Friday, 17 February 2017

Arsenal can't stop Robben, but who can?

Some things in life are certain; death, taxes and Arjen Robben shifting the ball onto his left boot to almost certainly score. 

Arsenal were the latest victims of the Dutchman’s unstoppable magic, as he opened the scoring at the Allianz Arena just eleven minutes into Bayern Munich’s 5-1 demolishing of Arsenal. 

The goal was a typical Robben goal, a branded goal that the footballing world has become accustomed to admiring – yet the problem of defending against him seems to be unsolvable. 

Three Arsenal players were heavily scrutinised for their role in Robben’s sensational 25 yard strike, Francis Coquelin the main culprit for warmly inviting Robben’s left foot into the game. 

Robben has been at the peak of European football for over ten years, putting his stamp on the game with his illusive nature on the flanks.  

Despite the subtle change of the role of a wide player in the contemporary game, Robben has never changed his style. When in attack, his intent is clear, yet still, at the mature footballing age of 33, he deceives the defences of the Bundesliga and the Champions League. 

Following a game in which Robben’s name features on the scoresheet, it is a usual occurrence that the opposing defence are criticised for being seduced by Robben’s left footed charm. 

Very few stop Robben, he has been playing his game the same way, whether it be at PSV, Chelsea, Real Madrid or Bayern Munich. 

Robben relies so heavily on his left foot, which is why team’s inability to stop him is sometimes regarded as a myth. 

While his one footed nature is so unique in today’s game, a few of the previous wave of Europe’s elite opted for the strong footed reliance, clinical play on the flanks. 
Ferenc Puskas was one of the best to do so, and aspects of his game are heavily noticeable in that of Arjen Robben’s. 

Hungarian frontman, Puskas, was regarded as one of Europe’s greatest of all time for his services to both Real Madrid and the Hungarian national team, yet he did it all on one foot. 

Like Robben, he was heavily left-footed, and unable to be stopped. Branded as the 'Galloping Major'Puskas split defences, and frequently crowned his skill with a goal. 
The time has come for it to be questioned whether defenders should be taking the blame, or whether we should be applying more emphasis on admiring the magic of Robben and his style. 

It would seem that fans instantly look for a point of blame rather than accepting mastery. Mesut Oezil was thrown into the criticism of the defending against Robben, the fact of the matter may be that no one in his place could have terminated the threat of Munich’s number 10. 

Arsenal aren’t alone in being victimised by Arjen Robben, but will the Gunners be capable of shutting down the winger in the second leg in North London? 

Monday, 12 December 2016

Does the rise of RB Leipzig mark the subtle death of German football?

The Bundesliga has seen many changes over the years, however, none more than this year.

League favourites such as FC Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund have made way for the current league leaders, RasenBallsport Leipzig.

Seven seasons ago, RB Leipzig were in the fifth division of German football, they now sit in first place of the country’s top division.

But how?

The league has changed dramatically over time, and has now subtly adopted the ritual that the club with the most money will be the most likely for the title.

RB Leipzig were founded in 2009, becoming the successor club for SSV Markranstadt, after gaining the financial backing of Red Bull.

Since their successful path to supremacy in Germany, the club have come under intense scrutiny, becoming the villains of the Bundesliga.

The club arguably go against all that German domestic football stands for, tradition and club history, the idea of building clubs from scratch, with the critical input of supporters.

RB Leipzig do not follow such guidelines, with just seventeen members with power to vote in club proposals, the value of fan power is virtually non-existent.  

The majority of Bundesliga clubs are against the rise of Leipzig, with good reason.

'RB Leipzig was founded to make money. To sell an energy drink.' Said a fan of Leipzig’s former top club, Lokomotiv Leipzig.

Their continued success is feared, mainly from the viewpoint of financially inadequate clubs, who possess huge club history.

Formerly successful clubs have made way for RB Leipzig, who in their view, and the view of many others, have walked through the leagues as cheats, fueled by ludicrous amounts of funding.

VfB Stuttgart, who are now represented in the 2.Bundesliga, were German Champions just nine years ago.

After a loss of funding from their city, partly due to the rise of TSG Hoffenheim, the club have been particularly inconsistent, which eventually sacrificed their place in the top division.

When considering the success and fight of VfB, who were founded in 1893, the rise of RB Leipzig as their replacement is a pill hard to swallow.

Would the success of Leipzig inspire investors to transform teams into potential German champions one day? Would this destroy the traditional meaning of the Bundesliga?

However, some wonder why Leipzig aren’t celebrated more.

They are the first club to emerge in the Bundesliga from East Germany since 2009 – an area of the country that has seen its footballing tradition obliterated by assimilation.

They do also play some quite attractive football, which they should, considering their almost unlimited funding for training facilities.

RB Leipzig are the unfortunate reflection of modern day football, frowned upon by so many.

Regardless of opinions, die Bullen currently sit three points clear of current champions, Bayern Munich, at the top of the table.

It will be interesting to see the aftermath of this season, should Ralph Hassenhuttl’s team deliver the Bundesliga title, can German tradition survive?