UEFA Cup thoughts

Umeå IK suffered their third defeat, second consecutive, in an UEFA Women's Cup final, playing 1-1 at home and losing 3-2 in front of an almost 28,000 stong partisan crowd in Frankfurt. If you're reading this, you are probably well aquainted with the events of the home and away against FFC Frankfurt that decided the UEFA Cup. I didn't manage to see more than parts of the Umeå match, so I will just direct you to uefa.com if you feel you need match reports.


I still want to comment on a few things from the matches:  
Umeå appearently lost because they didn't really play that well and most of the critizism I've seen falls on the defense. And if Conny Pohlers scores three goals on you, you're doing something wrong. You simply don't let her stand unmarked in the middle of the penalty area. There is no excuse for it.

What I saw of Umeå's build-up, it was too predictable. Long passes to Marta/Rasmussen/Bachman on the wings, who then were supposed to take on two defenders as they turned towards goal. Wouldn't it have been a good idea to try to place the ball inside of the full-back once in a while?

Marta was good as always, making the German defense work hard and both scoring and creating goals. Yamaguchi was almost-impressing in the unfamiliar position as defensive midfielder. And both club and fans should fall on their knees and thank Frida Östberg for deciding to return to Umeå. A team can't ask for a more suited captain. And she kept her side clean as left back. And she scored.


And a couple of other observations:

There was a bit of a row at the post-match press conference in Frankfurt. Umeå's Jeglertz and Arnqvist were upset over the behaviour from the audience - they whistled at Marta constantly, from the penalty all the way to the prize ceremony. The Umeå duo wanted Frankfurt's coach Hans-Jürgen Tritschok to apologize for the crowd's behaviour, but Tritschok thought she had brought it on herself: with all that twisting and turning and gesturing and talking when she falls (and falls much too easy), she is not real world class player.

I've just started reading a book on the 100 years of the Swedish national football team and already after Sweden's first international, against Norway 1908, there were press complaints about the unsportmanlike conduct from the home fans - the whistled and taunted the Norwegian visitors. A hundred years later, Arnqvist and Jeglertz are still upset. For my part, I like the fan's reaction. It's a good sign for the sport that the UEFA Women's Cup final creates both big crowds and big feelings. And Marta should of course be proud. Only someone that is truly capable of threatening the home team gets this kind of reception.

And even more ridicoulus than Arnqvist and Jeglertz was Frankfurt's Tritschok. He really can't have watched much football in his life. And of course also Tritschok echoes semtiments from early last century in my Swedish history book. Swedish sports press never tired of talking about the theatricals from the shifty and unreliable latin players, players that couldn't stand up like real men. I can't help remembering Karolina Westberg commenting on Birgit Prinz after playing Frankfurt a few years back: "For such a big woman, she falls awfully easy".


The other big talk was about the approaching end of Umeå's and Sweden's dominance on the European scene. It started with a few farewell interviews with Umeå's manager Roland Arnqvist, now retiring from ¨the team and possibly from women's football. The big challenge for Umeå and Swedish club football isn't the new American league, it is the old European leagues. It's Arsenal and Lyon. The day more big European clubs realize what contribution to the value of their brand a successful women's side can bring, it's game over for the small Swedish (and Norwegian and Danish) clubs. Umeå's entire annual spending (less than SEK 15 millions) isn't more than clubs like Lyon and Arsenal spend on wages for another benchsitter. But this is both inevitable and good for the sport, says Arnqvist.


And there were some talk about expanding the the competition by bringing in more teams from the big leagues. Something to look forward to. May we hope already this year??

Umeå IK - FFC Frankfurt 1 -1 (1-1)
Umeå: Ulla-Karin Rönnlund - Anna Paulsson, Johanna Frisk, Karoline Westberg, Frida Östberg - Lisa Dahlqvist, Mami Yamaguchi, Ramona Bachmann (68 Emelie Konradsson) - Marta, Madeleine Edlund, Johanna Rasmussen
Goals: 1-0 Marta (1), 1-1 Conny Pohlers (5)
May 17, Gammliavallen, Umeå
Attendance: 4,128

FFC Frankfurt - Umeå IK 3 -2 (1-0)
Umeå: Ulla-Karin Rönnlund - Anna Paulsson, Johanna Frisk, Karoline Westberg, Emma Berglund (46 Ramona Bachmann) - Frida Östberg, Lisa Dahlqvist, Mami Yamaguchi  - Marta, Madeleine Edlund (68 Sofia Jakobsson), Johanna Rasmussen
Goals: 1-0 Conny Pohlers (5). 2-0 Conny Pohlers (55), 2-1 Lisa Dahlqvist (68 PK), 3-1 Petra Wimbersky (71), 3-2 Frida Östberg (83)
May 24, Commerzbank Arena, Frankfurt
Attendance: 27,640


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