Tag Archives: Champions League

“Theater of Dreams” might turn into a nightmare – English clubs facing elimination

It’s been a while since three of four English clubs playing the Champions League face elimination before the last game in the group stage. Manchester United’s tie at the “Theater of Dreams” against Benfica and Manchester City’s loss in Napoli might have just set the stage for a bad awakening.

With Chelsea facing a “deciding” match at Bayer Leverkusen, they might just join the club. What’s the situation? Manchester City is already in the terrible situation that they completely depend on help from others. In other words, besides of winning their own game against Bayern Munich, they also need a Villareal win, or at least a tie, against Napoli. Tall order. City looks like they continue in the Europa League for the rest of the season.

Manchester City has an advantage. They can manage moving on on their own. They just need to win in Basel in order to be sure to advance. There is a pretty high chance that United is going to do so. However, there is a real chance that they might continue in the Europa League as well. Basel already snatched 3 points from United, in the “Theater of Dreams”.

Chelsea is a group with Leverkusen, Valencia and Genk. A Valencia win against Genk tomorrow and a Leverkusen win against Chelsea will leave the English 1 point down of Leverkusen and tied with Valencia. The last game in that group is Valencia at Stamford Bridge. And there, “the grapes are not hanging that high anymore”.

There is a lot of theory in this “speculation”. However, in the past years, there weren’t many moments when the English clubs were subject to such discussion. This fact alone leaves a lot of space for discussion.

It is usually agreed on that the Barclay’s English Premier League is the strongest league in the world. It might be wise to start reconsider that and possibly, like in the business world, just downgrade a notch: The top four in England are top European contenders. It is certainly not more at this point, even if they still all advance.

Champions League Live

Mario Goetze is Dortmunds winner against Bayern Munich

Mario Goetze scored the golden goal as Dortmund takes the points from Bayern Munich. Goetze scored in the 65th minutes when the Bayern defense was searching for the ball and Goetze reacted quickly enough to hit Manuel Neuer on the wrong foot.

Dortmunds win is keeping the Bundesliga exciting. With the win today, Dortmund reduced the Bayern advantage to 2 points.

In a fast game the Dortmund talent wasn’t as effective as usual, but his presence at the right time should give the Arsenal spies a good idea what of Goetze is able to do. Both teams let the ball do the work and forced the tempo of the game. With both defenses very well adjusted, the attempts from both sides were stopped on the top of the box. Both goalies only had to step up once and both did their thing in a convincing way.

Dortmund can now meet Arsenal on a high in next weeks Champions League match. For Dortmund this is another must win game in order to advance into the second round.

Champions League Live!

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Champions League today. Watch live on FOX Soccer Channel, 2:30pm.

Players like Tevez are not worth the money – They are of no use on the business side of the game.

After becoming a $Billion organization, Manchester City’s times are not getting easier. Having a roster of 22 so-called superstars has its own dynamics. Roberto  Mancini knows about that, and I am sure in 10 years he has a few stories to tell about the circus he managed at City.

The latest “performance” of Carlos Tevez is just  one of many incredible displays of idiotic behavior by City’s stars. Tevez refused to warm-up Continue reading

Barclay’s English Premier League – Arsenal and the wait for glory

Fergie takes a shot at Arsenal trophy drought – Premier League News | FOX Sports on MSN.

Looking at the situation in the premier league and Europe these days, it doesn’t look like Arsenal can end the drought in winning silverware soon. If there are any, Carling Cup and FA Cup might be the only opportunities to end the drama. In my opinion, however, of all the past years, this year seems to be a rebuild for Arsenal and it would be wise to declare so. This would give Arsenal a chance to build in peace with a little less pressure. Continue reading

How to beat Barca in a one game competition?!

On Saturday, May 28th, the biggest game in European soccer takes place in London. Barca and Manchester United meet at Wembley for the European soccer crown. Barca is considered the best soccer team in the world and the common opinion is that they are the favorite for the final.

Despite this common opinion, Manchester United has decided to show up anyway and see what happens. With good reason. United has a top team and has a winning mentality that is needed for such a game. Following the competition throughout the year, Barca’s opponents so far went into the games with the “pants full” before the game even started. Remembered is the poor performance of Arsenal at Nou Camp where the gunners were seeking their glory in defending and after the game had to blame the referee for their own mess.

Here are some basics for United and anyone else who faces the challenge to play Barca:

  • Imprison and close the British press two weeks before the game(just kidding)
  • Complete focus on the game and what’s to come and understanding you have nothing to lose.
  • No yellow cards for stupid stuff (kicking the ball away, complaining, fouls in their half or at a time when the ball is moving away from goal, taking the shirt off when you score and all the other baloney). You will need a break at one point of the game when it is necessary to commit a professional foul.
  • Cover the important areas of the field, even though nobody is in there. For example, the area 10- 15 yards on top of the box.
  • Be aware of Barca’s way of play and what is going to happen. Don’t get lured out of important positions.
  • Do not care on how long they have the ball or how many passes they complete. Out of the 700 or so they will complete, only 10 will be dangerous and you will have to wait for them and then be on top of it. Patience is key.
  • If you get the ball while defending, get it out of your half with the first contact.

Here is why you need to do all this and more:

  • Imprison the press is not possible, but the reason is obvious. They couldn’t take their own team apart before an important competition. It would be a good idea, though.
  • Complete focus, because you need to follow what happens on the field at any second. Make sure nobody is in your back and stay behind the ball. Barca can get you in a blink.
  • The yellow card thing is explained above.
  • Barca, like no other team, has the ability to move the ball around the field and is waiting for openings to occur. These openings very often come up on top of the box where they stick the ball through for someone coming out of midfield (Messi, Xavi, Busquets). Cover that area, they will come. Villa usually starts his attacks from the outside (mostly the left side, while Dani Alves does the same on the right) and is walking the defending line (the 4 defenders) and at one point they stick the ball through. Be aware and hold that line. Important for the goalie to watch out for these passes behind the defending line.
  • With passing the ball around the field, they want you to lose patience and come out of your covered areas such as above.
  • The entire world and the number crunchers are astonished about the completed passes of Barca. Keep in mind, 690 out of 700 completed passes are just used to lure you out of your position and make the other 10 dangerous. In fact, the more completed passes they need, the better your chances are to get away without a goal against you. So, once they are in position, let them pass in midfield, don’t chase the ball.
  • If you get the ball while defending, and you will at one point, get it out of your half as quick as possible, preferably with the first touch. Barca has the habit, and the ability, when they lose the ball to get it back before the opponent completes 3 or 4 passes. They are masters in putting pressure on teams that way. Other teams turn into defensive mode after losing the ball. Barca’s first move when they lose the ball is forward. The other reason why you need to play in Barca’s half as much as possible is, defense is their weakness. If they are in their own half, they are by far not as strong as they are in your half.
  • Don’t commit everyone into defending. Keep them honest. If you position yourself too deep, they will come at you with everything they have. Play with 2 strikers and put them on the two defenders Puyol and Piquet. That will cause them to take at least one midfielder further back and will cause more oversight in midfield. It will also make the dangerous short passing a little longer and give you opportunity to intercept.
  • When Barca is losing the ball, the two outside defenders, right and left back are usually up in midfield. If you clear with the first touch, clear it into these areas. That will force Puyol and Piquet to get there and get the ball back. That usually works well, because everyone is only playing with one striker and with that the Barca defense is always a man up. If you play with two strikers you can keep the ball more often in their half and you will get opportunities.

These are the basics on how you can get Barca. It requires a lot of work and awareness, but it can be done. I my opinion, it is the way to win. Everything else has been tried out and failed. Good luck, ManU!

Barclay’s English Premier League: Arsenal empty handed again!

On March 2nd, I posted the article “Arsenal, empty handed again?”. Today we all know that Arsenal will end the season definitely with empty hands, again. The chase is now going on for 5 years and looking at the reports from the past weeks regarding Arsene Wenger’s plans for the new season, it will be most likely another season without anything.

One could be mean and say, “well, if the don’t make it into the Champions League and play in the Europa League, there is a good chance for silverware”. Well, indeed, that might be the only real chance to win something, avoiding all the big guns and play a few levels down. However, not even that seems to be a guarantee for a “pot”. Remember, Liverpool, Spurs and a few others looking much better than Arsenal are playing there.

What’s the problem? You look at the current roster and it becomes very clear why Arsenal is not going to win anything. As soon as you take the two major carrier’s off the field, there is not much left. I am talking about van Persie and Ces Fabregas. Both had their breaks this season, and Arsenal didn’t make it above average. And to be honest, some parts of the team are not even that. Average, that is. Look at the goalie situation: Almunia and Szczesny? With all the goodwill in the world, that’s not enough. They might as well give Jens Lehmann a contract for the next season. One game, one win. And there were not many of those, win’s, over the past weeks. At least it would give that position some appearence and voice. The same counts for the 4 in front of the goalie. They are all great players, no doubt, but none of the opponents goes on the field and is afraid to experience some “uncomfortable” afternoon. You look around in Europe, every top class team has someone that can “mix some concrete” when needed, even Barca. Arsenal is fine in midfield, if Fabregas is fit, but upfront there is a problem again. Van Persie is top class and there is Arshavin and Walcott. They cause a lot of trouble, but if it doesn’t result in a goal, Arsenal has to ask a guy like Bendtner for help. Please!

Arsene Wenger was given the chance to spend money for the next season. It is incredible to hear that he doesn’t need to spend the money and get some “crackers” to the Emirates. With the millions offered to shop, he should have walked to Schalke in Germany and get Manuel Neuer. There would be enough money to get a defender and a striker on top of Neuer.

If Wenger doesn’t take any action on the transfer market, Arsenal’s future will not be very rosy. They will keep sitting there with their empty hands and watch others celebrating.

Party in Manchester: United takes Championship, City takes FA-Cup

Today is a day we will probably not see again for a while, if ever. The entire City of Manchester is celebrating, no matter what colors are supported. Both clubs won silverware today. United took the Championship and City won the FA-Cup thanks to a goal from Yaya Toure. Congratulations to the City of Manchester to two outstanding soccer teams.

Sir Alex Ferguson - picture alliance - kicker Sir Alex and his players took the Championship in the Barclay’s English Premier League after fighting off the quite uncomfortable Blackburn Rovers. It took a gift in form of a penalty caused by an over motivated ex-England goalie Robinson to give Rooney the chance to score for the title. Otherwise, United would still be playing tomorrow in order to score. It surely wasn’t United’s best presentation this season. The title, the record number 19, however, is deserved. United was the team that was able to play on a constantly even level, without the least crisis’ and other fallout. They can now prepare for the Champions League final in two weeks against Barca.

Yaya Toure Manchester City won the first silverware since 35 years. In an average final in front of 88,000 in Wembley, City held down Stoke City. Scorer of the “golden goal” was once again Yaya Toure. The Ivory Coast midfielder already scored City’s only goal in the semi final. Wembley turned out to be Yaya Toure’s holy ground. Cup win and qualification for the Champions League in the next season will be reason enough to turn the night into day on the blue side of the city. They can now go and try to even improve their Champions League situation with taking 3rd in the league from Arsenal. Two games to go and silverware in hand should give them wings.

Manuel Neuer transfer circus, presented by Schalke 04

Schalke 04 and Bayern Munich currently negotiate the conditions for Manuel Neuer’s transfer from Schalke to Munich. What comes to the surface is a ridiculous circus created by the “want-to-be-someone” officials from Schalke. The facts are on hand, Neuer has one more year contract with Schalke and with that this year is the last chance to cash in some major money. Bayern Munich offered $25 million and Schalke declined. Bayern Munich, in a second offer, expressed willingness to pay $29 million plus another $5.5 million should they win a title with Neuer. Schalke’s comment: “Now we have a normal conversation”.

Bayern has in the meantime extended the contract of Hans-Joerg Butt, Bayern’s current number one. In other words, while they would like to have Neuer, and Neuer would love to transfer to Munich, Bayern would not really need him. In theory, Bayern and Neuer could wait it out for a year. Neuer stays in Schalke, and they (Schalke) “look into the blue moon” comes next year when the contract is up.

For Schalke to say “now we have a conversation” is quite ridiculous, they can’t afford it, not on the money side and not with other credit, especially not with the escapades to their name. Bayern has already announced that they are not willing to pay a “moon price” and negotiations could end any time. In that case, Schalke would continue with Neuer, try to get a result in the next season, and then wrap Neuer up and send him to Munich as a gift. Almost $35 million would flow down the river. Schalke, while making some good money in the Champions League, is broke and in need of every single penny they can get. Major other income sources are not in sight and some adjustments to the roster are necessary in order to play for a Champions League seat in the 2012/13 season.

Schalke’s attitude might be considered as clever negotiations by some, however, the truth is this is a circus they can’t afford. Besides that, having to sell a player like Manuel Neuer is a homerun that can be accomplished by a first grader. There is no need to display “big gun power” when there is nothing than wet powder. This deal is not to demonstrate negotiation abilities, it is a deal to earn a lot of credit in business and soccer, not necessarily with an immediate dollar sign, but with lots of potential down the road.

Bayern Munich is a club with an outstanding record, not only in soccer and in the business world, but also on the human side, if that is still of any value for the business minded. Bayern wants Neuer and will pay what is necessary, and is somehow justifiable, not because Schalke is saying so, but because they will not leave Neuer hanging. Those that remember the van Bommel deal from last January, will understand what I mean. One of the things they have to learn in Schalke, and in other clubs, sometime you leave a few bucks on the table as an investment in other deals that will come up down the road. It is one of the reasons why Bayern is Bayern, or “Mia san mia” (we are who we are) as they say.

For the last time El Clasico – Barca winning marathon against Real

It is over! The El Clasico Marathon of the past 18 days is over. The winner is, FC Barcelona. While Real was able to snap the Copa del Rey from Barca, the overall winner of the marathon was Pep Guardiola’s team. Championship in the league and semi final win in the Champions League are the positive results from the last almost three weeks.

Barca is a sensational soccer team, there is no question about that. The way they play soccer is remarkable and a player such as Lionel Messi makes every soccer fan smile. The way how they move the ball through their opponents defense is just staggering and is very difficult to defend. It is also a fact that they have an awesome coach in Pep Guardiola. If at all, he is not much less magic than “The Special One” Jose Mourinho. All this is the common opinion about Barca and is available to read and watch in the press and on TV all over the world. It is a correct display of what is going on.

So, with that I hope I made it clear that I agree with the fact that Barca deserved to move on to the final in London. I say this, because I have a few other things to make clear, that are also facts and should be considered while evaluating and judging these four games.

Let’s start with a few things regarding to soccer overall. The word possession was all over the reporting. In the Copa del Rey final, Barca had completed well over 600! passes while Real ended with a number in the 160’s. Real, not Barca, won the game. This should give everyone a clear understanding on how valuable possession really is. It is no secret that you can win soccer games with much less possession than your opponent. Possession was about the same in all games, Barca had the ball, Real was defending, the over all results in game wins is tied. Each won one game and we saw two ties. Forget possession if you don’t have players like Barca has. It is a fact that you can control a game by defending. Does that look good? No, but you can do it.

Soccer, like many other ball sports, is a game of offense AND defense. Both style’s are based on one major characteristic, patience. On both sides, the players are waiting for opportunities to score or win the ball. Barca moves the ball all over the field, sometimes just with 2 or 3 yard passes, and is waiting until somewhere a defender loses patience and an opening occurs. With players like Messi, Xabi, Iniesta and all the other artists, I don’t mean that in a bad way, this is the way to go. Real, and all the other top teams in Europe, cannot keep up with Barca on that level. Therefore, they have to seek their opportunity somewhere else. Real defended well, and, they had their opportunities. To say otherwise is proof for not understanding what happens on the field or wearing a Barca hat.

If you are a coach these days and you are unfortunate and must play Barca, what are you going to do? Play them out? Not much chance. You must defend. And you must do that very well, otherwise they will score a sack full of goals. In order to win, you must wait for your chance to score. As Real clearly demonstrated, and has accomplished, the chance will come. Do you need some luck in order to have a chance? Take a guess! Would you go on the field expecting Barca will have no chance to score?

On the Real side, there is a lot of complaining about the referee’s. While for the most part it is all nonsense, I agree with some of that. For the Champions League games there were two major decisions that clearly were of disadvantage to Real. In the first leg, Pepe saw a red card for a stupid foul. It was dangerous play in an area where it was not necessary, but a red card, please. There was not even much contact. In the second leg Real scored a goal. There was nothing wrong with that goal. Disallowed for a foul by Cristiano Ronaldo who went down during a “high speed” attack and on the way down fell into Mascherano’s legs. None of the Barca players was complaining about that scene, just the referee saw a foul.

Yes, these are just two scenes over two games, but those, not Barca’s ball movement, decided the semifinal. Not sure how that would have ended in the second leg, if Real’s goal would have been allowed. There would have been some excitement, that’s for sure.

Barca is an excellent soccer team, the best in their way of play. However, they are beatable. It will happen again.

The Battle of Spain – Second half. Is Real Madrid ready to change the soccer world?

After Manchester United’s win against Manuel Neuer, the champions league today goes into the second round with the much anticipated clash between Real Madrid and FC Barcelona. The opponents of today’s game, however, are finding themselves in round 3 of “The Battle of Spain”. At halftime, Real Madrid has the lead.

 
Barca, in the next two games, can make up for the losses in the first games. The two coming games will decide who has the say in Spain. The two champions league games are of a different character and require a different approach. Game one was a league game and ended with a tie that left Barca with an 8 point lead for the championship. While the game fueled Real’s confidence bucket, the result was enough for Barca. The second game, the final for the Copa del Rey was a one game competition and in such, everything is possible. Real won, deserved, but the cup final can’t be seen as the biggest game of the year, at least not this year.
Despite all the if’s and when’s around the first two games, Real managed and accomplished a few things that might be of importance of the outcome of the two champions league games. First, after a 5 -0 loss in the league at Barcelona and hopelessly trailing Barca, they have restored their confidence. They have shown the World, we can keep up with them, and, win. Second, while boosting their own confidence, they managed to “let some air out” of the over inflated Barca boat. Unlike two weeks ago, today, not everyone is so sure that Barca is advancing into the final. Third, and that was accomplished by “the special one” Jose Mourinho, Real showed that they have options in their game. Not only with players, but in strategy and game approach. While Barca is a great team, no doubt, it appears there is only one approach the team is world class in: Move the ball around the field with incredible speed and wait for the mistakes of the defenders, to set the deadly pass and score. Real has interrupted that circle and with that, called Barca’s weakness out, there is no other approach or a plan B that can work on a high level. Real has also shown that if you give Barca’s defense something to chew on, they might lose a few teeth during the process. They have taken the game to Barca and in doing so successfully brought in the real gain in the first two games. Respect from Barca, yes, being afraid, no.
Today’s first leg will not be the decider of the two-legged semi final. Well, if one of the two can pull off a win with three goals difference it is probably over, but everything less, doesn’t matter in who’s favor, leaves the second game as the decider. Real has shown they can beat Barca, the challenge is now to do so at Camp Nou next week.

Real Madrid – FC Barcelona, Start of “The Battle of Spain”!!

Over the next 8 weeks the excitement in the European soccer leagues will reach its peak. While in all leagues the fight for championship and relegation is fierce and is promising many exciting soccer games, in Spain, the situation is extremely electric. Game plan, faith and results of the different competitions present a very unique situation: Within barely 3 weeks, the two Spanish giants Real Madrid and FC Barcelona face off 4 times in increasingly critical games.

Tomorrow, Saturday, April 16th, the two face each other for the second league clash this season. A game that is always loaded with emotions to say the least, it is waited for since months. Barca won the first game at Camp Nou 5-0 and crashed Real’s hope for champion honors in Spain. Currently, Barca has an 8 point lead and it is very unlikely that Real can make that lead up, even with a win tomorrow. Does this take anything away from the game? No way! This clash is always loaded, no matter what the standing in the league is and a win is of major importance for both of them.

This year, the game has a much more explosive background compared to other years. It is the beginning of a series of clashes between the two within a short time. On Wednesday, they face each other again, in the Spanish Copa del Rey, the Spanish FA cup. It will be the final and that alone is promising absolute dramatic, excitement, agony and joy. Who gets what, has to be seen.

Not enough with that, a week later, they face off again. This time in the Champions League semi-final. A week later, game number 4 takes place, the second leg of the semi-final, this time in Barcelona.

The Spanish have quite some problems in their Country and working hard in trying to solve their issues. Over the next 4 weeks, however, it can’t be expected that a lot of work will be accomplished. For the time of “The Battle of Spain” work will only run on the side and daily worries over the economy will have an early summer break. You can bet that the main topic in Spain is soccer, by far. The good thing, some industries will experience a rise in business volume. If you have a soccer bar in Madrid or Barcelona, or anywhere else, this is your time.

As far as the teams go, the feelings before the games are different. While Barca and its players are no less excited than the Real players and supporters, following the reporting and commentary in the press, they sit much more confident, for the moment. Listening to the reports coming from Real, one can feel a lot of respect coming out of that corner. Maybe a little too much. Considered the importance of the games and what is at stake, some statements of players sounded almost like “toilette paroles”. The last game, a 5-0 win of Barcelona in last fall, 8 points short of Barca and the common opinion that Barca is the best team in the world, doesn’t leave the “Madridistas” untouched. A statement from Real’s superstar Ronaldo, confirms this:  “We have to believe it is possible for us to beat them. We are having a good run and feel confident”. One can debate the content of this statement, an expression of strong confidence it is not.

To get ahead in these games requires incredible skills, not only of physical nature, but also, and probably more, on the mental side. Both are fit and can run for hours if necessary, but the one that has a mental “blackout”, will lose the game and give away important momentum. Tomorrows game will set the tone for the next 3 weeks. While it is considered the least important of the 4 games, the result will influence the outcome of “the overall war”. Right now, Barca has the momentum. A Real win tomorrow would bring them level. And this will be important for the coming games. A loss would increase pressure on Real and require much more effort to get back. The game tomorrow is therefore probably the most important. Game on!

Fernando Torres – Mystery?

59 million Euro and still no goal for Chelsea. While in Liverpool the supporters can’t hide their smiling faces, Chelsea fans and officials are wondering what is going on with Fernando Torres. Coming from Liverpool in January, he hasn’t scored in 11 games. Roman Abramovich’s face is getting longer and longer as the season goes on. Carlo Ancelotti even “admitted” a mistake in bringing Torres from the beginning in Chelsea’s Champions League game against Manchester United.

So, what is going on? Torres can’t play anymore? He lost his ability to play soccer? As it always is when players, coaches or teams are in crisis, there is quite a number of people who knew that (in this case) Torres is not as good as the press made him. Looking at his game at this time, if you wouldn’t know better, it almost looks like it. However, in my opinion, Torres is still a world class player. Yes, he is completely out of his game, nothing works. There are quite a few reasons for that. Some easy to understand, other’s need a little understanding and experience of the subject.
Let’s go back to the Euro 2008. Torres just made Spain European Champ with his goal against Germany in the final. He came back from the Euro 2008 and had a good season in Liverpool with awesome games, against Manchester United in March of 2009 for example. At one point, he caught an injury and Liverpool, including coach Benitez, a crisis. As it often is the case, Torres is not the first player that faces a problem to find form after injury and other issues, the dynamics take over and the entire “run” comes to a stop and all of the sudden nothing works. The pressure is increasing and one thing comes to the other and the problems mount. In between is the world cup, where Torres got injured again. While, like every other player, he was happy the world cup and the long (unsuccessful) season was over and he could rest, the new injury just put him back again. Injured, only a short break after the world cup, no real good preparation for the new season and a lot of pressure in Liverpool to do better than a year before. It didn’t look promising.

Playing Europa League wasn’t good enough for anyone at Anfield Road. Pressure, injury, only a short break after world cup and a team that is actually not a top class Premier League team is a recipe for disaster in an environment like Liverpool. By the way, Torres is not the only one that is suffering from loss of performance. As the best example you can use Bayern Munich and a few players of that team, including Arjen Robben and Frank Ribery.

To keep your cool in a situation like that is difficult. You want to perform, you can perform, but everything seems to be against the team and the player. Liverpool wasn’t able to stay in touch with the top five in order to play for Champions League glory in the next season. Torres, and a few others became nervous. While “the others” didn’t have offers, Torres had one, Chelsea! Was it the right thing to do? In my eyes not. It wasn’t good for both, club (Chelsea) and player. The only one that made good in that deal was Liverpool. With that, I want to bring your attention to my blog post from early January, “Liverpool and the p…”! In that post I talked about luck in soccer and that sometimes luck comes back for some incredible reason. In this case, Torres leaving the club served as a turning point for Liverpool. Deep inside, this freed the team and club of pressure and somehow things that already started to get better with Kenny Dalglish, turned the curve for good. Personally, I was hoping it would have been something else and it would have turned out good for both, Torres and Liverpool. I think he had a good platform at Anfield Road. All it took was the turn of the tide, somehow.

If you can blame Torres for anything, it is the bad advice he took. If he acted on his own, he made a wrong decision. This, however, can be made up very quick. Soccer is a fast pace business, what happened yesterday is worth nothing tomorrow. Liverpool is already out of the woods, Torres will score goals again, I am sure of that, and Chelsea will play Champions league again next year. If that is enough for the “ownership” of Chelsea, is a different story. There could be the next storm coming up for Fernando Torres. Back in January, I gave Liverpool the advice to stay cool and have a beer, the tide will turn. Now I am giving Torres advice: Forget about yourself for the rest of the season, rest mentally and just support the team. Try to shift your focus on something else. Go to the coach and ask him to only bring you after 60 minutes and start with the others until you get your game back. Your game is scoring goals, and once you hit again, many more will follow. Until then, you need to get out of the firing line. Small example, Wayne Rooney and his crisis after some “private matters” earlier this season.

Bayern Munich and the difference – Or why Louis van Gaal fell over his own feet

The German record champ is one of the first addresses in world soccer. Ranked number 5 in the“world ranking for revenue”, the club is interesting for top players as well as for the top coaches in the world.

Last week, Louis van Gaal, a commonly considered top coach in soccer, lost his job in Munich. The press and soccer experts around the world are wondering about the reasons. Louis van Gaal made many mistakes, not only in managing the team, but also in managing the club and its grown structures. It is all his fault, clearly!

Lets look at a few details. Last year the Bayern made it into Champions League Final and lost against Inter Milan. At that time already clear, they need to shore up the defense. Both central defenders and the left full back position should have been reinforced. Van Gaal let it go, despite the fact that the Bayern were willing to spend money. After the World Cup, the real trouble started: The entire team was at the World Cup, for Germany, France and the Dutch. A real good preparation for the season was not possible. Van Gaal laid that out, and he was right. Until the team was getting back in some kind of normal form, the half of the season was over. Most important for the club, Bayern was not in the top five and had to struggle to keep up and put themselves  into Champions League qualifying position. At that time, while completely underestimating and disregarding competition and valuable resources, van Gaal got the glorious idea to shape the team for the next season. Butt out of goal and Kraft in. Sold Demichelis, the better of the two central defenders, and let van Bommel go to AC Milan. All  these actions, as expected, went straight into the pants, as the Germans say. Butt, who was mandatory for Bayern’s and van Gaal’s strategy, had to watch from the sideline how the young Kraft was overwhelmed with the tasks at hand. Many mistakes in the traditional goalie game, and hopelessly “under equipped” to support the Bayern strategy of keeping the ball and use the goalie to do so. Letting van Bommel go, with his experience and leadership abilities, comes close to a beginner mistake. If one wants to put numbers to just those two mistakes, those cost the Bayern five to six points at least, since the winter break. Add those to the current points, and van Gaal would still be in charge. You can go on and consider the dynamics that are created by such actions, and you have another 3 or 4 points.

Much more ridiculous, van Gaal managed to p… off the entire management “high society” at Bayern. Unlike other top clubs, were management has no clue about the game and just throws money out to buy players, at Bayern, everyone in charge knows everything about the game on the field and off the field. If, as a coach, you don’t take advantage of such resources, you are either stupid or you lost the ground under your feet. Van Gaal is not stupid.

One can charge management for not putting an end to this earlier, but you can also give them credit for letting the coach do his thing. Considering everything on the table, I find this worth to give them credit. As a coach, where do you find that kind of opportunity? A big club, money to buy players and incredible resources in management that help you do the job.  All you need to do is manage a “rose garden”. Van Gaal failed to do so.