Daily Archives: March 4, 2013

How 90 minutes Can Be Defined by a Few Seconds

This past Wednesday, Arjen Robben once again proved why he is a world-class soccer player. Starting for Bayern Munich in their German Cup clash with Borussia Dortmund, a team that has had their number the past few meetings, Robben was the beneficiary of receiving a deflection in the 43rd minute from a tackle just on the outer perimeter of the reigning Bundesliga champions’ 18-yard box. What did he do instantly upon having the ball at his feet?

On Saturday night, the Argentinian maestro for the Columbus Crew, who sports the unusually high number 33 (although 3×3=9…), also had the ball come to his feet several yards outside of the 18-yard box in the 2013 season opener at the Home Depot Center against Chivas USA. What did he do with it?

In the best leagues in Europe, players do this with frequency. Robben’s strike was fantastic, but not necessarily rare. The best players do not think, but rather react in the many situations throughout any given match. Practice is designed for thinking and the game is won by reacting. For example, most do not focus on the immediate pass or action right in front of them, but are cognizant of their surroundings and instead prepare for what the second and third pass needs to be. In those quick moments, they move and act accordingly. In the case of the two shots above, both the Dutchman and Argentine knew what to do in each of their split second decisions. They’ve trained many years for such opportunities.

Arjen Robben and Federico Higuaín showcased moments of brilliance that are celebrated so passionately in “the beautiful game.” To witness this just three days apart was particularly special because two players from completely different backgrounds, cultures and leagues shared an exhilarating commonality of giving its fans the thrill of a game altering goal with a similar impromptu strike on distant pitches, separated by the world’s largest ‘pond’: the Atlantic Ocean.

“Großen Fußballtor!”

“Gran Arco de Fútbol!”

Incredibly, regardless of any language barriers, at least everybody can agree both men scored a “great soccer goal!”

At least that was my reaction.

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