Monday, September 27, 2004


i thought tis is a good article so i wan 2 save it in my blog 4 all e football fans 2 read if they missed it in soccernet. we r looking 4ward 2 e champions league tis coming wed n thurs. e big losers real madrid vs. as roma match is going 2 go LIVE. i am still considering whether 2 watch a bunch of losers playing. i wish they show barca playing LIVE, dat will definitely not waste my time.

raul finally scored after 6 months? n e last time in bilbao? dat'e e onli good news 4 e past few months 4 real. since i am a raul fan, i have no idea why he is having such a bad form 4 such a long time. wat is troubling him? shevchenko seems 2 b scoring quite abit tis early season while kaka remains veli quiet. hmmmm........rooney going 2 play? wat's so special about dat? wayne rooney is 1 over-rated player just like cisse. all e stupid hype about them being OH-SO DAMN COOL! so is cristino ronaldo, he is a piece of joke, like during euro 2004. wat is so good about tis guy? yeah, he can dribble n stuff, but e dribbles dun give any benefit 2 him or e team. he spent most of his time on e floor n asking 4 penalties n pretending 2 b injured after every tackle. i wonder why people fancy such footballers? they r just crybabies. he supposes 2 b in e forward line attacking but no, u can c him everywhere. messing up things in defence too. if u cannot defend, dun play smart n try 2 b another cannavaro. haha! another over-rated player is totti. tis guy nvr impress me. he spent most of his time having discipline problems than scoring. no respect 4 him.

kaka is different. tis guy is UNDER-RATED but i think he is much much better. so is reyes. these r players i respect. fabregas? still need 2 c more from him 2 justify anything. wait, forgot 2 say newcastle is doing fine nowadays, but they still have not been tested effectively against better opponents so i will save e praises 4 souness 4 now.

e article as below by phil ball 2 me is a good article....enjoy reading:

Whilst the Athletic Bilbao v Real Madrid match last Saturday night produced a predictable result (Athletic won), the game threw up some interesting statistics.
Santi Esquerro, the forward whose powerful header won the game for the Basques, was celebrating his first goal for the club in seven months of honest toil, and Raúl, a rather better-known forward, scored his first in the league for six months - the last time he hit the net having been in Bilbao last March, curiously enough.

The other goal was scored by Ismael Urzaiz, a burly centre-forward of the old school, a player who looks like he's stepped out of some flickering sepia film from the pre-television days - all beef and brawn and nothing fancy.

Urzaiz actually scored the goal with his foot when Raúl Bravo, allegedly a defender for Madrid, completely missed the flight of a cross from the left intended for big Ismael. It never looks quite right when this sort of player scores with his feet (it was his second such effort in five days), and it set me thinking about the whole concept of the goalscorer, and how the Spanish both view and define the phenomenon.

The Spanish have three terms for a goalscorer. The most neutral is delantero centro which simply means 'centre-forward'. The term tells you nothing about the style of the player, but merely indicates that his general function is to hang around up front. He's probably big, but not necessarily. The term which implies physical size is ariete, which translates as 'striker', or 'target-man'.

The other type of goalscorer is the buitre - literally a vulture, but which translates fairly comfortably into English as 'poacher', the six-yard man whose instincts always permit him to be in the right place at the right time. Urzaiz is an ariete, as is Madrid's Morientes, Osasuna's Aloisi, Real Sociedad's Kovacevic, Salva at Atlético Madrid, Deportivo's Pandiani and so on.
The buitres are a rarer breed, personified in the past by Butragueño and Hugo Sánchez, but in the current league perhaps only represented by Henrik Larsson and Michael Owen, both recent imports. The 'delantero centro' is a rather more complex model, and forms the focus for this week's Spanish chit-chat.

This is because the more ambiguous the role of the forward, the more successful the team seems to be, at least in Spain these days.
A good example of this is Real Sociedad. They're the side I get to watch the most of in La Liga, since they play in my home from home, San Sebastián.

For three of the last four seasons the team has flirted with relegation, with a mysterious but wonderful runners-up year slotted in-between. They're bottom of the pile again, having lost to Sevilla at the weekend. The local paper, for whom I occasionally write, publish agonised articles on a daily basis from journalists attempting to get to the bottom of the matter.
The theories point the finger at the usual suspects - poor defence, lack of bite in midfield, general lack of aggression and concentration in some of the players...and so on and so forth. The journalists also bemoan a lack of clinical finishing, a feature classically associated with struggling sides.

Successful sides always build from the back, but when it comes to failure, most analysts look at the blanks being fired by the forward line. Sociedad have a big ariete called Darko Kovacevic who has scored over 80 league goals in six seasons for the club - not a bad tally. The little Turk Nihat plays in the hole behind him, and between them they're supposed to carry the goalscoring weight. But they've dried up.

Kovacevic, particularly, appears weekly in the newspaper telling some local journalist that 'It's just a matter of time' and that he's not over-concerned with the drought. What's more important is his general contribution to the team's play - which is what strikers always say when they're not scoring.

And yet no-one in the city seems to be aware of the real problem, which is that Sociedad's whole strategy is to get the ball down the flanks and haul it across to Kovacevic, in the vague hope that he'll connect. But he rarely does, because the crosses are often poor and the opposing defenders soon learn how to cut off the lines of communication.
So Kovacevic himself drops back into the hole, stumbles about doing things he doesn't really know how to do, whilst the managers shrug their shoulders and collect their severance pay. There's no Plan B. The team knows it has a recognised goalscorer, and so the only way to win is to supply him.

He's a local hero who cannot be dropped. The guy who plays behind him in the hole depends on rebounds and errors from the opposing defenders, rather than the build-up strategy of the midfielders behind him - if, that is - the team is only looking for the big man.

These players have to be very clever and wise to succeed, and only a few of them do. Raúl, in his better days, was perhaps the supreme example, and Fernando Torres of Atlético Madrid is shaping up to be the new kid on that particular block, but it remains one of the most ill-defined roles in football and as such is buried somewhere within the description 'delantero centro'.
Why play with a 'striker' at all? Real Sociedad, for one, would be much better off without one. It certainly raises the interesting question of how the better sides do it. Look at Barcelona. Their years in the wilderness coincided with their touching but misplaced belief in Patrick Kluivert, a player who scored lots of goals, missed a lot too, but who was basically never an ariete.
Newcastle will find this out soon, and the sooner they move him back into midfield the better. Then he'll play out his career as a successful footballer.

Now that Barça have packed their own midfield with potential goalscorers (Deco, Guily, Ronaldinho, Xavi), and let Larsson (vulture) and Eto'o (hole) loose to do their thing, La Liga is quaking in its collective boots. Why? Because the danger is coming from all sides, from all angles. It hardly ever depends on a wide man getting to the byeline and sending over a hopeful cross, and more importantly, it's great to watch.

The world's two top forwards, Ronaldo and Arsenal's Henry, both wreak their particular brand of havoc by dropping off deep and running at defenders who have been deprived of the protection of the old sweeper system.

Arsenal's wonderfully vertical style of 'speed and stun' depends precisely on the absence of a centre-forward. The whole idea behind Wenger's paradigm is to deprive the opposing defence of any obvious focus for their defensive attention. Nobody knows who to mark because there is nobody to mark.

Real Madrid are struggling at the moment partly because they are not moving the ball around quickly enough - one of the reasons (apparently) for the recent bust-up. Camacho spent practically the whole of the pre-season barking at Zidane for not releasing the ball quickly enough.

The Frenchman, unused to criticism of his natural style of play, was understandably miffed - and there are those who say that this rift was the basis of Camacho's departure.
Realising that Zidane's opinion carried more weight in the dressing-room, the manager cleared his desk and walked out. But maybe he was right about Zidane.

The other point about centre-forwards is whether they can do anything else but score. Osasuna, for example, have brought in Savo Milosevic this season, to accompany the willing but messy John Aloisi up front.

Milosevic, an enigmatic nearly-man, is now playing for his sixth team in a career that has spanned fifteen seasons and five countries. He always looks a classy act, with a useful left foot and a scoring repertoire that seems to bridge all three categories of striker.

Osasuna have gone for a classic 4-4-2 formation this season, with Aloisi and Milosevic both given carte blanche to get in where it hurts and cause maximum mayhem. It's worked quite well for the first month, with the two of them sharing eight goals, but you get the sneaking feeling that it won't last, precisely because it permits no Plan B.

Milosevic scored a fantastic header to win the game against Getafe this weekend, but how they huffed and puffed. And Milosevic, for all his scoring feats, does not really believe in a limited role. Like Kluivert, he thinks there is more to his game, and becomes perennially frustrated when he is not allowed to show it. It's been the story of his career so far.

Valencia, Spain's main success story since the turn of the new century, have surely achieved what they have mainly because they have had no real strikers to depend on.

Last season, in an ironic turn of events, their top scorer turned out to be Mista, a player they had been trying to discard along with the gangling John Carew. This season, despite his heroics last year, he has been dropped to the bench in favour of a more Arsenal-type approach from Valencia's prodigal son, Claudio Ranieri.

Valencia have always preferred to share out their goalscoring duties, employing a sort of blood and thunder approach from midfield whilst preserving a strong back line. Missed ya Mista? Not so far - with Di Vaio and Vicente stepping up to do the business.
They'll turn to him through the season, of course, but the ability to mix and match the approach seems to be the key to success.

Centre-forwards? Who needs them?


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