Game of week 1
Sweaty FC 2 – 3 Stoic City
Clash of the big two from last season saw Stoic host Sweaty FC. Although early in the campaign it was always going to be very interesting to see how two of the more settled clubs were going to start the season. Stoic lined up with the usual protagonist Lionel Messi at the heart of the attack whilst Sweaty who usually press relentlessly wore their new tangerine strip.
Kevin De Bruyne was at the heart of the early exchanges showing both guile and execution cleverly linking with the raiding Portuguese full back Semedo on the Stoic right hand side. Messi almost opened the scoring with a snap shot inside the early exchanges. Stoic began to dominate possesion in with Immobile making his PEP return for Sweaty after a few seasons hiatus looked a brooding solitary figure, Isolated and powerless out numbered and facing the impervious Jerome Boateng. With the homegrown Julian Wiegl initiatiang the attacks as the regista and Eriksen and De Bruyne coming into the half spaces early indications pointed in the diirection of a painful afternoon for Sweaty. Naingollans clever clipped ball saw Costa have a great chance breaking the line and running behind on Goal however Yann Sommers goal wasnt threated as the Brazilian born bullish strikers effort trickled harmlessly wide. Radja Naingollan was covering every blade of Grass and his effort from 20 yards out saw a ruotine save palmed away by Sommer for a corner. The pressure was building.
For all of Citys huffing and puffing they couldnt blow Sweatys house down on the counter Ramsey would often look to Inaki Williams as an outlet, Immobiles shot was deflected just after the 30th minute but you began to sense that Sweaty could be effective on the counter attack. Indeed a Sweaty corner not properly dealt with was recycled by Lallan whose cross was met by El Shaaraway. The italians header was decent and Donnaruma the Teenage Goalie making his debut was easily beaten at his near post. 1-0 Sweaty and very much against the run of play.
The momentum had switched Glik was looking Solid at the back, Ramsey was pressing well in midfield and was making progressive passes was this going to be just one of those days for Stioc City. Sweatys passing was often wasteful and such a wasteful pass was seized upon by the Stoic Defence on 45 minutes, decently constructed attack was half dealt with by the Sweaty defence only for a harmless effort from Naingollan to deflect on the post and then off Sommers back for the equaliser on the strioke of halftime. 1-1!
Halftime, on the balance of play well deserved but you sensed Sweaty were going to have to be more efficient on the counter and Stoic were going to create chances.
City came out fired up in the second half, a brilliant piece of combination play between Messi and Semedo saw the offensive full back clip a great ball in the area, Fox in the box Costa got across the face of the defender to guide in an adorable header 2-1 Stoic and Sweaty were up against it. Both teams were now pressing Lallana and Ramsey for Sweaty whose 2017/18 incarnation look alot more cohesive than last years team. Wiegl covering the back four of Stoic and Naingollan nipping in to intercept, tackle or just devour anyone foolish enough to want to play a game of football anywhere in a 1 mile radius of “That mohican”
Sweaty constantly looking to chuck the ball in behind the back four were getting the game at the frenzied tempo they thrive upon. Stoic were being lured into a basket ball game. Jordi Albas noble attempt to impersonate a Sweaty player was thwatrted as his racking long ball was dealt with by the on rushing Sommer. The pin ball was collected by Ramsey who done the trade mark Sweaty direct transition, Immobile was through and finished without hesitation. 2-2 and Stoic had let the game slip. Ramsey who had been excellent slipped a sumptuous pass to Immobile and how many times this season will we be saying that. 2-2, 68 mins, Game on!!
Sensing the battle was on Weigl who was substituted for Strootman. Perhaps Strootmans fighting spirit and tendency to press aggresivley were deemed more important than the elegance of Weigl whose influence had somewhat dwindled as the tempo of the game had changed. Lukaku was on for Messi with Stoic opting for two strikers and Rakitic was brought on but for Ramsey. Strootman and Naingollan in the midfield, Costa and Lukaku up front Stoic clearly want to impose their will on the opposition can they out Sweaty, Sweaty FC?
This could be anyones game now Immobile now linking with the on rushing midfielders looked a threat, Lukaku getting the ball in the channel only for a professional foul by Sokratis. Yellow Card, Free Kick! Sweaty’s best attack of the game initiated by Rakatic saw E Sharraway connect with Immobile. Immobile missed the chance to put them back ahead! Criminal miss.
Stoic were getting back into rythem, Semedo was having a growing influence on proceedings. De Bruyne then clipped a pinpoint cross in the Area, Lukaku rose 3-2 and a goal of pure quality. When De Bruyne is afforded such space to pick a pass the outcome is inevitable, such is the quality of the player that he only needs a moment to unlock a defence and Sweaty didnt do too much wrong.
Stoic could taste blood and Lukaku looked unplayable nodding down the initial long ball. Spinning in behind, racing in on goal only to be thwarted by the Excellent Sommer who pulled of a double save. Sommer pulled of another save from Costa but it was not enough Stoic win 3-2.
Semedo and Naingollan were fantastic as was Immobile. Sweaty defended well but need more quality on the counter attack. Stoic started off well and ultimateley deserved the win. Whilst there was moment of brilliance it was not a convincing performance and the team lacked the attacking qualites we see year in year out. Messi performance was okay but poor from his standards whilst Naingollan done well but could a more creative number 8 helped connect with Messi, Eriksen and De Bruyne more? Nevertheless a very entertaining exchange and the cameo from Lukaku may lead to him starting future games as he looked unplayable.