Copa America 2019: A Hypnotic Pass

James Rodriguez is a hypnotist. At this point in the match, he’s floating where ever he likes. He receives the ball a few yards from the touchline, just behind the midfield stripe. Argentina’s coach Lionel Scaloni, bends forward, shouting for someone to close him down.

Too late.

James already snapped the picture. Now his head is down. His left foot sweeps through the ball. There’s a pop. A thump of kangaroo leather and synthetic plastic colliding. The ball blazes across the pitch, wind wrapped, minimum back spin. The Nike swoosh smiles up at the Salvador sky.

In the end the diagonal ball takes out 8 Argentinian players within two, three seconds. Yes, Roger Martinez still needed to produce a tight outside of the foot dribble, followed by a golazo to complete the move. But James’ diagonal ball was the instigator.

The diagonal ball is a basic, but lethal tactic. It hypnotizes defenses, turning defenders into ball watchers. But then the ball snaps it’s it fingers. The spell is broken, and your goalkeeper is picking the ball out of his own net.

Copa America 2019: Brazilian Betrayal

I confess. It’s betrayal. Though Brazilian, I’m hoping Argentina win this edition of the Copa America.

I don’t live near the Tríplice Fronteira (Triple Frontier). I’m not pissed at Tite, or disillusioned with Brazil playing grinding, backhoe football.

My only reason for supporting Argentina?

Leo Messi.

I’m tired of the doubters. Exhausted of the skeptics.

Beings of the universe – Leo Messi is the greatest player of all time.

If the 600 + goals, 5 Ballon d’ors, 4 European Cups and a clutch of corny Pepsi commercials doesn’t convince, maybe a Copa America win on Brazilian soil will.

I admit, I’m not sure how far my treason will stretch.

A Brazil – Argentina final would certainly test my resolve. But Messi raising South America’s most prestigious trophy may at last lower the doubting voices.

Forgive me.

World Cup Haikus: Signals and Noise

Signal and Noise

 

 

Match Day 8

Maybe because it’s the first year I’m taking the subway to work, but this is the first World Cup where I’ve noticed strangers rockin’ their countries kits.

This week alone I’ve seen 2 Argentinas, a Germany, and a Mexico. And then on Friday, out of no where, a French “Henry” number 12 shirt.

I always want to yell something real at these true believers. Something like “aww man, cool jersey bro.”  The best I could muster was an awkward thumbs up to the German gentleman . He smiled an efficient smile and got off at the next stop.

 

 

 

 

For-Éver Banega

There is a point to this. Banega is also exactly what United do not have, an element beyond the strangulating Mourinho blueprint, trusted to purr about the pitch seeking the right place to deploy his velvet-pawed touch. Banega might not sprint or leap well at set pieces. But here he ran the game by stealth, an ambling brain in bright orange boots, funnelling possession into difficult areas and digging his fingernails into the back of United’s midfield.

on For-Éver Banega’s classic Old Trafford performance.