Sure, you normally hit publish on this type of post in December. But I wanted to be sure no piece snuck in before 2018’s final seconds. Also, I procrastinated.
All three pieces are well written, but more so, they warped my football mind with new perspectives.
I hope they warp yours too.
Wright Thompson, The Greatest Game Never Played
Remember as a little kid, when adults would say read! It will take you to new worlds! Wright Thompson’s detailed descriptions make that true. He drops you off in Buenos Aires where the chaos of an eternal rivalry consumed the city.
You’ll hear rubber slugs whizz past, and smell the baking pizza from El Cuartito. But Wright also points out that Boca Juniors, caught up in the madness, missed one of the rarest opportunities in sport – a win-win.
Wright argues had Boca played and lost, they’d have a legitimate excuse to fall back on. Had they played and won? Legends. Forever legends.
Eusebio Di Francesco, The Smell of the Grass
I’m intrigued by professionals who are excellent in their work, but never wanted their jobs in the first place.
Through The Coaches Voice Di Francesco shares a first hand account of running from his calling, and how the smell of the pitch lured him into coaching.
Brian Phillips, World Cup 2018: France Advances Past a Cavani-less Uruguay
Never has a match report made me slam both fists on the dining room table and yell “Yeaaaahhhhhhhh.”
Then el profesor Alan Jacobs posted a snippet from Brian Phillips’ World Cup quarter-final match report.
The opening paragraph, which Alan dubbed “soccer and the impediments to success” is the most obvious, yet insightful explanation of soccer I’ve read.