The 1999 FIFA World Youth Championship (now known as the U-20 World Cup) showcased some sensational young talent in Nigeria. Spain, the tournament’s champion, had both Iker Casillas and Xavi in its squad. Mali captured third place off the strength of a midfield boasting the greatest Malian footballer of all-time and the tournament’s Golden Ball recipient, future two-time UEFA Champions League-winner Seydou Keita, as well as future Real Madrid star Mahamadou Diarra.
It doesn’t count on the scoresheet, but there’s something entirely satisfying about seeing an absolute crack smash off the woodwork. As humans, we like loud noises, and nothing makes us ooh and aah more than football’s own version of fireworks — the ball crashing into the crossbar from distance and flying into the heavens.
Apart from that spectacle, great goals can be denied for a myriad of other reasons: sometimes it’s the referee, sometimes it’s a curmudgeonly defender or goalkeeper and sometimes it’s that idiot Nani.
Ronaldinho could’ve been sent off hundreds of times in his career for unsporting behavior. Blessed with otherworldly control and technique, the Brazilian would frequently contort the rules of the game for his own benefit. It wasn’t fair, nobody else could or can do it now, but he got away with it because he was a god. As we all know, life has two great questions: 1.) Is there a heaven? 2.) How did Ronaldinho get this good?
When you limit your playing career to Manchester United, Real Madrid, LA Galaxy, Milan and Paris Saint-Germain (and represent the English national team for 14 years), you're inevitably going to play alongside some of the world's best players. What's more, if you're a really great passer of the ball, which David Beckham was, you're going to provide a few classy assists for that talent.
Barcelona's season has been a disappointment based on their lofty standards. They haven't won a major trophy yet, with the Copa Del Rey the only prize left for them to chase.
That said, it would be hard to be disappointed with Ronaldinho around. The jolly Brazilian showed up at Barcelona training yesterday to spread some good cheer and horse around with his buddies.
FC Barcelona brought their brand to Beirut, Lebanon alongside Real Madrid, and Ronaldinho, wearing the blaugrana jersey for the first time since 2008, made sure that the club left that country well and truly globalized by the might of the Barca name.
Thousands of fans packed the Camille Chamoun Sports City Stadium to watch the likes of Ludovic Giuly, Simao Sabrosa, Gianluca Zambrotta, Edgar Davids, Roberto Carlos and Fernando Morientes try to overcome their aging bodies, but the star of the show was the Brazilian maestro.