Posts Tagged ‘Ibrahimovic’

Weekly Photoshop – 2009 Review


Hello hello, long time no speak. This week there’s no Photoshop theme in the Guardian, merely a collection of the year’s best entries. They’ve decided to not just use the weekly winners (not sure why) hence Emmanuel Eboue gets in from way back in January while October’s effort for Old Trafford Injury Time also makes it.


My three personal favourites from this year are as follows:

3. Nicklas Bendtner (more for Ade as Ike Turner):

Nicklas may think he's "simply the best, better than all the rest" but sadly for him Ade is the Ike in this relationship.


2. Zlatan Ibrahimovic (proving me wrong to be fair):

zlatan ibrahimovic barcelona guardiola

"Of course you can rely on me in the big games Pep." Zlatan's already epic nose suddenly seems to increase in size...


1. Roy Keane (both entries):

roy keane ipswich

There'll be none of this Tractor Boys business now Keane is in charge, it's manual labour all the way...

roy keane ipswich mick mccarthy

Mick McCarthy may have escaped Keane's clutches for now but he'll soon hunt him down.


Hope you enjoyed them all, I’m going to try to spend more time on them next year. Alberto Aquilani is first up in the new year.




Champions League Second Round First Leg Roundup: Inter Milan 0 Manchester United 0

"I refuse to watch this any longer...end match please"

"I refuse to watch this any longer...end match please"


Billed as the re-acquaintance of Ferguson and Mourinho, the bragging rights for this leg swung firmly in favour of one man, and it wasn’t the smug Portuguese one. Jose will consider his Inter side lucky that they did not concede in this match with United creating several dangerous moments, the best of which resulted in good chances for Ryan Giggs and headers for Cristiano Ronaldo. The Red Devils’ speed, technique and superior passing contrasted markedly with Mourinho’s lumbering, predictable side which all too often relies on getting the ball up to the big boys, Adriano and Zlatan Ibrahimovic. Inter looked just like the team that went out of the competition at the early stages in the past two seasons. Nevertheless, the Nerazzuri will head into the second leg in two weeks time guided by a manager that has already performed a smash-and-grab operation at Old Trafford.

Tactical Analysis


Inter Milan

Jose named the team that he seems to have settled with over the past ten games or so apart from the surprise inclusion of Colombian Nelson Rivas (no don’t worry, not the full back of Arsenal and later Inter legend) at centre half instead of Ivan Cordoba, who Mourinho somewhat unsurprisingly fell out with. What a bad decision that turned out to be, with Rivas being torn apart by Berbatov, Ronaldo and Park in the opening 45 minutes, culminating in his substitution for the aforementioned Cordoba at half time. The diminutive but pacy Colombian of Pro Evo legend made a crucial block in the second half, denying a Giggs opener.

Sulley Muntari had an absolute shocker, leading to calls in the Italian press the following day that Patrick Vieira’s return is a must should Inter progress. The workmanlike nature of Inter’s midfield bereft them of any creativity, leading to many high balls up to the top two. he likes of Figo and Jimenez seem to be permanently relegated to the bench, although perhaps they simply don’t get on with Jose.

On a positive note, young Davide Santon did extremely well (wow that sounds like something David Pleat would say). He was impressive defensively as Mourinho once again restricts the forward movements of his full backs in the Champions League.

Manchester United

Ferguson put out the solid side that has brought them much joy this season. They didn’t look like conceding and were more impressive going forward than they have in some games recently. Quite frankly, Inter’s midfield was out-run by the stalwart trio of Park, Fletcher and Carrick, the last of which seems to be a firm favourite with Italian media, naming him ‘un magnifico Carrick’ (no need for translation).

Ronaldo was his devastating self, although he himself would probably admit he should have scored. European opposition seem to be truly mesmerised when playing against the world’s best player.

Looking Ahead

crystal-ballMourinho will absolutely relish the second leg at Old Trafford and I am sure the mind games over the next two weeks will reflect just that. A first goal from Inter would make the tie extremely interesting. However, there is the small matter of Inter having to actually play well in a European away tie. The inclusion of Vieira may be effective, if only in bringing back memories of his domineering performances when at Arsenal.

The European Champions will be confident on home soil following the superior showing in Milan. An early goal for United would set them up nicely for a counter-attacking game. Should the match remain goalless until the last 30 minutes or so, then perhaps nerves will start to undo United’s game and a repeat of Mourinho’s Porto antics may be on the cards.

I never like to see United win but they will on 10 March and Mourinho will have to admit that he hasn’t had much of a positive effect on an Inter side that was already dominant in Serie A and whose real test was in Europe.


Champions League Preview – Inter vs Man Utd



Champions League is like a box of chocolates, you never know which one you are gonna get

The Champions League draw is like a box of chocolates, you never know which one you are gonna get.

Friday’s Champions League draw was like a mini-Christmas, waiting to see what you will get. What we got was a mouth-watering set of ties to be played out in February; with the highlights of the round undoubtedly being England’s finest up against Serie A’s supremos and Liverpool’s matches against Real Madrid.

The only person who seems to be unhappy with the outcome of the draw is Fabio Capello. He described it as “diabolical” that all three Italian teams will face English opposition. Fabio suggested that “they are games that will bring numerous suggestions and impossible predictions.” Unfortunately, the best analysis that the mercurial Italian could offer was that “It will be difficult for Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester United but it will be equally difficult for Roma, Juve and Inter.” Thanks for that Fabio!

To compensate for the Italian autocrat’s lack of foresight, I have dared to throw some predictions out there for the second round games. As it is the run up to Christmas and the New Year, I will keep the excitement going by doing two previews per week. This also gives me the benefit of time to do some research in order to say something interesting (or anything at all) about glamour ties such as Villareal versus Panathanaikos.

To kick things off I will take a look at the Fergie’s Man Utd match up with Jose Mourinho’s Internazionale.

Inter Milan vs. Manchester United

This one has been billed as Mourinho vs Ferguson, with both managers lavishing praise on each other and their respective teams. Of course, these are early days and I am sure the mind games will stoke up closer to the occasion. However, Jose won’t be scared of Fergie, as there is only one fat Walrus of a Premiership manager who invokes that kind of fear in the “Special One”.


Hey lads, look who is coming to town. It is that purple-nosed bastard!

Hey lads, look who is coming to town. It is that purple-nosed bastard!

Jose couldn’t resist having an early dig, claiming that Ibrahimovic is better than Ronaldo. Now, both of these guys are blessed with great skills, some of which can be seen here and here. Ibra’s goals for Inter this year have been as crucial as Ronaldo’s were to United last season. Furthermore, Italians (both Nerazzuri and opposition fans) rave about Zlatan as we do about Ronaldo in this country. But let’s be frank, Ronaldo is the far better player in terms of impact. A far more relevant comparison for this Champions League tie should be between Ibrahimovic and Berbatov. They are similar in stature, flair and role within the team.

Berbatov’s return of 6 goals in 16 appearances pales in comparison to Ibra’s 11 in 21, but come February Berba could be further imbedded into this United side, providing that bit of class and a natural target man, a much needed option in Europe. Berbatov will be provided class support in the shape of Ronaldo, Giggs, Scholes, Rooney and Tevez (provided they remain injury-free). The same cannot quite be said of Inter. Mourinho has opted for a United-esque attacking trio of Ibra alongside two of Quaresma, Stankovic, Mancini and Balotelli, supported by Sulley Muntari supply from midfield. The fact that Mourinho has tinkered with his forward line reflects the inconsistency in performances of his attackers bar Ibra. Ricardo Quaresma has certainly not lived up to expectations, leading to him being dropped, with even 21 year old Nigerian Victor Obinna preferred over him.

Inter’s Strengths

A problem for Manchester United could be Inter’s physicality, both in midfield and defence, with the likes of Vieira, Muntari, Cambiasso and Samuel bringing fighting qualities that Mourinho also managed to build during his tenure at Chelsea.

A big strength that Mourinho’s Inter has over his former Chelsea side is attacking full backs. Both Maicon and Maxwell provide the pace, power, technique and ability to score that is a hallmark of the very best Brazilian full backs. At Chelsea, Jose rarely let Cole and Ferreira/Essien/Diarra to bomb forward in such as way. I remember Chelsea’s Second Round, second leg match against Barca in the 2005/6 season where Mourinho’s team trailed Barca 2-1 from the first leg at Stamford Bridge and Jose basically didn’t want to be embarrassed by the Catalans in their pomp. Despite trailing 1-0 in the Second Leg, he just wouldn’t let his full backs get forward in case Barca tore them apart on the break. Mourinho famously claimed that it was an unfair contest because it hadn’t been “11 vs 11” for the two legs.

United’s Superior Movement

Jose should be able to get Inter to overcome their annual brain-freeze in the Champions League, instilling his experience from both Porto and Chelsea. where I ultimately see Inter coming undone will be when they face the kind of movement and intensity that United conjure up. As Italian sides have found challenging over the past few years when facing English opposition, Mourinho’s side just won’t be used to the relentless attacking style of Man U week-in, week-out in Serie A.

Predicted Outcome

Tight affair with contentious decisions (I smell a red card or two) but United will take advantage of the second leg at Old Trafford.

Check this for Mourinho’s likely reaction to my prediction (24 seconds in). Also worthwhile watching to see that Jose’s charm comes across just the same in Italian as it does in English.

The Unpredictable

Fergie lays a strategic piece of gum on the pitch which Ibrahimovic later gets stuck in.

Pat-Rice Evra gets mean.

Owen Hargreaves, Nani and Ronaldo morph into one. Jokers eh?




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