July 2, 2008

Spanish Conqest

I hope you all got a chance to follow Euro '08. It was one of the best tournaments of the past ten years. At least, they picked one of the best possible goal celebration songs.

Along with the Netherlands, Spain was an early favorite of mine. After a +40 year drought, it was finally Spain's year. What's more they won it with a positive and exciting style of play.

Here's a clip of the goal that won the final. What's so magical about this goal is the way that even as Lahm attempts to get between the striker and the ball, Torres runs right through him almost as if he wasn't there. I watched the slow motion replay of the goal many times before I figured out how he did it.

Usually, if you're running behind someone, you have to stay a step or two behind them in order to avoid getting kicked as one of your legs goes forward and one of theirs comes back. But, if your strides are synchronized so that your legs each go forward and back together, you can get right up behind that person and not get kicked. The slow motion replay clearly shows that happening with Torres and Lahm.

The other aspect of the run is that Torres starts by coming up on Lahm's left and then ghosts over to his right. Lahm leans left attempting to shield Torres off the ball but Torres has already overtaken him on the other side.

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