30 May 2009
Cup finals saw the conclusion of the club season in both England and Germany today. In the FA Cup Final, Chelsea came from behind to beat Everton 2-1. In the DFB-Pokal final, captain Frank Baumann retired in style as Werder Bremen will see Europa League football after defeating Bayer Leverkusen 1-0.
History was made in today's FA Cup final. No, not the commentweeting Jon Champion did, but by Louis Saha's opening goal twenty-five seconds into the match. There was a massive hint of offsides in the buildup, but when you don't clear your lines properly, expect to get burned. Saha's finish was worthy of any goal for any final as his volley was simply sensational. It also validated David Moyes decision to include Saha in the starting eleven.
It was what the final needed, Everton scoring first. It rattled every cage (mine included) and forced Chelsea into life. The only problem was it took Chelsea fifteen minutes to remember they were in a game of football. Then tragedy struck Everton. Florent Malouda was left unmarked on the wing and the back four were completely flat footed. When given the time, Malouda won't screw up the cross and Didier Drogba made sure he finished the job, running right though the center backs to level after twenty minutes.
For the quality on offer in the first half, the second half made us all long for the first final at the New Wembley Stadium. It was just that dire. Sure there were a few chances, but between all the bad passes and shambolic crosses, it started to resemble an AYSO game. Then Frank Lampard finished the job. For Lampard there are plenty of people to thank. He can thank Phil Neville for over running that ball. He can thank the rest of Everton's side for not closing him down even after slipping on the Wembley turf. But most of all, he can thank Tim Howard for being on the wrong foot and not extending as much as he could in saving the ball. Let's not discount the goal though, it was quality and was worthy of any game winner.
I feel bad for David Moyes. He had to manage his ass off in order to get this side where they were, and even then were only a forty-five minute side. The pieces are there, it's just going to be a matter of going out and finding players that can stay fit. For Chelsea, it's going to be about who they can get in as manager. Then it will be about starting the process of getting rid of some of the age and replacing them with fresh faces.
The DFB-Pokal final was not good fare. Yes, the game was technically sound, but both sides constantly fell to pieces in the final third. Both sides needed to win to qualify for Europe next season, and it was mostly one way fare throughout...for the green and white of Werder Bremen.
In a first half that lacked chances (only one off a Diego free kick late in the half), the second half wasn't much better. The lone goal in the match came just before the hour after Bayer failed to win a header and then fell to pieces at the back. Again it was Diego who was key in the goal, his pass to Mesut Ozil giving him the angle to shoot. His shot took a deflection, and put Rene Adler on the island. In all honesty, it was more of a fluke goal that came from Bayer mistakes than a goal of skill.
Bayer pushed for a goal, but three times had the ball go across the frame of goal. Bayer never looked in the game as Bremen came out the more determined side, wanting to win this for their captain. Diego, in his last match before leaving for Juventus, put in a man of the match performance and was very committed to leaving having helped Bremen into Europe next season. No one from Bayer Leverkusen can say that about their performance.