The Real Theater of Dreams
When talking about soccer, we all have a tendency to get a bit overwhelmed by transfer budgets, sponsorship contracts and wage allowances. The modern game is one dominated by a never-ending news cycle that’s difficult to avoid; one in which is cynicism has a certain inevitability. But while FIFA officials and fascist fans conspire to drag us down, soccer remains a children’s game; a fact that was made clear in Portland this afternoon.
Teaming up with the Make-A-Wish foundation, the Portland Timbers gave 8-year old Atticus Lane-Dupre, who was diagnosed with Cancer last fall, a moment in the spotlight. Alongside teammates from his local youth soccer side, the Green Machine, Atticus was invited to Jeld-Wen Field for a scrimmage in front of more than 3,000 fans against a group of select players from the Timbers starting eleven.
Backed by flares, signs and a variety of G-rated chants, the Green Machine took down the Timbers 9-8, with four goals coming by way of Atticus himself. Don’t let the television coverage or blogs fool you: the heart of soccer emanated from the Pacific Northwest today.
Check out the photos below and let me know whether it’s just me, or if AFR headquarters are especially dusty this afternoon. [Posted by Maxi]
Through Ryu’s Lens: Messi lifts Barça, PSG bows out
Fingernails were bitten, but the Camp Nou crowd saw their side edge another excellent performance from PSG. Barça were second best until Lionel Messi came on and despite playing at 60% or so due to an injury, the Argentine led the Catalans into the back of the net. Ryu was in Barcelona to see the mighty Zlatan go silent as Pedro stole the show.
Through Ryu’s Lens: Dortmund delivers a classic
Few gave Málaga a chance. And sure, they lost in the end, but what a fight they put up in Germany. The Andalusians climbed on top of the yellow wall, and silenced the 70,000 fans. The game was there for the taking, and Manuel Pellegrini’s side was absolutely defiant of any storylines that were supposedly set in stone. As they return to Iberia, they’ll be crushed. Dortmund rose to the occasion in the end, providing a comeback for the ages in the dying minutes, but it was a game that allowed us to see two teams competing at their very best. Ryu captured the full spectrum of emotions that both clubs experienced throughout the 90 minutes.
Congratulations to Leo Messi on winning his fourth consecutive World Player of the Year award! We’ve joined forces with illustrator Richard Swarbrick to celebrate this amazing achievement. Have a look!
Before we move forward, let’s take a step back.
2013 will bring new stories, and writers will continue to unveil value in the context of our day-to-day lives. But before we jump ahead, we really should take a step back. The internet is a wonderful place, but our constant consumption of content allows us to forget which stories were truly compelling, creative, well-researched, and told with conviction. For the second year in a row, I have compiled what I consider to be a list of the best writing in football. This year, I called upon some of the game’s most influential voices to reflect on how writing best interpreted, dissected, and brought meaning to the beautiful game.
Consider this project to be a sort of anthology. The games will be remembered in history, but our reactions and our stories could have been forgotten. Instead, they’re here.
View some of the best football writing that 2012 had to offer:
(Note: Titles in the PDF link to their respective URLs. For the sake of continuity and accessibility, we did not feature pieces that were only available offline or behind paywalls)
Thanks to the list’s contributors: Laurent Dubois, Richard Whittall, James Tyler, Gwendolyn Oxenham, Chris Mann, Tom Dunmore, Robert Langham, Musa Okwonga, Jeff Livingstone, Ed Malyon, George Quraishi, Maxi Rodriguez, Kevin McCauley, Elliot Turner, Dominic Vieira, and Stefan Bienkowski
Compiled by Eric Beard
Finally, thanks for your support throughout 2012. Here’s to another year full of vibrant conversation.
Here’s a step by step process of how I go from a reference photo to a final poster layout.
Prized, lethal and ruthless are three adjectives which spring to mind when asked to describe Falcao. Is he world-class? Absolutely, definitely, positively, ridiculously. Take a look at this stat for this season: he scores with roughly every third shot. Falcao provides so much for Atletico Madrid that Gerard Pique recently described the side as ‘Falcao’s team.’
However, whilst the strength which the Colombian provides his side with cannot be undervalued, it would be unfair - and arguably stupid - to flippantly disregard the talent which resides within the bowels of the Vicente Calderon stadium as nothing more than servants hurrying to meet their striker’s needs.
Maradona vs England: An animation made from magazines and newspapers
Our good friend Richard Swarbrick is at it again. This time he’s not only created a new Maradona-centric animation made from football magazines and sports newspapers, but he’s also brought a project with him. It’s called Fantasista, a site dedicated to art and the beautiful game.
Fantasista (the playmaker): 1. (n) A symbol of creativity and invention, of imagination and entertainment, of artistry and magic
Richard is behind Fantasista, but our very own Senior Writer Amy Eustace (writings) is also one of the main contributors. Have a look, spread the word, and - of course - enjoy this beautiful animation focused on one of the most creative men ever to play the game. [Posted by Eric]