BOAKYE FRIMPONG K APPIAH takes us through four things we learnt from last weeks Champions League Semi Final:
HANDS OFF IN THE BOX
I find it difficult to understand the reason why defenders grapple opposing players whilst defending set pieces. With the issue of manhandling players in the box reaching a nadir in Bayern Munich’s clash with Atletico Madrid when Gimenez held Javi Martinez without any reason. Last season Sportsmail launched a campaign to stop exponents of the penalty box dark arts getting with a blatant cheating. They aimed to put an end to the increasing amount of wrestling, grappling, and shirt pulling that goes on in the penalty box. Those who commit these offence are quite simply denying the football-watching public more goals. Stern punishments must be given to players who grapple opposing players’ shirt in the box.
TIME TO LET YAYA TOURE GO
Modern footballers are overrated and overpaid. They are also arrogant and uncaring. If you were searching for an encapsulating phrase then ‘pampered prima donnas’ might be appropriate. Yaya Toure played like a parody of a gifted footballer in search for a move. And it was disgraceful. Yaya’s performance against Real Madrid on Wednesday was one of his worst in as many games. He was slow, unglamorous, and indecisive on the ball.
Yaya and his agent Dimitri Seluk have been a torn in the flesh for Manchester City. Dimitri you may recall was the star of last two summer’s cake-gate when he protested at the City owners’ luke-warm celebration of Yaya’s birthday. He got a cake, conceded Seluk but when it was Roberto Carlos’ birthday, the president of Anzhi gave him a Bugatti.
Yet daft Dimitri sees scope for improvement. Last two seasons for instance Toure finished third in the Professional Footballers Association and Football Writers Association Player of the Year, both of which were deservedly won by Luis Suarez. Said Seluk; ‘If he was white, 100% he would have won any of the top awards. I don’t want to talk too much about racism or the politics of football, but he does not the praise he should get.’ It was an insulting tosh, of course but his client never disowned the poisonous nonsense.
Seluk who warned City to be careful what they wish for with Guardiola because he believed his own granddad could win the title with Bayern Munich and Barcelona. He reckons that Guardiola’s reputation as the world’s most-wanted coach is a fallacy. Seluk made these comments because he fears the worst for Toure. The Spaniard sold the midfielder to City for £24million in 2010 when he was Barcelona boss.
Yaya’s decline in form recently and the issues between his agent and incoming City manager clearly shows his days are numbered at the Etihad Stadium.
PEP GUARDIOLA HAS NOT FAILED AT BAYERN MUNICH
It was a hat-trick semifinal defeat for Guardiola against Diego Simeone’s phenomenon Atletico side. He was humbled by Barcelona last season, and lost to Ancelotti’s la decima side a season before. When the Catalan took over from Hynckes, his main task was to maintain perfection which was definitely going to be difficult for every manager. The expectations were too high at the Allianz arena. Pep is a preacher of the possession game and the fans were not needed to be told that Guardiola was definitely going to change the team’s style of play and make experiment as well. He made an experiment by moving Philip Lahm, the veteran German and Munich captain who had spent most of his career as a full back. He managed to do the double in his first season and a semifinal knockout in the champions league. Pep has transformed Jerome Boateng into one of the best centre back in the world. He is going to face the same problem at City in his first season. Outgoing Manchester City manager has set the standard for city by leading them to the semifinal of the competition for the first time in their history. Pep’s main objective is to reach the same stage or do better. Anything lesser than that will be recognized as a failure by the fans.
He made some strange tactical choices against Atletico, particularly by not starting Thomas Muller in the first league. That surprised me. But there’s no guarantee in football and even though Bayern are a powerhouse in Germany, European success was not a given.
Poor Finishing From Lewandowski When Bayern Needed Him Most
The statistics for this bizarre contest between diametrically opposite teams tell a story all their own. The one that stands out most to me is the total shots: Bayern launched the ball 33 times at Atletico’s goal, while Atletico managed a mere seven shots in return. Atletico’s defense is designed to withstand a high volume of shots: they force players into making shots from distance or at extreme angles that have a little chance of getting past the keeper- and Jan Oblak is moreover an excellent keeper.
Atletico benefited, however, from one of the weakest performances we have seen a year by Robert Lewandowski who led Bayern’s offence with 8 shots – one more than Atletico collectively. Yet he scored an important goal, but little else went right for him on the day. Lewy’s first touch was appalling, and it hurt most in the fiery first half, when Bayern utterly dominated the game. Just before Atletico scored its fateful goal, Lewandowski erased one of Bayern’s best opportunity by simply missing a beautiful breakaway pass for Lahm. He tried to collect a good pass and just missed. Lewy was frustrated and sloppy, and failed to put away the many chances sent his way by Lahm, Costa, and especially Ribery. Costa and late substitute Coman likewise failed away in vain at Atletico’s defense, but the offence was counting on Lewandowski, and he failed to deliver.
AUTHOR: BOAKYE FRIMPONG K APPIAH
Facebook: K APPIAH BOAKYE FRIMPONG