PAOK scored the first goal of their Champions League qualifying match against a superior Benfica team off of a neat little coordinated free-kick routine. Watch the goal above, because it’s cool, and then ponder the following: What is it about free goals that have the big tough soccer boys afraid of a little innovation?
Seriously, why aren’t free-kick routines of this sort more prevalent? An unscientific study of just seeing them happen and succeed from time to time makes them seem to be super effective, and there’s no reason why they should be any worse than the more typical strategy of lining up dudes in the penalty box and shooting the ball at one of the tall guys’ heads. There infrequency gives attacking teams the element of surprise that increases the odds of success, and even if opponents eventually catch on to a team’s tendency for trickeration, defenders would still have a hard time stopping it due to the nearly infinite subtle variations possible.
Not only are they successful, but they also seem like they’d be easy to implement. Perfecting kick routines during training would entail the lowest of intensity practice sessions, which prevents players from accumulating even more wear and tear on their bodies during the long, grueling season. And because goals are obviously the most important and difficult aspect of soccer to master, the easy, largely skill-free goals available from elaborate free kick routines would be worth their weight in gold. After everything we’ve seen over many many years, there’s no good excuse for why teams don’t experiment more with free kicks—and with throw ins and corner kicks, for that matter—when the potential returns are so high.
My diagnosis? Get ready for a little sociology lesson because I chalk this up as yet another example of TOXIC MASCULINITY rearing its ugly head. Real soccer men probably see such froufrou shenanigans as beneath them, and would much rather score a goal by flinging their noggin into a thicket of limbs and other noggins so that they can later boast about all the “blood and thunder” of the moment.
Give the macho act a rest, boys. Elaborate kick routines are the future. Your adherence to this narrowly defined notion of what is and isn’t proper soccer is only hurting yourselves. Only once the culture has been purged of this lamentable attitude can the goals flow.