Sunday, 29 May 2011

Football...The Best?

Watching the most one sided European Cup Final ever last night got me thinking (dangerous I know!). I've been hearing for weeks that Barcelona are the best team ever, and last night did nothing to harm that claim! Technically brilliant but as an entertainment, I'm not so sure...excitement sadly lacking. However a lot of "experts" I've heard are under 40? So there has to be a leaning towards the more recent players/teams. In this internet age it seems everything has happened in the last 15 years!

I must balance this by stating footy fans of more advanced years than I are better qualified to comment than yours truly...

Anyway, here's my tuppence worth...feel free to move on!

For me the key word is team and there is no doubt Barca have a tremendous team spirit. The manager must take a lot of credit for this. Bob Paisley won 3 with Liverpool!
Team understanding is everything...ask Brian Clough's bunch of mainly misfits who won it twice!!!

He never bothered about the opposition because he knew his players would cause problems with their style of play. Not sure what Utd's style was last night?

They also have fantastic individual players especially in the midfield "engine room" where the game is won and lost...Xavi and Iniesta against Giggs and contest!
Scholes and Keane might/would have sorted it in their pomp? I'm a Scholes fan in case you hadn't noticed and he could (still) have definitely made a difference last night. A Keane type would have stamped their authority on the midfield and unsettled was far to easy for them to pass around Giggs (a legend but not the player for that role last night, I'm afraid) and Carrick (too slow and lacks presence).
Oh...nearly forgot...and they also have a world great in Messi...23 by the way!

What about tactics though? Both Barcelona's and the opposition...

Barca's pass and move style tires the opposition out mentally and physically. Seven players have come through their academy bringing with it an almost telepathic understanding.
Therefore, to counter this the opposition have to keep the ball under pressure, ...Utd didn't/couldn't!

To their credit Utd tried initially to attack and ruffled their feathers for a short while but it soon became apparent that Barca's far superior ball retention would wear Utd down...and crucially destroy their confidence and demoralize them!!!

Like so many English club (and national) sides they gave the ball away to cheaply.

In a nutshell...the opposition always seem to have so much time, and our teams always seem so rushed? It beats me why our teams are so jumpy on the ball as the days of the crunching tackle are long gone? I wouldn't say the Spanish lads were that intimidating...physically!

The 70's Liverpool side was the only English team I've seen who could dominate the best with their pass and move "high energy" style.

Until our teams find a way to relax on the ball and have a clear way of playing which they stick too we'll always struggle against the very best.
Let's face it, Utd stole the '99 final simply with a desperate last gasp effort after being totally outplayed by the Germans.

The Best?

Di Stefano

Just one point about Messi. Fantastic player BUT he doesn't have to worry about being kicked up in the air which has to make a difference. Dare I suggest that should make you more relaxed on the ball!
Pele was kicked out of the '66 World Cup and he was a strong as an ox!
Best had to hurdle Chopper Harris's tackles amongst others!
etc etc...

I'm not saying that was right but that's how it was...and it would make a difference in comparing today's players.

Real Madrid
Bayern Munich
Nottingham Forest - simply because of where they came from...and where they've returned too!


Personally, I don't think you can compare players/teams directly from different eras. However most countries seem to have had a golden period either at club or country level...our country must be due!!!

So, that's it...but what do I know, maybe nowt.

But that's what I believe...

My personal favourites

Player - Pele 643 goals in 656 official appearances! 1087 goals 1120 total appearances!! Magic!

Club - Liverpool 77 - 84. Superb dominating and tough unit.

International Team - Brazil 70. Check out the Pele header and the 4th goal in the final!
Although the 70's German team was pretty special led by the Kaiser...I had a grudging admiration as a lad!


Tim Allwood said...


great post but you've overlooked one of the greatest, and my all time favourite Franco Baresi.

Not just the most intelligent defender, but a player who could get in front of the strikers, nick it, cover ground amazingly quickly and go box to box, scoring many quality goals. His reading of the game is without a doubt the best I've ever seen and the blocks and stretches to get a toe on the ball were unbelievable. His AC Milan side were out of this world.

Holland 74 were fine too, Brazil 70, Liverpool 77-80, and I have a soft spot for Clough's teams, especially John McGovern, perhaps the most under-rated footballer ever despite lifting the Euro Cup two years in a row.

Coincidentally, I was watching this earlier today:

And also Cruyff, who seems to get better as I get older... his speed off the mark, athleticism, control at pace etc beat Messi and any of the current players hands down:

Football! Even better than birding

Alan Whitehead said...

Baresi was Brilliant Tim. I've added him to the list!