Being the last line of defence carries a great responsibility. A defender can be isolated one-on-one with an attacker, his teammates miles from the play and offering no help whatsoever. But if that defender makes any type of wrong moveÂ they end up vilified.
The degrees of blame can vary. Sometimes it’s obvious that the defender was plain unlucky. Other times it seems that the defender was struck down with a crazy moment of recklessness. While it is also true that sometimes defenders just flatly give up.
And so it proved this weekend across Europe, beginning in St. Etienne on Saturday with the visit of Caen. After just two minutes, Caen’s Turkish midfielder Fahid Ben Khalfallah did brilliantly on the halfway line to turn Mouhamadou Dabo and chew up the open space between him and the goal. Snapping at his feet, Dabo never gave up the charge but in truth he never had the legs to catch up. But incredibly, at the last minute Khalfallah scuffed his shot straight in the midriff of a sprawled Jeremie Jarnot.
Phew. Crisis over. Oh. Wait. Is that a magnet in his boot… Crap!
It was a similar story for Martin Demichelis at the Allianz Arena on Sunday, as the defender was left with his head in his hands after just 60 seconds of the game. Dortmund’s Tamas Hajnal picked up the ball in the centre of the pitch and spotted Nelson Valdez peeled off from the number 6. And from there things imploded for the Argentine centre half.
Getting everything all wrong, and finishing off with one of the funniest attempts at making a header, Demichelis may not have put the ball in the net himself but he did everything but. (Watch here.)
Finally, the entire Ajax defence should be lined up and shot for another horrific display at Vitesse on Sunday. After the match coach Marco van Basten summed up the performance by saying “it’s no use pointing a finger at any one player. We failed collectively.” Arguably that was the understatement of the year.
Lasse Nilsson’s first of the match for Vitesse exposed gaping holes in the lazy Ajax backline who seemed to wait a full ten seconds before reacting to the fact that they were about to concede a goal. And worse was to follow when Ricky van Wolfswinkel hit the fourth as the Ajax defence simply gave up on tracking players, marking their men, and trying. Hopefully they’ll all be fined a week’s wages.
Onto the screamers.
Picking this week’s list was tough, as arguably the finest week’s for goals so far in 2009 just ended. As usual the full compliment of strikes were on show, from the howitzers (goals 1, 4, 7 and 10) all the way through to the finesse (goals 2, 3 and 6).
While goal 9 had the air of lady luck about it, the technique in scoring goal 11 is undoubted. And talking of technique, if you only have time for two goals make sure you look at the sublime goals 4 and 8.
As always, all we ask is that you sit back and enjoy!
1. Yanick Kamanan (Sivasspor v Galatasaray, Feb. 3, 2009)
2. Sergio Conceicao (PAOK Saloniki v Olympiakos, Feb. 4, 2009)
3. Diego Biseswar (Feyenoord v Sparta, Feb. 4, 2009)
4. Eliran Atar (Bnei Yehuda v Maccabi Netanya, Feb. 7, 2009)
5. Alexander Baumjohann (Moenchengladbach v Hoffenheim, Feb. 7, 2009)
6. Franck Berrier (Genk v Zulte Waregem, Feb. 7, 2009)
7. Marcus Tudgay (Sheffield United v Sheffield Wednesday, Feb. 7, 2009) (0.35 minutes in)
8. Emmanouil Papasterianos (Ergotelis v Iraklis, Feb. 8, 2009)
9. Fajardo (Vitoria Guimaraes v Maritimo, Feb. 8, 2009)
10. Ali Boussaboun (Utrecht v Den Haag, Feb. 8, 2009)
11. Mirko Vucinic (Roma v Genoa, Feb. 8, 2009)
12. Ryan Giggs (West Ham v Manchester United, Feb. 8, 2009)
Narrowly missing out on this week’s list were goals from Federico Santander & Hernan Perez (first two goals), Rydell Poepon, Souleymane Diawara, Rafael Marquez, Stephane Sessegnon, Julio Baptista and Jo.