Tag: Barcelona

A “Classico” Worthy Of The Name

It was a strange Sunday more than a “Super” one. Tottenham showed heart. Stoke City looked like Barcelona. And Barcelona themselves defended like Aston Villa. In that context, Barca’s thrill/laugh-a-minute 4-3 victory at Real Madrid was almost to be expected. The Bernabeu clasico had everything Premier League fans apparently desire. Goals, pace, schoolboy errors, dodgy refereeing, dodgy diving and a punch-up. Looking back, even from this short distance, there wasn’t as much sublime football in the game as it felt like there had been at the time, especially in a breathlessly-exciting first half. But that has never mattered to...

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Brisbane Roar secure the A League’s Premiers’ Plate in style

For some weeks, it’s felt as if the A League regular season closing script has all but been written. The only details left to fill in has been the who, the what and the when, and at the weekend we got our answer: it was Luke Brattan with a wonder goal in the dying minutes of Brisbane Roar’s game against Melbourne Victory to ensure the Queenslanders topped the table and secured the Premiers’ Plate. While the title has been the Roar’s to lose for several months now – and a late season wobble briefly gave other teams hope they’d...

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Why Are Some People Getting So Angry About The Ballon D’Or?

In the parallel universe which professional football inhabits, some of the normal rules of life simply do not apply. There is such a thing as a free lunch if you’re name is Sepp Blatter, time can stand still if you’re Sir Alex Ferguson, and for just about everybody, winning is everything. Of course, in terms of league championships and cups, there’s something to that argument. Football has been professionalised for one hundred and thirty years now, and if you’re paying somebody to do a job for you, then it is understandable that some sort of return on your investment becomes important. From a supporter’s point of view, whilst shrugging your shoulders at a defeat rather than running to your favoured social media outlet to issue death threats to the chairman, the manager and a man whose name rhymes with that of the referee is an admirable personality trait, there are only so many times that watching your team get easily beaten in front of rapidly diminishing attendances can be a little, well, wearing. So winning is important, and we mostly accept that. There are times, however, when that lust for gold plated trinkets and – perhaps more importantly, in this day and age – the plum sponsorship deals that come with them becomes a little undignified. The Ballon D’Or is one of football’s less important trophies. It is, dare...

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A Sting In The Tail: Chelsea Tame Barcelona In The Champions League

Possession, then, might only be nine-tenths of the law after all. When push came to shove at the Camp Nou last night, the young tigers of Barcelona were cast aside by Chelsea’s old dogs in a match of events so improbable that it at times stretch the credulity of the viewer. Such, though, has been the nature of Chelsea’s season since the departure of Andre Villa-Boas two months ago. This sacking, which looked as if it would be a signal of a failure of transition for Chelsea Football Club, might yet come to be seen as a fortuitous catalyst for a European triumph that nobody saw coming. There had been signs of late that the Catalan halo may be starting to slip. Whilst they were arguably a touch unlucky in London last week, they were lackadaisical and out-manoeuvred on home soil by Real Madrid last weekend and other, albeit sporadic, displays of fallibility have also been dsplayed over the last few months. Yet somehow the players and the system continued to make defeat in this of all ties seem unlikely. Chelsea couldn’t simply pitch up for this match, defend for their lives for ninety minutes and hope for the best, but what was to follow was the sort of evening when every chalkboard in the land gets hurled through the nearest window and the “script” (usually one written by the media rather than the...

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Chelsea’s Golden Night: Barcelona Are Brought Down To Earth At Stamford Bridge

They came,they saw and they kept possession as ever, but this time they couldn’t quite conquer. Barcelona arrived in West London this evening with the sound of a Spector-esque wall of praise ringing in their ears. They’re a great side. Indeed, if it is possible to draw comparisons across the different eras of the game, then they might just be the greatest of all time. Tonight, however, when they turned on the tap in the expectation of at least a trickle of goals, they found it to be blocked with a defensive performance so obdurate that it sometimes felt as if the Chelsea defenders were only one step away from bricking up Petr Cech’s goal and having done with it. The only moment of the game that really counted for anything – more than possession statistics, more than passes completed, number of glasses of water converted to Pinot Grigio in the mixed zone after the match, anything – came at the other end of the pitch, in stoppage time at the end of the first half, when a low cross from Ramires was turned in by Didier Drogba, who otherwise put in a performance more worthy of Drury Lane than Stamford Bridge. We shouldn’t, however, dwell for too long upon Drogba’s histrionics this evening, because this can only detract from a defensive performance from Chelsea that deserves as much...

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