Thursday, May 19, 2005

Sporting Lisbon fall apart, manager stinks

Last night, the UEFA Cup was definitely lost by the better team (of players).

But it was also lost by the more arrogant team, and a team who's manager has no feel.

There is a penchant in Portuguese football to “hot-dog” once a lead is achieved. I saw it once with my own eyes at the Olympics when the USA played Portugal. Portugal, then just like last night in the Cup final, started to showboat the ball around the pitch as if it was time to take a break from the game and play pass around. Inevitably, when you ignore your game your focus goes and Portugal, both in 1996 and last night, got one scored back on them. Last night though, they got more than they bargained for and lost in an embarrassing whopper, home stadium and everything.

CSKA Moscow were awful, they were totally outclassed at the foot, and only maintained an advantage in the air because they were taller. For 60 minutes Moscow held the ball for 3 passes maybe 6 times, believe it or not. Think I’m kidding; it was 15-3 in corners, a clear sign of a team that can’t hold the ball.

CSKA looked overwhelmed early; Sporting Lisbon started the game perfectly. Focus, teamwork, intent, it was all there. The reward eventually came with a superb goal by Rogerio. Sporting was 1-0 up and flew into the break.

The second half seemed to start off well also for Lisbon. Then came the rope-a-dope football as Sporting unnecessarily pushed forward (Tellio the worst offender, on numerous occasions abandoning his left back spot altogether, man, once he even ended up in the right strikers spot, no kidding!), all up 1-0 mind you.

The rest is history. CSKA train every day folks, and with the shooting gallery looks they had? Much lesser teams would have converted more. Lisbon bit the hand that fed them: they played Mourinho style football for 60 minutes.

Why do I keep mentioning 60 minutes? That’s when I felt that Sporting needed something new on the pitch to distract Moscow, who had slowly clawed back into the match.

On 66 minutes it was over. The height advantage paid off. Goal from CSKA. Why the manager didn’t change earlier baffles me, and his substitutions were awful. Jose Peseiro’s management of Sporting Lisbon was a travesty. He couldn’t see when his team ran out of ideas and make a move.

A 66th min goal from the head? And at Porto Mourinho used to substitute for height at the end of games.


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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Let me just say I've been a fan of Sporting since I was on holidays with my family in the Azores when I was 8 or 9 and I saw the lisbon derby being played on TV. I remember asking 'why isn't anyone cheering for the green team?' and my mom responded, 'because they stink' and at the time they did. 14 years later I'm still cheering for them and I agree with you whole heartily.

They played exactly like they should have for 60 minutes, and then it all fell apart. As soon as they scored you knew the game was changing, and at that point I would have made one huge change. Take off Barabosa. He had been stinking up the game with play and with a talent like Hugo Viana on the bench bring him on. Barbosa already had a yellow so no harm would have been done on taking off the 33 or 34 year old.

I just can't belive they let it slip away like that. But like all Portuguese teams they never have a person to tell, Hey, it's not over, let's go. And that's what they needed, someone yelling from the bench that they still had work to do.

That's why Benitez and Mourinho are so succesfull. They coach the whole 90, plus extra time.

5/20/2005 6:16 AM  

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