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Pro Sports Wrap - by Sam Ruesler

New Writer

February 26th 2012 18:05
Hey, this is Jeff Golub, and I have taken over Pro Sports Wrap as a close friend of the previous writer, Joe Soriano. Thank you, and this site will be more soccer-centric than ever!


There was a lot of hype going into the game between two teams that were easily the best in soccer. I wrote a post during the middle of the season in which I said that Manchester United and Barcelona were the only two elite teams, and that Barcelona was the only unquestionably elite team. My prediction proved to be right because both of these teams met in the Champions League Finals. It wasn't much of a game though, as Barca outclassed their opponents at Wembley.

From the tenth minute onward, this game was owned by La Blaugrana. They completely overran United in the midfield. Pedro scored a goal that was beautifully set-up by Xavi, and Rooney equalized seven minutes later. People said it was a beautiful one-two with Rooney and Giggs, but the ball sort of dropped at Giggs' feet and it seemed like his reaction was, "Hey look, I have the ball." Rooney took the ensuing pass and made a beautiful shot. Barcelona won it 3-1, but it really could have easily been a 5-0 affair. This was dominance.

Match Ratings


GK Victor Valdes 6 Valdes was rarely troubled, but he was the better player in this game. He made a few nice clearances off his line which is common for him as he is an active goalie.

LB Eric Abidal 6.5 Defended his side of the field well until Nani came in. Why Nani didn't start is an absolute mystery to me.

CB Javier Mascherano 7.5 He was no weak-link and was the best defender on Barca today. He harried Chicharito.

CB Gerard Pique 6 Didn't have much to do in this game.

RB Dani Alves 6.5 Was afforded a ton of space on the wing thanks to Evra, but he should have done more with that space.

LM Andres Iniesta 8 When he and Xavi get going, Barcelona are unstoppable. This is exactly what happened to a completely outclassed Man United midfield. Iniesta's footwork, technique, and passing were impeccable as always.

CM Sergio Busquets 7 He is probably the most underrated player on Barca. Defensive midfielders, especially those on elite teams, almost never get the respect they deserve. He commanded the area between the midfield and defense well and was efficient.

RM Xavi 8.5 There is no better passer in soccer today. He is the Steve Nash of soccer, and this game just showed how great he is. Xavi, not Messi, was the Man of the Match because he set his teammates up perfectly. He'll only have on assist to his name, but there were five instances in which his teammates did not convert a great chance created by this maestro.

ST Pedro 6 Even though he scored a goal, it was a simple tap-in. He also missed two sitters that were put on a golden platter by Xavi. Pedro should have grabbed a brace for himself in this game.

ST Messi 7.5 There's no denying that Messi had a very good game today, but he wasn't the main reason why Barca won. Still, his footwork and solid goal were immense for his side. I still think he should have scored his 54th goal of the year on one of two chances provided by Xavi and Iniesta.

ST David Villa 7.5 I have always been critical about David Villa, but I do think he is one of the top three strikers in the game easy. He had the play of the game with his goal in the 70th.

Manchester United

GK Edwin van der Sar 5.5 He should have done much better with Messi's shot as he was completely caught out of position. There were a few times where he was lucky that Barcelona couldn't connect on a Xavi pass because his positioning failed him in this game.

LB Patrice Evra 5.5 I though the Frenchman had a poor game today and really didn't defend well at all. He gave Dani Alves far too much time and space on Barca's right flank.

CB Nemanja Vidic 7.5 Vidic is the best defender in the game, and his crunching tackles early on showed it. He faded as the game wore on and was partially at fault for Messi's goal. He still had a great game and was a leader at the back.

CB Rio Ferdinand 7 Ferdinand had a solid game, per usual, and was a rock at the back. He's another one of the best defensive players in the game.

RB Fabio 6 He was subbed off and had a very average game but did make one nice clearance early on. He was invisible in attack though.

LM Ryan Giggs 5.5 I thought Giggs turned in a less than par performance which is not what we have come to expect from the veteran.

CM Michael Carrick 6.5 He was his team's best passer on this day, and that alone earns him some merit. Although his team couldn't pass, he was the only person in the midfield that put forth a positive effort.

CM Ji-Sung Park 5 I though Park played a very poor game and was constantly beat out on the ball.

RM Antonio Valencia 4 The Ecuadorian is unquestionably a star, but he played like a benchwarmer on a relegated Premier League side in this game. Valencia was clueless, slow, had no touch on his passes, and resorted to committing silly challenges towards the end of the game.

ST Wayne Rooney 7.5 He was by far the best player on his team today and showed why he is the star on Man U. Rooney can properly lead a club, and imagine what he would have been capable of if he actually got decent service from his midfield. His goal was well-taken, and I think he could have bagged an 8 match rating and a brace had Nani played the whole game.

ST Javier Hernandez 4.5 Chicharito is one of my favorite players, but he was horrible today. He was hassled by Mascherano and was frustrated throughout the match. It is a game the young striker will need to forget, but it will definitely be impossible for him to. He just needs to learn from this game and improve later on.
Man of the Match

Let's talk about soccer now with the 2012 Euro Qualifying games in full throat. Let's preview a game that features a team that went to the World Cup. Switzerland is one of the best defensive teams in the world, but they have been disappointing in the qualifying stages with only 3 points under their belts. They are currently tied with the team they are facing today- Bulgaria- for 3rd place in Group G. They are definitely looking for a win here.

First, let us analyze Bulgaria's team. Goalkeeper Nikolay Mihaylov is a mediocre 22 year old that is prone to rash decisions. Left back Chavdar Yankov is another subpar player, and right back Petr Zanev is a terrible player. They won't get forward to a good degree, and things will look a little bit bleak on the supporting areas of the flanks. Switzerland can easily get by them on that front. Stanislav Manolev is an average center back that is the only worthy player on Bulgaria's defense. Fellow center back Ivan Ivanov is a horrible player that can be easily exploited.

Ivelin Popov and Blagoy Georgiev are mediocre players on the flanks, and they are both better than the defenders on the flanks. Popov is a young, quick winger while Georgiev is the veteran of the two. Stanislav Angelov is old and poor in the center of the pitch, but fellow veteran center mid Stiliyan Petrov is the team's best player. He is a good player that sets up his teammates well and is easily the best attacking threat for Bulgaria. Dimitar Angelov and Dimitar Makriev are two poor strikers that won't trouble Switzerland.

Now, on to the Swiss team that is plagued with injuries. Marco Wolfli will have to play in place for star goalkeeper Diego Benaglio, who is the key and best player on the team. Wolfli is an average keeper overall. Stephan Lichtsteiner of Lazio and Pirmin Schwegler of Frankfurt are a nice tandem on the flanks for Switzerland. I see them dominating the poor Bulgarian's out wide. Lichtsteiner could be in for a big day.

The Ajax CB Stephane Grichting and Steve Von Bergen make up a solid tandem in the heart of the defense. They will be able to easily deal with the Dimitars. The young wingers Valon Behrami and Valentin Stocker will have their way on the wings, and they will really wreak havoc on Bulgaria. Gokhan Inler is a very important cog for Switzerland, and he is the counter to Bulgaria's Petrov. Blerim Dzemaili is an average center midfielder. Marco Streller and Alexander Frei are two decent strikers that will cause some troubles for Bulgaria.

Even with the injuries and poor play of late, Switzerland is still the better team. I see them winning 2-0 with two second half goals from Inler and Frei. I think Bulgaria will be exposed on the flanks, and their horrible attacking doesn't compare well to the legendary defending of this Swiss side. Switzerland beat the champions in the World Cup, so they should be able to cope with the Bulgarians even through injuries, poor streaks and all.
Should Have Something to Cheer About

Van Gaal To Leave Bayern

March 7th 2011 15:53
Ah, let's get some soccer talk flowing back onto the blog. I have always thought Bayern Munich manager Louis Van Gaal is completely overrated, and now many more people are starting to realize the truth about the once esteemed manager. Bayern Munich are set to fire him in the summer after he has made several questionable transfer and tactical moves. This is breaking news, and Bayern have released a statement saying that Van Gaal will be fired on June 30. Everything happens that day in sports. Van Gaal will be fired, and it will also be the day the NBA's CBA expires- which is the day before NBA free agency.

Sticking to soccer, Bayern have had a poor season, and their loss to Hannover put an exclamation mark on their under-achievement this season. While it is true that their defense is horrible, it is still not much of an excuse when you look at the funds they have available and the incredible talent they possess in the midfield. The Bavarians also have a nice stable of strikers.

Jeremy Toulalan has signed an extension until 2015 with Lyon. The holding midfielder is a solid presence on the pitch for OL, and he is also a leader for them that provides something in defense as well as attack. Although Toulalan hasn't been at his best this year, Lyon know that he is a key part of their future. The team has recently signed quite a few players in order to shore up their future. Signing somebody through 2015 is a vote of confidence in soccer, but it isn't as meaningful as in other sports because transfers are always made.

Jan Popluhar has passed away at the age of 75. He was a great player that played on the 1962 Czechoslovakia team that was able to get to the World Cup Final. Popluhar died in Bratislava, and the center back was named the best soccer player for Slovakia in the 1900s. He was a great defensive presence and leader on the backline who also appeared in the 1960 Euro competition in which the team was 3rd in. Popluhar also was a member of the 1958 World Cup squad. Let us remember somebody who was the greatest player for their country. That's what soccer is all about; representing your country.

There was another coaching change for a noteworthy team, but the headlines have been dominated by the breaking news of Van Gaal's announced summer departure. This move in Sampordia will happen right now, and people should take note of what is going on with the struggling Serie A side. Domenico Di Carlo was fired and replaced by Alberto Casavin. Casavin has coached for Fiorentina before, and he was given a four-month contract.

Sampordia has struggled mainly because their All-World striker duo of Antonio Cassano and Giampolo Pazzini were transfered to AC and Inter Milan respectively. The giants took two of the best players in the world from Sampordia, and those two players were the only guys sustaining Sampordia. They were the team's only two stars.
To Be Fired in Summer

2010 Orble Sport Awards

January 2nd 2011 16:15
I just want to thank everybody that posts on Orble and comments on other blogs. The guys that drop in and comment/read/vote on my blog are really important to me and this website. These awards were viewer's choice, so there really shouldn't be any big snubs. There were two ties, and I gave the person that won the least amount of awards the tiebreaker. However, I did list both people that were tied. At the end of the main awards, I will list everybody who received votes. Thanks guys for an amazing 2010! Let's keep it up and move ahead better in 2011!

Overall Blog: Pro Sports Wrap

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2010 PSW Awards Athletes of the Year

December 22nd 2010 16:21
With 2010 winding down to a close, I am about to recap the year by listing the best of the year in sports. There are several categories, and I hope everybody comments and enjoys.

Athlete of the Year: Roy Halladay

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Yeah, I haven't written about anything soccer in a while or very much on this website. It's mainly because- as an American- I am focused on basketball, baseball, and football. That's America's Big 3. What I'm writing about is obvious and overstated, but I will try and bring it into different terms. This season, there have only been three undisputed elite soccer teams in the world. Those are Dortmund- who lost to Frankfurt and are spiraling downward, Manchester United- who might not even deserve to be on this list, and Barcelona. Only the last team of those three cannot be questioned at all.

All three teams have dominated, and really I should rephrase that sentence in the last paragraph. Only one of those teams is indisputably elite. I just had to name a top three. Barcelona are mowing through the La Liga in style. Nobody can exactly romp the Champions League, but if anyone can- it's Barcelona. Usually, we find about five teams each year that are very strong. Last year, Chelsea; Inter; Barca; Bayern; and Manchester United were dominant. This year, it's been all about La Blaugrana

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11/8 Talking Sports: Torres Terrifies

November 8th 2010 16:11
I just want to talk about sports, plain and simple. So this format enables me to just ramble on about the topic that all you readers that read this blog want to hear about. Here at PSW, we are all about the fans and sports. So sit back, relax, read, and most of all; enjoy.

I was surprised just as much as you were. No, not the dominance of Peyton Hillis and especially not the dominance of Aaron Hernandez. I have always known that Hernandez was capable of big things. However, the Cleveland Browns obliterated the New England Patriots even when the Pats passed the pigskin perfectly. Tom Brady was hooking up with his receivers. Cleveland's QB didn't look too bad either. Rookie Colt McCoy has been what Mike Holmgren has envisioned him to be; smart and accurate

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Top Ten Best Transfers of 2010 Summer

September 11th 2010 14:36
1. David Villa from Valencia to Barcelona. Villa was the most talented player transfered. He has been incredible on a national scale, and was such a capture that Barca subsequently transfered superstar striker Zlatan Ibrahamovic

2. Zlatan Ibrahamovic from Barcelona to AC Milan. This was a transfer that helped bring in "The Big 4"; Pato, Ronaldinho, Ibrahamovic, and Robinho. Milan are now the favorites to win the Serie A due to this move and another move that will be mentioned later

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Robinho and Huntelaar Transfered

August 31st 2010 13:58
It's that time of year again. Soccer players are on the move during the last day of the transfer season. Robinho was involved in many rumors pointing to a move to AC Milan. The Serie A powerhouse had just completed a huge move involving another high profile striker, Zlatan Ibrahamovic.

As a result, star striker Klaas-Jan Huntelaar was transfered to Schalke. In truth, Huntelaar is better than Robinho. Schalke got a really nice deal and he will form a fearsome tandem in attack with veteran striker Raul. Schalke also signed Jurado, a striker from Atletico. Both moves solidify Schalke's status as the second best attacking team in the Bundesliga. However, they are still nowhere near the super class of Bayern

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Gallas Joins Spurs

August 22nd 2010 17:25
No, not San Antonio. I am talking about Tottenham. I have decided to write about soccer due to increasing demands. Arsenal is my favorite soccer team. They released one of the top defenders, Williams Gallas, and Gallas signed with crosstown rivals Tottenham.

The Spurs are willing to make moves to compete with the rest of the teams in the league that recently made big splashes. Asier Del Horno is another former Chelsea defender that found himself on the move

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