The Similarities Are Striking

I was shooting the shit in The Big Lead’s thread for Euro 2008 during Germany’s quarterfinal defeat of Portugal (which I completely fucked up on my prediction because I didn’t account for the Iberian Peninsula dwellers’ shitty concept of defense, particularly on set pieces), and one of the commenters described Portugal as overrated with one superstar, a mediocre striker, and a bunch of similar wing players who don’t defend well.

Sounds familiar, and it’s not all too far off from something we might be more familiar with, as this bears more than a similarity to the Los Angeles Lakers. Let’s look at this bit by bit (and feel free to tear this apart, since this is hastily considered and from someone with very little soccer knowledge):

  • Cristiano Ronaldo is Kobe, obviously — most talented player in his sport, also often the most petulant and whiny about foul calls.  This dichotomy of brilliance and arrogance is both attractive and off-putting.
  • Nuno Gomes and Deco can trade the Odom and Gasol roles back and forth. It depends on the match. Gomes isn’t the regular ideal of a striker to begin with (see Pau and lack of physical play inside) and had been just about non-existent in Euro 2008 until he got a score off a Ronaldo deflection down 2-0. Deco pulled an Odom against Germany, just completely ineffective and disappeared after two games where he was a big part of the attack. (He’s better than this in club matches, even though he had a lousy season with FC Barcelona last year in La Liga.)
  • Nani could be a Bynum-like fount of developing potential. The pass he made to Postiga to make it 3-2 late was some nice work.
  • It’s a stretch to line up Pepe and Ricardo with Vlad Radmanovic, but both showed an active lack of defending (Ricardo gambles so much in goal) and Pepe absolutely blew a wide open shot in the first half.
  • The rest of the squad seems to consist of a lot of individually talented mids and drop-back guys who aren’t coordinated as a team.

Someone else in the thread went for the Cavaliers comparison, but for that to work, there would need to be absolutely nothing around CR7. Deco is talented and knows how to play; Gomes can score if he works for it; there are talented guys on that team, but they just cannot put it together right now to match the talent they have on hand against a bigger and steadier team like the Germans.

Of course, Moleman then lined up by saying that Spain are the Mavs (loaded with talent, choke early), Germany is the Spurs (ruthlessly efficient, talented, occasionally dull, but always in it), and the Dutch are the Nuggets (no defense). We’ll see if that holds.

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