Spoilt for choice
Last night there was an array of football on TV. Sky Sports showed the second leg of the Carling Cup Semi-Final between Liverpool & Manchester City and then the second leg of the Copa del Rey between Barcelona & Real Madrid, El Clásico; Napoli v Inter on ESPN and on Eurosport Eq. Guinea v Senegal.
I did my best to watch them all, but I only have one TV and one set of eyes, and was unable to watch the Coppa Italia match which Napoli won 2-0 over Inter, I am to understand that there was a late goal in that game also.
To start off with
I started with the Carling Cup game which started off okay, looking to be as if it was going to be an interesting night of football. As soon as the game on Eurosport started I flicked over to the Africa Cup of Nations as I had put a little £1 bet on Eq. Guinea to win. With them hosting, winning their last match and with Senegal playing poorly, I felt that the £6 I would get back was worth the risk. I was amazed at the state of the pitch, I honestly couldn’t believe that the game had gone ahead, so I wasn’t surprised to find out the a game was cancelled earlier in the day and that that game had been delayed so that the groundsmen could get it to some kind of acceptable level to be played on. Some parts of the pitch were not too bad, but some, well a beach ball would have been better.
I was not lying about the pitch!
Anyway, back to the Liverpool game. I flicked back over and what I saw was a more confident Liverpool team that were out passing City, and looking overall a lot more dangerous, the stats didn’t mean anything. Craig Bellamy was having a great match, whereas poor old, well young, Savic was having a terrible night. Savic hasn’t done all that great in the games he has played whilst covering for the banned Vincent Kompany, but tonight Craig Bellamy was taking him to the cleaners. With City having the lion share of possession, what they did with it I don’t know, so when de Jong scored that curling effort I was in shock! I could not believe that City had just taken the lead in a game that Joe Hart had been the busier ‘keeper.
I changed back over to the AFCON and am pleased to see that Senegal were playing very poorly and that Eq. Guinea looked like they were going to cause an upset beating one of the pre-tournament favourites. Eq. Guinea striker, Fidjeu, was always on the shoulder of the Senegal defence, who were playing with a precarious highline, and was twice unlucky to be called offside. It looked certain that he was going to catch them at some point and that he would make Senegal pay.
Things are heating up!
Back over to Liverpool – City and what’s this, Penalty – that never was. That was harsh on Micah! That channel flick-over couldn’t have been any better timed. Watching the replay I don’t see how the referee gave that as a penalty. The ball has come up off his boot and hit him, from that close range, there is no reaction time. Up steps Steven Gerrard, Goal. Loved Stevie’s goal celebration aimed at Joe Hart, real sportsman type banter. Now we really have a game underway, there was no way penalties were going to decide this one, unlike the night before, and it was going to be end to end stuff. With five minutes remaining, I finish of watching the half and then back to AFCON where Senegal were still overwhelming unimpressive. The problem I could see was they have good defenders and great strikers, but that is just it the midfield doesn’t really seem to exist. There are players there, but they are like football zombies – Chasing down the ball, but with no real life in them. With Demba Ba, Papiss Cissé and Issiar Dia on the field you expect goals, but there is no one there to create them! Eq. Guinea on the other hand are a well oiled machine. The manager, Brazilian Gílson Paulo, has worked some real magic to get them to work so well and so hard, tactics are going to win this, not an individual display. With that game reaching half-time, back to the Carling Cup.
Roberto Mancini did not like what he saw and Savic was sacrificed. Savic came off for Agüero, that really showed Mancini’s intent! Off comes a defender who is being run ragged, and on comes a striker. Now with 3 at the back, to wing backs Dzeko upfront with Agüero, Nasri and Silva behind him with de Jong and Barry in midfield, it was clear Mancini wanted goals! It seemed to work at first, but then Liverpool turned up the heat and City and Mancini have to thank Joe Hart for his saves, he single-handily kept them in the game – Yes, pun intended. Liverpool were still dominant team but then out of nowhere City took the lead. A great cross was whipped in by Kolarov and Dzeko was there to put it away. It was out of the blue, and honestly I felt it was a little undeserved. It was a well crafted goal, but by this point I wanted Liverpool to win the tie and face Cardiff in the final.
Quick flick over to the AFCON and see that it back on, but the Liverpool – City game is too good at the moment so back over, and boy am I glad I have, as on the attack go Liverpool and Bellamy scores, 2-2 if it stays like this then Liverpool will go through, flick back to AFCON and yes, Eq. Guinea are in the lead, I haven’t seen the goal, but I’m happy to see that 1-0 score line, and they still look good for their lead, this is a all going well so far. See the replay and a good cross and good header by Iyanga.
How could I forget!
I look down to check the time, nearly 25 past nine, What!? I’ve missed 20mins or so of El Clásico, dammit! So over I flick to that, lets see how this is going, apparently Madrid should be 3-0 up by now with all the chances they have had, this doesn’t bode well, but its Barça, you can never bet against Barça. Now I am flicking through the three channels, until the final whistle goes at Anfield, happier that Liverpool are through than City, though I hope Cardiff win it overall, and now I am left between the AFCON and the Copa del Rey. Typical El Clásico stuff going on here, dirty tackles, players rolling around on the floor, Mourinho looking grumpy in his weird tracksuit combo he is wearing and some beautiful movement. Iniesta went off for Pedro, but Barça are still playing the beautiful football they are renowned for. Watching them pass the ball about in close quarters like that, with Madrid forever closing them down, only one thing was running through my mind, the “keep calm and carry on” poster. That seems to exemplify Barcelona under Pep Guardiola.
Barcelona are looking the more dangerous side since I have been watching, and Messi dribbles through the middle, Madrid players surround him; how the hell did he pass it there, Pedro takes it, shoots – goal! Watching the replay, that pass was through the eye of a needle, how he saw that is unbelievable, how he did it while dribbling, amazing. Barcelona were now in full control of the game, 1-0 on the night 3-1 on aggregate. Then minutes later Daniel Alves scored a screamer; it had me out my seat with a short burst of sound! Ohhwhaa – or something like that. The speed on that was something else. Barcelona had won a freekick and it hit the wall and bounced over to the other side of the penalty area where the on coming Alves stormed up and unleashed one hell of a shot, Casillas couldn’t do anything about it even though he tried, it was a wonder strike and a wonder goal. When I see a goal like that I say it’s as if God if playing Fifa and we are watching.
Watch for yourself, I love the goal celebration too!
So with half-time on its way, Barça 2-0 up over to the AFCON where Eq. Guinea were still looking like they were going to make some history and knock out Senegal, qualifying with a game spare. Senegal piled on the pressure but then the most hilarious play acting I have ever seen in my life, I believe it was Ikedo, nope it was Ekanga. He jumped over a tackle but went down holding his ankle, he then looked up, looked around and at seeing the foul was not going to be given, he screamed out and then began rolling around on the floor. It was so ridiculous the commentators couldn’t believe what they were watching. please please watch for yourselves, it priceless!
The game continued, and when Eq. Guinea kicked the ball out for him to get some “attention” for the injury, the game was nearing an end Ekanga was stretchered off to get some “treatment”. Play resumed the Eq. Guinea players were angry that Senegal carried on playing rather than passing it back to them as they knocked it out so their player could be taken off the field of play. From that Senegal won a freekick on the 90th minute and Moussa Sow managed to hook in it, it was now 1-1 and I was devastated. Not because I was losing a pound, but because they had played so well that they deserved the win, and to lose it because of one of their own players was being so ridiculous, it was just fun fair.
With the ball getting lumped around the waterlogged pitch Eq. Guinea surged on for the winner. The game was then and end to end affair with Senegal now after a win, and it looked like they may get an unjustified one too. But then out of nowhere Eq. Guinea broke away on the attack, Balboa received the ball on the left hand side of the pitch, with a few options he opts to loft a pass over to Kily Álvarez who unleashes a wondrous strike that fizzes past the Senegalese ‘keeper, I went crazy. It is worth the watch!
I hope Eq. Guinea go all the way and win it, I am going to be a honourary Eq. Guinea supporter for the rest of the AFCON. How he generated the power I don’t know. I heavy wet ball, on a soggy pitch, one touch and then BANG! The celebrations were amazing, but then he received a yellow card for taking off his shirt, but then by the time he went to go back and restart the game, the referee had sent him off, I have no idea why, the commentators had no idea why either! It didn’t matter in the end as when he was being ushered away, the full time whistle blew and then he was celebrating on the floor. This is the first time they have competed in the AFCON and to have qualified by winning their first 2 matches is an amazing feat!
Give and feel good
I was happy that I won some money, but later that evening I gave it away to a good cause, and if you have any spare money lying around you can give your support here. http://www.justgiving.com/natashahenry/eurl.axd/ef84d5b066534745ae3670b36d4f500a
Lost in translation
After the excitement of the Liverpool game, the goal Daniel Alves scored and then the craziness & amazing goal that Eq. Guinea had scored, I felt that I had my full of great football. I watched some of the second half of El Clásico but with the knowledge that Barça were going to go through, I turned the TV off got a drink and went upstairs, went onto twitter only to see that Benzema had scored to make it 2-2, so back down I went, on went the TV and the remainder of El Clásico I did watch. And well what did I expect. Fouls, beautiful passing, Fouls, play acting, did I mention fouls? Crowding the referee, it’s a shambles but I love it. Pepe is a disgrace to football sometimes, and then Barcelona for all the beautiful football they play, why do they have to go and spoil it by play acting too? Sergio Ramos then got sent off for nothing and shook the referees hand and then got some words of wisdom form Mourinho, I can’t wait to find out what he said but maybe we’ll never know like in “Lost in translation”.
El Clásico ended just as I imagined it too, with Barcelona wining the tie won, scoring an amazing goal, play acting, a red card and an animated Mourinho. I didn’t expect what I saw with the AFCON and I got a result I wanted out of the Carling Cup. Overall it was a great night of football, and it is nights like these that are the reasons I love football, and feel pity for people that think it is just people kicking a ball around.