Gloved fingertips stretch beyond
Gloved fingertips stretch beyond
Liga MX is the most entertaining league in the world.
The second leg final between América and Monterrey was undoubted proof.
There isn’t another league with this strange combination of technical brilliance, technical mistakes, and an endless supply of slide tackles.
The two coaches – Miguel Herrera and Antonio Mohamed (formerly of América) oozed machismo, prayer beads, decadent cologne and tactical nous.
The match was played with wild rhythm. América and Monterrey both having a share of miss placed and over hit passes. Individual defensive errors were in abundance – see Jorge Sanchez’s swing and-a-miss clearance in minute 74…
But there was also bits of neat build up play and classy finishing. Federico Viñas left footed thunderbolt off the inside of the right post earned Miguel Herrera a sideline bear hug. And the Jannsen layoff to Carlos Rodríguez who played in Funes Mori, left América’s back four wilting.
It wouldn’t be the gunslingers who would decide this match though. Long before the penalty shootout both goalkeepers were proving to be the match winners. Barovero (the accountant) tipped over a Guido Rodriguez rasper from the top of the 18, and Ochoa saved one from point blank on Carlos Rodríguez.
Gio Dos Santos preps his corner. The TV cameras are shaking. It’s cleared away.
The mind games begin.
Ochoa and Marcelo Barovero share a moment while walking to the goal. Both keepers morph into penalty panthers, flash diving to their left to make vital saves.
Guido Rodriguez, having issues with the penalty spot turf…launches his penalty into the Mexico City sky line.
Antonio Mohamed grips his prayer beads, the shadow from the dugout ceiling covering his face. Leonel Vangioni slide rule passes it to the bottom left corner. The tears are flowing. Monterrey are Liga MX champions.
3 Champions Leagues, still under appreciated.
First French football hero? You guessed it. Fabien Barthez.
Goalkeeper was the first position I was attracted to. It’s natural when you grow up playing basketball and you can’t do five keepie-uppies.
Goalkeepers seemed so heroic, living knights of the round table. Diving hands first into danger to save the entire team. They even wore superhero costumes, kits unlike anyone else on the field. Draped in jerseys colored in Broccoli green, Sunflower yellow, even 80s pop star pink was an option.
Keepers though, were demi-gods. Peter Schmeichel, Ollie Kahn (did anyone call him Ollie to his face?), with their sculpted shoulders and grizzly bear paws were BC Olympians. Out of reach of us eighty-six-pound mortals.
Then there was Fabian Barthez.
He scraped in at six feet. And closer resembled a grocer, filling the bins with vine fresh tomatoes early Saturday morning, rather than a top-level goalkeeper.
But Barthez, with his Copa Mundials and number 16 shirt won the Champions League with Marseille. Lifted the World and European cup with France. He even won the league with Manchester United.
Zidane treasures him. When asked which player from the 98′ team he’d add to the current French side, he replied “Barthez”.
I don’t remember any spectacular saves Barthez made. I can’t recall a press conference where he charmed anyone. I’ve never saw him lift a trophy.
None of these things made Barthez my hero. He was my hero because I could see a little of myself in him.