Thursday, February 10, 2011

International Friendlies: Winner And Losers

Winner- Ashley Young- When a 21 year old Ashley Young took the Premier League by storm at the start of the 2006/07 season, few would have predicted that the Watford youngster would later be dubbed as the future of English football. While it is always dangerous to give any player, young or old, this sort of tag, after watching Young's brilliant second-half performance against Denmark it seems fitting to present the Villa winger with this title. However, it's ridiculous to present a player with a label of this magnitude based on solely one half of football, so one must realize that putting today's match in Denmark to one side, Young still sports quite an impressive career. Having made a big hit for newly promoted Watford in the first half of the 06/07 season, Young signed for Aston Villa in January 2007, for a then record fee of 9.75 million pounds. Since signing for Villa, Young has tormented Premier League defenses with his brilliant crossing and uncanny ability to produce from the dead ball situation. Young has been one of the shining lights for Villa this season, in what has been a mostly dour campaign at Villa Park and, in November, he was rewarded with a start for England against Montenegro. Young failed to make much of an impact that night, but, following continued good form, was given a forty-five minutes to make his mark against Denmark. To say that Young seized the day doesn't do his performance justice. Young ran the Danish defense ragged, and scored the winning goal, his first for England, with a fine finish. English football fans will hope that Young continues his rapid development and, eventually, secure a starting spot in the English national team.

Loser- David Villa- European Championship top goalscorer, World Cup winner, FC Barcelona star and now the man who missed two sitters in two seconds. After having to wait so long to equal Raul's scoring record for the Spanish national team, Villa would have hoped for an early opportunity to finally pip the former Real Madrid man, and in all honesty, when presented with his opportunity, Villa fluffed his lines, first hitting the post and then sending the ball several yards wide with the goal gaping. Since almost single handedly winning Spain the World Cup, Villa's form for his country has been indifferent at best, with his only goal of the qualifying campaign coming from the penalty spot against Scotland. David Villa will hope to avoid the stress of a long wait for that record breaking goal with a strike during Spain's next game, a home tie against the Czech Republic.

Winner- Karim Benzema- For Benzema, it has been a year of struggle at Real Madrid, which, last weekend, culminated in him losing his place in the side to new signing Emmanuel Adebayor. However, every time Benzema pulls on the blue shirt of France he seems to turn into a different, more confident player. Benzema followed up a goal at Wembley against England, with another International strike, this time against Brazil, a goal which later proved to be the winner. Fans of Los Blancos will be hoping that Benzema can translate his International form onto the Bernabeau pitch.

Loser- Hernanes- In his first appearance for the Brazilian national team since 2008, Hernanes showed the world that midfield creativity is only part of his game. A first half kung-fu kick on Karim Benzema brought back memories of the likes of Eric Cantona and Nigel De Jong, as the Lazio midfield maestro managed to get himself sent off in a friendly match. No mean feat that.

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