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….
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.
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.