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The Set: UEFA Cup Final

DarioSrnaSahtarV The Set: UEFA Cup Final

For us fans of German football it was a sad night, but for us football fans, it wasn’t. The Ukraine won their first European title with a team that earned it’s victory. And they were an attractive team to watch with Srna, Luiz Adriano, the Rat and Ilsinho making the core of a very entertaining side. They were able to check Werder’s counter attack and controlled the posession for most of the match. So while I send my condolences to Werder supporters, we should all be happy for the positive emergence of Ukranian football on the night. And let’s not forget the excellent atmosphere that starts first with Turkey and its football crazy fans who made up the neutrals.

As for the game, Shaktar came out firing on all cylinders and controlled play for the first 20 minutes. Only when Werder seemed to be getting some command of the game did Donetsk strike. A beautifully delivered Ilsinho through-ball, that turned the Bremen defense, found a wide open Luiz Adriano, who made up for his 5th minute miss with a the opener. Naldo hit back 10 minutes later on a free-kick, which was mishandled by the Donetsk keeper Pyatov. The second half was a stalemate with both sides having periods of dominance that petered out on poor finishing or good defending. A game that seemed destined for penalties as both teams tired, was decided early in extra time when Tim Wiese, who had been solid all game, allowed a dink shot by Jadson to skirt under him for the eventual winner. A late surge by Bremen resulted in two disallowed goals and Shaktar walked away with the spoils.

Seven Observances from the last UEFA Cup Final

Diego’s grand exit

Unfortunately we didn’t get to see Diego off with a grand flourish. This had turned into his tournament, but his temper saw him miss out on a chance to cap it. His indelible mark on the league may be that temper. A wonderfully gifted player to watch and a talisman during his three years at Werder Bremen, he has never produced the goods. Werder are without a trophy during his time, with their greatest accomplishment over that course being the winter title three years ago. While that could change next week in the DFB Pokal, one wonders if being so close to Werder’s first European Cup since Michael Keaton was Batman only to lose will leave Bremen listless during their final two games.

What To Do?

How will Thomas Schaaf cope without Diego. One of the games more attack minded managers, he has built his success on the counter, utilizing wing-play and a double six formation. But there needs to be a point in the midfield that can link the defense and wings with the forwards. Diego has been that man for three years. Will Schaaf change his approach or will some gem be uncovered elsewhere to be that point? Because it certainly isn’t….

Mesut Ozil

To say he isn’t ready to fill Diego’s shoes would be an understatement. He was a boy among men, incapable of a moment of inspiration, let alone commanding tempo, carrying the ball forward or setting up the chances. He was abject in this match and why he wasn’t pulled is a question we will all wonder for years to come. Pizarro has to be wondering it as he was left without a link man the entire match. What has become apparent is that he is basically the best guy you could imagine to take to a club as your wing-man, but you wouldn’t wanted him approaching any comely lasses on his own.

Speaking of the Lasses

If you were watching on television, what was with that female Werder fan starting her crying in the 7th minute of extra time? You moan before, whinge during, bitch after and cry in a beer. Those are the rules sister….learn them! Yes that goal seemed to be the nail at the time, but there were still 23 plus minutes for a team that had comeback from worse against A.C. Milan and Hamburg. To be honest, Pizzaro scored the equalizer in the 122nd. Not a foul! How anyone can start the histrionics at that juncture is beyond me.

Darijo Srna is the SHIT!

He was out of this world. We could see his quality in last year’s European Championship for Croatia, but he had become easy to forget playing in an up-and-coming but poorly-covered league. He traumatized poor Sebastian Boenisch, ran his boots off for 120 minutes, was the most effective defender at neutralizing the counter and saved the match when he got between Ozil and the goal late in the second half. I

On Werder’s end it was another right wing player, Clemens Fritz who deserves recognition for being Werder closest approximation of the whirling dervish that was Srna tonight.

Howling at the Moon

In the long run, they equaled out, but both keepers had amazing blunders that cost their teams tonight. Andrei Pyatov’s felt that Naldo’s freekick needed help and palmed Werder’s equalizer into the back of his net. On the other side, Tim Wiese used extraordinarily poor positioning to allow Jadson’s unremarkable shot to become a winner. Thinking about it, maybe that woman who was crying is a goal keeper.

If Only

While we can all rue the absence of Almeida, Per and Diego, deep into extra time the man who they needed popped up in black. His name was Thomas Schaaf. With time running down and the no Werder player seeming willing to get the ball back up field for the throw in (which would lead to a Pizarro chance), Schaaf jumped on the pitch and kicked the ball to the thrower. His quickness and determination stood in stark contrast to his players, who had seemed uninterested and to be running on fumes (other than Fritz and Pizarro) from the first minute.

3 Responses to The Set: UEFA Cup Final

  1. Jan says:

    I think harsh judgements on Mesut Özil are unfair. The kid couldn’t cope with the pressure of a grand final yet, but has played a fantastic season (23 assists + 4 goals) and I trust him to be even better next season. And Bremen won’t lose Diego for nothing but rather for around €30m. Enough money to buy capable players to help Özil fill the gap. Overall the youngsters on the pitch (Prödl, Bönisch, Özil) all seemed to be too nervous and not ready for the final. But I won’t blame them for that. I’m much more disappointed in senior players like Baumann and Frings, whose job would have been to carry and guide the team and give them more structure and confidence. Probably add Schaaf to the mix, who couldn’t get his team into the right mindset. Naldo was about the only big game player on the pitch, alongside Wiese despite him looking bad with the second goal.

    I’m not sure how much of a difference the missing players would have made – certain players would still have been nervous or would have had a bad day. I’m pretty certain though, that Diego would have taken all the pressure off Özils shoulders and that would have helped already. Just about any striker is in better form than Rosenberg, so Almeida would have been a slight improvement, though he’s not really known as a match winner. Mertesacker would have reduced the number of nervous defenders down to Boenisch.

    And while it sounds apologetic, it still never hurts to put things a bit into perspective. Bremen have invested around €45m of their own money to build their current squad and Donezk paid roughly €90m of some billionaires money. So it was overall a great achievement getting that far. And Hamburg knocked out a team, which had invested multiple times the amount of money Hamburg had for their team. Bayern’s performance against Barca was certainly disappointing, but at this point Klinsmann was in the process of losing the team and missing key players, so under different circumstances, they might have looked a bit more competitive – as in: they would have lost by a smaller margin ;-). And despite Bayern’s riches, Barca still invested almost twice as much in transfer fees for their players and have a much higher wage budget. Those are and have been simple realities for Bundesliga clubs competing in Europe.

  2. John says:

    Pizarro played awful for the entire game – he gave the ball away under no pressure at least a dosen times. He was simply careless with the ball at his feet.

  3. Double Pivot says:

    Jan, you’re right. I was harsh. But I stand by opinion that Ozil is a better #2. And yes, we do forget that while the Bundesliga is richer than the Ukraine league, Shaktar are overflowing in money. So Werder deserve credit

    And John
    I felt that Pizarro was useless, but there were two things that hurt him. 1) lack of link play. 2) For someone playing like an English target forward, he wasn’t allowed any leeway physically. He may have been more useful had the ref not been so quick to the whistle at any transgression by him. That late goal, which I still think stands in most leagues, was him jostling….but gets called a foul. That ref would be beaten to death in the NHL, where they will not make a late call in a playoff game. You could rape a goat, and the refs in the NHL would allow playon in the playoffs. I do not however condone the raping of goats. That is wrong.

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