When the 2012 UFL Cup Finals kicks off on Monday, December 17 at the Rizal Memorial Football Stadium, it will resemble waves crashing against element-beaten seaside cliffs.
Global and Stallion have the stingiest defenses in the UFL while also bringing frightening firepower to bear. But the story here will whose defense gives in to the waves of attacks that are expecting in an explosive finals match up.
The UFL Cup Finals will be a great way to cap the year following another sterling run by the Philippines in the Suzuki Cup where they made the semifinals once more and finished with a 2-1-2 record.
Global will be going for their second cup in three years while Stallion is looking to annex its first bit of UFL silverware in a winner-take-all affair.
It will pit the current toast of Philippine club football in Global, and the rising stars of Stallion on whose shoulders the hope of the Visayas resides on.
The three-week lay-off between the semifinals and the finals will be a factor for both squads but during this break both squads made sure to keep in shape and play some friendlies.
But as the song goes, “it is nothing like the real thing.” Here’s how we see this UFL Cup Finals going.
Why Global will win this:
They have the deepest line-up in the entire league not to mention the country. Their second eleven is good enough to become a starting team for another club. Even with Misagh Bahadoran doubtful to suit up, they still have lots of offensive firepower.
They have smart players and superb role players. Kevin Capolei has quietly worked himself into the rotation and become such a solid contributor to their offense. The same can be said for Fidelis Nnabuife and goalkeeper Roland Sadia who has been solid at goal conceding only one all cup long.
While they are known to be one of the best offensive teams in the league it is their defense that propels them.
The back four of Jerry Barbaso, Val Kama, Juani Guirado, and Carli de Murga is superb. Barbaso is one of the best wingbacks where his speed and toughness make it difficult for opposing forwards to break free of him. Global likes to make use of a stopper in front. Sometimes Matthew Uy plays that role for Global. The position already solidifies the defense.
They make use of this to turn on a quick counter where the ball is sent to their wondrous midfielders whose speed is the best in the league.
Jeffrey Christiaens and Patrick Reichelt are two of these human torpedoes. Both are highly dangerous wing players who with their speed can push the ball up and hurt opponents on the overlap. Then you have Marwin Angeles as the engine in the middle who replaced Angel Guirado in the starting lineup and has kept the team rolling. Their top-notch midfield can feed it to their predators in Izzo El Habbib, Alex Obiang, and Denis Wolf.
Aside from the forwards’ scoring prowess, they all have the height to win crosses and corner shots.
For Global it starts with defense. And expect them to attack in waves that will be designed to overwhelm Stallion.
If the match goes into extra time (and that is a distinct possibility), Global will have the advantage of a deep bench. But going into penalties is really a crapshoot.
Why Stallion will win it:
In the past two years we have seen the gradual build up of Stallion that has led to this moment. Last season, the Iloilo-based club introduced their Korean contingent from Central Philippine University and they changed Stallions’ style of play with a more deliberate possession-style game with accurate diagonals and thundering finishes.
This year, they added that dangerous scorer upfront to complement Ruben Doctora Jr. in Rufo Sanchez and Joaco Cañas in the back to solidify their defense.
The Spaniards, the first wholly Iberian players to play locally since the wave of the early 1970s, have them on the cusp of a title. They have meshed well with the incumbent players and the result has them on the cusp of greatness. Sanchez’ presence has provided scoring punch and Stallion have the second most number of goals in the league with 19 (while conceding only three).
They play underdogs to the massive favorites that is Global.
For Stallion to upset Global, Doctora has to be a sure fire threat so the defense will have their hands full trying to contain two players. Both Doctora and Sanchez are incredible finishers with a deft touch from inside and outside. They’ve got speed and body strength to deal with physical defenders.
The onus is on Stallion’s midfield. They have to be combative and hold their own against Global’s.
And on defense, Cañas has to be his inspirational self to will his team to repel what will be wave after wave of spirited Global attacks. Stallion will have the height to deal with the tall forwards of Global. They just have to be wary of the second wave that is just as deadly.
For the match, Global will be without Delon Yao while Stallion will be sorely missing the services of starters Yeul Woo Nam and Antonio Albor. Expect Jake Hugo to play a crucial role on defense.
The game will be decided on whose defense is more solid and whose midfield rules the day.
The UFL Cup Finals will be at 7:15pm at the Rizal Memorial Football Stadium. The battle for third place between Green Archers United and Loyola will be at 5:15pm.