Euro 2016: The search for 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 Euro 2016.
The trail of events appears to be perfectly normal, but it makes you wonder what a perfect victory is?
Both the Champions league finalists, Atletico Madrid and Real Madrid played unattractive football throughout the match 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.”
Different Philosophies of Football
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 their 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 clinical 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 alphabets. 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 have played poor football. The team is reliant on just one big name and no part of their game shows sparks of brilliance or promise and they seem to lack a 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.