It's a wet and windy night in Portugal for today's game. The weather could have quite an effect on the game -- the goalies may fumble the wet ball, long shots may be carried far and away, defenders may slip at an inopportune moment. You would think that conditions would hurt a skill team like Real, but let's see, shall we?
Real are coming off a 4-2 spanking of Marseille, while Porto drew in Belgrade 1-1. Real are missing Beckham and Raul with injuries... ooh that should give Porto some hope.
Game starts off with Roberto Carlos tearing up the left side and hitting a beautiful cross two minutes in. No damage done, but you would think the Porto coaching staff would have made some sort of plan against Carlos seeing the damage he did against Marseille.
Porto then show that they aren't going to just roll over in this game. They build a few good attacks on the Real goal, then draw a foul 30 yards out or so. The Porto player hammers it in on goal, and the Real goalie can't control the rebound. A Porto player heads it in with authority -- 1-0 for Porto seven minutes in. Wow.
The next 10 minutes or so are dominated by Porto. They are winning all the midfield battles, they are tackling hard but clean to win the ball, and Real can't seem to connect on a pass over ten yards. They just look lost out there. And the crowd is loud ... everytime Figo, a native Portuguese player, touches the ball the crowd is all over him. Huh, guess it's considered treason to cross the boarder and make a fortune playing in Spain.
Then, against the run of play, Zidane wins the ball along the left wing. He drops the ball off, the cross is perfect, and Helguera heads the ball home. Lord, they make it look so easy. 1-1 28 minutes in.
Porto seems disheartened by the goal, and they start fouling the Real players. They get a couple of good chances but Casillas is playing well in the Real net, making some nice reflex saves. Then, one defensive breakdown for Porto, Real player Solari runs right by a diving Porto goalie and slots it home. 2-1 Real after 38 minutes. Jeez, Porto deserves better than this. They are the better team today but Real has so many weapons.
The 40th minute sees a scary collision -- Zidane falls and gets kneed right in the head. He grabs his head, we see some blood forming, then it just comes pouring out. Think Vince after getting brained by Zack Gowan. Ouch. He leaves the field, but comes back a few minutes later swarthed in a huge white bandage ... and already it's turning red. Man, he's gonna need some stitches at halftime.
Second half play started very similar to the first. Porto controls the midfield, but unlike the start of the game Real is defending well. The first twenty minutes is pretty uneventful, until Figo draws a foul deep in Porto territory. Instead of crossing the free kick, he passes it hard, without looking, to Zidane, who blasts it in from 20 yards out. 3-1 Real, Porto looks completely deflated and the crowd is silenced for the first time in the game.
The rest of the game featured Real defending in strength, with one great scoring opportunity when Roberto Carlos burst through up the middle, but the Porto goalie made a nice save. On the other end of the pitch, Casillas made a beautiful diving save on a Porto header to preserve the 3-1 victory.
Pretty good game. Porto I thought was the better team and at least deserved a draw, and they would have had one if the Real goalie didn't stand on his head on a couple of saves. Real just has too many good players, and when their freaking goalie is their best player, I'm not sure there is any club team in the world who can beat them. I said this after their last game and I'll say it again: I can't wait to see them in action against a top club like Man U or Bayern Munich.
The Northern towns of England look like Flanders in the mud; Boxing rings, bookies, Chinese takeaways and blood. The neon lights are glowing like a furnace in the sky, I'm travelling on the highway thinking of lust and suicide.