Posts Tagged ‘soccer’

Mesut Özil, His Critics, and Smart Sports Writing

30 August 2014
My favorite footballer Mesut Özil. Image from Wikipedia

My favorite footballer Mesut Özil. Image from Wikipedia

Long time readers of this blog may recall that I enjoy watching soccer, and, in particular, I am a big fan of a Turkish-German international soccer superstar named Mesut Özil. Özil had a standout tournament at the 2010 World Cup. He then played for Real Madrid, before transferring to Arsenal last season. This Summer he was a starter for the 2014 World Cup winner Germany soccer team.

Truth be told, he hasn’t had a great great year. He was on a new somewhat-less-all-star team in a different league, was injured and out a month or so just after the start of 2014. Arsenal paid a lot to sign him, so some Arsenal fans are disappointed he hasn’t scored dozens of goals yet.

I really enjoyed this article at the Guardian this week. The title is Will the real Mesut Özil please stand up? Very possibly at Arsenal this season. it was written by Barney Ronay. U.S. sports writing (not that I would really know) just doesn’t use big words like tessellate. Here’s a selection:

Certainly at times last season Özil resembled not so much a high-end creative midfielder as some beautifully frail alien prince being ferried around from pitch to pitch by 10 dedicated human helpers yoked into fawning submission by his regal Martian glaze. In many ways his signing still looks like an act of mild debauchery for this lopsided Arsenal team, with its amusingly insistent excess of attacking midfield talent.

There is an argument that Özil simply isn’t the right player to build a team around, that he is only ever going to be a high-end component part, a needy little genius whose moments of fine-point inspiration arrive as a kind of repartee with those already at his level. Runs must be made, spaces found, angles devised, into which Özil’s own brilliantly gymnastic range of movement and passing will elegantly tessellate. Some might even say Özil has simply been lucky, that he is a kind of placebo footballer whose presence provides a garnish on trophies that would have arrived in any case, like the world’s greatest triangle player waiting in the wings to apply the perfect final tinkle with a single flex of a princely hand.


Mesut Özil and Mehmet Sander

20 August 2010

This is a tale of two Germany-born Turkish-heritage men who somehow get linked in my mind… though they are very different. (Note that this means I am posting twice in a row about World Cup futbol… which is a little unrepresentative of the small role that soccer fandom plays in my life… but it’s been on my mind quite a bit this summer.)

Above is a video of Mesut Özil – decidedly the best left-foot footballer in all of Germany (arguably the best player in Germany?), phenomenally graceful, lightning fast, really aware of what’s around him, and not only a great scorer, but a person who sets ups others’ great scores – a champion assist-man – there’s probably a term for this? And he’s 21 years old – so he’s still getting started in some ways. Özil (and indeed nearly all of Germany’s scorers) is not an ethnic German; he was born in Germany, to Turkish parents. Others have written about the significance of this – it can an overstated metaphor for an allegedly post-racist society. I find it, at a minimum, beautiful and ironic that an Aryan country has such a kick-ass wonderful Islamic Turkish-German as their star. (more…)

Thoughts on the end of 2010 World Cup Soccer

12 July 2010

Watching Korea lose to Uruguay – on Wilshire at Serrano. I was among 10,000 fans, mostly outside this picture to the right. The screen you see was the secondary public screen. I stayed across the street from the largest part of the crowd so I could easily sit and rest my knee.

I confess that I have been really enjoying spending way more time than I should watching World Cup futbol – aka soccer.

I don’t actually watch sports all that much. I don’t have a TV in my home. I generally don’t follow the big U.S. sports, other than very occasionally watching them when I am out or with friends.

I like to think that I play sports more than I watch them – I play pick-up Ultimate Frisbee nearly every Sunday. Or at least did so for the last five years, but haven’t for two months, since a knee injury in May; I’ve been icing and resting and my knee is nearly entirely recovered. I swim and I bike.

And, certainly lately, I do watch soccer. (more…)