Greuther Furth 3-0 away from the Allianz Arena. The second week of the season, Bayern poured on 6 goals against underperforming Vfb Stuttgart.

Juventus really took the match to them early on and seemed like they would be able to come back and force extra time and potentially beat Bayern Munich, but unfortunately, tonight was not their night.

The first chance of the game came in just the second minute of the match when Marko Vucinic’s tame shot was held relatively easy by the German international goalkeeper, Manuel Neuer. Unfortunately for Bayern Munich, Mario Mandzukic will miss the first leg of the semi-final for picking up a harsh yellow card in the first half.

Van Buyten had the first real opportunity of the match at the quarter hour when his header from Bastian Schweinsteiger went just wide of Buffon’s goal. Moments later, the bearded legend, Pirlo, struck a rocket from 20 yards out that Neuer pushed aside. For the rest of the half, the two sides were exchanging chances like that for the rest of the half.

The last real chance of the first half was when, Bayern’s Thomas Muller tried a half-volley from a couple of yards outside the penalty box was sent wide and did not really trouble the Italian keeper. Jerome Boateng made an early appearance, in the 35th minute, as Van Buyten seemed to have picked up an injury and could not carry on.

In the second half, it was all Bayern Munich. Their defense tightened up and retained possession rather easily. Arjen Robben hit the post and nearly put the game in doubt in the 57th minute of play. Eventually, the recently crowned Bundesliga champions would score. Schweinsteiger’s curling free kick in the 65th minute was met by Javi Martinez, but was saved by Buffon. Buffon let the rebound fall to Mandzukic who poked it into the back of the net. Bayern would get another from Pizarro deep into stoppage time, but it did not really matter as the Bundesliga champions were well on their way to the semi-finals.

What’s next for them you ask?

Well, the task does not get any easier that is for sure. Their potential matchups will be against either Borussia Dortmund, the reigning Bundesliga champions, Real Madrid, the reigning La Liga champions, or Barcelona, well, you know what they are capable of. But if Bayern Munich play the way they have been playing, there is no doubt that they could win the Champions League this year.

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Player Profile: Steven Caulker

Steven Caulker is one of the best young English center backs in the Premier League right now. His first youth football team was with his local club, Hounslow Borough. In his early days there, he played center midfielder, but after some advice from the head coach, he switched to center back. After just one match there, Caulker received seven trails from clubs like Chelsea, Reading, Queens Park Rangers, and Tottenham Hotspurs to name a few.

He spent three years with the youth academy before being loaned out to League One side Yeovil Town. Caulker made the League One team of the week in just his second match with the side when his team won 0-0. By the end of his loan at Yeovil, he had made 44 starts out of 45 matches and the only match he missed was because he was away on England U19 duty. The next season he was sent out on loan to Championship side Bristol City. He did not play quite as many games there as he did for Yeovil, but in the appearances he did make he was really dominate at the center back position.

The following season, Caulker was sent out on loan to newly promoted Swansea City, Norwich City, as well as another stint with Bristol City. Unfortunately for Caulker, he was out for three months when he tore some ligaments in his knee as he collided with a goal post in a game against Arsenal. Caulker made his European debut for Tottenham in a 0-0 draw against Lazio and played extremely well. He has since signed a new four year deal with Tottenham to keep him in North London as a player for the future.

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FT: Reading 0-2 Southampton

The victory yesterday at Reading put Southampton seven points clear from safety and put Reading into an even deeper whole to dig out of.

Rodriquez set up the goal from Adam Lallana and scored one himself, making him, my man of the match.
Sean Morrison provided the first real chance of the match as his header from Danny Guthrie’s free kick went over the bar. Adam LeFondre wasted a wonderful chance for Reading to get on the board first and really jumpstart the match for them. The buildup happened because the Saints could not clear a free kick and it fell to the feet of LeFondre and he sent it sailing over the bar.

A thing that really slowed down Reading’s buildup throughout the whole match was that Southampton had made 12 of their 16 interceptions in their defensive third of the pitch.

Arthur Boruc made a fabulous save to deny Reading’s Adrian Mariappa header go header that was headed down to the bottom right hand corner. Right after that save, Southampton really picked up their pace of attack. Ramirez ran straight towards the Reading’s goal but he scuffed his final shot.

The goal finally came in the 34th minute of the first half. Southampton’s buildup was really good as Rickie Lambert and Jay Rodriguez before Rodriguez slotted it in between the legs of Federici as Rodriguez fell to the ground. Federici almost let in another goal before halftime if it weren’t for the goalpost.

The second half started out the same as the first half of the match ended. Southampton’s Steven Davis created the first real chance of the second half but it was a tame shot and Federici collected it easily. LeFondre came close on the other side but it went wide of the goal.

Southampton’s second goal of the night came through Rodriguez again as he slotted the ball through to Lallana who it just inside the near post.

Reading couldn’t create chances in the second half, but that is also due to the fact that Southampton’s defense was really spectacular, especially winning 29 of 50 headed duels.

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FT: Fiorentina 2-2 AC Milan

That was not the only struggle for Fiorentina early in the match as Tomovic was sent off for elbowing Stephen El Shaarawy in the face. It was a bit of a soft sending off as SES may have helped with that one a little bit. But, Vincenzo Montella’s side fought back and eventually got two penalty conversions late in the second half of play and came away with a point at home and this is how they did it.

AC Milan started off really strong, despite their midfield, on paper, being worse than the home sides. The first goal was Pizzaro, unfortunately for Fiorentina, lost the ball to Montolivo who really beat him physically, from about 25 yards out, took a few steps closer to the penalty box and put his shot low and into the bottom left-corner.

The ex-Fiorentina midfielder, Montolivo was booed, it seemed, every time he got the ball, but the goal certainly got the crowd quiet. Pasqual came ever so close for the home side in the 29th minute off of a free kick.
Savic and Jovetic both came out before halftime time pulling up with injuries and were replaced with Romulo and Compper.

Montolivo crossed the ball into the box and Flamini got the slightest touch onto the ball and directed into the goal to double Milan’s lead. Unfortunately, the lead did not last for the visiting team from the north.
In all, 5 of the 9 attempts on goal came in the first half, and 2 of the 9, were from the spot, so all in all for Abbiati, it was a fairly relaxed match.

Milan also made 18 interceptions, all in their defensive half of the pitch which helped break down Fiorentina’s attacking movement.

Montolivo was shown a yellow card on the break for tugging the shirt of Adem Ljajic. Nocerino fouled Ljajic in the box in the 65th minute of play and Ljajic converted his own spot kick. Six minutes later, Fiorentina were awarded another penalty as Cuadrado was fouled in the center of penalty box. This time, Pizarro stepped up and converted the penalty to level the match and come away with a point.

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Player Profile: Jetro Willems

This 19-year-old Dutch fullback started his youth career at Sparta Rotterdam, his home town club. He made his debut for the senior side at the age of 17 for the senior side in 2010-11 where he made 15 appearances in the Dutch second division. He is already being targeted by Manchester United and Sir Alex Ferguson to replace Patrice Evra.

The next summer Willems made a move to PSV, one of the biggest clubs in Holland. He signed a three year contract with the club on August 31, 2011, and made his debut for the club in a match against Vitesse on October 23, 2011. On April 22, 2012, Willems scored his first professional goal of his career against NEC Nijmegan.

Willems has already had a good international career despite being so young. He has made 8 appearances for the national team and there are some decent left backs that could easily make the national team. He made is first international start at the 2012 European Championships against Denmark making him the fourth youngest player to ever play for the Dutch national team.

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