The Lazy Magician

Some interesting chapter about my favorite player, Juan Roman Riquelme that I take from Phil Ball Journal. He described how Riquelme single handedly drove Villareal, small Spanish football club in to the Champion League semi-final. Phil ball is an English writer who based in Spain. You can always read his article every week in soccernet.

Riquelme, Argentina VS Ivory Coast, FIFA World Cup 10 June 2006

Riquelme and Forlan are the most obvious examples. In four seasons at Old Trafford Forlan managed 10 league goals, but as soon as he arrived at the Madridgal , he knocked in 25. There were two reasons for this. One was that manager Manuel Pelligrini rated him – and told him so – and the other was Juan Román Riquelme. When he turned up at the Camp Nou in 2002 from Boca Juniors, he came adorned with rave reviews. He played 30 games that season for Barça, but something wasn’t right. Loaned out to Villarreal, he’s never looked back. In fact he’s probably the best midfielder in the world – which makes it a funny old story. No-one had actually noticed him outside of Spain and Argentina until this season, but they must be kicking themselves now.
There are those who still maintain that his poor performances at Barça (well – not poor, just ordinary) raise a question mark over his real ability – the implication being that he couldn’t hack it at the top. But Ronaldinho did very little at PSG, and look at him now. The Brazilian’s lack of a relationship with coach Luis Fernandez has been well-documented, and is a similar story. Once bedded in a place that wanted him, with a manager that understood him, and bingo! Ronaldinho seems all fun and light-heartedeness now, but it was not always the case. Rijkaard takes a lot of credit for changing that.
Riquelme is a complex, moody character, not one to be the life and soul of the squad. He wasn’t really a Barça person. At the Camp Nou, they have to know that you understand the cause, and that you’re prepared to articulate that commitment, if necessary. Riquelme didn’t play along, and was shunted off. The other problem is obvious – that he needs to run the show. No way could he function with a whole host of other creative players around him, which is why he was never invited back. Xavi was allowed to emerge and take control, and the rest has been history. Now they’ve added Ronaldinho, Deco and Messi, and can afford to leave the other truly great player in the Spanish league over at Villarreal – a team that Barça still find it hard to take seriously.
And for all the usual speculation that goes on regarding who Real Madrid are going to sign next, Riqueleme has only warranted one brief mention in the pages of Marca, some months ago. Again, the feeling is that there are too many egos still at the Bernabéu. To hand the reins to Riquelme just might not work. The risk is too great.
Ah – but to watch him is to see the art of midfield play at its supreme and subtle best. Unlike Ronaldinho, there are no fireworks with Riquelme. In fact you don’t really notice him half the time. Defenders don’t either. He floats around the area between the holding player and the forwards, and represents an absolute nightmare to the opposing defence. Slow and ponderous looking at times, if you try to tackle him he just ghosts past. If you try to mark him he simply drops off so deep that the man-marker gets bored. And he never loses the ball. It seems to be uncannily stuck to his boot. Then when a forward makes a run into space he always finds them. His passing is deadly accurate, and often visionary. Everything goes through him. He almost always causes something to happen.
Against Inter, he drove the opposing midfielders batty by simply having them permanently on the back foot. It’s defence through attack. If you’re the opposing manager, you know you’re going to have to deal with him. He’s a problem you have to consider. Arsène Wenger is no doubt doing that right now.


Riquelme in the CL’s quarter vs Inter Milan. The description that i highlighted above fit the action in the video. You judge it.

Hafzan Lazim



  1. Hafiz Lazim said,

    September 28, 2008 at 11:49 pm

    huhu…he’s good….can replace zidana?or febreges better?

  2. Hafzan Lazim said,

    September 28, 2008 at 11:58 pm

    Zidane no. Febregas should compete with ineasta or xavi first, after that you can compare him with roman. Yes, roman never wins everything (CL and WC) like maradona, but he never works hard either. He just a cool gifted man. hahahahha. So does other Argentinian. But England n liverpool`s fans will never understand, because they never like beautiful football.

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