I have never been much of a soccer fan. I did get into it (a little), when the USA women's team made their run to the Cup, a few years back. But overall, I haven't been much of a fan, because I didn't understand the game like those that love it (namely, the rest of the world). Despite the fact that I have both visited and lived in Europe, I just could not find any enjoyment or entertainment, in it.
This year's World Cup tournament has been a bit different, though. I have made an effort to see what all this fuss is about. And I must say, that I have enjoyed it
Neal Boortz calls it "absolutely boring". I have heard him say it a few times on his radio show. Like him, I thought that running up and down a field kicking a ball back and forth, was ridiculous. Trouble sleeping? Watch soccer. That is, if tennis isn't on somewhere.
But, watching the game with a little more attention and an analytical eye, I have been able to see some of the nuances of the game; and with that has come a newfound appreciation of the sport that I have never been able to effectively appreciate, before. I am beginning to see a little, about what the game is all about and it's beginning to make a little sense, along the way. Learning the rules from people that know it, watch it, and actively follow it, has made it a bit easier to follow.
But with all of this new discovery, I still do not know enough to talk about strategy, matchups, and the likes. So, I won't. But one thing I have noticed about it all, is something that is not too much different from the sports I like, basketball and American football. It's something that I am sure that has been said in every soccer pub in the world, at some point in time (or another), just like it has been in every sports pub in America.
Defense wins championships.
You can have offense and it will sell tickets, it will excite fans, and it will be fun to watch. But it's defense that gets a team to this level. If you have an excellent defense, you can have an off night on offense and still pick up the win.
France and Italy evidently, have two of the best defenses in the world. Because they have out-defended their opponents to get to this championship game, France 1-0 over Portugal and Italy 2-0 over Germany. Italy and Germany were tied 0-0 at the end of regulation, so it was well over 90 minutes before a goal was scored. In fact, I have seen a lot of low-scoring games, in this competition.
Anyway, congrats to both France and Italy for being the teams that got on a run and played the best they could, to reach this pinnacle. It's not easy when the pundits were picking others to win it. But they perservered and played the games anyway, one game at a time.
The world loves their soccer, but Europe drinks it like Americans drink the NFL. They are the kings of the soccer world. One way or another, a European team will be the next World Champion. May the team that wants it more and works the hardest for it, be the victor. May the best team win.
(Oh, and by the way, I do love defense, in the NFL. Give me a 10-7 game over a 55-48 one, anytime.)