Dare Them to Swim with Crocodiles

Last night on “60 Minutes,” one report showed Anderson Cooper literally swimming along the bottom of the Okavango Delta in Botswana, located in Southern Africa. He and a small group of dare devils swam through murky underwater caves, mere feet from one of the most feared predators on the planet: the Nile Crocodile. Seeing previews for this from the days prior and watching the segment Sunday night sparked a random revelation for a subject completely unrelated to the 20-foot reptiles. What did the story remind me of?

FC Barcelona.

This footballing giant features Lionel Messi, Gerard Pique and David Villa, to name a few. They are a brilliant passing team, perfecting the tika taka system (Search “Three is a Magic Number”). This strategy is rooted in movements that continually create triangular passing lanes. If and when they lose the ball, they even have a defensive protocol to regain possession within six seconds. Stating the obvious, the kings of Barça are widely considered to be the premier club in the world the past few years. Reflect on this mind-blowing statistic for Argentine Lionel Messi, a Barcelona youth academy graduate. Rik Sharma of The Daily Mail UK online succinctly described Messi’s achievement at the conclusion of last year in a December 22, 2012 article.

“He broke Gerd Muller’s 40-year-old milestone of 85 goals in a calendar year by grabbing 79 for Barcelona and 12 for Argentina.”

I don’t think I ever scored that many goals with one player in EA Sports’ Fifa on PlayStation!

The elite reputation of Messi, and Barcelona, is unequivocally well deserved.

With such a dominating philosophy and collection of championship trophies, the proposition presented before each of their opponents is deciding how to prepare defensively. Here is my analysis, assisted by the underwater king of the Nile.

I call it The Crocodile Trance.

Playing Barcelona, there will inevitably be stretches when they string together ten or twelve passes together on their opponents side of the field, possibly ten to fifteen yards outside the 18 yard box. As they build up a quick one-two or a give ‘n go to penetrate the defense or open up for a long distance shot, this is when TCT should be utilized.

When crocodiles attack, they are frequently laying perfectly still like a horizontal statue on land, submerged in water or are moving so unassumingly they are barely visible and are not seen and/or perceived as an immediate threat. They spot their prey from a distance and then slowly move in. We’ve all seen the clips. Dogs, in contrast, will pursue without any delay and can frequently miss their target (remember “Tom & Jerry”). The point is they are unique in this tact. Conversely, the gigantic cold blooded reptiles are patient and wait for the exact right time to strike. At least nine times out of ten (while not a scientific statistic, it’s probably pretty accurate), crocodiles are victorious in their mind game with their prey.

Insert Barcelona. Defenses cannot become psychologically discouraged by their passing superiority during short and long stretches throughout the ninety minutes. Instead, they need to keep the ball and their mark in front of them, try to detect a pattern and allow the offense to feel comfortable. Appear to be non-threatening. Then, at this precise moment, after putting a trance of sorts on the offense, step up and in as if lunging from the Nile river onto the water sipping (and devastatingly unfortunate) prey.

To be clear, the objective is not to commit a hard foul or be brutal in nature. This suggestion is an approach to turn the advantage from an offensive juggernaut to an over-matched defense in the appropriate situations. The tackles or lunges are intended to be clean.

Sans the Tyrannosaurus Rex chomping strength and the accompanying lethal consequences of a crocodile attack, the strategy of laying back a little bit, being patient and stepping into a passing lane or pressuring a player at the instance they’ve presumed to put you to sleep is a viable game plan for attempting to defend one of the most prolific goal scorers in history, along with his talented friends.

The men of Camp Nou will know you’re there, but the key is for that to be the only thing they know.

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Posted on March 25, 2013, in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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