It is something of a parlor game among American sports fans to make fun of European football (soccer). It is true that many games end in a draw, or even that no goals are scored at all. There are no breaks in the action, as the ball is “live” continuously. Many Americans are convinced the game is boring. Would that they had watched today’s Champions’ League match between Manchester United and Real Madrid.
The Champions’ League is a tournament of the best clubs in Europe. Man-U and Real Madrid are storied clubs that have dominated their leagues for a long time. Each side brings probably the best striking forces in football. Man-U features the fearsome team of Wayne Rooney and Robin Van Persie as strikers. Real Madrid showcases Cristiano Ronaldo backed by an amazingly quick and agile side. Both teams play “total football”, with quick attacks and counter-attacks, which is rarely seen in the US.
In American football, the ball is “in play” for around 14 minutes in a game. In European football, the ball is in play the entire length of the game, around 90+ minutes. Highlights of a game usually look at passes or goals or, even, shots on goals. In today’s match, however, the star was the Man-U keeper David De Gea, who deflected at least a dozen goal attempts from Real Madrid. Real dominated the game, but couldn’t get past the Man-U keeper.
It was one of the finer efforts by a keeper ever. It was also an example of one of the more beautiful aspects of the game; individual players can make a real difference. Real Madrid dominated the play and should have won this game. One man stood against that.
Americans really need to appreciate this beautiful game.