The Fun of Football

Ich lese gerade ein Buch über Fußballtaktik (ja, ich lese gerade ein Buch über Fußballtaktik), nämlich das bisher sehr faszinierende Inverting the Pyramid von Jonathan Wilson. Das Werk steht ganz oben auf der Bücherliste von Zonal Marking, eine Webseite, die für mich die WM sehr viel verständlicher gemacht hat.

Ich bin noch recht weit am Anfang des Buchs; wir befinden uns in den 30er Jahren, wo Uruguay sich aufmachte, mehrmals die Olympischen Spiele und die WM zu gewinnen – zum Teil, weil sie von der starren, körperbetonten und „geradeaus zum Tor, zack, zack“-Spielweise der Engländer abwichen. Auch Österreich war in der Zeit mit ihrem „Wunderteam“ ganz weit vorne.

“Technique was prized over physicality, but was harnessed into a team structure. In South America, the game came to diverge even more sharply from the original model. Again technique was prized, but in Uruguay and, particularly, Argentina, it was individuality and self-expression that were celebrated. (…)

The style that had begun to emerge in the twenties developed into something even more spectacular, la nuestra – ‘ours’ or ‘our style of play’ – which was rooted in the criolla viveza – ‘native cunning’. The term itself seems to have been popularised in the aftermath of Argentina’s 3-1 victory over an England XI in 1953: ‘la nuestra‘, ‘our style’, it had been seen, could beat that of the gringos (although technically that was only a representative game, not a full international). What it describes, though, is the whole early philosophy of Argentinian football, which was founded on the joy of attacking. Between September 1936 and April 1938, there was not s single goalless draw in the Argentinian championship. Yet goals were only part of the story. In a much-cited anecdote from his novel On Heroes and Tombs (annoyingly missing from the English translation), Ernesto Sábato discusses the spirit of la nuestra as the character Julien d’Arcangelo tells the hero, Martín, of an incident involving two Independiente inside-forwards of the twenties, Alberto Lalín and Manuel Seoane (nicknamed both la Chancha and el Negro), who were seen as embodying the two different schools of thought on how football should be played. ‘”To show you what those two modalities were,”” D’Arcangelo says to Martín, “I am going to share with you an illustrative anecdote. One afternoon, at half-time, la Chancha was saying to Lalín: “Cross it to me, man, and I can go in and score.” The second half starts, Lalín crosses and sure enough el Negro gets to it, goes in and scores. Seoane returns with his arms outstretched, running towards Lalín, shouting: “See, Lalín, see?!” and Lalín answered, “Yes, but I’m not having fun.” There you have, if you like, the whole problem of Argentinian football.'”