Napoli’s Punk Rock Percussionist

He draws your attention, even at an inch tall on the TV screen.

His sky blue socks socks sag and rest at his shins, with a fat florescent yellow band sitting just below his kneecaps. Of course, the bands match his highlighter Nike Mercurial Superflys. The number 17 is stitched across his back. Tattoo sleeves wrap his forearms. A red Acqua Lete logo scrolls across his chest. Pirates goatee? Check.

Without the ball he and his mohawk (a mohawk that would strike fear in middle age 1980’s moms) take up positions a few feet in front of Napoli’s centerback pairing – Koulibaly and Albiol, forming a flexible, equilateral, defensive triangle.

In possession he stands between Mbappe and Neymar. He’ll turn with the ball when pressure evaporates, to play into Insigne checking in, to Callejon wide right, or to an overlapping Rui wide left.

To create attacking rhythm and draw out PSG a few more yards he’d again engage with his centerbacks, playing it back first time to Albiol or Koulibaly.

Hamšík trots, power-walks and gallops through the match. But never sprints. His knees stay bent. His feet stay light, ready to cushion incoming passes.

He turned down a Chinese ransom for nights like these. Napoli’s punk rock percussionist still has a role to play.

As observed from Napoli’s 2-2 draw with PSG on 10/24/2018

Mandžukić’s Chilena

Episode #5

Morning Journal,

I was thinking of my favorite football moment of 2017.

It wasn’t Monaco winning Ligue 1. An incredible achievement, but that was more of a story than a single moment.

Totti retiring, the actual day. His final goodbye at the Stadio Olimpico (which got killer reviews on Google by the way) came to mind. Tears and tears. A tearful Totti is a Totti worth remembering. But alas…

Then there’s the US men’s team not qualifying for the World Cup. A bit of shock and joy.  A hope that rot will stop, which may only happen if Eric Wynalda is elected as the USSF president. But that’s another journal entry for another day.

But the moment that rose to my hippocampus’s surface was Mario Mandžukić’s Champions League final chilena:

Mandžukić, Juventus’s alleyway brawler, displayed his technique and audacity to lift the hope of Juventus supporters around the world.

It wasn’t enough.

Mandžukić’s goal, his match tying goal. His momentum shifting goal. His glimmer of hope goal, will likely be forgotten. Real Madrid’s 3 second half goals turned brilliance into a consolation.

Football supporters just don’t sit around in pubs discussing all the amazing consolation goals they’ve witnessed.

But when it was executed, in that that moment, the Croatian’s chilena wasn’t a consolation goal. It was a celebration.

Here’s to more chilena’s in 2018.

Jack

Link Ups – December 2017

    1. La Masia and Clairefontaine have nothing on the streets of Naples. Chloe Beresford explains.
    2. Slow motion for me…slow motion. In the age of pace Cesc Fàbregas survives.
    3.  William Gallas grows a salt and pepper 5 o’ clock shadow. Chris Waddle rocks a mullet. Joey Barton wears a beanie.  See it all in: Marseille: A Football City from Dugout.

– Thanks to Get French Football News for sharing the Marseille documentary.

 

Totti Dreams

Totti

Totti is the player you dreamed of being.
He’s the player’s name you’d shout during pickup games.
Pumping a fist while spinning away from a pair of trash bins after scoring.
Totti’s the reason you let your socks sag at your ankles.
He’s why you try chipping the keeper at any opportunity.
Totti is why you watch YouTube clips until 3am Wednesday morning.
He’s why you’ll never support Lazio.
He’s why you’ll never support Juventus.
He’s why Italian football became your obsession.
He’s why tomorrow will be the first day of a new Serie A.
A Serie A without dreams, a Serie A without Totti.