Let it there be no doubt, Spain is currently experiencing it’s golden age in sports, and by no means is soccer an exception. Forget about the haters that claimed that the Spanish style is not beautiful, that their game is effective but ultimately boring. Let’s get this one right from the start: Vicente del Bosque’s squads played a magnificent game of football against the Italian squad for the EURO 2012 Championship. And the Azzurri never had a chance. From the start, Spain kept a flowing, one-touch, quick and swift play with which they constantly found it’s way pass the Italian defense, to take a 4-0 win to leave no doubters behind. This is the finest soccer team in the world. After this display of talent and courage, Spain became the first team to win three straight major tournaments and the first to repeat as Euro champion.
Earlier during the tournament, and for the first time in a while, the Spanish team looked vulnerable. Losing their all-time leading scorer, David Villa, had dogged the side throughout. Del Bosque opted to try to cover-up his lack of offensive talent, playing with a false nine formation, appearing to be playing without a true striker. But for the Final match in Kiev, the Spaniards shook it up a bit and started Cesc Fabregas up in the front. The Spaniards relied heavily on a fast-paced short play game. The Italians on the other hand, were going for the long pass and it became evident from the start that Andrea Pirlo was aiming his passes straight up to the young and talented striker Mario Balotelli who kept on trying to impose with his physicality over another rough guy: Spaniard defender Sergio Ramos.
But the big difference was that for this match, the Spanish National team was taking shots whenever it’s strikers had a close look. It took the team less then 15 minutes to break this one down. Andres Iniesta cut open the Italian defense to find Fabregas a step ahead of Giorgio Chiellini. A little too much space and Fabregas got things rolling, opening enough space between him to send the ball in for David Silva to head it into the goal of Gianluigi Buffon. It was a strong game and from the start, the Spaniards new that this one would go their way. Just take into account the following record, this very defining streak: Spain has won all of the previous 70 matches in which it had taken the lead. That’s a win every time they scored first since September 2006.
The rest of the goals came in soon enough. The Spanish goalkeeper Iker Casillas send a goal kick straight to Xavi. He controlled the ball and sent a swift pass into the path of flying down Jordi Alba, who controlled the ball and sent it straight into the goal for the 2-0 advantage in the game. In the 75th minute Cesc Fabregas was substituted by the striker Fernando Torres. He didn’t miss a beat to make a strong impression and score his 3rd goal in the tournament. As if that was not enough, just four minutes later he provided the assistance for Juan Mata’s goal. That’s 4-0.
This might be a little bit like the return of the prodigal son for the Spaniard club FC Barcelona. After two failed attempts to reel him back into its original waters, Cesc Fabregas has finally returned to the Nou Camp. It took a good deal of negotiations between Barcelona and Arsenal, of the English Premiere League, but the long awaited transfer finally materialized this Sunday.
It seems that Fabregas is taking back his talents to the homeland. Fabregas scored 57 goals in 303 appearances and won one league title and an FA Cup with Arsenal. This was enough to make Fabregas Arsenal’s most valuable asset. He has played 58 times for the Spanish national team and was part of the squads that won the 2010 South Africa World Cup and 2008 European Championship.
Rumor has it that Barcelona might have agreed to pay around $57 million for the 24-year-old midfielder’s transfer. It’s still a preliminary agreement, and the details of Fabregas contract are yet to be released publically, but regardless of the fine print, Fabregas is back to his hometown and his youth club. Cesc Fabregas returns to the club that nurtured him before he joined Arsenal in 2003. It’s been a while, but deep inside, he knows that he owes Barcelona some respect some sort of tribute for his upbringing as a professional player. Fabregas worked hard and had success on his own merits. He went on to become Arsenal’s youngest ever starter a month later at 16. Five years later, the Spaniard was made club captain in November 2008.
Fans are already anticipating Fabregas first game with Barcelona’s first team. Chaces are that the 24-year-old star could make his debut Wednesday at the Camp Nou. It’s a little short, but doctors from Barcelona and the doctors who checked his physical condition before the multimillion-dollar deal was signed all agree that Fabregas is good to go. And quite frankly, the timing couldn’t be better. Truth is that if you want to make one heck of a debut, you might as well do it playing against your franchise’s archrival. And here it is, the Spanish champions will host Real Madrid for the return leg of their Spanish Supercup series, which is at 2-2 after Sunday’s first leg.
This move has long been due. Fabregas announced his desire to move back to Barcelona after the 2009-10 season, but Arsenal refused to sell its most valuable player. Arsene Wegner, Arsenal’s football manager, said that the club really never wanted to let him go. Back in 2010, they talked to Fabregas and after some negotiations he agreed to stay for one more year. This offseason had seen a similar storyline play out. Once again, Fabregas stated his desire to return to Spain, and Arsenal kept on trying to fend off Barcelona’s offers. But things were changing a bit. Fabregas was willing to go into his own pocket to make the move back home. Arene Wegner still insists that the club didn’t want to let him go, but they had to give in against the player’s desire to return to Barcelona.
Bring them in while they are young and they’ll be yours forever. That’s how the popular saying goes like, and yet, it’s still a bit unnerving that year after year, scouts all over the world are trying to secure talent as young as they can possibly get them. And yet, there is got to be a limit, right? Someone is got to draw the line at some point, I guess. But then again, who’s supposed to say when someone is too young to sign a professional contract? Let’s say, the parents, if the player involved is still a minor. But then, what about a 7-year-old kid; I mean, is there a limit? What if NCAA division I basketball teams start finding talented players and offer them private primary school tuition, then take care of them in high school and pave their way straight into their university. Yes, certainly the NCAA wouldn’t allow any of this, but I’m just trying to give you some sort of plausible scenario.
For all I know, if someone shows talent, even if it is at a young age, they should be able to make some profit out of it. Be it, a great scholarship, or chance to study or develop that same talent abroad, it seems at first that it is all about making an advantage, getting something in exchange for your talents. But is it morally or even physically a good idea to sign-in a 7-year-old kid to play in the minor leagues of one of professional sports biggest teams?
Well, that is exactly what’s happening with one Leonel Angel Coira. The Argentinean prospect signed with Spanish club Real Madrid and will begin training Sept. 6, according to a report given by the team to the associated press. According to his facebook page, Coira’s idol is Lionel Messi, the Barcelona forward who is also Argentine and goes by the name Leo. Coira said he prefers to pass rather than score, something that makes him sort of share a similar philosophy towards the sports as the Argentinean midfielder he so admires. The seven year-old and his parents have posted picture of his recent visit to Madrid.
One would first thing that this is quite a risky signing. I mean, for crying out loud, the kid is 7. It’s impossible to guess if his talent is actually going to evolve in a way that could make him a professional athlete. And yet, on the other hand, it seems that the true motivation for Madrid signing the young kid is that other teams in the market had already offered Coira a deal. Rumor has it that Spanish league rival Atletico Madrid was also pursuing the youngster. It seems that Madrid has now secured another possible star.
It really seems that the other two Spanish teams are trying to emulate Barcelona’s business model. Barcelona signed Messi from the Argentine club Newell’s Old Boys as a teenager. He was an undersized young player who had talent but had much to learn and grow before he could play as a pro. Yet, it has been one of the best deals ever made by Barcelona. Lionel Messi has gone on to win the World Player of the Year award two times. He also has helped Barcelona win 15 trophies, including three Champions League titles and five Spanish league championships. Is Coira going to live up to these expectations? I guess we’ll have to give this kid another 10 years to grow before we can figure out if it paid out or not.
This weekend you couldn’t book a flight or a ferry across the River Plate that separates Montevideo Uruguay and Buenos Aires, Argentina, as a flock consisting of thousands of Uruguayan fans crossed over to the neighboring city to show support for their team at the River Plate Stadium. With the two favorite teams long gone, it was up to the biggest surprise of the tournament, Paraguay, and currently the strongest team in the continent, Uruguay, to fight it out in the field. Just to prove wrong those who believed that the Charruas spectacular run during the 2010 South Africa World Cup was a mere consequence of luck, the small country with a 3-5 million population did what neither Argentina or Brazil, their two immense neighbors could: win the 2011 Copa America.
Diego Forlan, the team captain, scored twice and Uruguay won the Copa America for a record 15th time after beating Paraguay 3-0 Sunday. Luis Suarez also scored for Uruguay, which followed up a semifinal appearance at the 2010 World Cup by winning South America’s championship for the first time since 1995. Brazil had won all but one of the last Copa America’s disputed since, but the reign of the Cariocas seems to be over, at least for now.
Argentina and Brazil were upset in the quarterfinals of the Copa by the two teams that deserved to take a chance at winning it all. Uruguay ousted the host nation, Argentina, on penalties and Paraguay eliminated the favorite, Brazil, also in a shootout. To put this tournament into perspective, consider that Argentina has won the title 14 times, Brazil eight. Brazil had won four of the past five titles with the sole exception of the 2001 Copa America played in Colombia and won by the locals.
It seems that it takes more then a Neymar, what many are calling the next Pele, and allegedly the best active soccer player in the world, Lionel Messi to win, or for that matter, to even make it into the semis. Guided by the talented Oscar Washington Tabárez, the Charruas have relied heavily on a solid team foundation and cooperation rather than on individual prowess. Uruguay’s squad featured 20 of the 23 players it took to the World Cup a year ago with none of the vast star power of Argentina or Brazil. But just like they did back in South Africa, the Uruguayan team finished much better then either Argentina or Brazil. The two powerhouses of South American football might have many fabulous individual players but their imminent lack of collective game is forcing them to reconsider what is best for the team.
Uruguay dominated the game from the kickoff. Paraguay had a very defensive minded scheme and despite their good effort on the defense, they found no effective way to slow down the Uruguayan offensive squad. Paraguay would rely heavily on the counterattacks but quite frankly its player didn’t had the speed or the space to really brake off the Uruguayan defense and by the halftime break, Paraguay was already down by a 2-0 deficit. After quite an upsetting and unexpected Copa America, it was finally the Uruguayans who won the tournament, proving that the small country really has what it takes to be among the world’s best.