Mur­ray melt­down un­der mi­cro­scope

Lesotho Times - - Sport -

BARCELONA — Barcelona have re­dis­cov­ered their ap­petite and are daz­zling in attack again as coach Luis Enrique’s tac­tics are start­ing to pay off.

A month ago Luis Enrique was in the eye of a hur­ri­cane over an al­leged bust-up with star-player Lionel Messi and his days at the helm of the team ap­peared to be num­bered.

The for­mer Barca player had been brought in af­ter a sea­son where they had failed to win a ma­jor tro­phy and put in charge of a new project that saw money ploughed into new sign­ings, in­clud­ing Luis Suarez.

How­ever, the team had failed to unite un­der Luis Enrique who con­tin­u­ally chopped and changed his team as well as his tac­tics.

They looked un­cer­tain es­pe­cially de­fen­sively and needed their star-play­ers to get them out of trou­ble with their in­di­vid­ual skills.

Many fans ques­tioned whether the con­fronta­tional coach, who also had a dif­fi­cult re­la­tion­ship with the me­dia, was the right man for the job.

Since the de­feat, though, against Real So­ciedad in the first game back af­ter Christ­mas, Barca have had a re­mark­able turn­around and they have been win­ning games with panache.

They have re­stored the de­sire and hunger rem­i­nis­cent of Barca’s golden spell un­der Pep MEL­BOURNE — Andy Mur­ray blamed No­vak Djokovic’s “cramp­ing” in their Aus­tralian Open fi­nal on Sun­day for throw­ing him off his game but that could hardly ex­plain the melt­down that saw the Scot lose 12 of the last 13 games.

Af­ter lev­el­ling at one-set apiece, Mur­ray led 2-0 in the third but col­lapsed to lose the match 7-6(5) 6-7(4) 6-3 6-0 un­der the lights of Rod Laver Arena, his fourth de­feat in Aus­tralian Open fi­nals and third to Djokovic. Guardi­ola with 29 goals in eight league and cup games.

Barca fol­lowed up their elim­i­na­tion of Atletico Madrid in the King’s Cup last week with a 3-2 de­feat on Sun­day of an in-form Vil­lar­real, who came to the Camp Nou on the back of an 18-match un­beaten run.

The coach again tin­kered with his side by leav­ing out Xavi and Ivan Rakitic, and giv­ing a rare chance to Rafinha, but the tac­tic worked and the win saw them con­tinue their pur­suit of Real Madrid, who are a point ahead at the top of La Liga.

“The team is ready to over­come what­ever is put against them in a game. In the Calderon we came back from a goal down and we did it twice against a strong Vil­lar­real side,” Luis Enrique told a news con­fer­ence.

“The game demon­strated the im­por­tance of be­ing bal­anced and if not you pay for it.”

The Cata­lan side re­sponded well both times they went be­hind with a ruth­less attack led by Ney­mar and Messi.

Ney­mar is flour­ish­ing in his sec­ond sea­son at the club while Messi ap­pears to have re­dis­cov­ered his mo­ti­va­tion and is play­ing once again with a smile on his face.

Mean­while, Enrique has told Ney­mar to carry on re­gard­less af­ter the Brazil­ian re-

The Serb tum­bled to the court a cou­ple of times early in the third set and ap­peared to suf­fer cramp, but af­ter sav­ing a break point at 3-3, the top seed stormed to his fifth Mel­bourne Park ti­tle with­out any sign of phys­i­cal dis­tress.

“The third set was frus­trat­ing be­cause I got a bit dis­tracted when he, like, fell on the ground af­ter a cou­ple of shots,” twice grand slam cham­pion Mur­ray told re­porters.

“It ap­peared that he was cramp­ing, and then I let that dis­tract me a lit­tle bit. “That’s what I’m most dis­ap­pointed about, not so much the fourth set be­cause I think, es­pe­cially at the end of it, he was just go­ing for ev­ery­thing, and it was go­ing in. But the third set was more frus­trat­ing for me.” Mur­ray was asked whether there was a de­lib­er­ate el­e­ment to Djokovic’s strug­gles, with the Serb al­most limp­ing across the base­line be­tween points early in the third set.

“I would hope that wouldn’t be the case. But, yeah, if it was cramp, how he re­cov­ered from it, that’s a tough thing to re­cover from and play as well as he did at the end,” Mur­ray said.

“So, yeah, I’m frus­trated at my­self for let­ting that bother me at the be­gin­ning of the third set, be­cause I was play­ing well, I had good mo­men­tum, and then just dropped off for like 10 min­utes and it got away from me.” ceived crit­i­cism for pro­vok­ing Atletico Madrid play­ers with his “nut­meg­ging and talk­ing”.

Juan­fran and Fer­nando Tor­res ar­gued with two-goal Ney­mar at half­time in Barca’s last week’s mid­week King’s Cup quar­ter­fi­nal victory while op­po­si­tion cap­tain Gabi Fer­nan­dez was red-carded af­ter a fra­cas in the tun­nel.

Atletico sub­sti­tute Ruben Cani said af­ter the game that “one day he will have prob­lems for his style of play, the nut­meg­ging and talk­ing”.

But Enrique de­fended his player, say­ing: “You have to con­sider the player and the cul­ture from where he is from.

“Brazil­ians look to en­joy them­selves play­ing foot­ball and it is the same for all the Brazil­ian play­ers at the club. We are in a strange coun­try where peo­ple are more of­fended by a nut­meg than by five danger­ous tack­les.

“Hope­fully he can be re­mem­bered as a great player and he is cer­tainly at the right club at the mo­ment to achieve that. It would be great if it hap­pened.

“Messi is the best player in the world and he has put the marker very high if he is to achieve that. If you take away foot­ball, samba and so on then a Brazil­ian is no longer Brazil­ian.”

— Reuters

Though ini­tially roared on by the Rod Laver Arena crowd as he fought his way back into the match, Mur­ray lost the sup­port of the ter­races dur­ing his ca­pit­u­la­tion when he ham­mered his rac­quet into the hard court.

Hav­ing chas­tised him­self through­out the open­ing sets with his typ­i­cal fiery mono­logues, his fi­nal sur­ren­der was quiet as he ap­peared to go through the mo­tions like a lamb head­ing to the slaugh­ter. It wasn’t long be­fore the crit­i­cism started. “He needs a good, hard look in the mir­ror and to get his head to­gether,” Aus­tralian for­mer Wim­ble­don cham­pion Pat Cash told the BBC.

“He has not put up a great fight. He hasn’t. Don’t put a rose tint on this.”

The melt­down will in­evitably raise com­par­isons with his 2011 fi­nal loss to his friend and fel­low 27-year-old Djokovic, when he was trounced 6-4 6-2 6-3 in a list­less dis­play.

Mur­ray’s run to the fi­nal was his first in a grand slam since his Wim­ble­don ti­tle in 2013, but the man­ner of his exit may haunt him through to the next ma­jor at Roland Gar­ros.

“Suc­cess is be­ing happy. It’s not about win­ning ev­ery sin­gle tour­na­ment you play, be­cause that isn’t pos­si­ble,” he said.

“Like I said, I’m happy with ev­ery­thing that I put into the event.

“So I can’t be dis­ap­pointed with that be­cause I gave my best ef­fort ... I just wish I could have done a lit­tle bit bet­ter in the third set tonight.”

— Reuters

Ney­mar gets past two Vil­lar­real de­fend­ers on Sun­day

andy mur­ray

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