Barnsley 3 Ipswich Town 5
Mind you, as a Norwich City fan, there is most likely NO FACKIN’ CHANCE IN HELL that I would root for the Tractor Boys in a match, unless they were playing Manchester United, of course. Also, there is no one, in their right mind, in Blanchardville, Wisconsin ((although, not many in Blanchardville are in their right mind)); Barcelona, Catalan; Madrid, Spain; or anywhere in Suffolk. Norfolk or South Yorkshire who would call any match pitting Barnsley against Ipwich Town, El Clásico.
To be honest, I originally turned this match on for something to watch while waiting on the Hannover 96/Bayer Leverkusen tilt. I’d finished watching my Canaries pound the hell out of Newcastle 4-2 ((wait for it….wait for it…..Game not as close as scoreboard would indicate)). I had some chores to do in my office, so a little soccer in the background would be perfect. I figured on watching the Bundesliga match, but, as this tilt got underway, it looked like Barnsley was going to clobber the Tractor Boys big time, so I kept watching for the comedic value to of that. Also, upon thinking on it, I felt that The Other 72 deserved my attention a bit more than the Bundesliga.
On the 14th minute, Barnsley took the lead on Craig Davies penalty kick off a David Stockdale yellow card. At the 39 minute Ricardo Vaz Te headed home a Jacob Butterfield corner, for a 2-0 lead. The Tractor Boys had nothing in the way of attack, and it seemed like Barnsley, who looked to have more goals in them, would cruise to a laughably easy victory. There was no noise from the Tractor Boys. The Barnsley lads all went in to halftime with an easy 2-0 lead. The Tractor Boys slunk off to the locker room to face the wrath of gaffer Paul Jewell.
Paul Jewell was brought on January of last season with Ipswich Town in free-fall after the resignation of Roy Keane. Keane had brought some measure of stability to the club, but despite his efforts, the club never seemed to rise above a dull mediocrity. Mired in 21st, just above the relegation zone, Roy Keane was sacked on Jan 7th 2011 following a 0-1 defeat to Nottingham Forest at Portman Road. Paul Jewell was able to rally the boys and finish the season comfortably mid-table in 13th. This season, however, is another matter. Entering yesterday’s tilt with Barnsley, Ipswich Town was mired in 21st place once again. The were in 6th place earlier in the season and were toodling up to Barnsley dragging 7 losses in a row in their wake. Squeaky bum time for Paul Jewell and his job.
I don’t know what Paul Jewell said to The Tractor Boys at halftime, but I’m sure as fock thankful that I wasn’t there to hear it. I’m fairly certain that if the win had been blowing in the right direction, I would have heard every single searing word right hear in Mt. Horeb, Wisconsin. Whatever was said, the team that marched down the tunnel to face the half was an entirely different team. Same lads, mind you. But all of a sudden it was very clear that things had changed.
Hardly a minute had passed before skipper Keith Andrews has netted a goal from 20 yards out….it was a thing of beauty. Barely 3 minutes later, Andrews completed his brace on a header off a cross from Aaron Cresswell. And I went DAMN, I just might have to root for the Tractor Boys today. With game level, Ipswich went on to level Barnsley with attack after attack. Danny Collins notched on at the 66 minute mark. 3-2. Danny Chopra hit the net at the 69th. 4-2. Jason Scotland put the nail in the coffin at the 83rd minute. 5-2. And I’m quite sure that the Ipswich fans who made the trek up north, and had toddled off to the boozer at halftime to drown their sorrows, were going, “Bloody Hell…what did we miss??” That is, if they could speak it all. The match was truly an El Clásico of sorts. At least from the standpoint of Ipswich, Suffolk UK and environs. I mean, it’s not as if FC Barcelona beat Real Madrid at home, or anything.
Speaking of which….
Real Madrid 1 FC Barcelona 3
After the chores were completed and after watching both my Canaries and The Tractor Boys stomp hell out of their opponents, I needed to get out of the house. So I toddled on down to my pub for some LAKEFRONT Bridge Burner to watch Wisconsin take UNLV out behind the woodshed and thrash them 62-51. I know that doesn;t sound like much of a thrashing, but….what’s few points in garbage time. The Badgers had a 19 point lead at one point, and sophomore Ben Brust was lights out from 3 point land. A solid win against the team that beat the Tarheels in the aftermath of the Badgers/Tarheels tilt. ((Just as Marquette beat us in the same aftermath….but let’s just forget that ever happened)). So, instead of watching the El Clásico, it was NCAA College basketball.
But I did follow the game on my smart phone. Someone here has to be smart, and it might as well be my phone. Karim Benzema got the game rolling with a goal before even a minute has elapsed thanks to a gaffe by Barca goalie Victor Valdes. Real Madrid started brightly you might say, if you were a sportswriter from Creeting St. Peter, Suffolk, UK, that is. But bit by bit, the bright light grew dim. And in the 30th minute, Alexis Sanchez reeled in an equalizer off a Lionel Messi assist….a goal that sealed Real’s fate, and ultimate doom. Marcelo’s own goal at the 53 minute mark was merely the frosting on the cake. And 7 minutes later, Cesc Fabregas ((yes THAT Cesc Fabregas….the former pretty-boy ballerina from Arsene Wegner’s Dance Company, a/k/a Arsenal Gunners)) added the cake decorations with a header off a Dani Alves cross. The bright light that had grown dimmer and dimmer began flickering flickering flickering and when the whistle blew for time it snuffed itself out with a soul crushing puff of smoke. A 1-3 beat down the Bernabéu that left Los Blancos stunned, and The Special One, José Mourinho, speechless for once.
One of these days, I must actually WATCH an El Clásico. So the next time these lads meet again (which will be April 24th, 2012 for those of you keeping score in Boaz, Wisconsin), bust me a phone call, an email, a text. Or just smack me upside the head. You know where to find me.
Chelsea 2 Manchester City 1
Today’s match between Chelsea and league leading Man City at the Bridge was an El Clásico of sorts. In fact, some pundit yesterday actually referred to it as that. But maybe I merely misread, since today, the pundits were calling it El Cáshico. ((Battle of The Big Spenders…get it? Funny and ha ha)). El Clásico, El Cáshico, and whatever else it was, today’s match was a thriller and a true clash of giants.
It looked grim at the start for Chelsea as Aguero and Balotelli made keystone cops out of the Chelsea backline and by the 2 minute mark it was deja vu all over again as City was up 0-1 on Balotelli’s easy finish. And for next 25 minutes things did not look good. But Chelsea regained control of the match…AVB had the backline move deeper and Chelsea went on the attack. Meireles scored on a beast of a finish from a Sturridge cross set up by Mata. Damn, that was focking rocket he hit into the net!! It was almost like two goals in one.
After the break, it was clear that AVB’s tactical move was working. Man City got little penetration in the Chelsea area. Sergio-kun and Super Mario were left stuck in 2nd gear. Man City then tried to be Barca Junior with all the hypnotic passing, waiting waiting waiting to strike like a snake. But after Chelsea’s early defensive gaffe, they’d settled in and played tough defense. Ivanovic looked good in the middle alongside John Terry. City’s hypnotic passing amounted to hypnotic posturing at best. Chelsea, meanwhile kept on the attack…and Man City was getting frustrated. Gael Clichy got his first yellow at the 47 minute mark, and his second yellow at the 58 minute mark and down the tunnel he went. Man City with 10 men went into desperation mode, flailing away on the attack….and Chelsea got a little chippy with them and picked up a few yellows in that stretch as Romeu, Ramires, and Drogba all got booked. Meanwhile, Chelsea kept on the attack….and 9 minutes after AVB subbed in Lampard for Meireles, Lampard stepped up to the spot and smashed the game winning penalty home straight up the middle as Joe Hart lunged to his left. Now City was left chasing a point and so desperate was Mancini to recover it that he subbed out Lescott (defender) for Džeko (striker). The gambit failed and my Blues held on for a needed win.
AVB seems to settled on a consistent lineup….well…for the moment anyway. He’s strating Meireles, Mata, Ramires, & Romeu in the middle. Sturridge is starting up from with Drogba. The backling is Cole, Terry, Ivanovic, and, today Bosingwa in for Luiz who is serving a one game suspension. The lineup I suggested at least a month or two ago. Except for the notable absence of Torres. I wonder what the hell is going with Torres really….what mad scientist scheme is AVB cooking up behind the scenes there. All the psycho-babble and Terres-bashing aside, I wonder if there is a method to this bit of madness. Is AVB showcasing Drogba for the January transfer window?? Fattening him up for market?? ((—insert Frank Lampard joke here—)). But if that’s the case, what happens when Torres’s speed in tossed into the mix. Somehow, this has to be made to work….it really should be Torres, Sturridge and Mata up front—full speed ahead. Drogba is great, but time is marching on.
It could very well be a matter of Sturridge and Torres not liking one another….and possibly Sturridge being more in the not-liking factor. Drogba and Torres clearly can’t work together since their styles are so different. There is clearly some kind of rift going on that has not as much to with being in form, and more to do with simple chemistry. And with mad scientist Andre Villas-Boas in the lab, who knows what will happen next. You’d hate to mix the wrong chemical in and then everything goes BOOM! But I can’t see Abromovich being shtrilled to see a £50 million investment riding the bench. That wouldn’t happen the NFL if a team shelled out that kind of coin, to a 1st round draft pick….that guys ass is getting into the game and if at first he can’t do he will learn by doing. Not a guarantee of success, mind you….Jason Campbell comes to mind, and for that matter, Alex Smith. So I wonder what honestly is going on with Torres behind the scenes. He was trotted out today to warm-up when Drogman got a knock in the first half and was limping around. But that was about it. As least Torres can sleep easily tonight, tucked in with his teddy bear, dreaming on all the greatness to come.