Wednesday, February 22, 2006

No Real magic

Frustration, disbelief, amusement. That was the progression of reaction as I watched the champion’s league game between Real Madrid and Arsenal. The game was a fantastic display of the dinosaur that is attacking football, and Arsenal played with the sort of panache it’s capable of when unchecked; the sort that has been effectively neutralize by the tenacity of Chelsea and LFC. The Man Utd loss, last Saturday, to LFC marked the end of an era; the era of mindless charging towards opponents’ goals passing for football. Make no mistake, I took some pleasure from watching Man U so effectively thwarted and in disarray in face of an opponent more poised and cerebral; but not as much as would be expected. For as long as the measure of a great champion is the strength of its opponents, the decline of a worthy opponent should be no cause for celebration. But i digress.

Arsenal's deft display was not unexpected, what was however was that Real would be so needlessly hapless. Real was effectively a nine man team, two of their number were freeloading: Ronaldo was impotent, and Zidane was evading phantoms. Let me state for the record, lest i be accused of malice, that both men at their best are sublime,a joy to watch, and i love them both dearly. But i love Real even more so. Ronaldo is clearly dispirited and can no longer give to Real the sort of commitement and drive that any player should bring to a team. The fans have sensed that and have, not too politely, voiced their disapproval. Zidane, for different reasons (read old age) is also emasculated. But having witnessed the treatment meted to those who don't perform to expectation he's anxious, rightfully so, to avoid it. So he does him best imitation of a diligent but overwhelmed midfielder. And, by and large, he pulls it off, save for when he's unmarked but like a one trick pony keeps up the act; then it fails - There's nothing more painful to watch than a great man in decline. Anyway, given both players handicaps, i was appalled that they played the full 90 minutes. The presence of those two in the team made a mockery of the valiant efforts of Beckham, Gravesen, Raul, Robinho, Guti, and Casillas.
If Real is to make it through to the next round, Ramon must dare to leave Z and Ronaldo out of the first 14 at Highbury.

On a positive note, Real's awful display against the 5th ranked team in the Premiership bodes well for today's game against Barcelona!


At February 24, 2006 6:59 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

hey jinan, had to see what you had to say about the games this week. i disagre with you. firstly arsenal played 451. this though in a more attacking setup than chelcksi, is not by any strech of the imagination an attacking formation. between that formation, gilberto neutralizing zidane, arsenal had real in the ropes. add to this arsenals pace and quick passing you can see why arsenal had as many chances as they had. granted ronaldo was freeloading but this is nothing new, all great strikers require service. he did not get the service to do much. they not did play badly, arsenal played better. on the jibe about attacking football spoken like a chelski fan.

At February 24, 2006 1:53 PM , Anonymous grand Muffti said...

Muffti took the liberty of rewriting your first paragraph's first few sentences:

Frustration, disbelief, amusement. That was the progression of reaction as I watched the first round Olympics game between Russia and Canada. The game was a fantastic display of the dinosaur that is hockey, and Russia played with the sort of panache it’s capable of when unchecked.

*sob* Canada 0, Russia 2! Why oh why? Give me some comfort Jinan, baby, for Muffti's eyes are watering.

At March 01, 2006 5:44 AM , Blogger jinan said...

Anonymous :Chelsea fan, Chelski fan, Chelskovich fan, spartak Chelsea fan. A rose by any other name... And, as a "rose", the Russkian variants of my name are an expression of the genuine affection i feel for big daddy, Mr Abramovich to you, who was attracted to us even when we had no goodies to offer, and has lavished us with love - love consists preeminently in the acts of love. And $400 mill counts a a pretty hefty act of love.
It's funny that you say, "arsenal had real in the ropes". AS if it was an accomplishment. That's akin to a Mike Tyson fighting Mohammed Ali today, and boasting about how well he fights!

At March 01, 2006 6:02 AM , Blogger jinan said...

Muffti, darling, am so sorry; i can relate: Chelsea lost to Barca! But take heart:
sometimes bad days happen to good teams eg Brazil 98 world cup final vs France.
Good teams at times have multiple strokes of ill fortune: Holland Euro 2000 semi final against Italy.

A team may play valiantly but be out classed eg Real madrid vs Manchester United CL Quarter final return leg 2001. In which case, there's no shame.

Finally a team might be hapless and be remorselessly whipped eg Arsenal Vs real madrid. In which case a fan should to seriously consider jumping ship.

At March 01, 2006 2:47 PM , Anonymous Grand Muffti said...

Yeah, tragedy abounds. Let's face it.

Muffti got two job offers so far! woohoo!

At March 02, 2006 3:36 AM , Blogger jinan said...

Because you're worth it and much more! Am very happy for you. You'll be great.


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