“Fantasy sports are culture, somehow, just like all the other things that have moved their slow thighs into our viewfinders. The challenge of fantasy sports, and of generalized adult humanity, is to see in other people the same joys you find in your own universe. Can imaginary ownership of Dustin Ackley overcome my anxiety about the consequences of shared human experience? I will try to find out for you, and in doing so prove it to myself.”
This is beautiful. It tries to be ugly—Dirk Nowitzki’s hair, his herky-jerky method, the awkward wrong-one-footedness of it all—but it can’t be. The loopy plane he sends the ball on and the foot he decides (?) to shoot off of creates an angle that I don’t think I’ve ever seen on a basketball court. Shouldn’t the ball just bounce off the backboard and come right back toward him? And that tongue. It is definitely a tongue.
Athletic Bilbao and Marcelo Bielsa have given Manchester United yet another lesson in how to play vibrant, attacking, entertaining football. They defeated United for the second time in a row, this time 2-1 at home at the San Mamés (5-3 on aggregate). While Llorente and De Marcos scored for Athletic this time around, perhaps the best move of the match was Andoni Iraola’s dribbling into the Man Utd box. It could have been a golazo. It should have been. Regardless, what a performance by the Basque as they head into the Europa League quarterfinals.
“Maradona, though, was a soloist, and reasonable or not, the notion that he singlehandedly won titles for the workmanlike Argentina and Napoli remains a social fact in Argentina, where the perception is that he destroyed the hegemony of machine football on his way to pimp-slapping British naval and imperial power in retribution for the Falklands war.”
There are a lot of reasons to be happy about Germany right now. Comparatively, things are really great there. More importantly, they have an excellent soccer team. As James Tyler wrote at The Classical, they’re a really good soccer team because they’ve decided to stop being German.
“Classic” Germany—the one defined by square-jawed, stoic demigods like Lothar Matthaus, Berti Vogts, Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, Michael Ballack, and the downright frightening Oliver Kahn—is dead, and pleasingly so. The spontaneous combustion of the new class—Mesut Ozil, Thomas Mueller, and Lukas Podolski swarming in support of Miroslav Klose in the penalty area, with Mario Gotze unleashing his jet-heeled brilliance coming off the bench—seems wholly un-German compared to the controlled explosions of Ballack and Co. But when viewed in context of the system that created them, it feels natural. Compared to the natural ease of Spanish soccer or the fiery genetics of Brazil, the Germans solved their soccer stagnation at the turn of the 21st century with a typically left-brained Teutonic approach to a right-brain problem, the end result being a team drilled in the art of individualism. Where German teams used to collapse so predictably if their Plan A faltered, they’re now so well schooled in self-expression from an early age that their in-game possibilities seem limitless.
But despite the attempt to cast off the characteristics that defined the Germany of the past, the German National Soccer Team is still the German National Soccer Team. And that’s where Thomas Müller comes in.