Call it a hunch

I’m going to call a long shot guess here. The 1-2 defeat to Barcelona opens the door for Iker Casillas to return to the team.

I say this not because it makes sense from a soccer perspective but because it will make

Anyone in Spain knows what this is: Lazarillo steals wine from his drunk, blind master. (spoiler: he'll get caught)

Anyone in Spain knows what this is: Lazarillo steals wine from his drunk, blind master. (spoiler: he’ll get caught)

Madrid look ridiculous in the news. And this is how Real Madrid management seem to think. At 1-0 the game was anyone’s. Madrid was pressing into the Barça half and had many good scoring opportunities when a quick counter left Alexis Sánchez 1v1 25 yards out. He has time to switch the ball to his preferred right foot and audaciously chips the ‘keeper for 2-0, the goal that would prove to be the game winner.

As a goalkeeper coach I tell my players there are three delimiters to the goal: two posts and the crossbar. Your teammates can help defend shots to either post but the high ball is usually yours alone. Once that chipped shot gets airborne, it’s you or nobody. VaselinaWhen the solid, brave Diego López steals out to the six-yard line, he invites the high ball in exchange for closing the gaps to either side, and giving him an edge to smother in the box should Sánchez try pushing past Varane.

But Real Madrid are very sensitive to the brand and above all things they hate being embarrassed. The term in Spanish for a shot like Alexis’ is “vaselina — a Vaseline shot, meaning it is slippery and just gets past the goalkeeper. And this will resonate in the Spanish national psychology. Spain is the birthplace of the pícaro, the hero of the picaresque novel. In 1554 the first well-known book of the genre, Lazarillo de Tormes, was published in Spain. Per Wikipedia, “this extensive genre includes Cervantes’ Rinconete y Cortadillo, and El coloquio de los perros, Henry Fielding’s Tom Jones, and Mark Twain’s Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Its influence extends to twentieth century novels, dramas, and films featuring the “anti-hero”.

This win in Camp Nou is not just three points, the vaselina will be all over the press and television and the unspoken message is that Barcelona are the pícaros and that makes Real Madrid the foolish rich people that are the pícaros natural prey. In the stadium, when Sánchez was asked about his goal, a devilish grin flashes across his face. His words play down his achievement “I saw the keeper was out, it was all I could do . . .” but his face tells the true story: “I owned Real Madrid in front of millions of people.”

St. Iker may have been beaten by Sánchez but here is one voice saying: Casillas would not have allowed himself to look foolish and posterize himself by a vaselina, because he knows the El Clásico is not just a game, it is national worldwide theater and you do not allow your team to become a source of amusement, becoming the opening highlight for sports shows across the planet.

Dickens wrote the Artful Dodger, a classic picaresque character. Here shown picking pockets, as Sanchez did vs. Real Madrid today.

Dickens wrote the Artful Dodger, a classic picaresque character. Here shown picking pockets, as Sanchez did vs. Real Madrid today.

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One Response to Call it a hunch

  1. Jesus Sierra says:

    Nice article Jim, was never a huge Cassillas fan ( save for his performance in the World Cup) however I’d side with you on this one. I do have a hard time envisioning Barca as the “poor” anything…but I get the reference.

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