Beautiful football and good football


Belgium toppled the five-time champions in a memorable match. They punctured Brazil's lungs with electrifying counterattacks and survived when Brazil had their hearts in their mouths, pushing for an equaliser. Robert Martinez - under contract as Spain continue to look for someone to lead their project - made history and put The Red Devils, for only the second time in their history, into the World Cup semi-finals.

It was an open match as both teams went toe-to-toe against each other. A question many are asking: What is good football? It's not in books, nor journalistic practices. It's about executing the idea of your team, designed by your coach, in the best possible way. Belgium played well. They showed the potential of their virtues and discovered Brazil's defects.

Their interpretation of the counterattack was a memorable lesson. Three passes and an explosive finish. That's how they won. Thanks to Courtois' saves, Lukaku's ability with his back to goal and the class of Hazard. And this was against the marvellous performance of Douglas Costa, the energy of Coutinho and the spark of Marcelo. Brazil could have won, true, but Belgium hit hard, resisted and went through.

More than just the result, the values of both teams and the way they interpret the game was on display. Luis Aragones once told Xavi Hernandez: "One thing is playing beautiful football and another is playing good football. You give me the good. The beautiful is just to fool others." Very few times do two different ways of playing offer such a stark contrast. This was personified by two incredible players.

Neymar was all about beautiful football and De Bruyne, good football. Neymar, gimmicky. De Bruyne, effective. Neymar, on the floor. De Bruyne, everywhere. Neymar, individualistic. De Bruyne, part of the collective. Beautiful football and good football. One left Barcelona and could end up at Madrid, the other is in the Premier League when he should be at Barcelona.

Barcelona have always been better in creating Ballon d'Or winners rather than buying them. But now if they are going to sign players rather than invest in the academy, if they have to spend money, to sign talent, they should invest it in De Bruyne. He makes the right decisions, can see how the move is going to play out, doesn't abuse his dribbling, he doesn't run for the sake of running, he fits perfectly and he shoots as good as anyone. His football isn't beautiful, it's good.


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