After viewing the highlights of the first of October’s World Cup Qualifiers, Germany, Argentina, Colombia, Russia and Canada all deserve to be mentioned in this edition. Furthermore and more specifically, I would love to read your opinions on highlight numbers three and two as Lionel Messi continues to steal the spotlight, but will more than likely being to share it with Colombian hero Radamel Falcao. Enjoy, and don’t forget to leave a comment!
5) German tank is solid
Here come the Germans! Actually, they have been bulldozing their opponents in the qualification rounds for quite some time as well as in major tournaments (until they are paired up against the Azzurri who have always taught the Germans a lesson in football). Germany leads the way in group three with three straight wins, 11 goals for and only two conceded.
Friday, the German tank blasted six past Giovanni Trapattoni’s Ireland in Dublin with Marco Reus and Toni Kroos scoring two a piece, Miroslav Klose and Mesut Ozil rounded the tally up. It was a terrible loss for the Irish that now leaves the Italian tactician on the chopping block after a poor showing at the EURO. Tuesday’s match against Faroe Island might be the decider.
Germany will take on Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s second-place Sweden at the Olympiastadion in Berlin. No fear though because Joachim Loew’s roster is powerful all over the park. This is a complete squad with one of the world’s best goal-keepers in Manuel Neuer; a solid defence with Jerome Boateng, Philip Lahm, Per Mertesacker; a dominant midfield with Samir Khedira, Toni Kroos, Mesut Ozil, Marco Reus and of course Bastian Schweinsteiger; and an efficient attack with Miroslav Klose, Mario Gotze, Thomas Muller, and Lukas Podolski (Mario Gomez as he is not included in this round). This is a very strong German side whose strength lies in discipline and team unity as the team defend and attack as one. If Germany fails to win Tuesday’s match and finish atop of group three in the end, it would be such an extreme disappointment that these players should consider playing another sport or change in career.
4) Capello’s Russia debut success
If you want to win a championship, you need a champion coach and Fabio Capello is exactly that. He has won everything in his career to domestic league titles with AC Milan, AS Roma, and Juventus (revoked in 2006) in the Serie A and in Spain with Real Madrid as well as Champions League titles, the most famous of which occurred with the Rossoneri who demolished the heavily favoured Barcelona, 4-0. He is looking to leave his mark on the international level. He began with England and redirected the team after they failed to qualify for EURO 2008. Now, he is in the process of designing a battling Russia side.
Russia is currently undefeated in Group Six and has collected a maximum nine points so far. Friday, Portugal traveled to Moscow where the Russians masterminded a sound 1-0 victory over their counterparts taking the lead early on in the counter and keeping the Portuguese at bay for the rest of the match. CR7 and Co. attacked and attacked but could not get by a resilient Russian side all thanks to Capello’s tactics. If Russia can follow the Italian’s methods, they will dominate this group and finish first.
3) Messi Argentina vs Messi Barcelona
On Friday, Lionel Messi’s Argentina absolutely annihilated Edinson Cavani and his Uruguayan compatriots, 3-0. With this victory, Argentina continues to stay atop of the CONMEBOL World Cup qualifying standings with 17 points, while Uruguay trails behind in fourth with 12 points. Lionel Messi bagged a brace and assisted the second goal by Sergio Aguero. One of Messi’s goals was a free-kick inspired by Andrea Pirlo as the Argentine youngster shot the ball hard and low under the wall of players as they jumped. I urge you to YouTube the video to see just how magnificent it was.
There is no doubt that Messi is a god where ever he plays as was his predecessor Diego Maradona who took Napoli single-handedly to the champions spotlight winning two consecutive Italian League titles. Just like Maradona, Messi is capable of bringing the best out of any side that employs him.
But, is there a difference between the Argentina Messi and the Barcelona Messi? Let’s take a look…
In order for Messi to be successful for Argentina, he really needs to be more efficient as his national side really depends on him to score and create. It must be noted though that it is not of the same quality in midfield that Barcelona possesses. Now don’t get me wrong, Argentina is a powerful side with some star players like Angel Di Maria, Gonzalo Higuain and Sergio Aguero just to name a few. But the two latter individuals are mainly attackers who need support whereas the former is more of an attack-minded winger and often times drifts towards the centre as well. Certainly, Messi is the lynch-pin of this side and taking him out would have catastrophic consequences.
The one major difference between the Albicelestes and the Blaugrana is that the Spaniards boast a stacked side with the world’s best players supporting its defence and offence with superstar calibre footballers such as Iniesta, Xavi, Pedro, Fabregas and David Villa just to name a few. Life here is a lot easier for Messi as he is not the only magician on the field capable of causing opponents havoc whenever in possession of the ball. Here, he has all the support in the world and can shine without putting forward much effort. Now observing Messi as a player and as a man, he certainly puts in his best at all times no doubt about it and if he were to be removed, there would certainly be a negative difference as he provides brilliance at any point in the game. However, I firmly believe that with the star-studded roster in Barcelona, they can surely manage without the MESSIah.
My final thought on this topic is that I really do not see a difference between Messi Argentina and Messi Barcelona. Messi is Messi and he will shine no matter where he plays and if he shines, then the rest of the team will soar with him. Without him, whether you have the best players on the planet or not, it is always great to field such an influential player.
2) Colombian attacker Falcao continues to impress. Will he one day challenge Messi as one of the best footballers in the world?
For those of you who have not heard much of this growing star, Radamel Falcao is a Colombian goal-scoring machine currently plying his trade for Atletico Madrid. Nicknamed ‘El Tigre,’ he is considered to be one of the best strikers in the world setting the record for having scored 17 goals in one edition of the Europa League. He started his European career with FC Porto and was quickly influential guiding the Portuguese champions to their second Europa League triumph in 2010-2011. In the same year, he was awarded the Portuguese Golden Ball becoming the first Colombian to win it.
His adventure in Portugal ended in 2011 when Atletico Madrid bought out his contract. In the last three seasons between both sides, El Tigre has scored over a whopping 100 goals, a feat that will be incredible to repeat. With Falcao’s help, Atletico Madrid went on to lift the Europa League this year allowing him to become the first player in history to win two consecutive Europa League titles with two different teams while at the same time ending the season as the side’s top goal-scorer. In 2012, the Rojoblancos absolutely creamed the UEFA Champions League winners Chelsea in the UEFA Super Cup, 4-1, with Falcao becoming the first player to bag a hat-trick in this encounter. After this match-up, it was said that Chelsea is preparing a €60 million offer in January for the Colombian’s services.
Overall, here are Falcao’s career numbers:
River Plate – 110 appearances, 49 goals
FC Porto – 87 appearances, 71 goals
Atletico Madrid – 57 appearances, 57 goals
Colombia – 40 appearances, 15 goals
Recently, Colombia defeated Paraguay 2-0. Both goals were netted in spectacular fashion by Falcao. With the victory, the Colombians are currently tied for second with 16 points.
Today, Italian media is suggesting that Chelsea and Manchester City are tracking the talented striker. El Tigre is also on Real Madrid’s radar but Jose Mourinho is quoted in Portuguese daily “A Bola” as saying that there is an agreement between both Madrid clubs that they cannot sign each others’ players. Atletico Madrid has the Colombian quoted at €72 million.
Interviewed by an Argentine newspaper, Falcao was asked about his comparison to Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo and replied that these two individuals are from another galaxy. He is inspired by players such as Diego Maradona, Brazilian Ronaldo, Gabriel Batistuta, and Hernan Crespo.
Falcao is quickly soaring to stardom in Europe and, no doubt, absolutely deserves all the praise and comparisons to Messi and Ronaldo although he is a different player. El Tigre’s performances and numbers suggest that he will certainly be challenging Messi and Ronaldo soon for the “World’s Best Footballer” title.
1) Canada on their way to Round Four in CONCACAF Qualifying?
Can you imagine Canada at the World Cup? I can’t, only because I have never witnessed it in my lifetime and thought it would never happen. It would be a fantastic accomplishment for Canada soccer if the Canadians can qualify for the finals in Brazil in two years time. The only time Canada appeared in an official World Cup match was in Argentina 1986 where the boys in red lost all three of the first round matches, conceding five goals and scoring none – better than not qualifying at all I guess.
Canada is still in the running after crushing Cuba 3-0 at BMO Field in Toronto on Friday. So far in 2014 World Cup Qualifying, Team Canada is sitting comfortably tied for first with Panama on ten points, two points ahead of Honduras who the Canadians will play in the crucial last game of the round on Tuesday. All the Canadians need is one point to advance to round four as only the two top nations will move on from each group.
In five games this round, Canada has won three, drew one, and loss one scoring five goals and conceding only two against the joint group leader.
It would be incredible to see Canada in Brazil competing for the World Cup. Go Canada!