Sunday, August 12, 2007

European Recap: Weekend thru 08-12-07

Short takes from the weekend's European action.

Chelsea 3-2 Birmingham

- Shaun Wright-Phillips and Florent Malouda are two crucial pieces of Chelsea's attack. They both figure to have a brilliant season with the Blues this campaign. Sidwell could also make a decisive impact this season should he make the most of his minutes coming off the bench.

- Essien keeps the long bombs coming. He's petitioning the powers that be to reconsider the timing of the African Nations Cup this January; I think he can feel the positive momentum Mourinho's building for the season. Let's hope someone sees the wisdom in holding the tournament over the summer.

- It makes me happy to see that Malouda and Pizarro not only scored on their league debuts, but turned to celebrate with the fans immediately after. Good sign of morale, that.

- Cech is still struggling to regain his status as a world-renowned keeper and I've got to think that we won't really see him back to normal until at least the midpoint of the season.

- Don't know Birmingham and don't much care to learn, but ex-Juventus midfielder Kapo is gun for putting that lefty past Cech at such an angle. No windup at all, just smacked it standing completely erect and put it on in. We'll see him later in the season, I'm sure.

Rangers 2-0 St. Mirren
- Dominant victory in which DaMarcus Beasley was a key component. He's really dangerous in the SPL, a real force to be reckoned with. And after hearing all these reports of his abuse on the pitch, I really think he'll develop as an international presence as well. This trial by fire with the Light Blues will toughen him up for the more physical matches. Italy, England, and Germany are names that immediately come to mind, but we'll cross those bridges if and when we get to them.

- It's interesting to see that with the Gers, Beasley has the freedom to work out of the center of the pitch and apparently it suits him well. Beasley could easily surpass Donovan as America's #1 midfielder if his SPL campaign finishes as it's started.

- Stepping back a bit to view the overall performance, Barry Ferguson and Danny Cousin did well to put Rangers in the lead. St. Mirren's poor keeper stood little chance against the onslaught: Both goals were scored from inside 10 yards.

- Good service from the back line and good orchestration from the midfield are evidence that the Teddy Bears (no joke, check Wikipedia) have built a quality side during the off season. Expectations are rising.

FC Bayern 3-0 Rostock
- You wouldn't expect much less from a lineup that includes Klose, Toni, Schweinsteiger, van Bommel, and Ribéry. Bayern Munich is pure class and utilized all of it to dismantle the visiting debutantes.

- I predict that Ribéry will score one of the top ten Champions League goals this season simply because he has a beautiful way with dead ball situations.

- Heath Pearce made an admirable start to his first Bundesliga season, but I think he should perform better once he's had a month to adjust. On the other hand, Rostock's offense has to learn to penetrate these Bundesliga defenses; one month could be all it takes to permanently sabotage their 07-08 top-flight campaign. Let's hope they learn their lesson sooner rather than later.

Manchester United 0-0 Reading
- This result is flattering; United were abusing the Royals' defense.

- Hahnemann won MotM for his heroics at the back to earn Reading the draw.

- Convey is still recovering from his injury.

- Rooney's foot fracture is very concerning to a good many England supporters.

Arsenal 2-1 Fulham
- Holy sh*t-- van Persie punished the net.

- Healy was gifted that goal, though props for being on top of Lehmann.

- Dempsey had 45 minutes to make an impact but couldn't. Brian McBride was ineffective all match.

- In spite of Fulham's impotent offense, Bocanegra did very well to hold van Persie down the whole match. Good to see that he's asserting himself at the top of a stacked defensive lineup that includes Paul Konchesky, Philippe Christanval, Aron Hughes, and Chris Baird. Too bad Hleb played him like a puppet for a last-gasp winner. We'll see what Lawrie Sanchez thinks of his performance when the Cottagers host Bolton on Wednesday.

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