Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Football Roundup - ZLATAN IBRAHIMOVIC!

I usually am not terribly intrigued by the national soccer competitions this time of year.  There's not much going on.  It isn't close enough to the World Cup for qualification matches to mean much.  But it is games like the Sweden 4 - 2 England match today which make national soccer truly the highest level of entertainment.  Zlatan Ibrahimovic, the hero of the match, plays for PSG in France.  Yes a Swedish footballer of Bosnian descent playing in France - a very strange situation indeed. But Zlatan is not just strange, he is preternatural.

Zlatan: From another planet?
 This guy is known for the most absurd and astounding feats performed on a football pitch.  We've all seen the mazy run ending in the box where Zlatan fakes a shot four to six times while changing direction and evading a defender at every turn.  He finally scores.  We've seen the absurd back heel volley pass while running at almost full speed and we've seen the monstrosity that is Zlatan heading the ball.  Perhaps I've watched Men In Black too many times but doesn't he seem a bit strange to you?

He is 6'5", 210 pounds, and has more control of the ball than 98% of people that have played the game.  He isn't the best football player of all time or even of this era.  But for sheer outrage of skillfulness there is no one to match him.  He's just scored four goals against the English National Team.  And with a name like Zlatan perhaps he is from another planet.  Congratulations to Zlatan Ibrahimovic on a performance that will likely go down in the annals of football history.  If only it had been during the World Cup.

Fernandinho - FC Shakhtar Donetsk and Juan Mata - Chelsea FC
Now turning to Chelsea FC.  I've been unable to blog about them lately due to my utter lack of excitement in their recent performances.  Two bright spots: the 5-4 win over Manchester United which was absolutely an exciting game but unfortunately meant virtually nothing as it was part of the Carling Cup.  Good job on defeating the Man. U "B" squad.  The other bright spot was defeating Shakhtar Donetsk in the Champions League.  Yes the performance in the Premier League is deeply disturbing (Oh look we're the Champions League holders and we've just tied with Liverpool and Swansea, tremble and fear) but defeating Shakhtar was a key step forward for them in Group E.  As I mentioned here, Shakhtar are a serious force to be reckoned with.

Group E

1FC Shakhtar Donetsk FC Shakhtar Donetsk42000112117527
2Chelsea FC Chelsea FC411010121110647
3Juventus Juventus41100201308446
4FC Nordsjælland FC Nordsjælland4011002013111-101

I'm not exactly sure why Shakhtar is top of the table seeing as Chelsea has a better goal difference, an away win, and more goals overall but in any case I believe Chelsea have a clear path forward now to move past this group.  They play Juventus and FC Nordsjaelland and then things should be decided.  Even if they lose to Juventus, it is assumed they'll win against FC Nordsjaelland as the game is at Stamford Bridge.  That scenario would leave Chelsea 2nd in the table and through to the knockout stages.  I would truly enjoy seeing Juventus not progress because not only do I always have a bias against Serie A teams, I would love to see FC Shakhtar Donetsk go to the knockouts.  They're a great in-form team and they don't have a long history in the Champions League so it would make the knockout stages more exciting.

Just a photo of Tony Watt beating Barcelona
And finally, Celtic beat Barcelona.  It beggars belief to be sure and when I first saw the headline I figured it was a typo.  This is story for the grandchildren to be sure.  You may have fought in the battle of St. Crispin's day, but Tony Watt scored the winner in the return leg of Celtic's Champion's League tie against Barcelona!  Anyone for Tony as their next son's name?

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