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.

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Yankee Spanking Time

10 06 2010

In a break from the fashionable negativity usually deployed on this blog, today we’ve gone all patriotic on you. Maybe we’ve just been beaten down, or maybe we couldn’t find any other nationalities within our family bloodlines – either way, nice and positive for a change.

The Royal Bafokeng Stadium, Rustenberg

Our England team to face the USA – Saturday 12th June, 7.30pm.

Joe Hart – While abuse has rained in over our continual backing of the Man City stopper, it’s obvious that Fabio Capello’s fear of change is Hart’s only obstacle in his pursuit of the number 1 shirt. Technically excellent, secure hands, and a high level of confidence are all essential ingredients in the make-up of an international goalkeeper – Hart is set-apart from his rivals in possessing all three.

Glen Johnson – If Gary Neville had been included in the squad, the world would seem a happier place. When England encounter decent opposition in the latter stages, the likes of Di-Maria, Nilmar, and Robben will most likely highlight this error mercilessly.

Ledley King – Phenomenal player, creaking athlete. Nobody should lose sleep over his level of desire, but time and injury have robbed him of the electric recovery pace which made him such a formidable opponent in the earlier stages of his career.

John Terry – Suspect personality aside, he’s clearly willing to run through the clichéd brick wall for his country. Has anchored the defence of a premier European club side for the best part of a decade now, nothing lurks around the corner that he hasn’t seen before.

Ashley Cole – World Class in every aspect of his game. Is also the only left-back in South Africa that need not fear Lionel Messi. It’s not a coincidence that the Argentinian has consistently been anonymous against Chelsea in the Champions League., Will have landon Donovan in his pocket throughout.

Aaron Lennon – If he produces the pre-Christmas form he showed for Spurs, he could be one of the most destructive players in the tournament. The main question mark, as ever with Lennon, will be his delivery once he beats his man. Possibly key to England success on Saturday night, and should roast Jonathon Spector time and time again.

Frank Lampard –
The last chance for him to leave a mark on the global game. The media will focus on Wayne Rooney, but an in-form Lampard could be just as much of an asset. Worrying penalty form will hopefully rectify itself, and he remains lethal from inside 35 yards.

Steven Gerrard – His credentials as captain are suspect, but still completes an embarrassment of riches in centre-midfield. Hopefully the rumoured press-injuction can be maintained until after the tournament.

Joe Cole – Something of a renaissance man in the England squad. Rather than playing his way into contention, Cole has benefitted more than anyone else from the reshuffle that followed the injury to Gareth Barry. Of all the England players, probably the most technically complete and continentally influenced. This will be his third World Cup, so can be trusted where Milner and Wright-Phillips might be too much of a risk.

Wayne Rooney –
Will be unplayable for the US. Rooney’s power, pace, technique, flair and creativity will be fair too potent for a defensive pairing that includes the hapless Jay DeMerit…yes, the one that plays for Watford.

Peter Crouch – Whether scoring regularly or not, he continually troubles the very best the Premier League has to offer – furthermore, he’s not the kind of player who can be negated by ‘heroically’ throwing bodies in front of the ball. Factor in Tim Howard’s less than convincing history under a high-ball and you can guess the rest.

Official news, media hysteria, and The Sun being all ‘IN-GER-LAND’ – all here….