Thursday, April 24, 2008

The two and a half minute Lesson

WHATEVER you do over this Anzac Day long weekend, even after a spot of two-up, make sure you get your hands on copy of the Melbourne Victory's 2-0 loss away to Gamba Osaka last night.

If you haven't taped it or don't have a mate who's got a copy, be sure to catch or record a replay on Fox. For those of you who missed this morning's replay, there's one at 3.30am on Friday (by the time you read this you've probably missed that as well). The next replay I've found is 1.30am (Eastern) next Wednesday, April 30, so be sure to ask around.

Anyway, get your hands on it however you can (even send me an email if you're desperate and I'll see what I can do).

Trust me, it's worth it, and you don't have to watch it all, I promise.

All I want you to do is fast forward it to the 28 minutes and 30 seconds mark and then tune in for the next two and a half minutes. It's worth every second and every effort.

Here goes....

It's 0-0, almost half an hour in. Melbourne throw-in on the left hand flank, in their own half. Kemp takes it and finds Ward's feet, under pressure he turns back and plays it to Ryall in central defence, who plays a one-two with Celeski on the right. Ryall has time, looks up and squares it to his skipper Muscat, who takes one touch, and instead of the using the short option of Ward, who is available in space and asking for it in the centre of midfield, decides to go long to Allsopp, who, under pressure from the Gamba right back, can only head it straight to the Gamba keeper. Aimless stuff.

Immediately the Gamba keeper is looking for a short option and releases it to a nearby defender, who plays it into central midfield for Yasuhito Endo, who goes back to one of his central defenders, before asking for it again. Under a bit of pressure, in central midfield, Endo receives the ball a second time, releases it quickly, and gets it back a third time, all in the space of a few seconds. Another teammate gets a touch in central midfield before the ball is at the back again, worked from left to right.

Ten passes later, none more than 10 metres, there is a forward option, and the ball is played across the half-way line. This time it's a 30 metre ball, on the deck and accurately to the feet of an attacking midfielder, who is coming to meet it.

A quick one-touch flick from Takahiro Futagawa, facing his own goal, seemingly with eyes in the back of his head, finds its intended target. A sharp triangle and Futagawa is back on the ball, facing forward, looking to hit Bare, who wins a free-kick some 30 metres out and 14 beautifully constructed passes later.

Just magic.

Nothing comes of Endo's free kick. Melbourne clear it with a header which falls to Yasuda on the left, who takes one touch and sends it back into 'the mixer'. Gamba give away a free-kick competing for the ball on the edge of the Victory box and their attack is over.

It seems like an eternity, but Melbourne get another chance to have the ball. What can they do with it?

From the quickly taken free-kick, Melbourne play it out to Celeski, this time popping up on the left, close to the line. Under pressure from a fast-closing Endo he goes back to Vargas, who is being closed down by Bare.

First time, Vargas knocks the ball long, over the halfway line, where it is met by the chest of unmarked Gamba midfielder Hideo Hashimoto. In one touch, with the chest, moving forward, he controls and passes to Futagawa, who plays a quick one-two with Hashimoto, who has continued his run forward.

Taking it in his stride, Hashimoto links with Endo, who has drifted out to the right. Endo flicks it down the line, into Hashimoto's run and another one-two has just been executed.

Not content with the movement and passing to date, Endo continues his run. Hashimoto ignores it for once and clips a square ball towards the head of Bare, who cushions a sublime header directly into the path of the Endo run.

It's all about the weight and timing.

Suddenly Endo, who by my calculations has already touched the ball five times and covered every part of the pitch in the past two and a half minutes, gets his sixth and most vital touch. Running onto the Bare cushion, because it's better than a pass, he looks square and weights a delightful short cross, on the deck, to the near post for Masato Yamazaki to drill past Theoklitos.

Goal? Try Lesson. Melbourne ripped apart by technique - the movement, patience, one-and-two-touch play, the triangles, flicks, perfectly weighted touches with ever part of the body and the in-synch Gamba play.

Certainly one of the most inventive and constructive team goals and passages of play I've seen in a very long time, and a lesson to us all.

Be sure to watch it and show a friend or 40, and do let me know your thoughts when you do.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

hmmmm, will we be be smart enough to learn from our betters? i hope so.

but the easy option is to make excuses and ignore any lessons that could be learnt. endo and others are national team members. gamba`s team costs x times more than melbourne. gamba`s foreigners cost x times more than melbourne`s foreigners. gamba was in season, while melbourne was out of season (this last one is a doozy, considering the japanese side was playing its third game in a week).


Fri. Apr. 25, 09:41:00 am AEST  
Blogger The Round Ball Analyst said...

good to hear from you clayton, at this stage, just throwing it out there after being blown away by the sequence....i know they're ahead of us at this stage in terms of the development as a football nation (probably 10 years?), and we'll get there in time, but for now let a sequence like that be something we aspire to...

Was not surprised to hear excuses Merrick afterwards speak of the 'lucky' deflected 2nd goal and the 'finishing' being the difference...does he take us for fools?

Yes, Melbourne were missing Archie, no doubt, but there was a clear gulf in class, as Andy Harper spoke about on TF last night...

That 2.5min period, and the decisions players from the respective sides took when on the ball (or off it) and faced with pressure, summed up where we're both at...

They were prepeared to play and play and we were just wasteful...

...hmmmm, will we be be smart enough to learn from our betters? i hope so....

Me too.

Fri. Apr. 25, 11:05:00 am AEST  
Blogger john said...

Perhaps the downside of the champions league - when our stars are in stark contrast to the best playing in Asia...

TF is challenging A-League clubs to pick up Asian stars. The question is also will they pick up ours.

Anyway, for experience I can say at youth level the FFA is mandating (smile hear)the short passing game. However, if you don't have the skills the chance of a hammering is much greater.

Fri. Apr. 25, 01:32:00 pm AEST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Brilliant piece of football journalism Mr Roundball, thoroughly enjoyed it.


Fri. Apr. 25, 05:23:00 pm AEST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

don`t know if i mentioned, but i live in the japanese countryside.

i can catch national team games on free to air, but club games are on satellite (which i don`t have).

but i can catch j-league highlights at midnight on saturday.

last week i saw this ridiculously good turn, a guy was running at a defender, did a 360 turn with the ball at his feet and went past ...

good support, smart players, flair players coming through the ranks. there is a lot for the japanese to be happy with.

but if there is one problem over here, it is a lack of final third predators. finishers who put the ball in the goal. the build up and `midfielder` goals are very nice, but there is a reason why teams look for imports like bare at gamba and washington at uwara.

not sure of all the details, but the latest great hope, takanohara (i think), just came back to japan from europe and has had injury troubles.

if i am lucky, i will catch a game next time i head to the big smoke, probably osaka, but maybe tokyo.


Sat. Apr. 26, 08:33:00 am AEST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The biggest problem for Victory is the coaching: both Guus and Pim have shown that organisation, training and tactical nous can compensate for the technical skill gap. Ernie Merrick unfortunately is not up to the task in the A-League (yes I know MVFC has won a Championship) yet alone the AFC. His inability to use and foster talents like Kaz Patafta are indicative of his poor understanding of the game beyond playing long balls down the middle of the park.

Pay him out and move on MVFC.

Sat. Apr. 26, 05:23:00 pm AEST  
Blogger Carlo said...

I remember watching that one live and well it was like watching poetry in motion.

My friend said we could see that play developing on TV why coulds Victory see it on the park?

I think victory has the talent to do well in the a-league and ACL but the coaching is not up to scratch.

Mon. Apr. 28, 12:09:00 pm AEST  
Blogger pippinu said...

MV was showed up for technique the whole of the 90 minutes (it was difficult to watch at times as an MV supporter), but those couple of minutes you describe so eloquently certainly emphasise the gap in quality between a side like Gamba and, well, the whole of the A-League.

It was a stark contrast - worrying even.

Mon. Apr. 28, 01:49:00 pm AEST  
Blogger Mike Salter said...

Great analysis Tony.

That goal was very, very nice to watch. Throughout the game (and the first game in Melbourne, for that matter), I thought we were witnessing a clear gap in class. Not huge, not unbreachable given time, but it shows how far the J-League has come in fifteen years.

Mon. Apr. 28, 03:05:00 pm AEST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

hi, gamba osaka vs vissel kobe was on free to air tv on sunday. i saw the second half (i gotta find a tv guide i can read).

cut a long story short, imho, gamba osaka were ponderous with too little movement and too many balls to feet while vissel stayed deep and played on the counter - getting the ball to a very good front man, okuba (has been in the national squad, i dunno bout now). his second goal he pretty much just outmuscled the two central defenders. didn`t see the first.

bare and lucas had some near misses, and the team stayed calm and tried to play their way back into the match (until injury time when they belted it into the mixer).

a vissel win, 2 - 1. these teams are sitting 7th and 8th 8 games into the season. osaka has hit 9 goals, and let in 9 goals.

sorry, rambling, but just wanted to point out that melbourne were playing a team that is maybe struggling to get out of 2nd gear atm. some further food for thought about where we currently stand in asia.


Mon. Apr. 28, 09:40:00 pm AEST  
Blogger Brendan McMillan said...

Thanks Tony

I remember watching it live thinking what a beautiful peice of work but until I read your walkthrough of it i didn't realise how good.

Endo was awesome last week and showed us what MVFC and all of the Australia team lack in midfield.

Mon. Apr. 28, 09:48:00 pm AEST  
Blogger The Round Ball Analyst said...

Thanks all for your comments and kind words.

...Perhaps the downside of the champions league - when our stars are in stark contrast to the best playing in Asia...

Lets look at that as a positive john, something for our 'stars' to aspire to.

clayton, thanks for the update from Japan, i do know you're living there, so it's just great to have your birds-eye thoughts on this forum.

reading your analysis of the 2nd period of the gamba/kobi game, it's sounds like gamba arent as comfortable with team sitting back, absorbing and countering, something we also discovered from watching japan at last year's asain cup....something for our 'tacticians' to keep in mind i'd suggest.

....sorry, rambling, but just wanted to point out that melbourne were playing a team that is maybe struggling to get out of 2nd gear atm. some further food for thought about where we currently stand in asia....

yes, been following the results and table, really hoping we get to see the champions kashima and especially marquinhos, although they were surprisingly done in their last game against beijing.

thanks again clayton and keep us posted when you get a chance.

...The biggest problem for Victory is the coaching...

Seems the clamour is on to yet again to get rid of Merrick. The thing i dislike most is the constant lies post-match...seems Melb have always played well when we know they haven't....perhaps it's because his employers might believe him? or have up until now?

...Endo was awesome last week and showed us what MVFC and all of the Australia team lack in midfield...

He ran the show, didn't he.

carlo, welcome, indeed, poetry in motion, and mike, pippinu and james, thanks for the kind words.

Tue. Apr. 29, 09:35:00 pm AEST  
Blogger pippinu said...

Those impatient for Tony's match report on this morning's game - I've done one - but don't expect too much...

Thu. May 01, 03:17:00 pm AEST  
Blogger The Round Ball Analyst said...

Pippinu, didnt get time to write about either semi final second leg, but watched both games live and have left random thoughts on each game on both your site and Mike The Football Tragic's site.

Copy and pasted, here they are...

Manu v Barca;

mikey, about 35mins into this one i sent a mate a text message along the lines that toure and eto'o should be sacrificed at the break or soon after for henry and bojan, with gudjohnsen following not long after that for either deco, xavi or iniesta...

the idea at the break was that iniesta could drop into the holding role for toure (rather unneeded i thought), henry on the left and see how he combines with eto'o and messi...if it doesnt look effective after 10, its time for bojan, and then gudjohnsen...

typically, frank reacted far too late, and kept a disfunctional front third together for far too long... poor tactician.

It was a one-man attack...messi was the only one playing, but he didnt have a pal to play with...

Eto'o has been so off his game since coming back from long term injury, and was clearly off his game...agree, despite not being great of late, Gudjohnsen may well have made an impact with more time, but Rijkaard is so damn predictable...he has to go.

Having said all that, Manu were happy to pretty much sit deep and counter after their early smash and grab, and i thought the two central defenders were excellent, esp Wes Brown who had the tough gig of keeping pace with Messi (which he did manfully). Hargreaves wasnt far behind. Van der Sar on the other hand looked a calamity waiting to happen, and still barca didnt really test him.

Chelsea v Lpool;

I agree Chelsea dominated the opening period, with the central trio you talked about (makelele, ballack and lamps) dominant, along with the right back essien joining in and drogba throwing his weight wasnt as good as the performance against manu on the w-end, but it was still powerful..

I thought Reina could have done much much better with kalou's shot though - you must parry wide, as any young keeper is taught...

Agree, the loss of skrtel was important, but at least Lpool started pressing higher in the second period and getting among the chelsea midfeild...after the goal came, I thought Chelsea were there for the taking for the about a 10 min period...after all, another lpool goal would have meant chelsea needed 2 more..

But lpool seemed content to bide their time and wait for extra time, which is strange considering Rafa obviously had plans to replace Torres so early in et, which he did..

You're right, chelsea really uppped the ante in et, as emphasised by Anelka's introduction, but i still felt at 2-1 we had a chance (nothing had changed, a goal would still have put us in front), but the third was a killer...

Overall, not surprised or really disppointed...the focus at the start of the campaign was the domestic title and thats where the disappointment lies....

But as Henry Winter summised post match and I've been saying most of the season, we really are only a two-man side, and Mascherano sometimes makes it three...(guess thats an improvment on last season when gerrard made it a one-man team)

Sat. May 03, 12:14:00 am AEST  

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