Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Greece 1-0 Canada: Reaction

Based on my past two entries, it seems I'll only be blogging when soccer teams I like lose 1-0.

Canada's first competitive match of 2011 was indeed a loss, but not a disappointing one. The Canucks certainly didn't play like they were 70 places below Greece in the FIFA rankings. I might add it's ridiculous that Greece are ranked 10th in the world, and I don't think Canada should be buried down at 80th. I could go on, but I think everyone agrees that the FIFA rankings are, for lack of a better word, just dumb to begin with.

Before I get to the positives, lets get the negatives out of the way. Adam Straith is to blame for the goal against, his horrible attempted clearance gifted a guy with a great Greek name in Ioannis Fetfatzidis all the space in the world to fire home.

My man of the match was Josh Simpson, the Turkish-based midfielder who played with flair and passion that I rarely see when watching Canada play.

Atiba Hutchinson was a worthy choice for the captain's armband and he played a solid role, often coming back to help out defensively. He's Canada's best player at the moment.

For our MLS boys, Will Johnson played a fierce game and though that resulted in a bunch of fouls, I must give him credit for his tenacity. Dwayne De Rosario wasn't prolific but he had Canada's best chance off a free-kick that came close to leveling the match. Now hopefully he doesn't hold out on TFC as the MLS season approaches. I have a feeling I may be blogging about some 1-0 TFC losses a little later this year. Dejan Jakovic and Adrian Cann were generally solid on the back line too.

With the Gold Cup coming up later this year I'm looking forward to seeing Canada's more youthful squad get some more matches in together. I'm happy to be optimistic about the team again! I just hope Junior Hoilett decides to get involved at some point.

Finally, the new Umbro kits have taken some flack but I think they looked pretty good out there. It didn't seem all that Manchester United-ish as some have feared. The white shirt might be like that, but I'll reserve judgement until I see it in action.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Chelsea 0 - 1 Liverpool: Reaction

Though I wasn't able to catch every second of this match since the feed I was watching wasn't exactly the most reliable, I saw enough to be disappointed in what was the extremely hyped-up debut of Fernando Torres against his old club.

El Nino didn't play a terrible game, but he sure didn't live up to his £50 million price tag. Unfortunately for him the critics will be after him no matter what unless he puts up massive numbers. However, the rest of the team wasn't playing well either. There were too many punchless crosses into the area and not enough confidence to beat a man one-on-one. It seems to me that the nerves and excitement of Torres and his debut got to them. There were a couple legitimate penalty claims in the second half, but I'm going to dismiss those as Liverpool really should have been up by two as Maxi Rodriguez missed an absolute sitter in the first half.

I was surprised that Carlo Ancelotti started John Obi Mikel over Florent Malouda in the midfield. I think Mikel is pretty much the exact same player as Michael Essien, so I don't think they need to be on together. Malouda's creativity would have benefited the attacking game much more than what we saw out there. I suppose that move was made because Ancelotti went with three attackers in Anelka, Drogba and Torres, but I still think Malouda would have been a good fit and wouldn't have taken too much away from the defensive game.

Keeping David Luiz on the bench, however, was a move I agreed with. Without any Premier League experience, Chelsea can afford to ease him into the English game whereas Torres is expected to start producing right away. Luiz did look pretty solid in his short appearance towards the end of the match, and I'm expecting him to become a big part of the back four in the months and years to come.

However it was all very disappointing as Chelsea missed out on a big (and very rare) opportunity to gain some ground on Manchester United. The way things are going with them, their loss to Wolves on Saturday might be their only loss of the season!

While this loss stings, it's not the end of the world. The league title seems all but out of reach this year, but I expect them to finish in the top four.

The real focus is Europe. With the Champions League knockout stages starting up this month, the big elusive prize is back in sight for the Blues, and really that's all that matters to me!