Germany Destroys BRA71L – Sweet Revenge!!!

Seventh heaven: The Germans dished out the heaviest defeat in Brazil's history

I can remember when I, a 15-year-old lad in S.S. 1, was watching the 2002 FIFA World Cup final match between Germany and Brazil.

Their road to the final was that easy though – Germany defeated Paraguay in the Round of 16 courtesy of a late goal from Oliver Neuville. The quarterfinal clash against USA was a bore but Michael Ballack fired in the vital strike that sent the Germans to the semis. Ballack turned up the show with the only goal in the win against Korea but he earned himself a needless booking that ruled him out of the final. Brazil on the other hand, under the guidance of current coach, Felipao, beat Belgium with strikes from Rivaldo and eventual top scorer, Ronaldo before easing past England in the quarterfinals in a match fondly remembered for Ronaldinho’s improvised free kick that disgraced David Seaman. Ronaldo also scored the only goal against Turkey and the stage was set for the biggest game of all.

Prior to the final, Germany’s captain, Oliver Kahn, was in the form of his life, keeping five clean sheets in the six games the Germans had played. The only goal he had conceded was in the 1-1 draw against Ireland. Robbie Keane was the player that tarnished his clean sheet records. After a rather intense match, Ronaldo got the goals that broke German hearts and the Brazilians went on to lift their fifth World Cup title.

Twelve years on, both nations locked horns to earn the right to play in the final. Brazil’s run to the semis wasn’t really convincing as they had hinged their hopes on Neymar but with the star injured and Thiago Silva suspended, many were skeptical about their chances against an efficient German side that had blown hot and cold in the tournament.

While I was still trying to check the food I warmed so that I could settle down to watch the game, I saw the Germans cuddled up celebrating a goal Thomas Mueller had scored. Watching the replay could never be like the real moment but I asked myself ‘where the hell was the Brazilian defense?’. 12 minutes after, Miroslav Klose was afforded the chance to make history and even though his initial effort was parried by Julio Cesar, he was given a chance to have a second bite at the cherry to put Germany two up.

Standing alone: Miroslav Klose became the tournament's leading scorer with 16 goals

More erratic defending saw the Germans tee up a pass that evaded everyone before it was blasted with a one-timed shot from Toni Kroos. Right from the restart, Fernandinho was caught ball watching and he was robbed by Toni Kroos that interchanged passes with Sami Khedira before slotting the ball past a hapless Julio Cesar. The Germans were not finished yet as Khedira drifted forward to get into the scoring act after receiving a perfectly-cushioned pass from Mesut Ozil.

Five goals conceded with just 29 minutes gone!!!!

The German’s eased things up and went into the dressing room feeling very satisfied with their performance. The hosts on the other hand were greeted with some boos from the angry crowd and one wondered what Felipao was going to tell the lads to motivate them.

Unhappy ending: Brazil conceded seven goals - five during the first-half - to end their World Cup dream

The Brazilians began the second half with more urgency but they lacked the quality to find that killer ball. Joachim Low added to Brazil’s misery when he brought on Andre Schurrle and a couple of minutes after his arrival, the Chelsea forward latched onto to Lahm’s pass to make it six. Late on, Schurrle controlled Muller’s dinked pass before blasting the ball past Julio Cesar to make it seven!! Yes, seven! Oscar managed to get a consolation right at the death.

I never for once rated this Brazilian team. Fine, they were the hosts and a lot was expected of them but their performances weren’t good enough collectively as they clearly laid all their eggs in a Neymar basket. Neyamr always stepped for them but in the games he struggled, Brazil struggled. It was seeing him suffer such a horrific injury that would sideline him for weeks but Felipao will have to take the blame for the squad he assembled.

Hulk is an overrated washed up player that is a clear waste of matter and as for Fred, I can’t believe how Casillas he has become. Whether Felipao remains at the helm of affairs or not, I don’t really care but I must say that I enjoyed watching Germany exert their sweet revenge on the Brazilians.

Sayonara.

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Why Signing a Holding Midfielder Should be a Top Priority this Summer

A new DM like Lars Bender would be a welcome addition

Anytime I think about the Invincibles, I reminisce on how strong Arsenal was in every playing position – Mad Jens Lehmann was a commanding presence in the box, the defensive pairing of Sol Campbell and Kolo Toure was a match made in the stars, the attacking wing play of Robert Pires and Freddie Ljungberg was a frightening prospect for the opposition and of course, the goals from Thierry Henry and Dennis Bergkamp did the damage. However, I deliberate forgot to add the influence from the heart of the midfield with Patrick Vieira and Gilberto Silva pulling all the strings.

As the years went by, the key components of the Invincibles squad were shipped away and the era of the Fantastic Four in midfield began. In the 2007/08 season, Arsenal came really close to winning the Premier League and many would be quick to point out that it was the season Emmanuel Adebayor scored 30 goals and had a boatload of misses, but the collective performances of Cesc Fabregas, Mathieu Flamini, Aliaksandr Hleb and Tomas Rosicky was vital to the team’s surge for a title that season.

After Flamini departed on a Bosman to AC Milan, a void was created in holding midfield and albeit temporarily, Alexandre Song, seemed to be the man to tick all the boxes and served as the solution to Arsenal’s holding midfield problems. He had the imposing physical presence and his overall play was quite impressive, as he was an expert in breaking up play and handing the ball over to the folks that knew what to do with it.

Surprisingly, Alex Song had a different tactical style of play (maybe he was instructed by Wenger) with the arrival of Mikel Arteta in the 2011/12 season transfer deadline day. With the Spaniard having the football intelligence to cover admirably in midfield, Song started making forays forward, and there were two sides to his newly-found attacking verve – on the good side, he started raking up the assists and his overall play in the final third improved. On the bad side, he was always caught out of position and counter attacking teams punished Arsenal as they exploited the space vacated by Song.

With Song departing for the warm sunny bench in Catalonia, Arsene Wenger had the option of replacing him with a holding midfielder of equal or better quality and the media vultures reported that a deal for Rennes’ Yann M’Vila was 99.99999999999999999% done. There was no M’Vila at the start of the 2012/13 campaign and Wenger chose to play Arteta predominantly as his holding midfielder.

In fairness to the Spaniard, he has given the club the best of his abilities in the past two seasons as a holding midfielder and many Arsenal fans can attest to the fact that a new holding midfielder was needed. With no quality replacement (no disrespect to Francis Coquelin and co.), Arteta played far too many games (43) and at the start of the 2013/14 campaign, he suffered a thigh injury that sidelined him for some weeks, but Wenger opted to re-sign Flamini on a free transfer.

Having Flamini around was good for squad depth and all, but his carefree attitude earned him some suspensions as the season progressed. He added steel to the midfield but his lack of agility was exploited at times, and as I stated earlier, he had far too many bookings for my liking.

When I remember those horrific drubbings in the hands of Manchester City, Liverpool and Chelsea, I vividly remember how the midfield was open and the opposition got into Arsenal’s defensive positions way too easily. The lessons ought to have been learned but apparently, the games proved that they weren’t. Arsenal needs a holding midfielder that would instill fear in the eyes of the opposition when they see him. We may never have another Vieira (please don’t give me that Abou Diaby can be his replacement bullcrap) but there are some holding midfielders out there that would improve the team.

The most recent midfielders to be linked with the Gunners are Morgan Schneiderlein, Lars Bender and Sami Khedira. Without blinking twice, Bender would be my most obvious choice. His age (25) is perfect and his performances were bright sparks in a relatively dark Leverkusen campaign. Bender made 3.7 tackles per game in the Bundesliga last season with 1.8 interceptions but there has to be some improvement in his passing range as he managed a meager 77.7% while Arteta averaged 92.1%.

With Arteta turning 32 and having just one year left on his deal to run, one might be feeling that he’s living on borrowed time.

There’s money in the bank.

Arsenal has to make signing a holding midfielder a priority.

Sayonara.

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Arsenal Transfer News: Latest Updates on Alexis Sanchez

Barca 'accept £32m Arsenal bid for Sanchez'

North London, here I come. lol

After another exhilarating round of World Cup football, it’s time for another break and as expected, transfer news has been the order of the day.

Since Luis Enrique took over from Tata Martino this summer, he has been very active on the transfer market, bringing in Marc-Andre ter Stegen and Claudio Bravo to replace the departed Victor Valdes while Gerard Deulofeu, Rafinha and Bojan Krkic have returned from their loan spells. He also delved into the market to sign Croatian maestro, Ivan Rakitic, from Sevilla.

On the other end of the scale, Barcelona offloaded stalwart, Jose Pinto, while the legendary Carles Puyol announced his retirement from the beautiful game. Ex-Gunner, Cesc Fabregas, was also shipped out to Chelsea and with Arsenal having the first option to sign the chap, the Gunners chose not to act.

With FC Barcelona reportedly gunning for the bitey one, Luis Suarez, it is believed that they would want to get their hands on all the funds they can get, and with that in view, Chilean hotshot, Alexis Sanchez, is up for grabs to the highest bidder.

Sanchez joined Barcelona in 2011 for a €26 million fee (plus €11.5m in certain bonuses). He had just come off a great campaign in Udinese and a lot was expected from the forward. Scoring 15 goals and supplying six assists in his first season was a good return but his second season with the club was marred by injuries. Last season, Sanchez was on fire for the Catalonians, blasting in 21 goals with 19 of them scored in the Liga BBVA.

Sanchez unbelievable strike for Barca against Atletico Madrid

He also had a good World Cup by his standards, scoring two goals against Australia and the host nation, Brazil, but there was heart ache for the lad as he was among the Chileans that missed their crucial spot kicks.

The Telegraph, the Metro, the Express and Goal.com have reported that the Arsenal hierarchy has placed a €40 million bid for the forward (they forgot to add one Euro) and to add some fuel to an already raging inferno, Sanchez’s agent, Fernando Felicevich, has started following Mesut Ozil, Olivier Giroud, Santi Cazorla and Mikel Arteta on Twitter. Lest I forget, his agent also followed Arsenal’s official Twitter account.

Barca’s director Andoni Zubizarreta has also confirmed several bids for the Chilean star,

“Regarding the future of Alexis Sánchez, there have been offers for the player,” he said.

“But I do not know how it will all end – we are looking for a solution which will be best for everyone.”

Apparently, Liverpool and Juventus are also on the prowl for the forward.

The fans wanted that big-name forward that can play with / for Olivier Giroud and Sanchez clearly fits the ball. I also love the fact that he’s versatile so he can be used on the wings when the need arises. I’m pretty sure that the players and fans alike would be happy to have such a quality addition to the squad. Let’s also bear in mind that other rivals are strengthening as well, so the Gunners shouldn’t be left behind.

The prospect of seeing Alexis and Theo Walcott on the same pitch just sent chills down my spine. I’m wondering how opposition defenders would feel.

I’ll keep you posted as things unfold.

To wet your appetite a bit, here’s a YouTube compilation on his performances last season

Sayonara.

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2014 FIFA World Cup Quarterfinal Review

what a miss

After spending long man-hours away on official duty, I’m back and from an Arsenal perspective, nothing much has been happening except the usual transfer rumors of the Gunners attempting to sign Lord Voldemort and that Chinese bloke, Chow, from the Hangover series.

However, the World Cup has reached its business end and four more teams were eliminated as we are now left with the four best teams in the competition. It began with the host nation taking on an exciting Colombia side with its crown prince, “Hames” Rodriguez on the spotlight. The young lad had scored five goals in the tournament, thereby leading the scoring charts and a lot was expected from him in the absence of Radamel Falcao.

The Brazilian’s began the game well with a goal from the captain, Thiago Silva, but one must wonder what was going through that defender’s mind as he left the danger man unmarked. Chelsea’s *coughs*… PSG’s David Luiz blasted in a peach of a free kick that breezed past David Ospina before he could even reach for the ball. Rodriguez managed to pull one back from 12 yards but it wasn’t enough as Brazil had enough in the tank to see them through to the semis.

Neymar's tournament-ending injury

That gotta hurt!

However, the game was marred by an injury suffered by Neymar after he was kneed in the back by Zuniga. According to the Brazil team doctor, Neymar fractured a vertebra in his spine but he doesn’t require surgery,

Unfortunately, he’s not going to be able to play. He is very, very sad.

“It’s not serious in the sense that it doesn’t need surgery, but he’ll need to immobilise it to recover.”

The second quarterfinal game between France and Germany was a nervy affair but all it took was a Matts Hummels header to settle the contest.

From an Arsenal perspective, it was disappointing seeing Olivier Giroud and Laurent Koscielny watching from the dugout but the defender got a run out when Mamadou Sakho struggled for form and fitness on the pitch. Giroud also came in as a late sub but it was too little too late for the hunky lad to make an impact on the proceedings. On the German side of the Arsenal scale, Mesut Ozil started the game and was replaced by Mario Gotze, Lukas Podolski stayed on the bench while Per Mertesacker was out with the flu.

I guess his height probably played a role in him getting infected. He probably caught it before everyone else.

The third quarterfinal game was of keen interest to me because I wanted to see how the Belgian side was going to fare against a better opposition and as expected, they were found wanting. There was too many individualistic performances to the detriment of the team and it required an early Gonzalo Higuain strike to clinch the game.

Kevin De Bruyne had a couple of close shaves but there was also an injury concern for the mecurial Angel di Maria that actually had a hand in Higuain’s strike. Late on, Lionel Messi had a chance to put the game beyond doubt when he was one on one with Thibaut Courtois but he fired a tame shot at the goalie.

Finally, Costa Rica’s adventure came to an abrupt end after the lost on penalties to the Dutch. Holland pressurized the Costa Rica rearguard from start to finish and Wesley Sneijder must have been very frustrated to see two fantastic strikes smash the cross bar. Arjen Robben was his usual selfish and diving self and Robin van Persie auditioned for the miss of the tournament while topping the offside charts in the competition.

Right at the death, LVG summoned Tim Krul in place of Jesper Cillesen and the Newcastle goalie went on to save two penalty kicks to send his team to the semis.

There would be a break and the tournament will be on hold till the first semifinal on Tuesday. Till then, I’d probably be on red alert for any potential signing.

Sayonara.

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The Lottery of Penalties and a Star Called James Rodriguez


The World Cup switched to second gear yesterday with the Round of 16 fixtures underway and it started with the hosts, Brazil, taking on a Chile side that was impressive in the Group Stages. Winning Australia seemed pretty routine but knocking Spain off their perch sealed qualification for the South Americans and raised a few eyebrows. The group decider was a clash with the Netherlands that ended in defeat.

From an Arsenal perspective, the name Alexis Sanchez has been mentioned a couple of times and the forward has been linked heavily with a summer move to North London. As for the game itself, it was what I expected from two South Americans locking horns – brilliant attacking football, end to end stuff and all action. After a couple of close shaves, the Brazilians took the lead from a somewhat scrappy David Luiz goal but the Chileans grabbed an equalizer thanks to a brilliant side-footed finish from Sanchez (sign him up!).

Both nations continued to have a go at each other and sadly, 90 minutes wasn’t enough to settle the contest so the game went into extra time. As expected, fatigue started creeping in and the Chileans were hit harder because they did more of the defending in the course of the game but in the 119th minute, Chile’s Mauricio Pinilla had a break and he slammed a shot against the cross bar with Julio Cesar clearly beaten. With the 30 minutes not being enough, it was down to five individuals that would become heroes or villains.

This made me flashback to Arsenal’s Round of 16 fixture against AS Roma in the 2008/09 campaign. After winning with a single goal at the Emirates, the Gunners conceded a goal at Stadio Olimpico and everyone knew that the team that scores the next goal will advance to the quarterfinals. Despite the best efforts of both sides, that elusive goal failed to arrive and the extra 30 minutes wasn’t enough so they had to go all the way to penalties. Arsenal won 7-6 in the shootouts and went on to win Villarreal in the quarterfinals before losing to Manchester United in the semis.

Snapping back to reality, Chile had a couple of bad misses and in the end, the Brazilians advanced to the quarterfinals after Gonzalo Jara’s effort smashed the post.

The other Round of 16 fixture was also an all-South American affair with a Luis Suarez-less Uruguay taking on a Colombia side that has been an inspiration in the tournament thus far. With the controversy out of the way, it was time for Uruguay to let their football do the talking but boy, where they in for a surprise or what.

The first goal was a master class from the best player in the tournament thus far. After receiving the ball on the chest, James Rodriguez had the audacity to blast the ball at goal leaving Fernando Muslera no chance in Hell. Even Uruguay’s manager, Oscar Tabarez confessed that it was one of the best goals he has ever seen. Rodriguez was on hand again to side-foot Andres Cuadrado’s looping header to put the game beyond Uruguay. In the absence of Luis Suarez, Diego Forlan looked out of sorts and as for Edinson Cavani, I reserve my comments.

When AS Monaco signed Rodriguez for over 45 million Euros, everyone thought that he was another overhyped player but in 105 games with FC Porto, the youngster scored 32 goals and supplied 21 assists. He even performed admirably in his first season in Ligue 1 with 10 goals and 12 assists in 38 appearances and next season, he would be featuring in the UEFA Champions League alongside his compatriot, the goalscoring machine, Radamel Falcao.

Today sees the Netherlands take on Mexico while this World Cup’s surprise package, Costa Rica, will play Greece in the late fixture.

Sayonara

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