Wednesday Wonder Goals #3 Marco Tardelli vs West Germany

23 Oct

Marco Tardelli – Italy vs West Germany, July 11th 1982

‘Passion’ is a term that gets regular airings in British and Irish football circles. With the dispiriting disparity between the huge sums of money at the top level of the sport and the income of the average fan, passion, this intangible, priceless quantity has gained a particular mystique. It is the one quality which fans can claim to have in abundance, while credibly accusing players of lacking. This lack of passion is often cited as a key element in underperformances, but how it specifically manifests itself is often unclear. Conversely, when a player is praised for their passion, it is usually isolated examples which are cited; lunging tackles, lengthy sprints and wildly emotional goal celebrations. These examples are often discussed as if they were divorced from any other positive footballing quality, such as skill or tactical awareness; as if passion alone could determine a game, or perhaps even a season.

This discourse of passion as a transcendent force in football, above and beyond all other aspects of the game, is hardly the only one surrounding the quality, but it is prominent enough and blinkered enough to warrant discrediting. Tardelli’s goal is ripe for this purpose. It’s a wonderful synergy of the overt elements of passion with the subtler elements of the game. Tardelli’s iconic celebration is passion incarnate, the impact of 44 years of Italian World Cup dreams manifesting itself in one ecstatic, screaming face. The sight of this battle-hardened, workhorse midfielder moved beyond tears by a single strike of the ball comes close to summing up the intangible magic of football. Yet that wild abandon is only possible thanks to a deft shimmy that earns the Juventus midfielder his shooting opportunity; and in turn, that shimmy is arrived at via an end-to-end interchange of passes, at once energized and canny. The sudden surging break towards the West German penalty area might square with simplistic conceptions of passionate play, but the Italians’ ability to retain the impetus after Briegal catches up with Conti, to evade their opponents’ attempt to play offside, bespeaks a more complex awareness and resourcefulness. There is passion there, no doubt. That the Italians, so often derided as cravenly defensive, burst forward with such evident eagerness for victory, is proof of that. Crucially, however, they do not fetishize this passion as an end unto itself, they do not let it overwhelm them. Instead they harness it to fuel their savvy play, retaining cool heads amid thumping hearts. The result is a triumph of passion, not the impotent chest-beating championed by reactionary elements of the media, but a glorious balance of emotional energy, mental effort and physical exertion.

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  1. football favourites (weekly) | footysphere faves - June 22, 2014

    […] Wednesday Wonder Goals #3 Marco Tardelli vs West Germany | Baby, Ferenc Puskas To You […]

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