Barcelona may have started to shift some concepts around, but some people still praise the style of play that led Paraguay to the Copa America final without winning a single match. Santos and Flamengo performed a feat of magic to show everyone why is it called “The Beautiful Game.”
For the twelfth round, Ronaldinho’s Flamengo went to Vila Belmiro stadium to face the Santos of Neymar and Ganso. The new generation of Brazilian football facing the “old”.
Neymar was extremely inspired. Dribbling, running, being basically unstoppable. At four of the first half, he dribbled two of Flamengo’s defenders and passed the ball to Elano. Elano threw a precise long ball to striker Borges, who didn’t miss. Santos 1×0.
Flamengo played well, creating chances, but the night seemed to be Neymar’s. A ball badly crossed by Renato gave Santos a good counter attack, with Neymar almost scoring but being stopped by Flamengo’s goalie Felipe. Fallen, he was still able to bicycle kick it to find Borges alone in the box. Santos 2×0.
Flamengo still tried, but we the last touch was either bad or defensible. Deivid missed an incredible goal after a cross by Luis Antonio. Luis Antonio and Ronaldinho both had good chances, but their goalie defended it.
There was more from Santos, though. A work of absolute beauty and skill by Neymar. He escapes between two of Flamengo’s defenders, gives and receives the ball from Borges, humiliates Flamengo’s defender Ronaldo Angelim with a disturbing dribble and kicks the ball over Felipe to make Santos 3×0
Santos has the game, but Flamengo is not dead. A cross from Luis Antonio and Santos’ goalie fumbled, and the ball comes soft into the feet of Ronaldinho. Santos 3×1 Flamengo.
There is another cross, a few minutes later, this time by winger Leo Moura, and Thiago Neves heads it in perfectly. Santos 3×2 Flamengo.
The tide seems to be turning. Santos’ fans are apprehensive, Flamengo’s fans are jubilant. But they have Neymar. The kid dashes down the left, with Williams in pursuit and falls inside the box. The ref calls a penalty.
Now, Elano was the first to take a shot in that horrible sequences of penalties that Brazil took against Paraguay. So everyone is a bit skeptical when he grabs the ball to take the penalty. He runs to it and tries to trick Felipe by taking a soft shot in the middle of the goal. Felipe is ready for it, though, defends and then, in a supreme act of irreverence and mirth, starts juggling the ball before releasing for the counter attack.
Then, a corner kick taken by Ronaldinho finds Deivid’s head, and he does not miss. Santos 3×3 Flamengo.
Did I mention this was just the first half?
The second half starts as the first ended, with both teams playing a frank, forward looking football. Santos comes out in advantage again, with Neymar receiving a very good pass from Leo, clearing easily Flamengo’s defender and putting the ball over Felipe’s head. Santos 4×3 Flamengo, in the beginning of the first half.
Santos now played a tad more cautiously, depending heavily on Neymar for attacking but keeping other players back to defend. Neymar almost find the goal a couple of times, but by himself he is not able to conclude.
Roanldinho, who has being playing very well but has been outshone by Neymar, strikes genius twice. Once in the dribble, that left three Santos defenders with no choice but to foul him near the box; and secondly by the masterful way he took the shot, sliding the ball under the jumping defenders.
But it wasn’t over. Deivid recovered a ball in the midfield and passed to Thiago Neves, who dashed towards the goal accompanied by Ronaldinho. He passes the ball to Flamengo’s number 10, who did not forgive. Santos 4×5. Thiago still had a great chance to score the sixth.
Regardless of the winner, this game was a real ode to football, to offensive, well played, beautiful football. Santos and Flamengo showed Brazil that playing football is still the best way to win a game.
It has been hiding behind the “practical” football of Dunga, the football ugliness and fear. The game of beauty and courage is back, and thank you very much Mano Menezes. The courage to pick an offensive Brazil, with a light, fast midfield, with players that love the dribble and the play, without a single brute to “destroy” – for that we thank you, Mano.
After the Dutch debacle, I was asked if I was sad about the loss, I realized I really, deep inside, wasn’t. Because the Brazil of Dunga was a thing of ungainly pedantism, a fordist ideology for football, destroying the little skill available in the pitch on the altar of victory at any cost. So that the idol is dead and buried is something for rejoicing.
The new Brazil debuted against the World Cup faux-sensation, the U.S.A. in the New Meadowlands stadium in New Jersey. Brazil was nervous and made us nervous at moments for lacking the truculence in the defense characteristic of the Dunga era. But it brought delight with its dribbling, the passes and the “always forward” attitude. Ganso is a deserving wearer of the 10 once worn by Pele and by the greatest of all, Zico. Neymar brought back memories of great lighting fast player like Bebeto and Dada Maravilha. The dazzling dribble he does in the 15 min of the second half for example is an example what we want from Brazil, nothing but the beautiful game.
P.s.: To the commentator from Univision, fuck off for talking about Kaka and others of his ilk as “reinforcements” for Brazil.
zzzzzzzzzzz zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz. ahn, oh zzzzzzzzzz zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz half-time. Bathroom break. zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz Henry! oh zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz zzzzzzzzzz “El Loco” Abreu! oh zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz Red Card. zzzzzzzzzzz zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz the end.
This past weekend of European soccer was a strange one, in which the hands of fate conspired to turn two sets of fans into enemies of their own team. In the English Premier League, Liverpool fans cheered as their team went down to Chelsea 2-0, because this result would keep their hated rivals, Manchester United, in second place. They actually jeered their own team when it looked like they were trying to mount an attack or get some shots on goal. The same dynamic occurred in Italy as well, with Lazio fans, in their own home ground, joining with Inter fans to cheer the defeat of the team they support, as this would help prevent the hated Roma from gaining ground in the title race.
The television commentators for the Lazio-Inter game expressed a subdued sense of disgust at the way the match unfolded, feeling that the Lazio players were basically going through the motions, and not really attempting to win. The same accusations were leveled at Liverpool players as well. I think it is fair to say that there is definitely some truth to these comments for anyone who watched the performances on the field. Likely these players knew what the fans expected of them, and were not about to cross some of the most powerful supporters’ groups on the continent.
So what are football/soccer fans motivated more by: love or hate? Based on Saturday’s evidence, it seems that hate of the enemy is the dominant impulse, if one is willing to wish and cheer for the defeat of one’s own team. If one, in fact, expects players to not put in their full effort in order to spite one’s rivals. I asked myself when watching the Lazio game if I would do the same. If the Quakes getting defeated would prevent the Scumaxy (or L.A. Galaxy as they’re known by some) from winning the championship, would I cheer the opposing team, if the result meant little for my own team? I think the reality is that I probably would.
This all makes sense in the context of the sport we love, but what about in the political sphere? Don’t leftists and those committed to change often cheer our own defeat, with the feeling that we are at least preventing the victory of our rivals? I found myself during these last presidential elections hoping for an Obama victory, even though I knew it would do nothing substantial for everyday people, just because it would sit uneasily in the stomachs of the many consciously and subconsciously bigoted people in the country. Isn’t it true that, at times, we invest emotion and energy in organizations, unions, non-profits, and politicians that not only represent values that don’t sit well with our own beliefs, but that actually represent our own defeat? Far right wing forces are certainly our most hated and dangerous enemy. Not just the Tea Party extremists, but the politicians and people with power who pursue the neoliberal agenda with the most gusto (like Bush and company). They are certainly the Man United to our Liverpool (or vice versa).
But what about the others who also represent our defeat? The Chelsea to our Liverpool in this analogy. At the end of the day we have to figure out what we are doing here. Are we simply playing a game of biding our time, and wishing simply that the worst of our enemies doesn’t win out, or are we aiming to win the whole thing? Let’s face it, in the grand scheme of things, we are actually somewhere around Scunthorpe United (look it up on Wikipedia if you don’t know what division they are playing in or who they are, apologies to Scunthorpe fans). If we are ever going to realize our dreams, we need to be committed to building ourselves up, piece by piece, in a long and patient process that means building a spirit that resists all defeat, from all comers. The love, pride and hope for our own “club” must come first now, as the hate has us stuck permanently at mid-table.
Cesar Cielo, World Record holder for the 50m freestyle world record with 20.91, and US Open 50 and 100 yard freestyle, has just signed with Flamengo. The fastest man in the water will now wear red and black.
Why I’m posting this? ‘Cuz I’ll root for Flamengo even in a marbles tournament.
- Beijing Olympics (China) :
FINA World Championships
… C’mon, the Winter Olympics are as ridiculous…
Have you ever heard of FC Gold Pride?
But they just became my fucking favorite team. Due to last year’s disbanding of Los Angeles Sol, Gold Pride got to pick the great, the amazing, the phenomenal Marta in the draft. Holy shit. She is gonna be playing in fucking Hayward! Holy shit! Where do I get season passes?
Now, once more, with feeling, the ass-whopping she delivered to the US in the Word Cup.