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Wednesday, February 13, 2013

The S-Thread For 2/13/12: 2012-13 Champions League Round of 16 Day 2 (Halftime Version)

Halfitme: Both games tied at 1-1


The pros and cons of Angel Di Maria summed up into that first half. 

The two major moments of the first half represented Angel Di Maria at his best and worst. Him leaving his far post responsibilities lead to Danny Welbeck's vital away goal. But his energetic playing style and tremendous offensive class shown in his latest perfect left footed delivery for Ronaldo's magical header. 

 Halftime adjustments 

Michael Carrick has got to step up for United and help them have some sound possession in the midfield to combat Madrid's determined effort to try and score at least two goals in half #2. 



The keys to tonight's mega clash:

1) Although Johnny Evans has had his best season by far in a United uniform, he still is a liability against top class sides. Him and Ferdinand are easily drawn out by aggressive midfielders and sophisticated center forwards who make smart runs. Benzema has to take advantage of that today to turnaround what has so far been a disappointing campaign for him.

2) Though a quality goalkeeper in his own right, Diego Lopez is not Iker Casillias, and it will be vital that he makes sound decisions today.

3) Fabio Coentrao has to be discipline and smart with his decision making to go forward to assist young Varane on the right side today in defense.

4) Michael Carrick must show that he is class enough to handle a game like this with a strong two-way performance. Thought of as good but not great, Carrick has to take his game to another level in order to the likes of Alonso and Khedira to not completely boss the game in the middle of the park.

5) United's Rafael and Madrid's Arbeloa will have to be called on today not to be anything less than exceptional. It's likely that despite them not getting much attention that their performances today could decide the game.

Madrid has placed all their eggs in the basket to win this Champions league this season and will build off their good performance from Saturday in hammering Sevilla. United have too many backline problems that have been covered up the last few weeks, but will be fortunate to nick a goal. 2-1 Madrid. 

Halftime review and tactical changes will come after the first 45 minutes. 

Donetsk-Dortmund

Meanwhile, in the night's other match, it was suppose to be a great 50/50 slick passing tie between Shaktar Donetsk and Borussia Dortmund, and that still could be the case.

However, with the shock departure of Willian and their three month winter break, it will be very tough for Shaktar to hold off Dortmund, even with talented fellow Brazilian Taison replacing him.

Still, they are difficult at home and will be as competitive as possible. The lineups for their first leg tie:


Tuesday, February 12, 2013

The S-Thread For 2/12/13: 2012-2013 The Champions League Round of 16 Day 1


The lineups, first for Celtic/Juventus 

And Valencia/PSG 

Really do predict home victories today actually for the underdog sides, as Valencia has enough quality in their squad and Celtic just seem to play with terrific fervor at home. But we'll see what happens. 

Sunday, February 3, 2013

TWD Super Bowl XLVII Thread For 2/3/13: The Unsung Key Players


The following players likely won't be at the centerpiece of the DisneyWorld ad, but they need to be instrumental in order for their team to have glory at around 11 PM tonight.

49ers 

Bruce Miller- The most unrecognized member of the Pistol formation, Miller springs the key last block for either Frank Gore or Colin Kaepernick that is just as essential to the formation's success as a great O-line and its dynamic skills players. Him getting the key seal on Suggs, Ellerbe, or Lewis will be vital to the success.

Delanie Walker- While Vernon Davis gets all the deserved praise, Walker is crucial to this offense, especially with both Kyle WIlliams and Mario Manningham being out for the season. His ability to line up properly at both TE and FB positions, and be a reliable safety net option underneath has given San Francisco another weapon.

Navarro Bowman- Although a Pro-Bowler himself, Bowman has not been given as much superstar attention as his righthand man Willis. But make no mistake, he is one of the game's best at his position. His knockdown of Matt Ryan's pass to Tony Gonzales to seal the 49ers trip to New Orleans displayed his great ability to play in coverage just like Willis. Ravens TE's Dennis Pitta and Ed Dickson had success exposing the Patriots' inability for their linebackers to cover, but they will have to run the crisps of routes and hope they catch Bowman and Willis surprisingly unfocus.  

Andy Lee- Arguably the best punters in the NFL, Lee has continued to show why punters sometimes are invited into the defensive unit meetings. No matter the elements, Lee has excelled in making sure opponents don't get either great field position on the field or placed them deep inside their own 10 yard line.  Although Jim Harbaugh certainly doesn't want to call on him at all this evening, Lee will always be ready to make Joe Flacco and company go the distance in order to score.

Ravens

Dannelle Ellerbe- The unsung member of this defense, he's been the lynchpin keeping them as much afloat while standouts Lewis and Suggs were hurt. Key with the run and adapt in coverage, Ellerbe will have to make vital reads today and do it all to handle Miller's blocking in the pistol, and Davis/Walker's ability to get open in the intermediate flats.

Paul Kruger- Every player on the Ravens defensive will have to focus on their specific keys today, and Kruger has to be near the top of the list. From a pass rushing specialist to start his career, the 4th year man has been given more responsibility as the season has progressed. He must stay discipline and deny Kaepernick the edge and trust his inside men to make the plays on Gore and get off the blocks.

Ed Dickson- While Dennis Pitta receivers most of the tight end billing, Dickson will be another vital option underneath for Joe Flacco against the versatile aggressive coverage of Vic Fangio's linebackers. Him making plays underneath could make Donte Whitner and Dashon Goldson play up, and allow Joe Flacco to go up top one on one with Torrey Smith versus Carlos Rogers.

Bryant McKinnie- Ever since Jai Read went down for the season, McKinnie has been arguably the most vital replacement of any offensive lineman in the league. McKinnie allowed Michael Oher to move back to the rightside and has given Flacco the protection that has allowed him to be terrific in the postseason. As Justin Smith's return has allowed Aldon Smith those one-on-one matches he desires, McKinnie will have to be as outstanding with his size today as he has been the last month and a half if Baltimore wants to get their 2nd ring.

Small diversity tidbit: 

More significant in this game in terms of the whole minority element than Colin Kapernick potentially coming the 2nd black quarterback to win this game is Jim Caldwell becoming the first offensive coordinator to win a Super Bowl.

Prediction: 

Nevertheless, even with the Lewis story and momentum along with the Ravens appearing as a team of destiny, the 49ers just have too much versatility and weapons in this game for Baltimore to overcome this time. It's 24-20 to the 49ers in this one. 

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