A Bridge Too FarBy: Gordon | December 24th, 2011
This post comes almost a week after the game due to my busy schedule, but it had to come eventually. As anyone reading this already knows, the challenge for the third world title failed at the last hurdle with a 4×0 defeat to Barcelona. In the aftermath of the Spanish team’s comprehensive victory, I’ve seen a number of reactions, most of which have one thing in common. There was a general disappointment at the way that Santos lost i.e. playing defensively, letting Barcelona control the midfield by standing off them, and Muricy’s use of a 3-5-2 – among other things.
Firstly, I must say that the line of thought that we should have attacked Barcelona because that was our “normal game” is risible. The team has played reactive football under Muricy 95% of the time. Personally, I agreed with Muricy’s decision to park the bus. Some sides can go at Barcelona by pressing high up the pitch, but that would be suicide for Santos’ current team. The players fail to play that way successfully in Brazil. I don’t see how that would work against the best team in the world with the same men on the pitch.
However, the rest of the points made are completely valid. The players looked shell-shocked and timidly went about trying to stifle Barcelona. The whole aura around the side was summed up by Neymar missing a 1v1 with chance against Valdes. He normally buries those opportunities. A superhuman performance necessary this venture to be a success, but the eleven men on the pitch weren’t up to it. Actually, that’s being a bit harsh. Rafael had a pretty good game.
Looking towards the bench, a lot of the blame falls on Muricy’s shoulders. The decision to play a 3-5-2 against a team like Barcelona that often plays without a recognizable striker was ludicrous. Then there was his telling Neymar, Borges, and Ganso to play ahead of the ball instead of helping the team to win it back. The defeat on Sunday let Muricy with quite a bit of pie on his face. I especially loved Tim Vickery’s sarcastic response to his tactical decisions.
I think that’s all I have to say about the game. The squad now has a well-deserved rest after a long, tiring, and fulfilling year. The players who have been playing all year will be back in training on January 23, but those who were contracting during the middle of the year – Ibson, Renteria, Henrique, etc. – will have to return on the fifth of January for the start of 2012’s Paulista campaign.
Ganso sold 10% of his rights to the DIS group further increasing the rumors of a move away from Santos. The board now wants to table an offer that will increase his salary five fold to keep him.
I don’t remember mentioning this before, but the club has almost wrapped up the signing of Jonas from Coritiba. That’s the rightback spot fortified for next season. Hopefully this is the first of many good signing to come in the off-season.
Until Next Time
A season review will be up in the next couple of days. Farewell until then.