What is good fútbol? There is really no one correct answer to that question, and all players, coaches, and spectators have differing opinions for which they can make many good arguments. Sometimes it’s hard to put an ideal style of play into words — maybe it comes as an image or a feeling. Sometimes good fútbol doesn’t win, and sometimes winning fútbol isn’t good. My definition of good fútbol just won the World Cup.
Watching Spain and F.C. Barcelona (with a few exceptions, pretty much the same team) play over the past couple of years has helped me to define what I find beautiful about this sport. Granted, this is all my opinion … but I think that the Spain/Netherlands final said a great deal about the direction of the modern game. What I witnessed, game in and game out during the tournament, was the success of teams who are technically superior to their opponents. The Netherlands, like Spain, not a traditional world powerhouse, employs a pride in keeping the ball and using it to break down opponents.
I used to love the tricky, flashy players, but those whom I’ve come to appreciate more and more (maybe, in part, because it reminds me of my own style) are the simple, consistent playmakers. To me, Xavi and Iniesta are brilliant. They are the maestros leading the show, and they do so with few touches and extremely simple decisions and techniques. Yes, games can be, and often are, won on moments of individual brilliance, but for me, good fútbol is defined through cooperation and the fluidity of interchanging movement. For one player to perform a skill — that is cool; for two to combine and pull something off — that is impressive; for a group of people all to be on the same page and produce fútbol like Spain does — that is art.
I don’t think that good fútbol is necessarily always successful. I was so happy, though, to see a team that represents something I feel very strongly about succeed.
Peace, love, fútbol.