Tag Archives: Lionel Messi

Quick thoughts on U.S. and Argentina friendly

Messi working his magic in and around the box. The little man seems to glide across the field when watching him in person. (Courtesy Alison Ciarleglio of APC Studios)

By Kevin Koczwara

1.) Jozy Altidore needs a partner in crime — He’s not a hold-up striker. Altidore is a ball at his feet type of player who likes to pass and move  and take on defenders. His body looks like it should be a that of a bruising center forward, but he’s not, no matter how much people want him to be.

Altidore works best when he has someone playing directly alongside him, and last night was proof, again. When Juan Agudelo came on at halftime, Altidore transformed, starting to hold up play a bit, open up space for other players, and connect passes. The 4-5-1 may put the best players on the field for the U.S., but it doesn’t work for the type of forward Altidore is. He can’t hold up play or swing the ball wide and get in behind defenses with break-neck speed on the counter. He is a solid, ball at his feet type of player who knows how to open space for his partner.

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USMNT draws with Argentina thanks to Agudela's second half goal

By Kevin Koczwara

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Juan Agudela has made a name for himself on the international stage for the U.S. Men’s National Team. Quickly. The 18-year-old striker again proved he was more than worthy of earning a spot on the team by scoring his second goal in three games with the USMNT.

Agudela’s goal sealed a 1-1 draw with Argentina, who scored in the 42nd minute when Esteban Cambiasso slammed a rebound from six yards out into the net. Anything less than a win for Argentina looked unlikely for much of the game as it controlled the tempo, almost all of the possession, and had the majority of the chances on net.

Argentina toyed with the USMNT at times in the first half, dominating the possession, forcing the U.S. deeper and deeper into it’s own end. Stretching play from one side to the other. Argentina forced Bob Bradley’s five-man midfield deep into its own end for much of the opening 45 minutes.

Angel di Maria had a great chance to open the scoring in the 34th minute when he found some space in the box after the U.S. was unable to clear the ball. Di Maria weaved around a few defenders but found himself to close to the touchline and had to shoot with no angle. Tim Howard made the easy save.

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Notes from a spaced out soccer fan, Feb. 22

By Jonathan Gold

(Note: I have officially banned myself from writing about Arsenal – Orient on the advice of my physician. I have absolutely nothing to say about a team that can go toe-to-toe with the best in the world one day and then draw with Leyton goddamn Orient, or why so many good players at Arsenal are out of form or…takes drugs)

Aah, fine. Away we go.

SPAIN

The mighty Sid Lowe over at the Guardian thinks the goal scored by goalkeeper (!) Dani Aranzubia to rescue a point for incredibly dull relegation candidates Deportivo is the biggest story of the La Liga weekend, and he might be right. It was the first scored by a goalkeeper from open play in the history of the league, after all. Personally, I like his name enough that I’ve been going around saying “Arrrranzubia!” to friends and co-workers and that’s the extent my my interest in the matter. Hats off to him, though, big goal.

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Arshavin and Arsenal stun Barcelona at the Emirates in round one

Arsenal shocked Barcelona at the Emirates stadium (Arsneal's home) with a late winner from Andrei Arshavin. The win was the first for Arsenal over Barcelona. (Courtesy Wikicommons)

By Jonathan Gold

This, ladies and gentlemen, was a triumph. This was a season-definer, one of Arsenal’s biggest wins in years. A comeback victory over probably the greatest professional soccer team ever assembled. It was truly astonishing.

And yet, it was also a demonstration that Arsenal really is its own worst enemy.

It looked to be going precisely how I and everyone else in the sane world predicted when David Villa took advantage of a mistake by Clichy to beat the offside trap and finish with his usual precision before the half-hour mark. I’d been mildly encouraged by the early pressure from Arsenal, but I’ve seen them flounder time and again after getting my hopes up in big games. All too often, the Gunners come out blazing and fade down the stretch.

This close to the game, I’m not able to describe the tactics used to you with any sort of precision, because my brain is not functioning correctly. But soccer’s collective punditry has apparently decided that Wenger’s genius had a lot to do with the team’s unbelievable fightback against what still must be described as superior opposition.

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The World's Best Play for Barcelona; Xavi Tops the List

Barcelona midfielder Xavi has been a remarkable career at the Camp Nou, and it is about time he be rewarded for his play by winning the Ballon d'Or as the best soccer player in the world. (Courtesy of Wikicommons)

By Kevin Koczwara

Barcelona plays soccer the right way, and they do it with a style no other team can copy. The Catalan club may be “more than a club” to the people of Barcelona in a historical and social sense, but for the rest of the soccer loving crowds, Barcelona is more than a club because the team plays like no other.

Any 11 players that walk out on to the field for Barca understand how this game was meant to be played: beautifully.

Spain’s National Team has been playing the Barcelona way for a few years now.

Spain’s dominance in the Euro’s of 2008 through the subsequent winning of the World Cup this summer looked much like that of Barcelona’s global dominance. Both the national team and Barca play the ball on the ground, pass it quickly, run into space, dominate possession, play a high defensive line, and try to score goals. Neither Spain nor Barcelona sit back, and play on the defensive for a draw. No, both teams out play and out class their opponents. The way the game wasn’t meant to be played.

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Real Madrid and Barcelona Battle for the Top Spot

Ronaldo and Kaka haven't seen the field together this season because of Kaka's injury problems. But, Ronaldo has not let the fans of Real Madrid down this year in the club's attempt to dethrone Barcelona as the best team in Spain. The two giants of Spanish soccer will meet this weekend. (Courtesy Tsutomu Takasu)

By Kevin Koczwara

One Point separates Barcelona and Real Madrid in the La Liga table. A solitary point. That’s all. The closest competitor, Villarreal (7-3-2, 24 pts), sits seven points behind second place Barcelona (10-1-1, 31 pts). The two horse race for Spain’s top division title has begun, but the main event won’t begin until this weekend’s ‘el Clasico’ where the Catalans take on their arch enemies in white, Real Madrid (10-0-2, 32 pts).

It’s no surprise the giants of La Liga lead the way. Madrid and Barca’s payrolls outreach just about any other club in the world – except maybe Manchester City – and their opponents in La Liga have little to no chance keeping up with them.

Barcelona’s squad bolsters most or Spain’s World Cup winning starters, a few of their bench players, the best player in the World, Lionel Messi, plus a bench and youth system that top clubs around the world pluck talent from.

Argentina national team captain Javier Mascherano moved to the Camp Nou this summer from Liverpool only to find limited playing time behind some of the world’s top midfielders, any team in the world would take on the fiery midfielder right now, but he’d rather sit out and watch from Barcelona’s bench right now because its just too good to pass up playing for. Who wouldn’t want to play alongside Xavi, Andres Iniesta, Lionel Messi, David Villa, Bojan, Carlos Puyol, Dani Alves, Pique and Pedro? I know I wouldn’t pass up that chance.

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Messi: Master of the Chip

Lionel Messi has scored 16 goals in 14 appearances for Barcelona in all competitions this year. He's also chipped in four assists. (Courtesy Nicholas Macgowan)

By Kevin Koczwara

Lionel Messi scores goals, that’s a given by now. He scores lots of goals, some more beautiful than others. But, have the fans and pundits become a little jaded? Is Messi really that good of a goal scorer and are all of his goals “beautiful”? Well, no, but many of them are.

Messi makes fans and pundits around the world sit and scratch their heads and say, “how did he do that?” on a regular basis. The Argentine does things that just don’t happen on the field and most players wouldn’t dare try some of the shots or moves he attempts while running at defenders. That’s what makes him stand out.

He is skilled enough and a good enough player to try and chip a goalkeeper on a regular basis. Not because it’s flashy to chip a goalkeeper. Nope. Just because he knows it’s the most effective way to score at that given moment in the game.

And Messi is probably the only player playing, right now, who dares to do some of the things he does. To top it off, he makes it look easy.

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What The Soccer Guys Are Reading– Sept. 21, 2010

The Guardian — Tom Hicks fails in latest attempt to secure Liverpool private equity — by Owen Gibson

Liverpool fans have been begging and pleading for the club’s American owners to finally move on and sell the club that they bought in 2007 with so much promise. Tom Hicks and his partner George Gillett have struggled to pay off the enormous loans they took on when buying the club in 2007. Now, the debt has become too much for the American owners to keep delaying the big payoff and wait for a new buyer. The Royal Bank of Scotland has already started the process to take over the club and sell it if Hicks and Gillett can’t. Hicks was hoping to seal a new loan deal to buyout Gillett and try and find a suitable buyer. Doesn’t look like its happening.

The Independent — Messi was ‘hunted’ by Atletico says Pique

It looked like a break when the replay was shown, but Barcelona got some good news when the team found out that Lionel Messis injury wasn’t as bad as first thought. Messi was carted off the field after an ugly challenge from Tomas Ujfalusi left the player wilted on the field. Ujfalusi received a two match ban after the review board of La Liga looked over the tackle by the Atletico Madrid player.

Sky Sports — Cesc out for three weeks

Arsenal blew a goal lead to Sunderland on Saturday. And the team lost a lot more than three points, the team lost its captain Cesc Fabregas for three weeks. Fabregas injured his hamstring while scoring Arsenal’s goal on Saturday. Arsenal’s captain  joins Robin van Persie, Theo Walcott and Nicklas Bendtner on the shelf. Arsene Wenger, Arsenal’s captain, could be seeing his English Premier League title hopes fading as his team suffers one injury after another.

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Valencia, Atletico Prep for Key Match

By Joe Meloni

Atletico Madrid striker Diego Forlan's future with the club may be decided by its success in the first half of 2010-11. (Photo Courtesy Alvaro Felipe)

By season’s end, Atletico Madrid’s key contribution to the 2010-11 season may be sidelining Barcelona dynamo Lionel Messi for a couple weeks. The Argentine left Sunday’s match, which Barcelona won 2-1, in the final minutes after a challenge from Tomas Ujfalusi.

Failing to pull any points from Barca cost Atletico a chance to continue its early season success. Currently, los Rojiblancos are in the obligatory late-September, four-way tie for fourth place with Barcelona, among others. Three days from now, Atletico will meet current table topper Valenica, which, even with former talisman David Villa roaming the Camp Nou, has handled its three games with as many victories. While the triumphs came against middling sides Malaga, Racing Santander and Hercules, securing maximum points from these fixtures is key to winning La Liga.
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La Liga Preview: Mourinho leading Real

Jose Mourinho took over as manager of Real Madrid days after leading Inter Milan to victor in the Champions League final. The questions of whether or not anyone can be Barcelona and whether or not Mourinho can win anywhere will be answered about nine months from now. (Photo Courtesy: APasciuto)

By Joe Meloni

Visions of Spain captain Iker Casillas proudly brandishing the nation’s first-ever World Cup trophy two months ago are still fresh in the mind of soccer fans around the globe. Surrounding him on the podium were his teammates, including the likes of Barcelona stars David Villa, Gerard Pique, Carles Puyol, Xavi and Andres Iniesta. While the group celebrated the championship together, it all ends once La Liga begins its season.

The stars of los Galacticos and the leaders of l’equip blaugrana don’t have much to celebrate together in most season. Last year, Barca edged out Real Madrid by three points and hopes to win the league for the third consecutive time.

There are, of course, other clubs in the league. But it always comes down Madrid and Barca when the season’s approaches its conclusion.

Unlike last season, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Thierry Henry won’t be able to help Barca to the title. And Jose Mourinho will be calling the shots in the Spanish capital.
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