Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Spanish Delight

Spain, they is a very beautiful country. I have read descriptions of the country side in multiple novels. One of those, that comes from the memory is Paulo Coelho's The Alchemist.

I was not aware that the football Spaniards play is even more beautiful; until I watched the much awaited FC Barcelona v/s Chelsea FC match last night. The game ended in a 2-2 draw, which I must say, the Spanish club should be very upset about. Barcelona held 2-1 advantage till the stipulated 90 minutes. But thanks to Didier Drogba's extra time heroic, Chelsea managed to split points with Barça. Barcelona took early lead via Deco's wonderful strike within three minutes from the kick off. Chelsea seemed all at sea and did not seem to have answer to continued attacks through Messi and Ronaldinho. This lead to much frustration and resulted into rough play. Before the half time whistle, as many as six yellow cards were out. And the referee was not to blame really as players from both the teams indulged in deliberate pushing (and pulling each other's leg!).

During the half time break; as the viewers were treated to some intelligent analysis of the game so far, coach José Mourinho must have been busy giving some hard yet inspiring talk in his characteristic English. This was confirmed by the spirited display by the Chelsea players. Robben missed a very important chance within five minutes after the break; yet Chelsea's efforts earned a very well deserved equalizer through Frank Lampard's unbelievable strike. The curved ball finally found its target in right top corner of the net as the goal keeper was stranded at the left corner. It was a goal to be watched multiple times from all the available angles.

A team's character is built by the manner with which it plays when challenged, when under pressure. With Chelsea's equalizer Barcelona were challenged. They needed to regroup and play its own game rather than to play to Chelsea's plans. Ronaldinho's magic touch was at it again. One touch on right, one to the left to dodge the defender; one accurate cross to his right, in front of the goal feeding Gudjohnsen; made up for Barça's second goal of the match. The whole stadium cheered the home side as they looked to get the full points from the encounter.

Barça seemed to hold to its 2-1 advantage to full time. The game slowed down a bit towards the end of the 90 minutes. A couple of injuries, controversial decisions, Terry's deliberate kicking the football on a Barcelona players who was already down, more injuries meant there was a rather long time to be added as injury time. The added six minutes frustrated the home side and opened up opportunities for the visitors to score a second equaliser. And that's precisely what they did. Essien's pass was cleverly headed by Terry towards Drogba. Drogba with his immaculate first touch, kicked the ball past the falling goal keeper and continued his wonderful form at the Champion's league. With the injury time equaliser the Ivory Coast player increased his goal tally to five; with Morientes for Valencia at four goals close behind.

It was a very balanced contest. Even more remarkable as the full time scoreline also says the same. Except for one or two ugly incidents; and simply a very high number of bookings, it was a very enjoyable affair. As the match progressed, so did the quality of play, complexity of moves and of course, the excitement. The excitement was flooding; it was evident in the way the commentator was commentating!

Although I have been following the English Premier League; I haven't followed Spanish or Italian football very much. Primarily because the kick-offs are very late in the night. Good that I made a perfect exception, stayed up till late for this dual. From now on, surely, I am looking forward to more Spanish football.

It's such a beautiful game!

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