Thursday, November 18, 2010

Portugal 4 - Spain 0

Yesterday's slew of international "friendly" matches (which don't count towards international standings), produced a few surprises.  Most significantly, the friendly between World Champions Spain and Portugal, resulted in an unexpected thrashing of the Spanish in Lisbon 4-Nil.  Portugal winning the match is not so suprising-- the Portuguese side is actually quite strong-- but the score.... ah, that hurts.  With six Barcelona starters on the pitch, Spain was once again disproportionately represented by the Blaugrana.

But with Messi off doing duty with the Argentine national side, the Barca players seem to have lost the magic with their other Spanish teamates, that was so much in evidence during the World Cup.  The resulting thumping by Portugal was well deserved, with the Portuguese goals generally scored at the finish of strong runs and good ball control.  Luckily for Spain, this match does not count, aside from some momentary Iberian bragging rights for the Portuguese.  This was the worst defeat by a Spanish national team since 1963.

In other "Friendly Match" news, Argentina defeated Brazil 1-0 in a match played in Qatar in the United Arab Emirates.  Our hero Messi Wan Kenobi provided the last-minute heroics, (and I mean in the 91st minute, stoppage time), outrunning three Brazilian defenders while passing give-and-go with Ezequiel Lavezzi, then firing a perfectly placed ball that found its way through Victor's net in slow motion for the only score of the match. 

So, to summarize Barca's day in International Friendlies: Messi wins for Argentina, but six of his teamates were unable to prevent a Portuguese rout of the World Champions.  For the Barcelona players, this sorry outcome is likely to be reflected in their play this weekend against La Liga bottom-feeders Almeria.  Look for a bloodbath, as the Blaugrana will have something to prove.

Finally, I would also like to note the victory of Team USA over South Africa down in Pretoria on Wednesday as well.  For this friendly match, coach Bob Bradley decided to give the younger players some match time, keeping his first team off the pitch for the most part.  Despite steady attacking pressure from South Africa the whole match, Coach Bradley's young players did not dissapoint him.  Brad Guzan filled in at keeper for Tim Howard and turned in a very credible goaltending performance, while New York Red Bull youth Academy graduate Juan Agudelo hammered a shot off the crossbar which ricocheted into the net, for the game winning score.  At age 17, Agudelo has now become the youngest player to ever score a goal for the United States in international competition, a nice footnote to this match.

Nevertheless... "Friendlies" don't count.  Right.  At least, not in the standings.  But you can rest assured that come this weekend, the players from the various teams who lost yesterday, will be just a bit more hungry than they would be otherwise.

Almeria better be ready.