Saturday, May 25, 2024

United Champions

A nice quiet morning in San Salvador was enjoyed with breakfast, coffee and an FA Cup final between the local rivals of Manchester: City and United.

The FA Cup is always a great fight for prestige, and both teams were playing for a bit more; Manchester City to win another "double" after having taken the title, and Manchester United were playing to at least qualify for European football next season after having finished only 8th in the Premier League.

So a lot to play for.

Manchester City had the ball, had the ball, and had the ball. But it was the young Argentine Alejandro Garnacho who scored the first goal for Manchester United after a serious misunderstanding in defense between the goalkeeper Ortega and Josko Gvardiol. Ten minutes later Kobbie Mainoo scored a second for United in what was a splendid attack, and now it looked like a match where Manchester City had to show what they were made of.

Second half Manchester City pushed forward with new changes, including Julian Alvarez and Jeremy Doku, while Manchester United pulled back with a very solid wall in front of Cameroonian goalkeeper Andre Onana, who also had a great match.

Manchester City's pressure led to a late goal by Jeremy Doku that gave the last minutes of the match some tension, but in the end it appeared that Manchester United had no problem pulling the title home.

This saves the season for United, and is a small disappointment for City.

But otherwise, a nice morning in San Salvador, and now I am going to the beach.

Thursday, May 23, 2024

Atalanta Super Champions

I had expected Bayer Leverkusen to do better. I think everyone had expected Leverkusen, undefeated for 51 matches, to take their first European title, and to continue the crowning of a super season. 

Maybe Xabi Alonso and his team took victory for granted; underestimated the fact that they were up against a Super Atalanta side under Gianpiero Gasperini, who had exactly read how to play the Leverkusen of records.

Because there was only really one team on the pitch. Despite Leverkusen having the ball more, they were unnerved by Atalanta's constant high pressure that forced constant mistakes and lost them the midfield to a splendid midfield where Ederson was just one of the Atalanta players who fought with heart and played a marvelous match.

But the man of the match was undoubtedly the English-Nigerian Ademola Lookman. With three goals he was a constant headache for Leverkusen. In particular his second goal was a splendid strike in between the defenders, and his third a classic and well-executed counter-attack goal (when Leverkusen was feebly trying to go forward). 

Atalanta are fully deserved champions and one must congratulate them for a fantastic match when they seemed to be against the odds.

Bayer Leverkusen can still take a double when the face 1.Kaiserslautern in the German Cup final. But Atalanta has shown that the record-bearing Laverkusen are not unbeatable...

Wednesday, May 22, 2024

The day I found my Salvadoran team

 Today I went to watch the classic match in Salvadoran football: Alianza versus FAS in the second leg semifinal of the tournament. The first leg had ended 1-1. 

I had until now not selected a Salvadoran team to support, but today I have chosen Alianza.

I guess it makes sense, they are from San Salvador, a team with history, and a passionate group of fans.

But it was the little things that made me decide to go for Alianza: although they were at home, the place was full of fans from Santa Ana, where FAS is from. A varied bunch, and although a generally quiet and good-natured atmosphere, they were certainly more aggressive and throwing things on the pitch.

A point against FAS.

FAS played a bit better the first half and started going ahead on an outstanding long-shot from Jonathan Nolasco. They created chances, but Alianza had the ball more, and it was an elegant run from their right-winger Anyelo Rodriguez that gave the home side the equalizer as he passed the left-back and centered, forcing the FAS defender Rudy Clavel to score an own goal, and a stadium that exploded.

A point for Alianza.

Alianza came out stronger in the second half, and although FAS fans were noisy and annoying, Alianza fans kept singing and supporting their side. Alianza pressed on while FAS tactics appeared mainly to waste time by acting and committing a lot of small dirty fouls (in my view they should have deserved a red card).

A point against FAS.

As the match appeared to be going into extra time, Leonardo Menjivar made an elegant run and shot from the right side, scoring a great goal and making the stadium explode.

A point for Alianza.

There were nevertheless six added minutes, and FAS started to play football again, and came very close to equalizing, amongst others on an elegant bicycle kick or a great long-shot, despite Alianza's feverish and heroic defending. Alianza's players looked very tired but they fought and held on to the onslaught.

A point for Alianza.

So Alianza is now my favourite Salvadoran team. They are not done nevertheless, as they will have to play the final this Saturday against a side from the Department of La Union, CD Municipal Limeño. They are from a small town, Santa Rosa de Lima, who have never won the championship before, so they will be up against the giant from Alianza, who is looking to win its 18th title.

And I will support Alianza.

Alianza vs. FAS


Monday, May 13, 2024

Mbappe's last days

When Messi left PSG to go to Inter Miami it did not happen with much love between the club and the player. Now Kylian Mbappe has announced that he is leaving (it has not been confirmed, but all rumours appear to be that he will join a Real Madrid side that again is betting on a Galacticos Part II), it is also without much fanfare. 

In his last home match for PSG only the ultras made a homage to the player that has spent seven seasons in Paris, while many other fans did not show any respect, instead whistling at him, even when he scored a goal (which he dedicated to Keylor Navas) in a match PSG lost 1-3 to Toulouse. 

He is the most scoring player in PSG’s history. 

It appear that Mbappe will end with yet another French title, but there is no doubt that he wants to win a Champions League title, and that the latest loss may only have confirmed that he needs to go to a new club with more history and winning mentality, things that appear to be missing amid PSG’s millions of dollars. 

Mbappe is only 25, already has a World Cup title and is one of the world’s best players. No matter where he ends up, he still has many years and many titles ahead of him.

Friday, May 10, 2024

Real Madrid (likely) champions

We have the two finalists of this year's Champions League: Real Madrid and Borussia Dortmund. 

Borussia Dortmund defeated a shallow Paris St. Germain who everyone expected to be better at home in Paris after the narrow loss in Germany. One has to wonder whether they underestimated Dormund as Luis Enrique's tactics appeared unprepared for a side that was well-organised in defense and threatening on counterattacks. Even when Dortmund went ahead by the veteran Mats Hummels after a corner kick, the Parisians appeared unable to open Dortmund, who are deservedly in their third Champions League final. 

It does appear unlikely however, that Borussia Dortmund can win their second title as they will be facing the defending champions of Real Madrid, as well as a likely referee... 

Over the two matches against Bayern Munich, Real Madrid were good: they tied 2-2 in Munich, an excellent result before going back to Madrid. And indeed they pressured well in a first half that nevertheless ended 0-0, in part thanks to Manuel Neuer who looked like in his younger days. In the second half Bayern made some good changes, most of all Alphonse Davies, who came in with speed and technique, scoring a fantastic goal to bring the Germans ahead, and it looked like a German victory until the 88th minute when Joselu was on the spot when none other than the great Manuel Neuer could not hold the ball, and dropped it at Joselu's feet. 

1-1 still looked like extra time when Joselu scored for 2-1 in a situation that almost looked like off-side, but wasn’t. It was then that the referees took over to ensure Madrid's victory: Matthijs de Ligt scored for Bayern Munich, but was called off-side in a situation where the referee should never have whistled (let the play continue, as is the general rule), and Rudiger's arm appeared to cancel the offside. These things happen, yes, but in the world of VAR they shouldn't, and less should they happen when in such an important match. 

Congratulations to Real Madrid for the Champions League title!

Tuesday, May 07, 2024

RIP Cesar Menotti

A legend of Argentine football, Cesar Luis Menotti has joined the string of greats who have passed away in 2024. At his passing, the chain-smoking Argentine, known as "El Flaco", was director for all Argentine National teams, continuing to exercise big influence on the country that he led to its first World Cup victory in 1978.

Menotti was known for favouring beautiful football, a style of possession, while his later counterpart Carlos Bilardo, favoured a more defensive and result-oriented style. This different view of what football was about led to the competition in Argentine football between menotismo and bilardismo, with both styles having given Argentina a World Cup title.

RIP Menotti.

Wednesday, April 24, 2024

An evening in Miami

I was in Florida this weekend and took advantage to go watch some football: Inter Miami against FC Nashville.

It was a strange experience in a Chase stadium, a temporary ground that is situated exactly at the spot where the Ft. Lauderdale strikers used to play. In fact, I find it a bit strange that they do not want to dwell into the history of a club that in the 1970s also had some of the world's best players in a league and club that are now defunct...

But I guess Inter Miami wants to create its own history, and there is no doubt whatsoever that Lionel Messi is central to that history. That may be correct at this time of social media and individual focus in a country where football remains largely unknown, but I think it is also risky, as the vast majority of people were not there to watch football, but to see Lionel Messi, the legend, and in a match that was not very good or well-played, Messi delivered with two goals (one a rebound after an excellent play and one on a penalty) and one assist (a studied situation in a corner kick that Sergio Busquets scored on), but otherwise didn't seem to have to make much of an effort.

In my view it is risky because when Messi is gone, one has to wonder what will be left of a full stadium full of Messi shirt, specially if the rest of the team cannot deliver on the much-sought after entertainment.

That said, I had fun, so no doubt that they delivered on that!

Cheers!

Inter Miami-Nashville

Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Paris with Spine

After Barcelona defeated PSG in Paris last week I must admit that I thought that PSG would be out yet again against Barcelona in the Champions League.

How great it is to be wrong.

When Raphinha brought the home team ahead 1-0 after a great play by the only 16-year old Lamine Yamal, one thought that it was done. But PSG pressed on, and after half an hour Ronald Araujo received a red card in a situation that may have been controversial: Araujo brought down Bradley Barcola as he was running towards goal, and the referee assessed he was last man and sent him off.

No VAR or anything can make it clear whether it was in fact a clear red. In my personal opinion it was justified, but I also understand those who argue that it was not.

The fact was that it changed the match as Xavi took off Yamal and his team stood back as PSG did the only thing they could, which was to push forward, and five minutes before half-time Ousmane Dembele equalized against his old team in a good counter attack.

Although they were only 10 men, in my view Barcelona looked too passive against a PSG side that obviously pushed forward, but did not look awesome. In fact, when Vitinha scored a second for PSG on a good long-shot, Barcelona's defense looked passive as they should have known about the Portuguese good long-shot skill. Later, a penalty against Dembele (in my view a correct call as well) brought PSG ahead 1-3 by Mbappe, and as the match was nearing its end Barcelona appeared completely torn apart when Mbappe scored his second following an attack where only Ter Stegen looked decent.

1-4 for PSG and they are yet again in the semifinal they were last in in 2021. They do not look unbeatable but are probably slight favourites against Borussia Dortmund, who defeated Atletico Madrid 4-2 at home, and are in their first CL semifinals since 2013.

Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Leverkusen!

The German Bundesliga have new champions for the first time in 11 seasons, all of which have been won by Bayern Munchen. Bayer Leverkusen won their first title ever in style. with seven matches to go they are 16 points clear of Bayern Munchen and have in fact not lost a single match the entire season, something that could cement this incredible victory under Manager Xabi Alonso, who is already touted as one of the new great managers of the world, and may have offers from many of the clubs he played for as a player, such as Bayern Munchen, Real Madrid and Liverpool. 

That said he appears to want to stay in North Rhine-Westphalia with a club that had only been runners-up (and a memorable Champions League final in 2002). And more may be in store for Leverkusen this season, as they are on their way to the semifinals of the Europa League, after defeating West Ham 2-0, a tournament they are so far also undefeated at.

I think Leverkusen's victory is great for German football, as Bayern's dominance is broken by a team that plays good football and has managed to put together a solid side of players from all over the world, as well as many young players, but without any overshadowing superstar. Leverkusen are above all a team!

Sunday, April 14, 2024

Today Manchester City got the League

The Premier League title is a race between Manchester City, Arsenal and Liverpool. Until today it appeared that Liverpool and Arsenal were the most likely candidates as they remained on top, equals on points, one point ahead of City.

But that changed today.

Liverpool lost 0-1 at home to the generally unnoticed Crystal Palace. This would give a clear advantage to Arsenal who were playing at home to Aston Villa, who is fighting well to take a Champions League spot. Within the last 10 minutes Leon Bailey and Ollie Watkins giving Aston Villa a 0-2 victory and a step closer to the Champions League.

In the meantime Manchester City defeated Luton 5-1, and they are now on top, and seeing how City is playing now, they must now be the favourites for the title, unless the unlikelihood that they slip.

Big disappointment for both Liverpool and Arsenal. Liverpool are looking to have a good final season for Jurgen Klopp, while Arsenal have looked like title contenders all season, only to crash at the end just like last season.

Thursday, April 11, 2024

Great Champions League matches

 Expectations were fully fulfilled for the highly expected first legs of CL quarterfinals. I eagerly watched two of the matches.

The first one I watched was Real Madrid facing Manchester City, the match that for many was a prelude of the final, and a repeat of last season's semifinals.

The first 15 minutes of the match were crazy, with Bernardo Silva bringing the English side ahead after only 2 minutes in a free kick where Real Madrid appeared to have no wall or organization as Silva shot through. But only 10 minutes later Camavinga took a shot outside the area and the ball was deflected by Ruben Dias and went into goal for 1-1. Two minutes later Rodrygo caught City's forward defense and in his run towards goal the ball was also deflected and meant 2-1 for Real Madrid.

I was really enjoying the match a the Real de 14 Taqueria in San Salvador. It was played in a high tempo and both sides had great quality as it went into the break.

Second half Manchester City continued with a high pressure, and Phil Foden equalized for City on a marvelous strike from outside the area, where one could criticize Real Madrid for giving Foden too much space. 

It was another spectacular strike that brought City ahead 2-3 as it continued its pressure on Madrid: Josko Gvardiol scored from outside the area.

Naturally, Manchester City relaxed the pressure a bit as Madrid pushed forward, and another wonderful strike by Federico Valverde, who first-timed a pass from Vini at the edge of the area, made it 3-3, and the end result of a fantastic match. 

Last season they tied 1-1 as well in Madrid, for Manchester City to demolish Real Madrid in Manchester.
We will see how it goes this time.

The other match I watched today as Paris Saint Germain hosted a Barcelona side that has before been a stumbling block for the ambitious French side.

It appears that Barcelona will again be the end for the Parisians, as they won 2-3 in Paris in a match that nevertheless also flowed with crazy attacks.

Raphinha brought the Catalans ahead 1-0 in the first half, which was also the score at half time. PSG came out to attack in the second half and were ahead 2-1 withing five minutes on a fantastic strike by the ex-Barcelona player Ousmane Dembele, and then Vitor Ferreira following an elegant attack by PSG.

Donnaruma did not have a good day in goal, and gave the ball away for Barcelona's equalizer, although Pedri's pass to Raphinha was spectacular, and the Brazilian made it 2-2. 

It was not over, and PSG missed some big chances as Barcelona scored its winner from an unlikely Andreas Christensen, who headed the ball in from close quarters following a corner kick, in a situation where neither PSG defense or goalkeeper looked strong.

Barcelona now has one foot in the semifinals, as I have a hard time seeing PSG threatening them in Catalonia.

In the other quarterfinals Arsenal and Bayern Munich tied 2-2 in London, while Atletico Madrid defeated Borussia Dortmund 2-1 in Spain.

It will be some incredible matches next week!

This is why we watch football!

Tuesday, April 02, 2024

Brøndby Nummer 1

I watched the top match in the Danish League between FC Copenhagen and Brøndby on my little Mobile phone, in my office, at 6 AM as the gorgeous sun was rising over San Salvador. Of course I was a bit multitasking, but managed to be disappointed when Peter Ankersen brought FC Copenhagen ahead at the end of the first half, when I thought that Brøndby had otherwise played well, holding possession, but unfortunately without creating the necessary chances.

At the same time the best fans in Denmark were making a lot of noise in Copenhagen!

Second half started with FC Copenhagen holding the ball more, and even creating some chances, and I started to begin to think it may not work when I happily shouted goal, as Mathias Kvitgaarden made a great counter run towards goal, cut off a defender and placed the ball in the far corner. A great goal! And 1-1 would be a good result for Brondby to keep first position before FC Midtjylland was to play.

But last seconds of the match: a high pass into the area by Jacob Rasmussen towards Sean Klaiber, who perfectly first-timed the ball into goal and a fantastic 1-2 victory for Brøndby in Copenhagen!

The victory put Brøndby 5 points clear of FCK on top spot, and as FC Midtjylland lost to FC Nordsjaelland, they are 2 points clear as well.

Still long way to go, but if Brøndby is to win the league, this could be a hugely important victory, and I happily shouted at Klaiber’s goal and colleagues told me to be quiet, but I don’t care!

Sunday, March 31, 2024

Alianza versus Aguila

 Tonight I went to watch a match in the Salvadoran top flight as the biggest team from San Salvador, Alianza, received Aguila, from San Miguel, who are the defending champions of El Salvador.

There was a good atmosphere at the Cuzcatlan Stadium and it was only one minute into the match when Anyelo Rodriguez brought the home team ahead after a disastrous defensive mistake by Aguila. Alianza played confidently and were dominating the first half, also helped by a double yellow for Aguila's Dixon Rivas, and were ahead at half time, with all advantages.

But Aguila's ten men came out well in the second half and Alianza appeared surprised and lacking concentration. In a situation where all attention was on an injured player, Aguila's Carlos Salazar equalised on a header, and Aguila appeared to be on top until, soon after, their player Darwin Ceren received a straight red card for a headless challenge. With only nine players Aguila pulled back to defend and waste time (they were good at that), while Alianza pressed, but their few chances were saved by the goalkeeper.

1-1 was surely disappointing for Alianza in a dramatic match, while Aguila celebrated as victors who had fought very hard.

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Saturday, March 30, 2024

FIFA Break

Last week I was on a break and went traveling. A good time, as there was FIFA break, and I did apparently not miss much: I watched two matches in the respective countries. 

El Salvador played Argentina's World Champions. There was a lot of criticism in Argentina that they could not find a better opponent, and it is indeed hard to see that the match was useful for the World Champions. Playing on first gear they won 3-0 on goals by Cristian Romero, Enzo Fernandez and Giovani lo Celso. El Salvador had nothing to offer and besides a complete lack of interest for the match in El Salvador, it is also hard to see that this match was useful.

The other match I watched in Guatemala, where the locals faced Venezuela. A few days earlier Venezuela had given Italy a good fight only losing 1-2, and were favourites, but to my surprise Guatemala were well organized and created dangers for the South Americans. In the end the match ended 0-0.

Although there were interesting friendlies, like Brazil winning 0-1 in England and Colombia winning 0-1 in Spain, the most interesting part of the FIFA break were the play-offs for the last three spots at Euro 2024. Route A was won by Poland, who defeated a disappointing Welsh side on penalty kicks after 0-0. 

Route B was won by Ukraine, who will be a great welcome at the Euros, after they defeated Iceland 2-1.

The biggest surprise came in Route C were Georgia qualified for their first mayor tournament by defeating Greece in penalty kicks, after a 0-0 match.

I am now back after my vacation!

Sunday, March 17, 2024

Lazy Sunday matches

Despite it being a lazy Sunday at home I watched too great matches. The first was the FA Cup quarterfinal between Manchester United and Liverpool. 

Liverpool have ambitious goals now in Klopp's farewell season, while Manchester United is continuing its unstable ride under Erik ten Haag. It was nevertheless United who looked the strongest as the match got going and only ten minutes into the match it was the Scotsman, Scott McTominay who scored for United. Liverpool appeared uninspired but managed to put some pressure towards the end of the first half and it was Alexis McAllister who equalised, while Mohammed Salah brought Liverpool ahead just before halftime.

It was not fully deserved for Liverpool, but they showed some spine and appeared more confidence.

But confidence does not always translate into results: Liverpool pressured but they lacked concentration, both in attack and in defense, and they slowly let United into the match; three minutes before time Antony equalised for United after a clumsy Liverpool loss in midfield, and the match had to go into an exciting extra time (not that us neutrals cared). And just as the first half of extra time was ending Harvey Elliot brought Liverpool ahead 2-3, and they seemed to be in the semifinals, but again they lost concentration: Marcus Rashford equalised and in the last minute of extra time the young Ivorian Amad Diallo scored the winner for Manchester United after a quick counterattack following a Liverpool corner; a situation that seemed unnecessary (stupidly, Diallo got a second yellow card for taking his shirt off, and will miss the semifinal, showing him as a player that needs to grow...).

Manchester United will face one of the other victors this weekend: Manchester City, Chelsea, and every neutral's favourite, Coventry City, some the Championship!

The other match I enjoyed watching was La Liga match between Atletico Madrid and FC Barcelona. Atletico Madrid have the best home record in the league, but today FC Barcelona played perhaps their best match of the season, and one has to wonder if Xavi's resignation at the end of the season is in place.

FC Barcelona were completely dominant the entire match, and the few chances that the Madrileans had were taken care off by a strong Marc-Andre ter-Stegen. It was the former Atletico player Joao Felix who scored the first Barcelona goal after an elegant pass from Robert Lewandowski (Joao Felix used to plat for Atletico, and I found it unfair that the fans were after him throughout the match. He did show himself as the bigger man by not celebrating his goal though).

All in all, Lewandoski showed that he still has incredible skills, and his 2-0 goal in the second half was a typical center-forward goal, but the goal in the low corner from a difficult angle. It was the young Barcelona player Fermin Lopez who scored the third for Barcelona, who seemed to be enjoying the match as they have not done lately. 

This was the Barcelona we know...

With Girona losing to Getafe, Barcelona now takes second spot int he table behind Real Madrid. That said, with an 8-point difference it seems unlikely that Barcelona can overtake Real Madrid. That said, this result is a warning regarding their coming matches, in particular against PSG in the Champions League.

 


Friday, March 15, 2024

Champions League clashes

 The last 16 of this season's Champions League has been decided. Although some good and close matches (I greatly enjoyed Porto-Arsenal and Inter-Atletico Madrid, both decided on penalty kicks, which is in fact a relatively rare occurrence in the CL) I don't think that there were major surprises, and this means that the quarterfinals will all be huge matches:

  • Arsenal-Bayern Munich: Arsenal are having another great season, and as well being a candidate for the Premier League, they are surely also to be reckoned with in this tournament, although they were a bit lucky against FC Porto. Bayern Munich are always candidates, and will surely have a greater challenge against Arsenal than they did against Lazio.
  • Atletico Madrid-Borussia Dortmund: The Spaniards do not seem to be at former strength and had a close match against Inter, who might as well have gone through. Dortmund are strong, winning their group ahead of PSG and defeating PSV Eindhoven.
  • Paris St. Germain-Barcelona: Two giants who have before played some memorable CL matches. That said, neither side is at former strength. PSG struggled to get through the first round, although they seemed sure when defeating Real Sociedad in the last-16. FC Barcelona have been on a a rollercoaster this season, but have appeared better in the CL and defeated a high-rated Napoli in the last-16. Both sides could still go all the way despite their struggles.
  • Real Madrid-Manchester City: surely this is the most anticipated match and the one everyone would have expected to be the final. Manchester City is defending their title and walked over FC Copenhagen in the last-16, while Real Madrid struggled a bit more against RB Leipzig, but remain the team of the moment in Europe. The winner of this match could win it all.

Sunday, March 10, 2024

It is all good for Arsenal

The Premier League is as exciting as could be, and two of the title contenders faced one another today when Manchester City went to Liverpool, and with both teams fighting to keep a hold on Arsenal, who took the first spot in the league after defeating Brentford 2-1, their eight Premier League victory in a row!

Jurgen Klopp's announcement that he will leave appears to have given Liverpool new fire as they want him to leave with a title. At the same time the team is littered with injuries, and this is a cause of concern despite the fact that many young players have stepped up, and the side won the League Cup and have managed to stay afloat despite losing 3-1 to Arsenal in early February. 

Manchester City is also pushing hard to win their fourth Premier League title in a row.

Liverpool appeared as the more organized and pressuring side throughout the match, but never really overwhelming a Manchester City side that was always a threat, and even went ahead 1-0 in the first half on a goal by John Stones following a corner kick during which the forward post of Liverpool was strangely abandoned by the defense. It was not deserved as Liverpool continued to press forward, but with Darwin Nuñez continuously running into off-sides, and Luis Diaz constantly frustrating the City defenders, but never defining. In the second half Alexis Macallister equalized for Liverpool on a penalty awarded to Nuñez, and Luis Diaz came very close to score; the Colombian fought hard but was incredibly inefficient.

1-1 in the end meant that Arsenal stays on top with 64 points, followed by Liverpool, also with 64, and City with 63 points.

With 10 matches left, it proves to be an incredible end-race for the Premier League title.

Intense evening in Santa Tecla

Yesterday I was traveling home to El Salvador from Antigua, Guatemala, and spoke with a guy who told me about the Antigua football team, one of the best in the country despite being from a small town. I suddenly had a feeling that I really wanted to see a match, and tonight I went to watch a match in the Salvadoran first division between the local side of Santa Tecla and the visitors from Usulutan, CD Luis Alberto Firpo (the story about their name is worth a post).

All I can say it was a great evening in Santa Tecla with very lively Firpo fans and a Santa Tecla home side that played a fantastic first half: they were ahead 3-0 at halftime on three fantastic strikes by Andres Rivas, Alan Ocon and Mario Martinez. In particular the young Ocon was a constant threat on a Firpo side that appeared completely out of place.

Second half Firpo made some changes, including the entrance of a tall Brazilian, Mateus da Silva, which proved crucial as he soon shortened the distance on a rather lucky strike. That said, Santa Tecla were the better team and came very close to scoring a fourth on good attack combinations, but the goal eluded them as the match went into its last dramatic minutes: in the 88th minutes da Silva scored on a penalty called after a handball, and pressure increased on the locals. Into the added time one of the attacks seriously injured the Santa Tecla goalkeeper Christopher Rauda, who had to be replaced by the field player Jefferson Sierra. 

In a last minute attack the ball went past Sierra, and in Luis Suarez style the defender Alejandro Frezzotti saved the goal, but was shown a red card and in the subsequent penalty kick da Silva equalised to the disappointment of the locals and the celebration of the lively Firpo fans.

Great match, great time in Santa Tecla.FIRPO has equalized to 3-3 in the last minute against Santa Tecla

Saturday, March 09, 2024

Being on the blog

 I have not blogged for more than two months. I have before had periods during which I have blogged little, but they were either because of technical problems or because I was simply tired of football.

That is not the case now: I am following football a lot, and so many things have happened: the sad passing of the giants Mario Zagallo and Franz Beckenbauer; the (unlikely) Ivorian victory in the Africa Cup of nations; Jurgen Klopp's surprising announcement that he will leave Liverpool (as well as the lead in the Premier League and the League Cup victory over Chelsea); Paraguay's and Argentina's qualification for the Olympic Games; Real Madrid's good run (against Girona in particular) and Xavi's resignation from a very unstable Barcelona side; exciting Champions League matches, and even, closer to home, Messi making El Salvador go crazy when coming with Inter Miami to face El Salvador in a boring 0-0 match.

As I write this, I realize how many posts I have missed! But truth is that maybe the time of Blogs, like this one that I have had over 20 years, are over? Not that I mind that nobody reads it: I have always said it is like a diary, for myself, and in fact, when I read at my nearly 1500 posts, I see many moments of my life!

It is strange to think about, and it is perhaps a little bit of a loss of the discipline and inspiration to write when I see some of the many interesting football news. 

I must continue.