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.


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