Thursday, July 24, 2014

In the Meme Time...

Wow. Things sure went my REALLY fast. One moment, we were able to keep track of the world cup, putting out podcasts, writing about matches - and the next thing we know, it's all over.
What can I say? A crazy few weeks in the office and at home with a new baby have that power to make time evaporate at the snap of a finger. Lucky for me, despite largely being unable to tweet, podcast or write about the goings on of the last few months, I was actually able to see most of the action and keep abreast with most of the news.
The World Cup
Everyone was watching out for Neymar, Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, but it was James Rodriguez who would make the tournament his own.
I kept ranting that Germany's weakness of lacking width was going to do them in. Fortunately for them, they decided to make use of their embarrassment of riches in midfield and re-deploy Philip Lahm once again as a fullback. Together with supersub Schurrle on the left side, Germany regained their team's width and deservedly won the World Cup.
I had a much more interesting narrative that didn't pan out: at the 40th year anniversary of the 1974 WC where a 'Total Football Holland' would fall to an unimaginative but efficient and highly functonal West Germany team, the 2 sides would meet but with reversed roles: A fluid, attack-minded Germany that would fall against a tactically-organized yet functional and unimaginative Dutch team. It didn't happen.
It was instead Argentina, whose tactical error of bringing wide man Lavezzi off for Aguero ultimately blunted their attack and allowed the Germans to deservedly win the cup for a unified Germany.
My Player of the Tournament: James Rodriguez.
My Goal of the Tournament: James Rodriguez vs. Uruguay
My Team of the Tournament (3-5-2):
----------- Neuer ------------
Mascherano - Vlaar - Hummels
------- Lahm - Kroos ---------
-- Robben - James - Neymar --
--------- Messi-Muller ---------

I realize that I tend to pick 3-at-the-back lineups for teams of the tournament / season. This is due tot he fact that attacking players tend to be considered to be the highlights of a season or tournament. I am also acutely aware that I've put Lahm in the midfield (despite criticizing Germany for putting him there) and Mascherano as part of a back 3 (despite playing in midfield for Argentina this WC). All I can say re: that is - well I need to at least make the lineup work somehow.
The Transfer Market
Being married to a Liverpool fan (and thus being one myself), I honestly would have loved to see Suarez in a Real Madrid Jersey (yup, I said it!). The last thing we need however, is someone with his sort of anger management issues. After all, we already have Pepe for that sort of thing. Looking forward to seeing them kill each other this coming season though...
So after the logical signing of 2 GKs (Ter Stegen and Bravo), the club who weren't supposed to be allowed to sign players (Barca) choose to sign a  player who isn't allowed to participate in football activities for 4 months (Suarez). Suarez joins a massive front line in Barcelona that include: Neymar, Messi, Pedro and the returning (from loan) Deulofeu. On paper, a starting front 3 of Neymar, Suarez and Messi is a frightening prospect: the issue they will need to resolve however is that all 3 men are used to playing in the same area of the pitch and none of the 3 are used to being given defensive responsibility. Luis Enrique is in for a big challenge. Meanwhile, at midfield, Barca's purchase of Ivan Rakitic is an astute move: having acknowledged the failure of the Cesc Fabregas experiment, they have acquired a player who might have the makings of someone who can play the Xavi role as their midfield talisman looks towards the twilight of his career at the top level. Finally, yesterday's acquisition of the 30-year old Jeremy Mathieu from Valencia for 20m addresses an area of need. Mathieu however is 30 years old. Might they have been better off spending 40m on Mats Hummels?
There was only one player who made me go "This dude should play for Real Madrid!" in the world cup. It was NOT Toni Kroos or James Rodriguez. It was Paul Pogba. The dude is a monster and a badass motherf*cker who ought to be patrolling the Madrid midfield with bad intentions. Having said that, the acquisition of Toni Kroos is a marvellous coup for Real Madrid. Over-reliant on Xabi Alonso at the base of our midfield, having him paired alongside Modric spraying passes all over the pitch further 'de-centralizes' the team and increases the number of areas where we can create danger to our opponents without jeopardizing the team's tactical positioning (which is what we get with Di Maria).
Real Madrid's squad is a frightening one. How it'll play however remains a big question mark.
It was the acquisition of James Rodriguez which puzzles and intrigues me. Having never displayed an affinity towards the 4-2-3-1, Carlo Ancelotti is once again given a classic '10' to fit into his lineup. It is as if the challenge of turning Isco into a proper central midfielder wasn't enough. If my sketchy impression of James Rodriguez pre-World Cup is correct, the Colombian used to play on the right wing for Porto before moving to Monaco. Does Ancelotti try to turn him into a proper CM? Rotate him with Bale and (gasp!) Ronaldo in the wing positions? Play him as a false 9? Does Ancelotti go with a 4-4-2 / 4-2-2-2? Or accept that playing a 4-2-3-1 is the most logical way to go? The signing of this magnificent player raises plenty of questions though I'm not sure if they're necessarily good or not.
There is still one month to go in this silly season. I suppose now is the time to start getting warmed up to get ready ourselves for this rare chance to race for 6 titles.

1 comment:

  1. The thing I like about Ancelotti is he tires different tings. Sure he makes mistakes, but he is quick to correct them.