By Ben Pearce, Tottenham correspondent
Friday, February 15, 2013
Brad Friedel says only a few of the world’s best players have the ability to score the free-kicks that Gareth Bale produced against Lyon – and the Spurs keeper has explained why they are so hard to save.
Bale scored with a swerving Cristiano Ronaldo-esque free kick against Liverpool at White Hart Lane in November and, having repeated the feat against Newcastle on Saturday, he hit the net from two set pieces in the Europa League last night.
The Welshman gave the Lilywhites the lead with a 40-yard strike that dipped and moved away from Lyon keeper Remy Vercoutre, and he showed his dead-ball ability again in injury-time with a dramatic 25-yard winner.
“That’s a technique only a few players in the world have to be honest,” said Friedel. “They used to have one at Lyon, Juninho. He used to do the same.
“It’s when you can strike with an open foot and you sort of come over the ball. A lot of the time there’s no spin on the ball, and as a goalkeeper you can’t tell where it’s going to go, and it moves in the air. It’s very difficult.
“Ronaldo can obviously do it, there’s a few players in the world that have really perfected it, but it is something that has to be worked on time and time again.
“Gareth has been working a lot on it, he is perfecting that style of free-kick and I tell you it is so difficult to save.
“Pepe Reina had all sorts of trouble here when we played Liverpool. It’s just such a difficult ball to deal with and it’s great that he has that in his repertoire for us.”
Critics have suggested that Vercoutre could have done better with both of Bale’s strikes last night, but Friedel has absolved his opposite number of any blame.
“I’ve seen the first one. There’s no spin on the ball the way Gareth hits it,” said the Tottenham custodian. “You have to take your first step off the first movement of the ball, and that’s the goalkeeper’s left - and he moved left. Once he did that then he’s dead, however that’s 100 per cent not a goalkeeping mistake.
“I haven’t seen the second one from behind the goal, I’ve only seen it from the side. I assume the exact same movement of the ball occurred, and if so it’s a really difficult ball to save and again, from my standpoint, it’s very difficult to lay blame on a goalkeeper in that instance.
“If you set your wall up correctly you see it come off the foot, and then you have to react to the first direction that it goes.
“If someone tries to bend it over a wall with spin on the ball then you know which way it’s going to go, unless it deflects.
“If there’s no spin on the ball and then in mid-flight it goes the opposite way, there’s no way to train your eye to deal with that. You just have to try to react the best you can.
“What can you do? Not have a wall? If you didn’t have a wall then he would just smack the absolute bejesus out of it, low and hard, and you would have no chance.”
Meanwhile, Friedel admits he was pleased with his fine second-half save from Alexandre Lacazette, having been given the No1 jersey ahead of the former Lyon man Hugo Lloris.
“I know I’m old, that’s no problem, but I feel great,” said the 41-year-old. “I feel in good form. My reactions are still there and as long as they are then I’m happy.”
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