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To say that Mourinho is paranoid and therefore dismissible ignores the mirror he holds to us, to our inability to take responsibility for our mistakes. Further: What Mourinho also does, a la “The Matrix,” is point out the disturbing glitches and conspiracies in our seemingly solid, ever-shifting systems. “As long as conspiracy talk fills his press conferences, our eyes will be glued to the television. We dare not stare with a magnifying glass at the inconsistencies that plague our own daily lives and concept of knowledge – we’d probably trip over our own feet and hurt ourselves.” (Elliott/Futfanatico)

(Image credit: paulbence/Flickr through a Creative Commons license.)


Messi/Ronaldo: The Style of No Style

Yes, Messi and Ronaldo score like Colin Farrell — but while they dominate, they don’t transcend, they aren’t memorable. And that’s our fault — they reflect our recent taste for soccer as Castrol Index, with the supreme value not magic but data. “We watch and wait for the goal, only mildly surprised by the steps along the way…There’s a great chance that Messi or Ronaldo, or both, will make the difference. But how do they make that difference?” (Futfanatico)

Reads of the Day: There is No Methadone for This

The party’s over, and we’re already forgetting what she looked like. Futfanatico says reality has already been digested by the Spanish metanarrative, while David Gendelman at Fair Play says we’re all already losers. At True/Slant, Zach Dundas argued before the match that the two squads embodied the two sides of soccer: control versus incident, era versus accident. Fake Sigi says it wasn’t the worst World Cup ever, just “crap soccer masquerad[ing] as the pinnacle of the sport.” And The Globe and Mail’s John Doyle enjoyed watching the upending of North American notions of sport as a series of Hallmark moments.

Quarterfinal Previews: The Sign(s) of Eight

Like the classic joke “The Aristocrats,” most of the eight World Cup quarterfinalists play the 4-2-3-1 — but each put a different spin on the formation that distinguishes it, says Tom Williams at Football Further. (Watch out especially for “the role of the right-sided midfield carillero” in Brazil’s play today.) Meanwhile, Elliot at Futfanatico inhabits Sir Arthur Conan Doyle as he examines the cases of and for each side: “This Brazil wears gloves, a mask, dusts its own prints, and leaves no trace of impressive success in its wake. Not wanting to leave behind a shell, a bullet, or any other clue, the Brazilians prefer a much simpler, less noisy, and less messy manner of murder: asphyxiation.”

Spring is the Cruelest Season

Spring, and the young football fan’s musings turn to…missed PKs, a November draw against Bolton, the precise moment when Himovic lost his Ibra. “Hope springs eternal, but Spring encroaches upon the soccer fan like an enemy army assembling on a nearby hill. Despite the seasonal treats, the memory of another season past, another year of dust collected in a trophy case, stings like the harsh winter wind. Sigh.” (Elliott/Futfanatico)

Reads of the Day: The Blaugrana Backlash

Barcelona “are a fine football team, but that is all they are,” says Martin Samuel of the Daily Mail, “propped up by an iniquitous system that increasingly guarantees a two-horse race [in La Liga]…Give them a trophy, yes, but not a halo.” Elliott at Futfanatico goes further, bemoaning Barça’s “stranglehold on the soccer media’s collective imagination,” their endless ten-foot passing akin to “the pre-shotclock era of basketball.”

For the Love of Some Good Women

Reasons to prefer watching the U.S. Women’s National Team over the men’s? “Success aside, it’s the style of play. Simply put, the girls share and keep the ball better…Pretty? Patient? Possessive? Controlling? All of the above – but you can’t keep your eyes off them. For all the right reasons.” (Elliott/Futfanatico)

Run the Real Madrid Offense

For a Kansas University men’s college basketball fan, Real Madrid plays the style of the coach (Roy Williams) you loved to hate but still pine for — fast breaks, pressure, sharks massing at the scent of blood. “Barcelona is a crossword puzzle: you patiently peruse the questions and tips, constructing your answers word by word; Real Madrid is Sudoku on meth.” (Elliott/The Run of Play)

The Platonic Tyranny of ‘The Beautiful Game’

The universal truth everyone acknowledges: Arsenal and Barcelona was the matchup of “the Kantian ideal of beauty versus the slightly-better-looking Kantian ideal of beauty,” worthy heirs to Brazil ’74. The reality: Neither team lives up to the Beautiful Game Ideal…because perhaps the ideal was just that – nothing but a mental trap. (Futfanatico)

Real: Basic and Brutal

Futfanatico’s provocative series comparing La Liga teams to ancient modes of warfare continues with the cavalry of Real Madrid, built on extreme mobility and a relentless attacking strategy borne of trauma. “Just as the defeat at the Battle of Carrhae taught the Romans the importance of the cavalry, last season’s dreadful 6-2 showing at home forced Madrid into its current incarnation.” (Futfanatico)