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Finding perfection in Football

It has been a busy summer in the world of football much to the delight of the fans this year. Starting with Real Madrid- Atletico Madrid reaching the Champions league finals, Argentina losing in a big tournament final yet again and now Portugal reaching the finals of the European cup. The trail of events appears to be perfectly normal, but it makes you wonder what a perfect victory is?

Both the Champions league finalist Atletico Madrid-Real Madrid played unattractive football throughout the season, just managed to win against its opponents and then fought it out on penalties after 120 minutes of football couldn’t part them.

Argentina who should be applauded for their consistency in the past 3 years in big tournaments lost to Chile on penalties yet again. It was almost like a cruel rerun of the previous year. The difference being – Leo Messi missed his penalty, leading to the entire blame being placed on his shoulder as usual.

Moving to the Euro, Portugal has had an extremely blessed run up to the final. Failing to win any of their group stage matches, yet qualifying for the next round, Portugal’s first win in normal time came in their sixth match against Wales in the semi finals.

These instances make one wonder about “Perfection in football”, what is it? Is it one player who plays beautifully and wins its team matches single-handedly, or is it a well synced team that works as a well oiled unit or is perfection just winning? According to Italian World Cup winning Captain Fabio Cannavaro “the most enjoyable thing in football is marking and a perfect match ends at 0-0.” For his teammate Gianluca Zambrotta, “a perfect football match ends 1-0. That margin is more than enough to move forward.”

Football has been around for centuries. It has seen the rise and fall of many teams, Behind each team there is a footballing philosophy be it Total football of the Dutch, Joga Bonito of Brazil, Italian Catenaccio Spanish Tiki taka or the Dirty aggressive style of 2010’s Netherlands.  All styles have had its highs and lows, winning its team the highest accolades at times and throwing them out of tournaments mercilessly on others. So then how do we figure out which one is perfect?

Spain enjoyed six year dominance over the footballing world courtesy their tika taka style of play. Some found it lacklustre and boring while others regarded it as an apex of one touch passing and applauded the clinically results it produced without fail with the team performing like one unit. Was tiki taka perfection?

An Italian is taught how to defend even before they are taught the ABC.  Defending comes naturally to them, relying on long balls and counter attacks for goals. The Catenaccio style has been fruitful to the Italians and over time they have been successful in evolving it according to the need of the hour so is  Catenaccio the answer to the question?

Joga Bonito would seem like the perfect philosophy. Both charming and mesmerising, it has been synonymous to Brazil. The awe-inspiring philosophy relied on attacking football, beautiful football. Seeing Brazil play the unattractive football they play today and lose miserably many believe Joga Bonito was perfection and desperately want the team to go back to it.

Diego Maradona won the world cup single-handedly in 1986. The same is expected out of Lionel Messi but even if that were to happen keeping his recent decision of retirement aside would that be a perfect win for Argentina? Wouldn’t it be perfect if the entire team performed?

Portugal reaching the finals of the Euro has surprised many, not because no one expected them to reach the finals but because of their failure to win any match in normal time until the semi-finals. Portugal has played poor football. The team is reliant on just one big name, no part of their game shows sparks of brilliance or promise and they seem to lack concrete game plan. They have looked average throughout the tournament unable to win matches yet they are going to contest the finals.

Portugal are far from perfect but what makes football the biggest and most exciting game in the world, is this unpredictability. You never know what will happen in a game of football. A red card, an own goal, or a wonder goal from 40-yards out. It keeps the teams, players, and fans constantly on their toes.

There is no such thing as perfect and trying to find is an impossible task. How football should be played is subjective, how people prefer watching it is also subjective.  At the end of it, all that matters after lifting a trophy is that, you won it be it by playing beautifully or by showcasing its unattractive boring side. 

This post was published by sportskeeda.com

http://www.sportskeeda.com/football/euro-2016-search-perfection-football

Messi-ah wins historic fifth

This year’s edition of the FIFA Ballon d’Or Gala saw Lionel Messi win the award for a record fifth time. Messi beat rivals Neymar Jr. and Cristiano Ronaldo, who walked away with the accolade the previous two years. The Argentine captain received 41.33% of all votes ahead of Portuguese captain Ronaldo who got 27.76% and Brazilian captain Neymar who earned 7.86% of the total votes. Messi won the award in 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012 “It is a very special moment to win another Ballon d’Or after watching Cristiano win.  It’s incredible this is my fifth, more than I dreamed of as a kid.” said a very jubilant Messi. His son and fiancé were also present at the gala to celebrate the happy occasion.

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Fondly called as The Flea by his fans, Messi’s story is nothing short of a fairy-tale.  From playing on the streets of Rosario to playing under shimmering lights of the Camp Nou, Europe’s largest stadium, Messi’s journey has been exceptional, to say the very least. A boy from a middle class family, Messi was diagnosed with growth hormone deficiency at the age of 11, stunting his physical development. He had to take hormone injections every day for three consecutive years. To add to his misery, Leo’s father lost his job leaving the family in a scramble for money. Messi had nothing and people who have nothing understand the value of things.“When he didn’t have a ball, he used to play with a bottle.” It’s said ‘fortune favours the brave’ and that is exactly what this tiny, skinny, fragile kid was- brave. Packing his dreams and ambitions in a suitcase Messi moved halfway across the globe to La Masia, Futbol Club, Barcelona’s youth academy to do what he loved the most, and the rest as the cliché goes, is history.

Making his debut in 2004, Messi established himself among the world’s best players before the age of 20 and was imperative in helping FC Barcelona achieve dominance in Europe by winning the historic sextuple. Being an avid Barca fan I still remember the day this skinny little boy debut a team dominated by the likes of Ronaldinho, Deco and Samuel Eto. What this boy could do with the ball was enough for us to see that he was clearly meant for great things in life and was fortunate enough to be embraced by the senior players in the team. Ronaldinho was quick to take him under his wing famously commenting that “Messi would be better than me” at the point everyone thought the Brazilian was just being modest and encouraging. But the Brazilian knew better. Messi quickly made a space for himself in the star studded team.

What Messi does with ball is mesmerizing, his finishing skills are deadly and his controls are flawless. Barcelona coach Luis Enrique describes him as “a player from another dimension”, with numbers, stats and records supplementing it. A nightmare for defenders, Messi defies all odds. He seems to know what defenders will do even before they do, easily evading even three to four opponents surrounding him, trashing the concept of’ ‘numerical advantage‘. Perhaps he possesses supernatural powers. His genius transcends tactics, rigidity and norm.

Leo has come a long way, I remember his first Ballon d’Or  Gala in 2007. He looked like an out of place kid who had been forced to wear a tux and sit quietly when he’d rather be on the field with a ball by his feet. 9 years later he won the award for the historic fifth time and in the audience was his son, cheering daddy. Witnessing that I think to myself  ýes it has been that long, from a kid to having a kid Messi has come a long way professionally and personally and so have we.

Pep Guardiola, Messi’s former manager once commented “Don’t write about him. Don’t try to describe him. Watch him.” and perhaps that’s the wisest advice anyone has given, for words cannot do justice to this magician.

#12YearsOfMessiMagic hoping for at least 12 more

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