Tag Archives: Cristiano Ronaldo

Soccer Roundup (9/9/2012): The Weekly Boot

Photo courtesy of goal.blogs.nytimes.com. Dempsey (left) and Messi (right). Two greats, together in pursuit.

By Ben Liebing

Let’s start with the little man, Lionel Messi:

It’s only fair that we start with the best, and end with the rest. Having been the butt of criticism over the past several years that he performs miraculously with his club team, but bombs while playing for his own country, Lionel Messi did just a bit to quiet the naysayers down.

This weekend, while playing a World Cup qualifier against rival South American country Paraguay, the “little man” from Argentina netted yet another feat of footballing genius. By now commonly regarded as the best player in the world, and by some (Argentinians, and myself) regarded as the best player of all time, Messi this weekend showed the international community once again what all the hype is about. Continue reading

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Soccer Roundup (9/2/2012): The Weekly Boot

Photo courtesy of zimbio.com. Cristiano Ronaldo (pictured above) as usual played an instrumental role in leading Real Madrid to victory at the Supercopa.

By Ben Liebing

Ben Liebing is a Cincinnati native with a passion for the world, and the world’s sport. While living overseas, the infectious soccer culture that infects the planet outside of America got a hold of his fanhood. He was exposed to the “beautiful game” and hasn’t looked back. When Ben says “football,” he means soccer…by which he means football. But you get it.

This week in the world of the sport that most of the world refers to as football (a ballgame actually played with feet, not hands and conical pigskins), but which Americans term SOCCER…

THE SPANISH SUPERCUP:

Much to my dismay, Real Madrid walked away with the cup after getting the better of  FC Barcelona in the 2nd leg of the aggregate match, which was at the Bernebau in Madrid. Cristiano Ronaldo was in fine form – especially as he scored early by taking a long ball at midfield, flicking it forward over his head with his heel, and grounding one past Victor Valdez, the keeper for Barça. It was one of those plays you see only from the very best in the world; and from them, maybe only a handful of times per season. Well done CR7. Continue reading

Euro 2012 Semifinal Previews: Spain, Portugal, Germany and Italy, oh my!

Photo courtesy of zimbio.com. Will Fernando Torres (pictured above) lead Spain to huge victory over a Portugal team led by the great Cristiano Ronaldo?

By Nick Craddock

Andrea Pirlo and company ripped the collective heart out of the English people on Sunday in the most dramatic of the quarterfinal wins, advancing via penalty kicks. As such, the Euro 2012 semifinals, slated for today and tomorrow, are now set and continental Europe’s collective fervor and excitement will surely drown the sound of the few remaining whimpers from English fans.

The semifinalists are four nations with strong football pedigrees, which should not only result in more evenly contested matchups, but also a higher quality of play thought to be absent at times in this tournament from teams more than capable of performing at higher levels. (*cough* England *cough* France *cough* Netherlands *cough*).

Here is what you should look for going ahead:

Spain v. Portugal

The first semifinal is the battle of the Iberian Peninsula and these two teams showcase a bevy of highly technical and gifted players.

Cristiano Ronaldo, usually a player who has drifted in and out of form for the national side has been dynamite for Portugal at this tournament, particularly in the last two games, where he alone outshot the Czech Republic in the quarterfinals, netting himself the winning goal in the process, after bagging a brace against the Dutch in the final group game prior to that. In contrast, Spain has relied on offense by committee at this tournament with five different players hitting the back of the net. More impressive is that Spain’s offense didn’t slow down after opting for the atypical 4-6-0 formation in its 2-0 quarterfinal win over France.

Whether Spain will again field a starting XI without a listed striker will likely not be revealed until game time, but Spain’s most gifted natural scorer, Fernando Torres, is one of the few players on the planet, if playing at the level he was accustomed to during his prime (which was not so long ago), capable of matching, or at a minimum, challenging the brilliance Ronaldo could provide for his team.

That being said, Ronaldo might be the best individual talent on the field, but Spain has proven time and time again over the last four years that it is the most talented team.

Players to Watch: As noted above, Ronaldo controls the fate of Portugal more than any other player on his team. As he goes, so do the Portuguese. Czech goalkeeper Petr Cech was able to weather the flurry of Ronaldo’s attacks for a little more than an hour to keep the Czech Republic alive against Portugal in the quarterfinals, so it will be incumbent upon Iker Casillas, the Spanish captain and goalkeeper, to prove his worth when actually facing more than two shots, like in Spain’s last game, and to allow his team to work its magic in front of him.

Prediction: Spain wins 2-1 (ET). Expect the team to trump the individual yet again, as Spain should move on for a chance at an unprecedented third consecutive major championship. Continue reading

Weekly Nickel 6-25-2012

Photo courtesy of zimbio.com. It is safe to say that pitching has dominated the first half of the 2012 season. Ironically, two-time Cy Young Award winner Tim Lincecum (pictured above) has struggled. Will he regain his old form Wednesday afternoon against the first place Dodgers?

By Josh Kramer

What a week it was in sports. The King finally won his ring.  England’s hearts were ripped out once again in the form of penalty kicks.  Plus, the combination of the CWS and Interleague Play gave us all the privilege of watching some outstanding baseball.  Last week was great, but this week will be fun it its own right.  Here are the events to keep an eye on.

5.  See you later Sonoma.  Now it is time to visit the Kentucky Speedway in Sparta, Kentucky.  This event could not even dream of being more poorly planned than it was last year.  I guess that isn’t saying much after the debacle that occurred last July.  Tune in to TNT at 7:30PM on Saturday or make your way on down to the track.

4.  The All-Star Game is just 15 days away.  Is it me, or has this season been moving at warp speed?  It feels like just yesterday that the season got underway with the ridiculous opening two game in Japan between the Mariners and Athletics.  We are already near the halfway point of 2012.  It is safe to say that pitchers have dominated.  19.6% of plate appearances have resulted in strikeouts this season, which is a record pace.  Plus, there has been an average of 14.9 strikeouts per game.  And we are all already aware of the two perfect games.  Pitching is the name of the game.  Just ask teams like Philadelphia and Boston that were supposed to be prime contenders.  My matchup of the week occurs on the west coast.

Los Angeles Dodgers at San Francisco Giants:  It is no secret who the top two teams in the NL West are these days.  They also happen to possess two of the elite pitching staffs in the National League.  Coincidence?  I think not.  The Dodgers got off to a red-hot start and have never really slowed up despite many doubters.  After a slow start, the Giants really got it going towards the end of May and are now right in the thick of things.

The key to this series is where it is being played.  Both of these teams have been two of the best in baseball at protecting their home turf.  AT&T Park will surely be rocking as the Giants look to gain a little ground on the team that they are chasing.  Also, do not be surprised to see Tim Lincecum put together a big time performance in the series finale, as the Giants take two of three and gain a game on the Dodgers. Continue reading

Euro 2012: Knockout Stage Primer

Photo courtesy of zimbio.com. Will Cristiano Ronaldo (pictured above) lead Portugal to a quarterfinal victory over the Czech Republic?

By Nick Craddock

The Euro 2012 group stage concluded on Tuesday with England ruining any chance of co-host Ukraine advancing further in the competition by virtue of its 1-0 win, and France stumbling into the knockout stage after a 2-0 loss to the previously winless Swedes.

France and England will be joined by the Czech Republic, Greece, Germany, Portugal, Spain, and Italy in the quarterfinals, which begin this afternoon.

Although Euro 2012 has served as a flash point for some of soccer’s most contentious issues on and off the field, such as the constant call for goal line replay technology and racist displays by groups of fans, the group stage offered a largely wide-open style of play with at least one goal scored per game, the first time such an event occurred in European Championship history.

And after three games of ironing out the kinks, tweaking lineups and getting settled in Eastern Europe, the eight remaining teams have simply three more games to win to become champs.

Here’s what to expect from the quarterfinals:

Czech Republic v. Portugal

The Czechs are deserving recipients of the “Most Resilient Team” award through this tournament thus far. Following a 4-1 shellacking at the hands of Russia in their opening game, the Czechs rattled off two straight victories to secure top place in a wide open Group A. However, testing their mettle against a Portuguese team, which navigated its way out of the Group of Death in second place, will pose the biggest challenge to date.

When compared to Portugal and the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, who managed a brace and 10 shots last time out, the Czechs are severely lacking in offensive firepower. Their best hope will likely be playing in a defensive formation, perhaps a 4-5-1, and hoping their lone striker can capitalize on a Portugal miscue. If any player is capable of battering down the defensive hatches, it’s world class Czech goalkeeper Petr Cech and his protective skull-cap.

Players to watch: Milan Baros, once a top scorer at the European Championships, has lost a step or two in the twilight of his career, but maybe the Czech veteran’s savvy will be enough to deliver a winning goal. For Portugal, Ronaldo grabs the headlines, but the continued excellent play of Nani, particularly in delivering quality crosses and through balls to Ronaldo, will make this game much easier for Portugal.

Prediction: Portugal wins 2-1. Continue reading