Ronaldo and total football may not be the winning formula
Total football is everywhere these days, in newspaper headlines and pub conversations. A few exciting performances from attack-minded teams at Euro 2008 and we’re back in the 1970s. Endless guitar solos, long greasy hair and flying Dutchmen.
On one side, you have the likes of Portugal, the Dutch or Spain, a bunch of daring young artists delighting football romantics with their wizardry. On the other side are the usual suspects, Italy and France, ageing cynics boring everybody with their cast-iron back fours and tireless holding midfielders.
Of course, the poets beating the bad guys at the end would be excellent news to the lovers of the beautiful game.
But wait a minute. Isn’t football about winning? That means you have to score one more goal than your opponents, so one’s enough providing you don’t concede any. A rock solid defence, then, is a good way to start.
And what’s wrong with merciless winning machines not allowing their opponents an inch of space and then relentlessly marching forward to get the goal they need? What’s wrong with the thrilling Euro 2000 final between France and Italy or the awe-inspiring AC Milan side of the early 1990s?
Can’t we have a soft spot for warriors compensating limited skills with total dedication to their duty, the team and the playing system? Do a google search and take a look at Didier Deschamps’s record, to name just one famous example.
Cristiano Ronaldo is all very fine but without a Chelsea-flavoured defence keeping shop at the back for Portugal, would he be able to show off his skills?
Football is a team sport and shouldn’t be just about individuals, however brilliant. There is room for different approaches and all are respectable as long as they win matches.
Football doesn’t have to be total, it just needs to be football.
Patrick Vignal, with the French team in Vevey
PHOTO: Cristiano Ronaldo stands on the pitch after the Group A game between Portugal and Czech Republic at Stade de Geneve in Geneva, June 11, 2008. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse