Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Flamengo without atmosphere

The Copa Libertadores has started and tonight it was a classic clash between Flamengo and River Plate. A good match that ended 2-2, with River twice coming back from behind in an away match. But it did not feel much like an away match as Flamengo played at home without spectators after being punished for fan incidents in the Copa Sudamericana final (that they lost to Independiente), so it was indeed a strange match to watch.
But Copa Libertadores is on and it is bound to be exciting to follow.

Friday, February 23, 2018

Champions Legue playoffs

The only bad thing about living in El Salvador is the time difference for the Champions League matches. I am normally at work, and have been trying to get a system not to hear the results, and watch the games later, with mixed results.
In this time of neverending information streams, that is very difficult.
But of the matches I did manage to watch Juventus-Tottenham and Bayern Munich-Besiktas.
One cannot help to like Tottenham's side, that came back from 2-0 to tie Juventus and to have a good chance (but don't take it for granted) of beating Juventus at home. However, what I will most remember is Gonzalo Higuain, a player that I find impossible to like. His first strike was amazing, and his penalty acceptable, but in the end he must be the only striker in the world who is more remembered for his misses than his goals. And his misses were indeed so appalling, that if Juventus don't make it, it will be remembered as due to Higuain's misses. As he is being talked about for a return to the World Cup for Argentina, I certainly hope it won't happen.
Bayern Munich crushed a Besiktas side that had perhaps hoped for more with their excellent group stages. But as with Liverpool's trashing of Porto (in Portugal) and Manchester City's of Basel (in Switzerland), these results are perhaps pointing to the more worrying tendency that the Champions League has finally become the playground of the Mega-Teams of Europe, the ones with the money: Barcelona, Real Madrid, Paris St. Germain, Chelsea, Manchester City, Manchester United, Liverpool, Juventus, and Bayern Munich. These teams will win the Champions League for the next 10 years, with the occasional incursions of "smaller" Mega-Teams once in a while, who may make it to a semi-final or so (Tottenham and Sevilla are examples this year).
Sevilla tied Manchester United 0-0 after a splendid performance by David de Gea, who may be the one to save a Manchester United side that under Mourinho is playing only for the result. An Argentine commentator on ESPN said Mourinho was driving a Ferrari on a dirt road by playing this way, and I can also only wonder whether Manchester United fans are seeing their team do. Were it not for De Gea, they would surely be out, and one cannot expect them to defeat better teams purely on the goalkeeper.
One of the most refreshing results was Shakhtar Donetsk-Roma (a match I managed to watch the second half of) with the Ukranians taking a meager lead. The return match in Rome may be the match to watch in the second leg, although Paris St. Germain at home, trying to get back from Real Madrid's 3-1 lead, will be another thrill, as the Parisians have to show what they are made up, while the Merengues have everything to play for, as the Champions League is the only title left for them this year.