I’m going to talk about defending. But, not defending in the sense of protecting your land or anything noble like that.
I’m going to talk about defending in the sports sense. In particular, in football (soccer).
Many people, including myself, feel that the art of defending has more or less completely disappeared from the modern game. And as a former defender, this saddens me.
Nowadays the emphasis is MUCH more about attacking and scoring goals and being creative. Attacking, scoring and stringing together sublimely improvised passes that end up in a goal are among the most spectacular things to witness in ALL of sports – and I would say they are THE best thing to see in all of sport, but I’m biased.
Throughout the history of football (soccer), the Italians were always the masters of defending. I’m not quite sure why they were/are, but they undoubtedly were. The greatest Italian defenders, Franco Baresi, Paolo Maldini, Alessandro Nesta and Fabio Cannavaro would throw their bodies in front of the ball to block a shot in a stylish way that no other nation’s defenders ever would.
If the grand defense of the Italian masters was to return to the modern game of soccer, it would make me very happy and pleased, but sadly for the undecided soccer watchers, it would mean that fewer goals would be scored in every match. And that’s hard to swallow for, let’s say, an American looking to get into soccer, because Americans tend to favour sports were scoring happens all the time! But, as a former defender myself, fewer goals means we in the back-four defensive unit played very well. Every team’s defense wants what is called a “clean sheet” (a game where your team conceded no goals), and if Italian style defending became “hot” again, there would be far fewer goals, and far more happy defenders! Yippee!