Blog Archives

Chapel Thrill

For those who wonder why so many soccer players celebrate by pointing their fingers towards Heaven…

Soccer (or football) is known as the beautiful game. As a lifelong player and fan, I can and will attest to this description with the power of a thousand suns.

Like many sports, our personal favorite(s) often reveal a philosophical belief in how we go about life on a daily basis. The specific strategy, urgency, patience, necessities, rewards, setbacks, effort and so forth of any sport can typically be closely translated into how we view our work, jobs and the complexities of our personal lives.

The following segment from a 60 Minutes interview with FC Barcelona star Gerard Piqué from 2013 struck something inside me as a viewer, a soccer player/fan and a Christian. During the time of this interview, FC Barcelona was regarded as the best soccer club in the world. With all the star power in its starting eleven and the fanfare surrounding this team in Catalonia, take a look at what the designers of the Camp Nou believed was a must-have in the walkway from the locker room to the world famous pitch.

Despite not being a Barça fan, the chapel in Camp Nou showcases (in its uniquely intimate, off-to-the-side kind of way) the link many soccer players have when it comes to their belief in God as it pertains to the beautiful game.

That’s living and embracing the beautiful game on and off the pitch.

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I Still Have Chills

A soccer match not to be forgotten.

Last Tuesday, my parents and I were in attendance for the bone-chilling Champions League game between two of the best soccer teams in the world: Hosts Bayern Munich and visitors Atlético Madrid. Despite the fact that the latter had clinched the first spot in the group before kickoff (the former secured the second spot), there was a lot on the line.

  • Bayern Munich needed to prove it could defeat Atlético Madrid after suffering multiple losses recently.
  • Manager Carlo Ancelotti had to assure the Munich faithful that his brand of soccer football could show promise for winning a Champions League trophy, which will more than likely have to go through Atlético Madrid at some point next spring.

With the temperature in the mid-20s accompanied by a fog that created a cloud inside the confines of the massively impressive Allianz Arena, the game conditions forced the visitors to bundle up and huddle up in a circle for most of their warm-ups and the hosts going about their business as usual.

Pride in club and pride in the future of this season was on the line.

(Click Play, then “Click this video on YouTube” and then please return to this blog)

Bayern Munich 1-0 Atlético Madrid! 

Seeing my favorite team (Bayern Munich) and favorite player (Arjen Robben) in-person and in their home stadium was a thrill of a lifetime. From Robben’s unique and separate warm-up routine to his 83 minutes of brilliant play on the pitch, witnessing one of the greatest soccer players in the world and of his generation was truly epic. And even as the bone-chilling weather was piercing through every layer of my clothes, I’ve never been so happy to be as freezing cold as I was for the hours before, during and after this game.

Bayern Munich’s motto is “Mia San Mia,” which translates to “We are who we are.”

Having now been to a Bayern Munich game at the Allianz Arena, I have a deeper understanding of just what “Mia San Mia” means.

P.S. Thanks Mom and Dad for the unforgettable experience and the amazing seats!

April Madness

What’s Cinderella in German?

Maybe it’s VfL Wolfsburg.

(The literal answer is Aschenputtel, as an FYI).

The reason for comparing the club that’s currently sitting quietly at 8th in the Bundesliga standings with the honor of the college basketball darling this time of year is based on the aforementioned team’s shocking performance against one of the top clubs (and brands) in the world. For context, VfL Wolfsburg’s opponent in the first leg of its Champions League quarterfinal match was Real Madrid. For greater context, Real Madrid beat Barcelona 2-1 at the Nou Camp this past Saturday in El Clásico.

The game today was a classic, but not for the Spaniards…

(Click Play, then “Watch this video on YouTube” and Return to Read the Rest of the Blog!)

2-nil is the worst lead in soccer, so when Real Madrid cannot even get one goal back against an admittedly lesser opponent, that’s a seismic statement and final result for the determined German club. VfL Wolfsburg not only held its own in front of their fans in the Volkswagen Arena, but the VW-branded team surprised the Spanish giants by playing in and excelling in 4th and 5th gears to open their quarterfinal home-and-away series in the 2016 Champions League.

Next Tuesday, in the return leg in Madrid, the world will discover if they need to learn more about what VfL Wolfsburg is and why Volkswagen’s comeback may not involve cars.

RIP Johan Cruyff

For Dutch soccer players and fans, the lion is the symbol on their national team jersey crest. However, most would agree Johan Cruyff is the true icon of Dutch soccer.

The Dutch footballing legend passed away today at the age of 68 in Barcelona, his adoptive city where he paved the way for the club’s sustained greatness.

“Cruyff, who made his name as a forward with Ajax and Barcelona, was European footballer of the year three times.

He won three consecutive European Cups with Ajax from 1971, coached Barcelona to their first European Cup triumph in 1992 and helped the Dutch reach the 1974 World Cup final, where they lost 2-1 to West Germany.”
–BBC

Cruyff’s wisdom on the sport was equal to his talent on the pitch and sideline.

“Playing football is very simple, but playing simple football is the hardest thing there is.”
–Johan Cruyff

In the soccer world, March 24, 2016 will be remembered as a very sad day. Johan Cruyff was a genuine living legend, influential as a player, coach and mentor. His innovative style of play, aptly defined as “total football,” introduced and revolutionized the theory focused on the fluidity of players on the pitch.

In other words, a central midfielder was not limited to a role in the middle and a winger was not restricted to just the outside. The position players (not the goalie) were interchangeable. When executed properly, there are few (if any) teams that can counter this approach.

“Total football” is a world-class strategy.

And world-class is the right way to describe Johan Cruyff’s legacy.

Cruyff’s tactical prowess has and continues to influence the massively successful and astronomically in-demand managerial services of Pep Guardiola (Barcelona, Bayern Munich). Plus, the academies at Ajax and Barcelona continue to instill his style and wisdom.

Speaking of style and wisdom, watch his take on the Dutch national team from back in 2008.

That’s what total knowledge of soccer looks and sounds like.