The Run of Play is a blog about
the wonder and terror of soccer.
We left the window open during a match in October 2007 and a strange wind blew into the room.
Now we walk the forgotten byways of football with a lonely tread, searching for the beautiful, the bewildering, the haunting, and the absurd.
I don’t think they show matches like tonight’s game between Bordeaux and Chelsea to the choir of absolutely self-assured angels who sing “The Chommmm-pyons!!” at the end of every Heineken commercial, because it takes unquestioning faith in the established order to sing “The Chommmm-pyons!!” like that, and a match like this one might instill the sort of doubt that leads to Reformations and possibly gangsta rap. Or both at the same time, if you’d rather.
So it wasn’t pure football. Johan Cruyff has a headache, and he didn’t even watch. Still, there were some moments. Gourcuff’s superb pirouette in the 27th minute kept the first half off the suicide hotlines, just. Anelka’s goal, which came through Lampard after neither Anelka nor Lampard had demonstrated any rationale for their inclusion in the match squad to that point, was intriguing if only for the obscure pleasure Anelka seemed to take in ravaging the self-image of the Bordeaux defense. He broke through the back line completely, then mulled over the ball via some tiny hesitations until Valverde fell down and the converging centerbacks looked certain to collide with one another. Lampard celebrated by getting sent off, and Anelka celebrated by getting substituted for Didier Drogba, seemingly so the latter could cuddle with various Bordeaux players after the game.
Diarra’s equalizer in the 83rd minute helpfully proved that Chelsea players do not always jump on corners. I would have thought they did. The rest of the game sort of dribbled away in yellow cards and the fatuous exchange of incredulous gestures between various Frenchmen and Joe Cole.
Bordeaux probably deserved to win, but too many of their players sound like Victor Hugo characters for them to count on anything but the mud and the mire. The Heineken angels, heavily blindfolded, sent chills up their own arms during every commercial break. I don’t know. I think somebody owes me an indulgence.
by Brian Phillips · November 26, 2008