Feeding The Myth

17 06 2010

Maicon: Poor final-ball

As Maicon sliced in Brazil’s opening goal of the World Cup, you knew what was coming next. No, not a sudden interruption to scheduled programming in North Korea, but rather a tedious repetition of a process that accompanies Brazilian football at every World Cup. The embelishment of the ordinary to the extraordinary.

Other than the ongoing debate over the suspect physics of the Jubulani, bemoaning the standard and entertainment value of the play
has been the alternate raison d’etre for the perenially unentertained at this World Cup. Therefore, it was to be expected that Maicon`s mishit centre would fall into the hands of hyperbole loving ITV commentator types who desperately craved a marquee moment. In the same manner that every success achieved by African teams has been transformed into a ‘strike’ against the synonyms of the continent, even the most mundane Brazilian football has historically been wrapped in an articial glory. Like its predeccesor, Ronaldinho’s overhit free-kick in 2002, the Maicon goal, had it been scored by a journeyman right-back plying his trade in the depths of the football league, would have been described as it was… a shank. So, as opposed to the ‘swerving screamer’ (BBC), or the ‘geometry-defying…extraordinary goal’ (Telegraph), maybe we can just accept it for what it was?

I suspect also that those still salivating over ‘the cross that never was’ are the same demographic that still believe Roberto Carlos to have been a ‘dead-ball specialist┬┤. The owner of the biggest pair of thighs in world football had many qualities, but free-kick taking was never one of them. Rather, and a truth that the player would later confirm, a mishit thunderbolt against France in 1997 gave way to a mythical ability around the set-piece. Whether it was the theatre of his absurdly exaggerated run-up, or merely being clad in the yellow and blue of Esquadroa de Ouro, his peerless abilty to threaten the lives of those occupying a defensive wall or indeed the upper tiers of the stand behind the goal never tarnished his reputation.

It must be the shirts, or the lingering ‘joga bonito’ advertising slogan that renders ‘football tourists’ all misty eyed at the site of anything a Brazilian player does with a ball. So, when you see Maicon’s goal in an over-emotive retrospective of the tournament, watch the player’s eyes before he strikes the ball, watch his state of balance, and in the words of one of the Bavarian patrons of the German bar in which i watched the game, observe the ‘sloooyce’, and ignore the myth.