Between the Lines

"Of all unimportant subjects, football is the most important" – Pope John Paul II

Scouting Report: Ronaldo and Nani in Sweden

Posted by hakanrylander on October 12, 2008

Last night I was priviliged to be present at the Rasunda stadium in Solna, Sweden to watch Ronaldo and Nani in the World Cup qualifier between Sweden and Portugal (0-0). Well, priviliged is probably too strong a word, at least when it refers to watching the performances of the two United players. They were very disappointing.

Ronaldo looked far from the player he was last season. Part of this is probably a lack of match fitness, but it seems his confidence has also been affected. In a telling incident in the second half he advanced one-on-one towards Sweden’s central defender Majstorovic, and you felt that this was his opportunity to win the game. I expected Ronaldo to go straight for goal, but instead he hesitated and then hesitated some more and it all came to nothing. For much of the game he complained to the referee in familiar fashion, even though I don’t think the treatment from the Swedish defenders was particularly rough compared to the average Premier League game.

When Nani plays for United I’m often impressed by his ability to create space for himself, but then equally frustrated when he wastes the opportunity by mis-hitting a pass or a cross. Last night he didn’t even get the first part right. He saw quite a lot of the ball but rarely managed anything more creative than a back-pass to Bosingwa.

Former United assistant manager Carlos Queiroz has inherited a squad strong enough, at least on paper, to have a reasonable chance of winning the World Cup in South Africa. But on last night’s evidence they have an awful lot of work to do, and might not even qualify. Sweden managed to contain Portugal’s normally very dangerous attacks down the flanks. Not only Nani and Ronaldo but also Bosingwa failed to cause any real problems. Tactically this meant that the Swedes risked gifting Portugal control of central midfield, but this never happened, largely due to sterling work from central midfielder Daniel Andersson, who was unspectacular but perfectly positioned throughout.

Who ate all the pies?

Who ate all the pies?

Great atmosphere in the stadium. The hot-dogs were top class. No pies available, thank goodness.

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