Thursday, 24 May 2012

Clash of Philosophy

It is startling to read about so many comments on various footballing websites to the tune of 'Chelsea were lucky' or 'Chelsea do not deserve to be champions.' To me, it seems that in this day and age it not only enough to win trophies to earn the respect and applause of the general spectating populous. You have to win with style as well. Easier said than done. It seems that the globe has been spoilt rotten by Barcelona and their once in a generation mesmeric style of football, better described as 'tiki-taka,' where playing the 'right way' is to keep as much possession as possible (usually mid 60%) and to never play the ball long, but always keeping the passes short. Uruguayan football journalist and pundit Jorge Ramos who works for ESPN Deportes, recently presented his top ten teams in world football right now. Who did he put first? Reigning European champions Chelsea? Nope. Runners up Bayern? No. Real Madrid, winners of the La Liga? Not a chance. Number one on his list was Barcelona. Where did Chelsea fit in his top ten? He placed them number six. Fellow ESPN pundit Tommy Smyth was asked to compile his own top ten. On his list, Chelsea were number one and Barcelona were number seven. For the record, Barcelona have not won a trophy this season whereas Chelsea have won two. In this example one can assume that Ramos places more importance on the 'means to an end' philosophy in evaluating the greatness of a team. On the other hand, Smyth places more importance on an 'end's to a mean' mentality. Whatever your view, one thing is clear: not every team can play as good as Barcelona. This is not to be confused with playing like Barcelona. The criticism of Chelsea is not because they are not as good as Barcelona, but because they chose not to play football the 'correct way' in the final. That is, they chose to 'park the bus' and play 'ten men behind the ball.' The other side of the argument tells us that defending is just as important as attacking and the ultimate aim of football is to win. But that seems to not impress modern football fans.

The clash between Chelsea and Bayern Munich represents a fundamental evolution of football. This theory of football evolution can be described as a clash between teams who represent the Chelsea model and those who represents the Barcelona model. In simple terms- attack vs defence. This clash is viewed out on the pitch, but when two polar opposite football philosophies clash, it not only represents just another game. The game represents a clash between two two ways of thinking. Two opposite ways of thinking. History is littered with clashes on the battlefield that represent more than just a battle for geographical position-it represents two ideologies between different nations. That is why there is so much discussion and opinion when games like this happen. This year- defence won. It also won in 2010 where Inter Milan beat Barcelona on their way to the Champions League, where coincidentally they beat Bayern in the final. Barcelona won the trophy in 2009 and 2011. When Inter or Chelsea win, it is a travesty to football. When Barca win, they are worthy winners. There are those who argue that efficiency in front of goal and taking your chances is part of the game. Chelsea scored from their only corner of the game. Bayern could not score a single goal from over 20 corners. In that sense, Chelsea deserved to beat Bayern. Former Australian goalkeeper Mark Bosnich often tells us that football is played in the middle of he field but it is won in both boxes. Quite true. Smyth's top five teams have all won a trophy this season: Chelsea, Real Madrid, Man City, Juventus and Borussia Dortmund. Ramos' top five are: Barcelona, Real Madrid, Bayern Munich, Man United and Man City.
Who will win next year's Champions League? Or more importantly, which philosophy will triumph?

Here's a link to Tommy Smyth v Jorge Ramos


  1. very insightful article. nice

  2. I would say this is better than those watermelons you used to draw in room 32 business studies.