The Defense Never Rests

“Defensive domination in soccer differs radically from defensive domination in, say, American football. In football a great defensive team (think of the Baltimore Ravens from a few years back, or the ’85 Bears) overwhelms the offense, drives quarterbacks into panic, makes people hurt. But when soccer teams defend exceptionally well, the experience—for the opposing team and for observers also—is more like a subtle but accretive disorientation, a cumulative frustration. It’s “negative football” not in the Mark van Bommel you-never-know-when-I’ll-go-for-your-knees sense, but in a mathematical way: an iterative algorithm of subtraction, as the opponent’s offensive opportunities are reduced and reduced until their each possession seems to occur under a minus sign.” Run of Play

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