Wednesday, May 23, 2012

The Only Highlight Of Liverpool's 2011-2012 Season

The Reds had another season to forget. 
- 37 points behind the title winners, Manchester City
- Racism rows which divided opinions between player, manager and owners
- A totally unnecessary siege mentality
- Finishing behind cross-town rivals, Everton
- Losing pathetically in the FA Cup Final
- Having a dismal home record at what used to be "fortress" Anfield
- Not gaining maximum points against the eventual bottom six in the Premiership table

And yet, Liverpool amidst a trying season, won the Carling Cup, making Suarez, Carroll and Henderson first time winners of an English club football competition. The players could have made it a season to remember but decided to turn into shrinking violets under the pressure of delivering the club's first domestic cup double since 2001.

The Carling Cup win is all Liverpool have to show for the 2011-2012 season and I guess we should just enjoy these pictures and remember the lucky win over Cardiff City. One could say that the Reds' name was on the cup this season. Putting things into a positive perspective, this was Liverpool's first trophy in six years.

Here's how the action unfolded.

Cardiff's Joe Mason turned the heat up by scoring the first goal of the Cup final.

The increasingly influential Martin Skrtel leveled the score with an typically hard shot into the net.

Nasri and Torres Are Finally Vindicated!

And so the season finally ended. It was a season filled with drama, with more ups and downs for all clubs than in any previous season. Who would've scripted a more dramatic end to the Premier League title race? The excitement involved is what makes the Barclays Premier League the best league to watch.

What struck me most was that two of the Premier League's best players finally achieved what they had wanted in English football and that is to win titles and medals. The moves were controversial and the separation acrimonious but now with titles won, both players' actions can be considered justified.

Samir Nasri left Arsenal at a time when they needed him most, and also at a time when Arsenal were not in a position to challenge for any titles. The Arsenal fans did not take kindly to him leaving and he was vilified for leaving the Emirates. And now with the much dreamt about Premiership title under his belt, his actions are vindicated. His first trophy turned out to be the coveted Premier League trophy, making him a League champion. Something not even Steven Gerrard can claim to be.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Top Reasons Soccer is Amazing

Soccer is not only the most popular sport in the world, it is also the most amazing. Besides having plenty of investors pumping money into the various club leagues, soccer also has the largest talent pool from which to draw from. Soccer scouts can search for new stars in every corner of the world. There are many reasons why soccer is amazing besides these.

Real-time strategy and decision making. Soccer is all about making good decisions, but doing so in real-time. Players are coached and schooled on how to develop the best mindset and acumen for soccer. This means that a player must understand whether a safe pass or a higher risk offensive pass is preferred. Sometimes, however, it is better to dribble the ball into space when that ground is given by a defender. Part of the decision making process for a soccer player will be how to strike the ball, i.e., which foot to use to strike the ball, whether to drive the ball straight, chip the ball with backspin to allow the receiving player more time to run onto the ball or trap it, slice the ball with the outside of the foot for pace and curve, or hit the ball with the instep for a lofted opposite curve with a soft bounce. With defenders bearing down, decisions such as these must be made in a matter of seconds. This is unlike many other popular sports: in the NFL, each play starts from a static and equal position, the strategy and decision making once a play starts is limited to only a few positions, and is the result of plays dictated to the quarterback by a coach through microphone headsets. In soccer, the coach is often too far away to make a real impact on the game, and every player must be able to determine what to be doing--even if they do not have the ball or are on the other side of the field.

Equal parts speed, power, and skill. Soccer does have skill positions, and some players have more specialized roles (such as a center midfielder's ability to send crosses on corner kicks, or a striker's ability to hit accurate shots from free kicks). However, each player must have a similar amount of speed, power, and skill. A defender in soccer must have the same footwork and coordination as a cornerback in football. This includes the ability to back-pedal and keep an offensive player in front while also being able to turn around and sprint with closing speed to catch an offensive player after that player makes a move past them. An offensive player must have the power to explode for a 10-20 yard sprint, but have the skill to stop or cut the ball in various directions--in response to the defensive player's movements! After the offensive player's expenditure of energy to sprint past a defender and the skill to cut or stop the ball mid-sprint, the forward must then (in full stride and with a defender throwing their legs at the forward's) strike the ball toward the goal. According to Accredited Online Colleges, a soccer player can strike a soccer ball with incredible power, regularly touching 80 mph, and often touching between 90-100 mph.

To put it in perspective, playing soccer is akin to a basketball player dribbling while standing on their hands for 90 minutes, be thinking constantly, all the while retaining the power to propell the ball as fast as an MLB pitcher. This is pretty amazing.

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