Monday, November 30, 2020

RIP Papa Diop

The sadness of 2020 continues, also in the football world. At only 46 the Senegalese legend Papa Bouba Diop has just passed away. He is remembered for scoring Senegal's winning goal in the opening match of the 2002 World Cup, when the African debutantes sensationally defeated the French world champions, and leading Senegal to the World Cup quarterfinals. In Europe he had a long career that took him to Greece, Switzerland, France, and the English Premier League.


Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Diego Armando Maradona

I was at a meeting when I received a message of the passing away of Diego Armando Maradona, and it frankly blew me away. I grew up with Maradona; he was one of the main reasons for me becoming a football fan; he embodied the magic of football like no other, and has, and will always be, a reference point for any footballer today and tomorrow.

God needed Maradona for his team of Angels.

Maradona rose from deep poverty to the heights of fame and money through the apparently trivial talent of kicking a ball. With this talent he brought about admiration and happiness to millions of fans across the world (among which I count myself); but despite fame and money Maradona was always his own man, for good and for bad, an imperfect man, like all of us.

As the football fans mourn, we must also have gratitude to have lived as a contemporary of Diego Armando Maradona.

Gracias Diego!

Sunday, November 22, 2020

The beginning of the end for Low

 Joachim Low has been manager of the German national team (and prior to that he was Assistant Manager for two years), and led a drastic turnaround in style and temperament that led to one of the most memorable World Cup triumphs in Brazil in 2014. But since that victory, the German national team has had difficulty reaching the same levels; in 2018 the defending World Champions finished bottom in a group behind Mexico, Sweden and South Corea, and have slipped outside the top 10 of the FIFA World rankings. Then, this week, Germany suffered their worst defeat since 1931, when they lost 6-0 to a Spanish national team in the Nations League. Germany were absolutely overrun, and after 14 years, confidence in Joachim Low seems to be at an all-time low.

There is no doubt Low has done a fantastic job as manager, but it is often harder to stay at the top that to get there. While Low has, since the 2016 triumph, tried to renew his side, it has seemed premature to sideline some of the legendary players from that triumph such as Jerome Boateng, Mats Hummels, and Thomas Muller. These players, with their experience (and they are not too old, as Boateng's and Muller's career in Bayern Munich are showing), could have proved valuable in such a match as that against Spain, where the Germans seemed disillusioned and unmotivated throughout the match.

It is probably time for renewal in the German national team, which undoubtedly has too much history and talent to not be among the ten best in the world!

Wednesday, November 04, 2020

The curious case of Anders Dreyer

I  have not watched the FC Midtjylland side that became Danish champions before (as I don't live in Denmark), and have therefore been curious to watch this ambitious club make its debut amidst the best in the world in the Champions League. I have thus watched all three matches of the Danish champions, and I have not been impressed: they opened with a rather naive 0-4 home loss to Atalanta. They then played a decent match in Liverpool, although losing 2-0, and last night they lost 1-2 at home to Ajax Amsterdam.

The Danes have been not only been incredibly naive about what they were to face in the Champions League, but also lacked 90-minutes concentration and physical skills in facing teams that one feels did not play their best (but it was enough to win rather easy victories). I had heard about some of FC Midtjylland's players, notably the young Anders Dreyer, who is touted as one of the great talents of Danish football, and whom many are calling for to join the Danish national team.

At least based on these three matches, I cannot see what the fuzz is about.

Granted; he scored a nice goal (FC Midtjylland's only in the CL) against a very passive Ajax defense. However, he has also missed some huge chances, in all three matches, that you simply cannot afford to miss at the highest level. But more than missed chances, I feel that he in all three matches has not had much impact in the build-up and has too many poor passes in the attack. Of course, I have also been largely unimpressed by other FC Midtjylland players, but Anders Dreyer to me seems to be the most overrated; he may be good enough for the Danish Superliga, but to me does not seem good enough for the Champions League nor for the Danish National team.

I hope I am wrong and wish him and FC Midtjylland the best of luck for their last three matches in the CL. They will need it.