Soccer notes

I haven't been following the Premiership all that closely this year.  I've probably only watched 12-15 games there all season.  Plus maybe half a dozen in the Champions league.  But I've certainly caught some interesting ones.

One of the more interesting ones was City v Spurs a week or two ago, where City scored on their first attack and seemed solidly in control for a long time.  Then Spurs busted out three goals in seven minutes or so (Dempsey's one of those three was really awful defense.  Relying utterly on the offsides trap less than five yards from your goal does not seem like a sound decision) to take the game.

I've also caught a couple of good Arsenal games (most recently their match against Man U... yesterday, maybe?  This is the one problem with watching via DVR, sometimes you don't know when the games were played).  In addition, I've watched a number of Man U games, and have really enjoyed watching Rooney and van Persie together.

And I don't think I've yet seen a bad Champions league game.  I wish I'd written up the one I saw with Man U and a swiss team in pool play, because I've forgotten pretty much all of the details.  But I was really impressed with one of the Swiss players (ethnically Serbian, or something nearby) who had a build that appeared more suited for American football, but was still impressive.

And last week, I think, I saw the second leg of Barca's quarterfinal win, where they appeared headed for elimination for a long time, but Messi came on as a sub and helped the team tie up the game, giving them the win on away-goals.

And this week, I watched the opening legs of both semifinals, as both Spanish teams were spanked by their German opponents.

I had watched Real Madrid twice, earlier on in Champions League play (one was against Manchester City, I think, in pool play.  I can't remember the other at all), and was very impressed by their defensive work in the midfield.  They just had an attack on the ball that was never far away, and which never quit.  They didn't play badly in the Borussia Dortmund game, but never showed that defense.  Not sure whether it was failure or strategy; either way, it obviously didn't work.

The hero of that match, of course, was Lewandowski, who had four goals, two of which showed impressive control and creativity in very close quarters.  But the entire Dortmund team was impressive, showing a lot of attacking, good runs, heavy pressure on the ball, and some really excellent first touches.  They seem to practice passes in the air to themselves more than any team I've seen.  Well, at least they use them more, and since there were so many, I assume it's a deliberate thing.  Regardless of whether that's true or not, it's pretty awesome.

On the other side was Barca and Bayern Muenchen.  This one I felt like I knew the players a lot better.  I've seen more Barca games, as well as seeing most of the players in World Cup play.  And while I don't think I've seen a Muenchner game before (I probably would watch them if they were available on TV here), I've seen a lot of the principals in the World Cup.

For most of the game, I thought Barcelona was solidly in control, but was a bit unlucky on the number of corners they gave up, and were definitely inferior in the air.  Munich's first two goals were both headers off corners that were very nicely done.  Their third was really questionable, as the separation for the shot came from a pick.  I remember that the fourth was by Mueller (his second of the match), but can't remember how it happened.

I wish I'd heard just what was up with Messi.  I did hear, in the quarterfinal match, about him not starting because of an injury (whether nagging, or something he's just recovering from, I didn't hear), but don't know the details.  It obviously slowed him in that match, although he was still effective.  In this one, he was largely invisible.  This was very disappointing to me, because his presence in the game had a lot to do with me deciding to watch it.

Both of those matches were in Germany, so both Spanish sides can come back in the home leg, but both are pretty steep hills to climb.  An all-German final in Wembley would certainly be interesting (I wonder how many Spaniards would be present, due to having bought the tickets a while ago), and I hope I wouldn't miss it.

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