Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Oranje You Glad You Watched?

The announcer in the above clip, Jack Van Gelder is the same Dutch G who went apocalyptic when Dennis Bergkamp scored a last-minute strike against Argentina at the 1998 World Cup. Ifd you don't feel like peeping the link it goes something like this; Dennis Bergkamp! Dennis Berkkamp! Dennis Berkkamp! AGGGGHHHHHH!!!!!!

This time around his histronics are well warranted. Holland's 3-nil absolute beatdown of Italy was truly historic; the itals have not lost by such a margin in a major tournament since 1970! Ruud Bwoy, Wesley "Snipes" Sneijder, Dirk "Cutmaster" Kuyt and Gio van Bronckhorst ran riot through Italy's porous D.

The second and third goals came off glorious, perfectly-executed counterattacks that will stand as testaments to the merit of playing an attacking style as opposed to Italy's negative football.

The first goal has ignited a maelstrom of debate. Italy's keeper Gianluigi Buffon, had knocked over his teammate, defender Christian Panucci whilst blocking Holland's freekick. The ball bounced out to Sneijder at about 20 yards out. He calmly threaded a throo-ball through both teams to Ruud Bwoy. The itals, seeing his pass, immediately ran the offside trap, surging en-masse away from the goal line, leaving Rudd Bwoy to collect the pass offsides by at least three yards. He throttled the ball in and ran off immediately, looking completely befuddled that the goal had stood. Ref Peter Fröjdfeldt allowed the goal to stand through his interpretation of a rule enacted only five years ago, which states that if a player leaves the field of play via the goalline without the ref's permission then he is deemed to still be an active part of the play, thus Panucci, lying prone and presumably injured beyond the goalline to Buffon's right kept Ruud Bwoy onside.

In a sport where the laws overwhelmingly favor defense and negative tactics, any borderline call or interpretation should favor the attacking team, and thankfully this happened here. This play is a microcosm of why scoring is so difficult in soccer. Sneijder's pass to Ruud was glorious, but if Panucci had not been out of bounds then all the Italians had to do to kill the play was run a few steps away from the goal-line. They didn't have to play the ball or the attacking players. To stay onside Ruud would have had to run back with the Italian defenders until the ball crossed throo and then somehow run forward and collect the ball before either Buffon got to it or it went out of bounds.

I won't pretend to fully understand the rule, but it certainly makes the NASL's experiment with a 35-yard offside line, whereby offsides wouldn't apply within 35 yards of the goal seem sensible, especially with teams like Romania playing at least 7 players in and immediately around the box.

No comments: