Sunday, 2 March 2014
Melbourne Victory lost to Melbourne Heart in the A-League last night but cast your mind back to Wednesday night’s match against China’s Guangzhou Evergrande in the Asian Champions League.
Kevin Muscat’s side lost 4-2 to the reigning champions despite leading 2-0 at half-time. Coached by Italian World Cup-winner Marcello Lippi, the Chinese side were inspired by another Italian on the pitch.
Alessandro Diamanti levelled the scores and he also sealed the win with the fourth goal on his debut for Lippi’s team. The clear pick of the lot was the goal that he scored in the 65th minute to level the scores.
After a corner, Victory tried to clear the ball out of defence. Adama Traore’s lob out of defence found a Guangzhou player who headed the ball to Diamanti. The Italian attack made a 180-degree turn and his angled drive from distance flew past Nathan Coe in the Victory goal.
As stunning as this goal was, 7News Melbourne did not show it. Usually on free-to-air television in Australia, if a spectacular goal is shown on the news, it would come from the A-League or English Premier League.
Leigh Broxham’s superb volley to make it 2-0 to Victory was shown on TV on Thursday night’s news but the other goal shown was the one Guangzhou shown to pull it back to 2-1. None of the other goals were shown, particularly Diamanti’s cracker.
What was even surprising was that after the Fox Sports’ broadcast of the match they showed five of the goals but Diamanti’s first goal was bizarrely omitted.
Perhaps it is best not to go into conspiracy theories so if you watched the match, don’t forget that goal. Diamanti showed great technique to score a goal like that and young Australian kids watching that goal should try to emulate him and practise scoring those types of goals.
If you didn’t see it live, watch the goal because it is worth looking at.
Tuesday, 25 February 2014
Adam Taggart and David Williams are in the race to be leading goalscorer in the A-League and both players should be considered for the Australian national team.
Both forwards have scored nine goals each for Newcastle Jets and Melbourne Heart respectively and they will also have age on their side.
After the reliance of veterans in the Holger Osieck era, Ange Postecoglou has gone for a more youthful approach with the Socceroos.
These days Australia does not have many star strikers playing in major leagues around the world. In the previous decade, there was Mark Viduka, who was playing in the EPL, and John Aloisi was playing in La Liga for Osasuna and Alaves.
Robbie Kruse is at German club Bayer Leverkusen but he has been ruled out of the World Cup with a knee injury.
The quality of the A-League has improved since its inception in 2005-06 and with the amount of young Australian players coming through now, Postecoglou wouldn’t have too much to lose by calling-up players actually based in Australia.
The attack in particular is one part of the squad that Postecoglou can call upon players from A-League clubs but what makes Taggart and Williams stand-out?
Taggart will be 21 years old when the World Cup is on. He has experience playing for the Young Socceroos, he is regularly scoring goals for a team struggling on the A-League table and he can score from any distance or angle.
Sometimes he has also been moved to the wings in order to accommodate him but he is scoring more goals than experienced teammates like Michael Bridges and Emile Heskey.
Another option I’ve considered is Williams, who is playing in an in-form team and under returning Heart coach John van’t Schip, he is probably realising his potential now.
Twenty-six-year-old Williams can play as a winger and as a striker and five of his goals have come under van’t Schip, including a hat-trick in the 5-0 against Wellington Phoenix.
His pace and agility have been a real headache for defences and he is useful even as a super-sub. Williams could be having a purple patch now but if Williams continues scoring and the Heart get into finals contention, Postecoglou should keep his eyes on him.
Australia does not have any big stars playing for big clubs and with the Socceroos in a transitional phase, Postecoglou looks keen to play young players, particularly locals.
If Postecoglou doesn’t want to go for strikers in the lesser known league around the world, there are two forwards in Taggart and Williams that would be worthy of Socceroos caps.
Thursday, 6 February 2014
Barcelona’s loss to Valencia on the weekend in La Liga is a great thing for Spanish football.
For anyone who thinks this post is just to run Barcelona down for the sake of it, it is not. That can be left to internet trolls, or more specifically, Madridistas.
Barca’s 3-2 defeat at home to Los Che has also given Atletico Madrid the lead outright on the Spanish league table. Los Colchoneros have 57 points now and Barca is on 54.
This Barcelona defeat is important for two reasons: like in the 7-0 aggregate loss to Bayern Munich in the UEFA Champions League semi-finals last season, it shows that Barca has flaws, and a result like this will help keep the concept of a three-horse race for the title in Spain alive.
For the last 25 years or so, La Liga has been dominated by Barcelona and Real Madrid and only Atletico Madrid in 1995-96, Deportivo La Coruna in 1999-2000 and Valencia in 2003-04 have broken the hegemony.
The Barcelona side of recent years has been a great side and it has been very influential too. Barca players have formed the nucleus of the Spanish national team and now there are many teams around the world trying in vain to copy the tiki-taka.
Barcelona still has some great players and perhaps Lionel Messi’s injury troubles have halted its progress this season. Let’s not forget that Xavi is in the twilight of his career. Despite the arrival coach Gerardo Martino and Brazilian superstar Neymar, this might be another sign of Barca declining.
That call can’t be based on one result but if Atletico maintains its momentum, Diego Simeone’s side would be a worthy winner of La Liga.
Los Colchoneros defeated Real Sociedad 4-0 in the latest round of La Liga action and despite not having the big names like Barca and their city rivals Real Madrid, Simeone has an excellent team at his disposal.
Stars such as Sergio Aguero, Diego Forlan and Radamel Falcao have come and gone but players such as Thibalt Courtois, Arda Turan, Diego Costa and David Villa have arrived and Atletico is now a title contender.
Barcelona lost on the weekend but anyone who wants to see another side win La Liga would jubilant now.
Monday, 27 January 2014
Melbourne Victory lost 5-0 again and this time it was Sydney FC who gave Kevin Muscat’s side a hiding.
Italian legend Alessandro Del Piero was the star on Australia Day, scoring two goals for Frank Farina’s side and he could have score more.
As good as Sydney was, Melbourne looked uninspired and arguably made Sydney look better than what it really is.
Here are my thoughts on the game:
· the encounter last year was billed by some people as “Del Piero Day” but Marco Rojas stole the show in a 3-1 win to the Victory. This time Del Piero was the clear star of the show. Aside from his two goals, he showed great skill, intelligence and poise throughout the match. He punished Victory for giving him too much space
· there was so much space, Sydney’s full-backs were able to go forward with freedom. Sebastian Ryall’s solo goal to make it 3-0 epitomised that freedom
· the Victory midfield and attack did not click. Andrew Nabbout made some runs but struggled to link-up with his teammates. Kosta Barbarouses was invisible for most of the time and James Troisi made one notable pass to Archie Thompson early in the second half, which the veteran volleyed over the bar
· for those outside of Australia reading this, there is an advertisement on Australian television about women’s rights and the line at the end of the ad is: “Violence against women: Australia says ‘No!’” Sydney’s fans targeted Melbourne’s veteran striker Thompson, who still manages to win caps for the Socceroos and after Victory’s insipid performance, they chanted: “Archie Thompson: Australia says, ‘No!’” Such comments would be considered to be tasteless, especially comparing two diverse topics but Sky Blues fans were adamant that Thompson shouldn’t be considered for another call-up for the Socceroos
Muscat must consider changing his tactics for the match against Perth Glory on Friday night. The 4-2-2-2 with two attacking midfielders, two wide forwards and no centre-forward worked under Ange Postecoglou but the current Socceroos coach is a shrewd tactician, unlike Muscat. The 4-2-3-1 would be adequate and Rogic must start in the attacking midfield trio.
Farina can be happy with the performance of his team but facing a rejuvenated Melbourne Heart on Friday night might offer a different challenge. Michael Mifsud is likely to squander a plethora of easy chances but Mate Dugandzic and Harry Kewell should pose a threat to the Sky Blues defenders. At least offensively, Sydney can rely on some Del Piero magic to make them tick.
Wednesday, 22 January 2014
A-League giants Melbourne Victory have signed Tom Rogic and Besart Berisha recently and they are excellent signings for Kevin Muscat’s side.
Rogic has arrived on-loan from Scottish giants Celtic and will play for the rest of the current season. Berisha will finish the current campaign with Brisbane Roar and he will join Victory next season.
Returning to Australia won’t be such a bad move for Rogic. Although it would have been ideal for him to have played regularly in Europe, it seems that Celtic coach wasn’t willing to give the 21-year-old a chance to prove himself.
Muscat has not made many changes to the Victory team since Ange Postecoglou took the Socceroos job but the team hasn’t been too impressive since the former Victory captain has taken the senior coaching job.
One of the reasons for that is the form of attacking midfielder Mitch Nichols. After an impressive start to the season, his form went down after J-League club Cerezo Osaka showed interest in him.
Now that Nichols has departed, Rogic can fill that void in midfield for Victory. Postecoglou can keep a better eye on the creative midfielder and although he didn’t play regular in the UEFA Champions League for Celtic, Rogic can still still get sufficient experience in the Asian Champions League.
He will probably fit into the 4-2-2-2 used by Victory, which does not include the use of a conventional centre-forward. The same probably can’t be said for the Victory’s latest signing, Besart Berisha, who could be Archie Thompson’s heir apparent in the forward line.
The Roar striker might adapt to the 4-2-2-2 and play wide but he is at his best when he can do damage inside the penalty box. Buying Berisha could possibly indicate a change in formation to the 4-3-3 or 4-2-3-1 for next season.
Rogic and Berisha won’t be playing together at the Victory but they are two great coups for the two-time A-League winners. Both players will bring more excitement and add more attacking verve to what is already an offensive-minded team.
Rogic can make the second half of the 2013-14 season more exciting for the Victory and Berisha should assure fans that goals will still fly in from October 2014 onwards.
Wednesday, 15 January 2014
It has been over a week since Mark Bresciano has been given the approval to play in this year’s World Cup for Australia and that is great news.
Some Socceroo fans don’t want him in the team because of his age but the 33-year-old can still be a vital contributor to Ange Postecoglou’s team.
Most of the unnecessary veterans have been shafted and there is a younger look to the Socceroos under Postecoglou.
As great as it is to see young players given a go, Australia does not have a genuine star in midfield anymore.
Despite his age, at least Bresciano can claim to have played in Italy’s Serie A, a league known for teams possessing great tactical awareness. His knowledge in certain matchday scenarios would be of great use to the younger generation.
In recent internationals, Bresciano is having a career revival as a withdrawn playmaker, basically operating in the same role Andrea Pirlo does for Juventus and Italy.
‘Bresh’ can receive the ball in space and from deep positions, allowing him the time to place the right pass to a teammate.
He may not have the stamina that he had in the past but when he plays for Australia, he does not play poorly and doesn’t look like a spent force.
Tim Cahill is another veteran who should go to Brazil 2014 but his characteristics are different to Bresciano’s. He would probably be better off as a super-sub and try and sneak in a few goals in that manner.
Bresciano is one the few veterans that should be a starter in the Australian national team. Postecoglou has said that the midfielder won’t be a guaranteed selection for the World Cup in Brazil, which is understandable. If he is damaged goods, why bring him?
The thing is that Bresciano is not damaged goods but a player who can still be a vital contributor for Australia.
It’s great to see players like Aaron Mooy, Tom Rogic, James Troisi and Mitch Nichols emerge but if they can have ‘Bresh’ by their side, his presence will be to their advantage, not disadvantage.
Monday, 30 December 2013
Sacking Andre Villas-Boas and replacing him with Tim Sherwood has looked like a good move for Tottenham Hotspur so far.
Sherwood has decided to keep it simple and he has brought players such as Erik Lamela, Christian Eriksen and Emmanuel Adebayor back into the starting line-up.
Spurs beat Southampton 3-2 on Sherwood’s debut as manager, which was followed by a 1-1 draw against West Bromwich Albion and a 3-0 win against Stoke City.
Sherwood has implemented the stereotypically English 4-4-2 formation but with the players at his disposal, his team could play a fluid, more possession-based game than your stereotypical English team.
When Villas-Boas was manager, he said that some the players Franco Baldini brought to the club weren’t players that he was interested in signing.
In England, usually the manager finds players to fit into his starting 11. The scenario is different in Italy because the sporting director searches for players and the coach might have some say in who is bought.
Villas-Boas has a set style of playing. He has used the 4-2-3-1 at Spurs and in the past he used the standard 4-3-3 formation. The Portuguese coach is also known for also encouraging his defence to play high up the park.
Sometimes it’s good for coaches to have their own style of coaching and management but it can backfire if the coach is stuck in his own style. For the style to work, you need full support from your club staff and players.
Spurs have been known for playing more like a continental European side since the days of Arthur Rowe and then Bill Nicholson. Sherwood would be wise to emulate them and although he has been in charge for just three EPL matches, he is getting the best out what he has got around him.
Former Blackburn Rovers owner Mike Walker once asked Kenny Dalglish, “Why do you need Zinedine Zidane when you have Tim Sherwood?”
If they haven’t already, it wouldn’t surprise me if the directors at Spurs eventually ask themselves, “Who needs Andre Villas-Boas when you have Tim Sherwood?”