Thursday, June 24, 2010

Song of the Jabulani

I really have to speak out on behalf of the Jabulani. It's wonderful that Adidas' pursuit of perfection - the perfectly round football - has so fundamentally changed the way the game must be played. For the most part, the reaction from outfield players and goalkeepers (generally not under contract to the German apparel company) alike has been, in the words of "El Niño" Torres:

"We need to practice a bit more with this Jabulani because we are having a bit of bother with it" (

Yeah, it's more than a bit of a bother to any European team, other than the Germans. Mysteriously enough, Die Mannschaft and the Bundesliga have been rolling the Jabulani around for some time (Adidas). And it shows. The Germans seem to be among the few European teams who've actually unlocked this thing.

The Jabulani strikes at the heart of the muscular European style of England and Italy. There's no Beckham and no bending. Collapsing in a writhing heap 30 yards outside the goal, after slight contact, only grants your side the opportunity to fly another Jabulani free kick well over the crossbar. Change-of-field passes flying 60 yards or more bounce harmlessly out of reach of the attacking wingers. Sides have to keep the ball on the pitch and work their passes to decipher the defense.

The Jabulani gets powerful assistance from lowered aerodynamic effects at altitude and firm, perfect South African pitches. The groundskeepers should be given lifetime engagements at Wembley when this is all done. I can't remember balls running on the pitch so fast and true in international competition. It's not surprising, then, that the Latin American sides have seen great success through the group phase. The ball simply favors incessant passing on the turf and attacking creativity.

I think this is good for the game. I don't mind if fewer goals are scored from set pieces, corner kicks or 35-yard banana rockets. Or, that players have less incentive to roll-around on the pitch because they've been knocked in the shins. Let's see the quick low passes and shots that created the beautiful USA goal against Algeria. Love the Jabulani.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

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