29th May 2016: Musings on all-Madrid final + Djourou on Pirlo-esque Xhaka

Sunday greetings. So Real Madrid were crowned European champions for a record 11th time last night after beating Diego Simeone’s Atletico Madrid on penalties.

Cristiano Ronaldo was the man to hog the limelight after scoring the winning penalty in the shoot-out, despite stinking out the San Siro with his ‘performance’ in the 120 minutes of action. Best player of all-time? Pffffff, do me a favour, he’s not even the best player to have played in England – Thierry takes that tag by a distance.

Anyway, some brief thoughts on a few more of the players in action last night; the Atletico keeper was fantastic I thought, and given that club have scouted and signed David de Gea and Thiabaut Courtois in the past, perhaps we ought to be paying close attention the next time they identify a new keeper signing and get there first.

Antoine Griezmann was impressive, despite missing a penalty in the second half and if there’s any chance whatsoever of enticing him from Spain to north London, I’d urge us to explore the possibility. Saul Niguez played like a more athletic Jon Toral and it’s easy to understand why he’s reportedly attracting strong interest from the Premier League.

As for Real, Casimiro was great in midfield, Benzema’s performance suggested we dodged a bullet last summer and for me, their best attacking player is Gareth Bale. He was good in spurts last night but saw nowhere near enough of the ball as far as I’m concerned, with team-mates often declining to pass him the ball and opting to look for Ronaldo instead. It was counter-productive for them to say the least and if I were Madrid, I’d get as much money for Ronaldo as a PSG or a Manchester City would be stupid enough to pay and make Bale their attacking fulcrum.

Moving on and there’s very little to move on to. Former Gunner Johan Djourou has likened new Arsenal signing Granit Xhaka to Andrea Pirlo, saying:

He’s got this ability to play very long balls, very precise balls, and I always say he reminds me a bit of Pirlo, the way he plays. He’s got the ability to play the Arsenal way. He’s got this aggressiveness about him that will help him in the Premier League, and he’s a great ball player and ball winner as well. He asked me a lot of things about London, the club, and I could only say great things about it because I had a great experience there. I think that the people at the club are just amazing, and those who run the club as well. I think he’s going to have a great time.

As I said in a previous post recently, Xhaka reminds me more of a left-footed Xabi Alonso than anyone else I can think of off the top of my head but I can see where Johan’s coming from.

Right, that’ll do for tonight.

See you next week.

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