Monday, February 12, 2007
Your Footie Highlights from the Weekend
This is disturbing for future Inter opponents. Not only have the nerazzuri won 15 games in a row in Serie A and are unbeaten since September, but if this cracker of a goal is any indication, Adriano is emerging from his year-long slump to give Inter a third attacking option to go with Hernan Crespo and an in-form Zlatan Ibrahimovic. The game was played in front of an empty stadium in Verona, which has to be galling for Chievo fans that they missed the game against the best team in Serie A, despite their flawless record as non-hooligans, because of violence in Sicily. Grant Wahl has a typically strong article about the experience. It was odd to watch the game on TV and hear the players talking to one another. I could hear a little chanting off in the distance; thanks to wahl, I now know that it was Chievo and Inter fans singing outside the stadium.
And here is Ronaldinho showing how it's done. Ronnie has run hot and cold this year, but yesterday, he showed why he's the best player in the world. He was conducting lethal attacks, one after the other. He scored both goals, hit a post on a third occasion, and set up Giuly for a header from two meters that the diminutive Frenchman knocked over the bar. That was all in the second half, by the way. Barca got off to a slow start and then rocked into gear after Victor Vandes denied a Santander penalty in the 27th minute. (The penalty was the result of a foolish effort by Belletti that gave the ref no choice.) For the last hour, Barca made Santander look like the Washington Generals. Racing were props for Barca's attacks, one after the other. The passing and movement that have marked Barca's run to the top of Spain in the past three years were on full display. Ronaldinho, Deco, Iniesta, and Xavi were all on top form. The only thing that was missing was good play from the striker spot, as Saviola had a relatively poor game, most likely because he knows he's about to head to the bench with Samuel Eto'o coming back into the lineup. Barca's defense was also very solid as a platform for the attacks with Puyol and Edmilson in central defense and Marquez relegated to the defensive midfield role that he plays for Mexico. The game was extremely encouraging coming on the precipice of a stretch that will see the Blaugrana travel to Valencia and Sevilla, host Real Madrid, and meet Liverpool twice in the Champions League.
If that would have been the only goal in the Real Madrid-Real Sociedad match, it would have been a perfect weekend for Barca. Casillas is one of the few Madrid players I like, so I didn't revel too much in his howler, but it was fun to see Capello's reaction to this goal, as well as Beckham's equalizer.