Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Rio-Antonio Mavuba

Rio-Antonio Mavuba from Girondins Bordeaux is a 20-year-old midfield stopper similar to Roy Keane or Patrick Vieira. Mavuba is from Angola and is newly naturalized and has already been capped by the French national squad, albeit because of injury and suspensions, but in any event, its quite an achievement to be named to the senior team so young –and with so little experience.

He is being tracked by Barcelona, Manchester United and I heard a rumor that Chelsea is following him as well. Midfield stoppers are in short supply and Mavuba is very reminiscent of a young Claude Makelele.

Expect this kid to make an impact in a major European league in the coming years. A consistent place in the French squad should soon follow as Vieira and Makelele move toward the tail end of their respective international careers and go the way of Desailly.

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Ivan Klasnic

Werder Bremen won the German league champoinship in 2003/04. Before the season it was a good, yet unheralded team. Ivan Klasnic, from Croatia, is one reason Bremen won and continues to win. But why?

I asked myself why many times. What a strange looking player on the field. He's akward in his movement, rather slow with the first step and has these very long legs which look like they will twist themselves into knots in the box. Regardless of that, he gets results. He's football's equivalent to the NBA's Chris Webber. Both of them seem akward and unathletic, but there secrets are smart play and a great touch with the ball.

While not a very natural athlete Ivan Klasnic makes up for it with his workrate and by playing to his strengths.

Wednesday, December 01, 2004


From what I had seen early on about Adriano I was not enthused. Although the physique was impressive I didn’t sense the player had the right natural gifts or was coached in a strange way early on, or, well something, something didn’t seem right. Inter Milan seem to be a good fit.

This season I have been impressed with Adriano, indeed very impressed. He has flourished, and whatever it was that I didn’t see earlier in his career has emerged. He is a complete striker. Poaching, heading and individual skill: it’s all there. The same phenomenon was true for Terry Henry, although I suspect this was because he was played out of position a lot at Juventus.

I find his play most compelling along side the slight Nigerian Obafemi Martins. If find Martins in his own right a wonderful striker and provides a better balance on the pitch because of his size and quickness. Vieri and Adriano look a bit clumsy together up front and suffer unless there is a lot of crossing.

Adriano will continue to improve, he is now primed for a starting place on the 2006 World Cup squad and is just moving into a strikers most productive years. He’s big, strong, athletic, decisive and can finish. Look out.