Monday, November 29, 2010

Madridistas Vs. Cules: a Pre-Clasico Discussion

Some Weeks ago, Total Barca's Mike Watton invited me to answer a few questions re: Barcelona and Real Madrid, as a sort of appetizer to tonight's El Clasico. Aside from me, he also invited fellow bloggers Corey Fiske and Jordan Ziehl from the Real Madrid Offside to answer a set of questions alongside his Total Barca co-contributors Emma Cardenas (fast becoming a frequent panelist in our weekly podcast), JM Spencer and Mahmoud Rasmi.
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Here are the answers. It's 12.5 hours to kickoff and I'm bursting at the seams.... unable to think of anything else but the game!
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Anyways, here comes the Q&A:
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QUESTION #1: Take the current rosters of Real Madrid and Barcelona, combine them, and name your starting XI. And also name your manager from Pep and Mou. The formation is your call. Comment on your choices as you see fit (defense-midfield-front, or player-by-player, overall, or whatever).
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Madridista Mac:

Football Fans Know Better
My Fantasy Real Madrid + Barca XI: It's an unrealistic PSP-ish 3-5-2 formation. What the heck: that's why it's called a fantasy XI. There haven't been many comments these past weeks. But if there are readers out there who wish to voice their Fantasy XIs... please share them at the comments section
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Given that this would of course be a ‘Fantasy XI’, it would essentially be a lineup that doesn’t take tactics into consideration: just the best ‘logical’ XI that can be put out there from the list of active players that are available (i.e. Kaka not being considered). So here goes, it’s a 3-5-2: it’s a formation that we’ve seen Mourinho play in the last 2 matches after needing to overcome a deficit.

Casillas
Despite the fact that Valdes is going through a purple patch at the moment, Iker Casillas is still the hands down choice. A better shot stopper and a very good leader.

Alves-Ramos-Pique
There has been much talk about the so-called ‘best fullback in the world’ tag and while the Italian Press and the Madrid press talked a lot about how Maicon is the world’s best fullback (given how he’s kept Alves off Brazil’s starting XI)… but given his age and current form, Alves finally gets to stake his claim as the world’s best fullback. Sergio Ramos is technical, strong, powerful in the air and has pace. He can be a bit unfocused and get carried away when on attack (usually as a fullback) but he’s been great at the Center of Defense. Pique on the other hand is what I like to call ‘The most updated Evolutionary outcome of the Center Back’ – in football’s post-Beckenbauer era where the Centerback’s role has essentially devolved back to being just to make lunging challenges, head crosses away and hack the ball back out to the opponents’ half. Pique is the most complete central defender on the planet… the next ‘evolutionary step’ for Sergio Ramos: aside from offering strength, speed, power, an aerial presence and technical ability, Pique offers playmaking qualities with his vision and even gives his team a legitimate goal threat in open play (rare among CBs).

Xabi Alonso – Xavi
My Central Midfield would be essentially Spain’s World Cup-winning passing axis. I’ve openly admitted my admiration and my belief that this year’s Balon d’ Or belongs to Xavi. Xavi provides the pulse and tempo of the team, prodding the ball forward to the attackers or retreating back to and lookout for holes in the opposing defense. Xabi Alonso offers a bit of tackling (more of ball interceptions in recovering the ball) along with multi-range passing, and organization on the pitch. Neither Barca nor Madrid would be anywhere near where they are in their supremacy without these 2. Any fantasy team for Barca and Real Madrid that excludes one of these 2 is a travesty in my opinion.

Di Maria – Iniesta – Ronaldo
The attacking portion of the midfield is where the conflict lies in the selection headache. First in would of course be Cristiano Ronaldo for very obvious reasons.

Then perhaps, the closest thing there would be to a ‘surprise’ in my selection would be Angel Di Maria who has impressed me very much. The Argentine plays as a classic ‘outside left’ for the National Team and did the same for Benfica, using his pace and trickery to get pas his defenders to make crosses in or even take shots on goal. Under Mourinho, he’s learned to become a devastating ‘inside right’ midfielder (an inverted winger as some would call it), drifting inwards to help the midfield and increase interplay in the final third at the center of the pitch with his forwards and attacking midfielder… he also helps a lot in ball recovery in this role. He interchanges between both positions at Real. For all the plaudits received by the usual suspects in Madrid (Ronado and Higuain) and the new ‘star arrival’ (Ozil), it has been Di Maria in my opinion who deserves to be in this XI.

Rounding off the attacking midfield would be Andres Iniesta. I’ve rated him very highly even as a mere ‘role player’ in his early days as a Barca first team player (I will explain further below when talking about him vs. Ozil).

David Villa – Messi
The forward line is an all-Barca affair: The world’s best footballer (Messi) and Spain’s best striker (Villa). Nuff said.

Coach: Jose Mourinho
Mourinho has more experience and has a proven track record with multiple clubs. He has dominated every domestic league where he has managed. Whereas Pep, despite his hugely impressive trophy haul as a newbie manager, he has inherited a Barcelona-team that features the likes of Xavi, Iniesta, Pique and the best footballer on the planet: Leo Messi. They all also happen to play in a system which they have been all playing since they were kids…a system which he himself played for probably more than a decade.
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Mourinho’s Porto, Chelsea and Madrid are all a bit different despite certain similar characteristics (like Portuguese or Portuguese-speaking Centerbacks), and of course his Porto was nowhere close to being as good or talented as Pep’s Barca.
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Mourinho is also known for his ability to change the outcome of the game with his now-signature on-the-fly tactical adjustments with or without substitutions: a quality that will take Pep perhaps a few more years to master.

Bench:
Pepe, Carvalho, Higuain, Ozil, Puyol, Busquets, Pedro
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——————Casillas———————
Ramos—-Pique–Carvalho—-Abidal
——————Xavi—Xabi—————–
Messi——————————Ronaldo
————-Higuain—Villa—————–

Casillas is an easy choice, he is the best keeper in the world.
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I do not like Dani Alves on a personal level, but I preferred Ramos in this lineup due to the very offensive nature of the midfield. Ramos is a better defender in my opinion, and can still make strong overlaps to help Messi drift inside, which is essentially what Alves does. Puyol is getting up there, so I preferred Carvalho, who has been fantastic this year, and I was trying to be equitable and pick Pique over Pepe, simply because I prefer his physical style play to Pepe’s highly aggressive approach.
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The center midfield is pretty obvious. Busquets would be a nice luxury I suppose, but lets go for all out attack. I think Xabi can handle the Busquets role, while Xavi can do some of the playmaker role. You cannot fit Ozil and Iniesta in to the team, so I decided to not use a dedicated play maker and let Ronaldo and Messi create from the flanks and allow Xabi and Xavi to simply feed the players the ball.
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Two strikers in a 4-4-2 is not exactly in vogue right now in European football, but how can you not play Higuain and Villa? What I like is that both strikers can pull out wide, with Villa very effective on the left, and although many people do not associate Higuain with this, he has play on the right a bit and was very good there. This means Ronaldo or Messi can play more centrally depending on whichever striker pulls out wide.
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Well I’m going to start with manager first and it has to be the Special One, Jose Mourinho. No one has had a recent track record as good as Mou’s and the gigantic turnaround he has seemed to pull off thus far at Madrid this season only bolsters an already very solid résumé. His flair for the dramatic (he’s pulled Pepe off twice this season in favor of an extra striker) as well as his psychological warfare he wages in an effort to divert attention from his players gives him an edge over Pep. Sure, Guardiola’s side won six or so titles in Barca’s revival season a year ago, but as Zlatan said a few weeks ago, I could have probably managed that team to similar glory.
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First up will be the keeper, and I don’t think there is much of a contest here. It’s Iker, Iker, Iker. Or San Iker as we like to call him. I think Casillas would start on the “World” team, if we ever had a need to construct one. He truly is second to none in terms of ‘keeping’ class. Sure, he gets a little brazen and perhaps charges out of the box when he shouldn’t and his long ball distribution could use some work, but have you ever seen a man be the general so well between the posts? I don’t think so. Valdes would be a solid backup, as he was in the World Cup, but he isn’t starting XI material for this squad.
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Next I’ll construct the back four. At right back I think Sergio Ramos is a slam dunk. Dani Alves would make a solid backup, but I don’t believe he has neither the same physicality Ramos has nor the sheer athletism. Sure, Alves might have the Brazilian blood coursing through his body to give him the flair for the occasional long strike, but with the team we’re going to assemble here, it isn’t necessary by a long shot.
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Now, the central pair is going to be quite difficult to pick out. Carvalho has had a sort of renaissance at Madrid this year and his partnership with Pepe has soared since the start of the preseason. Pepe has been a rock at the back for us since coming on and pairing up with Cannavaro. I will be honest and say I utterly despise Puyol and Pique. I mean I hate these two, but the quality of their partnership is hard to deny. Coming off the WC victory with Spain, I think I would have to select one of these two. I think the obvious choice is then Gerrard Pique. He is a little on the sluggish side, so I would pair him with the quicker Pepe. Are these two the best technically speaking in the group of four? I’m not sure. I think, however, from a pairing point of view, these two would make the best pairing. Pique would hang back and Pepe would be given license to come out against strikers.
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Does Barca have a LB? Jokes aside, Marcelo has become one of the premier LB’s in the world under Mou and the sky is really the limit for this kid. He really could be the next Roberto Carlos with even more space and dribbling skills. I think in the current system his offensive strikes and free kicks will be nonexistent, but that is fine as it isn’t needed at all. So that rounds out my back four, Ramos, Pique, Puyol, Marcelo.
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Now this is truly the tricky part. I have an idea in my mind who I want in my lineup, but I think it’s hard to figure out a working formation. It would be easy to simply pick the best players leftover and just send them out there and hope for the best a la Maradona’s Argentina or Pellegrini’s Real, but we all know how those turned out. I think the best option is something similar to what Real does now, but two holders in the middle and four in attack. I think this is probably the fairest way to divide up the remaining players. Sure, there will be a gap or two, but I think it’s the best option.
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For my two holders in the middle, I’m going to select Xabi and Xavi, hopefully to recreate what we saw at the WC. Now, the first thing that’s probably going to be said is that Xavi isn’t much of a holding player and Xabi works better with someone behind him or partnered next to him. Well…tough, this is how it’s going to be. Xavi can have more leeway going forward and Alonso will obviously anchor back more to be a distributor. I’m not sure if there’s anyone on Real or Barca who could challenge these two for the central midfielder roles as they seem to be two of the best in the world at what they do. Man, I can already here the clamoring for Busquets and Khedira. I think Xabi can do Khedira’s job while next to Xavi and Busquets is a steaming pile of horse manure that enjoys working on his swan dives in his free time as well as his theatrical performances.
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Now, the hardest part, the front four. I think Cristiano and Messi are shoe ins here, with Ronaldo on the right and Messi on the left. They can switch all they want, I don’t think it matters when it comes to these two, they are that special, just put them out there and let it happen.
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Lastly we need a creator and a striker. As I mentioned earlier, I believe Özil to be better than Iniesta and therefore will name the Turk in my starting XI. For my striker, I think I would have to give the nod to David Villa, although I admit it’s hard to really see him as a Barcelona player. I will give special consideration to Gonzalo Higauín, being he has really hit his stride as a striker for Madrid this past year. He is, however, more of a poacher than anything and not as complete a striker as Villa is. Villa is also more comfortable, in my opinion, further outside the box, which would leave more room for CR7 and Messi to operate up front, where they like to drift.
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Emma Cardenas (totalBarca)
My starting 11:
Valdes
Alves = Pique = Puyol = Maxwell
Xabi = Busquets
Xavi
Villa = Messi = Bojan
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Manager: Pep Guardiola
This was a tough one for me, mostly because I think our blaugrana players fit the playing style I love so perfectly. I did like how Xabi and Busquets worked together during the World Cup, also Xabi [along w/ Casillas, and Raul before he left] is a Real Madrid player whom I respect because he’s a great, humble footballer whom I can only cheer for when he plays for Spain haha! I would take Casillas and Higuain for my subs bench [along with our blaugrana subs].
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JM Spencer (totalBarca)
Personally I wouldn’t fill any position within our squad with any of Madrid’s current crop. Having said that I do have a lot of respect and admiration for the talents of many of their players, most notably Iker Casillas and Xabi Alonso who I think are top quality professionals who manage (somehow) to show Real in a good light. So although I wouldn’t have them in my starting 11 right now I do think Alonso could fit in to the Barca set-up very easily and Casillas is a great keeper, just slightly less so than big Vic.
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I also think Gonzalo Higuain has the capability to be a great player but so far he has failed to live up to this potential due to his lack of consistency and what appears to be the little faith shown in him by the many different Madrid managers of late. Unfortunately it seems Mourinho is guiding him the right way and we may soon be seeing the pichichi heading to the Bernabeau, maybe not this season but certainly soon.
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With this in mind my preferred 11 and manager would go like this : VALDES – ALVES – PIQUE – PUYOL – MAXWELL – SERGIO – XAVI – INIESTA – VILLA – MESSI – PEDRO, of course being managed by the great philospher that is PEP GUARDIOLA.
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Mahmoud Rasmi (totalBarca)

The question could have been easier if we had to choose a combination between starting line-up and substitutes, but when there is a team like Barcelona it is always hard to choose any other players who can, taking into consideration their current form, substitute the Blaugrana players! But here we go:
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Starting XI:
GoalKeeping:
To start with the easiest but one of the tough decisions, I would rather see Casillas starting as a goalkeeper. It is true that Valdes has always showed his quality during the past couple years, including a critical save in the game against Panathinaikos in the Champions league and not to forget the saves against Madrid last year. However, when deciding in between the two, Casillas has more presence on the field as a goalkeeper; he is always a source of confidence for the players, whether in the Spanish team or Real Madrid. He is always ready to take the burden when necessary as he saved Spain and Madrid from many, many critical situations.
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Defense:
What has been one of Madrid’s problems the past couple years is the weakness in defense even though they have tough defenders like Pepe and Sergio Ramos. On the other hand, Barcelona’s defenders were in top form whether Pique, Puyol, Milito, Abidal or Alves. The Barcelona defense combines various skills: defensively Pique and Puyol form the solid rock of the defense; offensively Pique and Alves are always on the attack; while Puyol is always there during critical situations to score a typical header. I would thus rather choose Dani Alves as a right-back, Pique and Puyol as central-defenders. Their versatility on the field and technical skills adds more choices for the team – Pique’s goals against Inter and Madrid always come to mind! Abidal, Maxwell, Marcelo, Adriano? I would rather Abidal as a left-back, as he is more a defensive player being able to cover for Alves when he’s on the attack. Marcelo, Adriano andMaxwell are both good as left-backs but defensively they are not as tough as Abidal. This means in an offensive game they would be much better to choose than Abidal, but on more conservative games, the best choice, I think, would be Abidal.
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Midfield:
The choices get harder as we proceed, because this year, and unlike the past two or three years, Madrid has top-class midfielders, the likes of Di Maria, Mesut Ozil and Sami Khadira. While these players are actually highly effective with great technical skills, yet they cannot outperform the lethal combination of Iniesta and Xavi both on the left and the right sides of the midfield. Ozil, however, can be a substitute for Iniesta in case of injury, but, now, the maestro Xavi and Iniesta would get the starting line-up. They could best possibly be joined with Alonso, Khadira, Busquets or Mascherano. On a tougher/defensive game I would rather Mascherano or Alonso, while on a more attacking-game, Busquets.
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Attack:
On the attack, I would rather choose a combination of Messi-Villa-Higuain. Seeing these three players on the team will most probably form a lethal triangle as the three of them are versatile and they can always be moving. The three of them are merciless on goal, and they all have magical skills to show game in game out. Yes, Cristiano Ronaldo is not there, because when one players is always egocentric, things will not go well on the field. Barcelona tried that before with Ibra, and the result was not successful as Ibra and Messi could not combine together. The example of Villa can show the difference in the players’ psychology between last year and this year: when they celebrate a goal, when they pass to each other, when they’re substituted. Players like Villa, Messi and Heguain – along with Pedro and Bojan – celebrate for the team before the individual performance.
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As for the coach for the team, I think Guardiola would be the best choice. As time passes his tactical plans are maturing including the use of substitutions and connecting with players on the field. Mourinho is a tactical genius? Yes. He has a strange personality? Yes. However, Guardiola does not deal with pressure by running away from it, or putting it all over his shoulders to make the players relax, nor does he ask from the players to give more than they could possibly give. By that, we see how the Barcelona team is evolving through the years and continuously improving tactically and physically. Players are traded, others are relaxed, others are motivated. Thus Guardiola has a total approach when dealing with players outside and on the field – without a fuss.
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Thus the line-up would be a formation of 4-3-3 and the players are:
Casillas
Alves-Pique-Puyol-Abidal
Xavi-Mascherano
Iniesta
Higuain-Messi-Villa
Manager: Guardiola
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QUESTION #2: Would you trade Andres Iniesta for Mesut Ozil?
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Madridista Mac
I’d take Iniesta over Ozil. Iniesta is young despite his experience, a proven winner and is easily the more consistent of the 2. Above all, Iniesta can play a full range of positions: Central Midfield, Attacking Midfield, Winger or Support Striker. Ozil is essentially only effective as an attacking midfielder playing behind the striker/s. Above all, Ozil at the moment works best within a counterattacking tactical scheme where his pace and vision is lethal against back pedaling teams who have given him space. Iniesta on the other hand, has proven within this Barca tactical scheme that he’s just as effective against a team that has parked the bus in front of goal.
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Corey Fiske
Nope. Ghostface Khilla is a fantastic player, but I am more than content with Mesut. If you wanted to trade Kaka for Little Andres, I would throw in a pack of gum with the Brazilian.
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Jordan Ziehl
No. While Iniesta is a good player in his own right, I feel like he has hit his skill ceiling, if you will. I’m not sure he is going to get much better. He also has a few more years on Mesut which from a President’s point of view makes him more valuable. I think Mesut skill-wise is right behind Iniesta and continues to improve every week. Give him a couple of years and he will live up to his Zidane comparisons and perhaps even overtake the great Zizou, but I won’t get too far ahead of myself.
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Emma Cardenas
No way. While Ozil is a great footballer, and was brilliant during the World Cup, he still has a lot to learn. Iniesta has skill and beyond being a great person, he truly embodies Barça style. To be honest I think Ozil could rise to the level of Iniesta if he keeps up and has a good mentor [I was pulling for him to come to Barça this summer, not gonna lie].
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JM Spencer
The short answer is no.
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Andres is more experienced, more consistent and more at home within our brand of football. He is the complete package, or he would be if he got one or two more goals a season. He is already a Barca legend and will go down in football history as a truly wonderful footballer. The stuff of legend.
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Ozil on the otherhand is a terrific player but with all due respect to Madrid I think he made a bad decision in moving to the Spanish capital in the summer, as personally I think the young German needs to be playing as the centre-point of a team who is then built around his talents – e.g, Cesc at Arsenal, Sneijder at Inter, Robben at Bayern and maybe even Leo at Barca. And while this may happen at Madrid in the future it does seem unlikely that he will be able to force his way ahead of Ronaldo, et al.
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I wish him well as I want to see such talents as Ozil’s flourish but I have my doubts if we will ever truly see the best of him under Mourinho.
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Mahmoud Rasmi
In four years I might, as Ozil would have gained much more experience and Iniesta would be close to thirty and he might be retiring soon, then. Ozil will most probably be one of the most important midfielders whether with Germany or Madrid: he’s skilled, flexible, thinks fast and takes critical decisions; he would definitely fit with Barcelona’s philosophy. That, of course, would be if we did not take into consideration the fact that the trading teams are rivals: Barcelona-Madrid!
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QUESTION #3A: For the Madridistas: Give three criticisms of Jose Mourinho
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Madridista Mac
1.) He craves attention from the Media. Though it is true that it effectively deflects unwanted attention being aimed at the players, it is at times unnecessary.
2.) His knack for the unnecessary scandal. His public spats with numerous coaches, presidents and journalists / pundits during his time in Italy come to mind. His ‘Arsene Wenger is a Voyeur’ also comes to mind.
3.) I can’t really think of a third reason. I thought of calling him out for his ‘defensive football’ but his goal-scoring Inter Machine and this current Real Madrid side has proven my impression wrong.
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Corey Fiske
Mourinho is very confrontational and I think that brings a great deal of negative attention upon the team. The recent spat with Manuel Preciado was distasteful to say the least. I also do not like that he calls players out in the media. While it may have seen stronger performances recently from the likes of Benzema and Pedro Leon, unfortunately I do not see young Canales responding well to the public criticism and that is worrying. He also has shunned some excellent players, such as the Diarra’s, Raul Albiol and Esteban Granero, despite these players performing well in their limited game time.
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Ohh, and the gum chewing/note taking is a little silly.
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Jordan Ziehl
I really detest how Mou leaves for the tunnel before the half ends. I think it’s disrespectful. Sure, he probably wants to show his disapproval of a lousy half and give the commentators something to talk about instead of his player’s performances, but I still think it’s a sort of slap in the face to the boys.
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My second criticism of Mourinho would have to be his willingness to pick up and leave clubs. I feel as though Real will only hang on to Mou for a couple years before he looks to move back to the EPL. I think he could be one of the greatest coaches at Real, but once he claims La Decima he’s going to get ants in his pants and start packing his bags. We all know it to be true, just wish it weren’t the case.
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My final criticism is that he wears the same colored shirt and suit everyweek. I mean, he’s got to have something in his closet other than blue shirts/ties and gray suits. I complain about it just about every match in our Liveblogs. Jazz it up a little, man, this is Madrid, the big time. He wore the same thing at Inter too, but hey, it seemed to really work there. I guess the mantra is, if it isn’t broke, don’t fix it.
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QUESTION #3B: For the Culés: Say three nice things about Jose Mourinho
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Emma Cardenas
- While I [and many others] may not like his media theatrics and antics, you cannot deny that he has a way of giving all of the confidence in the world to his players. Players who’ve been coached by him have only great things to say about him.
 He’s a great tactician. For as long as people can recall, he’s always spent countless hours studying his opposition and the best ways to match/top them.
- So far, he’s proved to be a winner. Titles definitely speak and the fact that he’s done great things with Porto, Chelsea and Inter can’t just be a fluke. Let’s hope his lucky streak is over though…haha
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JM Spencer
1 – He protects his players very very well, acting almost like the don of a mafia family. If the press or another manager/player insults one of his players he attacks instantly and deflects tension and controversy elsewhere. Of course this is nothing to do with the actual playing of the game but it proves a huge pyschological boost for players that seems to help them succeed, so cocooned are they within Jose’s protection. He did it with the ‘diving’ Drogba and look what happened there. He may be the perfect manager to get the best out of the tempremental Cristiano and a team full of battling egos.
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2 – He has a very clear and intelligent approach to the game. Maybe we don’t all like it. Maybe it can be rather negative. But it gets the job done. He is the ultimate footballing pragmatist and he sticks to his philosphy as he knows it gets results. Centred around a high work rate and quick counter attacking play Mourinho may not make many friends amongst football purists but his track record for winning trophies proves he doesn’t need to worry too much what those people think.
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3 – He is a real character. He is entertaining, controversial and outspoken and as such he provides some real memorable moments for all (well most) football fans. Again it could be argued that it belittles the purity of the game but football has always had its quirky, eccentric, controversial characters – Brian Clough, Maradona, Cantona – and the game would be a far more boring thing without them. If he is your teams manager you hate to love him, if he is your enemy you love to hate him. This is something, as Barca fans, we know all too well.
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He also always gives old hacks like myself something to write about on an almost daily basis which I can only be thankful for. That doesn’t mean I like him though! =)
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Mahmoud Rasmi
1) He’s one of the best tactical coaches.
2) He’s a coach that knows how to direct a player and make him do exactly what he wants from him on the field.
3) He’s always trying to out-weigh Barcelona. He has an objective, and this is good in itself!
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QUESTION #4: A “special one” for the Madridistas: The Spanish team that won the World Cup was very heavy on Barca players, and comparatively light on Real Madrid players. The squad set a World Cup Final record for most players on the field from one club, with seven from Barcelona. Some in Catalunya have called it a World Cup trophy that belongs to Barcelona, both in the players on the field and the style used. Share your thoughts on that.
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Madridista Mac
Even if I wasn’t a Madridista, I’d find such statements totally appalling and extremely disrespectful to the clubs where the other players of the Spanish National Team have come from (not just Real Madrid).
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Though the numbers don’t lie, they don’t tell the whole story. Real Madrid players as well as those from other clubs for that matter played a HUGE role during the World Cup campaign.
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Also, I’d like to point out that though David Villa was technically a Barca player by the time the World Cup took place, he still hadn’t played a single game as a player of the Blaugrana, making him count in favo of Barca on the basis of a ‘technicality’.
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Let me also talk about the team’s style and tactics, which were devised by one of the greatest coaches in Real Madrid’s history: Vicente Del Bosque. It made perfect sense for Del Bosque to use Barca’s pass-them-to-death style as the base approach to the team’s play because of the number of Barca players in the team (and the number of players whose qualities were more based on their technical skills rather than their physical charactersitics). It was a decision made on the basis of common sense instead of ‘ideology’. What was brilliant in Del Bosque’s tactics and squad selection however was on how he has selected a team that was capable of playing in SEVERAL styles because of the players he brought on. Spain played a 4-2-3-1, a formation used by Madrid and many other teams in Spain instead of Barca’s interchangeable or ‘modular’ 4-3-3. They also had the tools to play a classic English 4-4-2 with true outside wingers (e.g. Navas) and a classic ‘Battering Ram #9’ (Llorente), a style that bailed the team out very effectively when the ‘Barca-style’ of football had proven futile as some of the games wore on.
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The ‘Spain’s WC team was essentially Barca-in-Red’ statement is as ridiculous and immature as it is superficial and disrespectful.
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Corey Fiske
David Villa does not count, he had not even been to a training session with his Barcelona teammates yet. Even so, its always nice to take credit for something that is the triumph of many, but to each his own….
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The style thing to me is rather presumptuous, considering it was the same group of players that Aragones had established, and it was a formation that Del Bosque had played while the coach of Real Madrid. The 4-3-2-1 is a very “Spanish” formation, quite common in La Liga. As for the tiki taka, Barcelona may be able to take credit for that, but again, its pretty common across Spain to see teams passing the ball in such a manner. Barcelona have made it a high art, a fine science, but it is not a unique theory all to their own doing. That Pep instituted this system he was taught when he came through the ranks of the club lends historical credence I suppose, but then again if you watch a Classico from the late 80s, Real Madrid uses intricate short passing just as much as Barcelona did, or does now. Like I said, all of these things are not Catalan, they are Spanish ideals, which can be found through out the league.
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Barcelona contributed a great deal to the World Cup, but I think the entire league and the entire country contributed to the victory.
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Jordan Ziehl
Well, to be honest Barca wasn’t the first team to pressure the ball and maintain possession. They do it really well and it carried over to the Spanish National Squad. My one criticism over its effectiveness is that this WC was very, very defensive in most games and teams seemed very content with sitting back and playing for OT and the shootout, which the tiki-taka style really strives against. They can poke and prod all they want and not fear a heavy counter. My problem is that this style tends to lead to very boring games, but I’m starting to digress. My final thought is this though (and it is in jest), without the union of Castile and Aragon and the later formation of Spain, would there be any Barcelona?

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