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Open Thread: June 28, 2021

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Our Monday issue of the Daily Merengue

Belgium v Portugal - UEFA Euro 2020: Round of 16 Photo by Thanassis Stavrakis - Pool/UEFA via Getty Images

The Open Thread/Daily Merengue is a place where you can discuss anything and everything related to football. Feel free to discuss the topics presented here, or start your very own discussions! The Open thread will be posted every day by one of the mods: Valyrian Steel, Felipejack, YoSnail, Ezek Ix or NeRObutBlanco.

Big Tournament Action on Sunday

Congratulations to the Czech Republic and their supporters on a massive round of 16 win. They are on to the quarterfinal match Saturday versus Denmark. Overlook them at your own peril.

Belgium also made it through to the quarterfinal match this Friday against Italy. It was a magnificent swerving strike by Thorgan Hazard.

Eder Militao featured as a key player in Brazil’s 1-1 draw with Ecuador. This is big in his journey as a footballer. He must feel that he is an integral part of Brasilian football.

International competitions are a strange beast in football. They allow for players to pour their hearts out in hopes of bringing happiness and glory to their families, friends and communities. There is no question that some of the most memorable, entertaining and highly charged games were played out by national teams over the history of football. Imagine how different the history of football would be if we mainly knew of Maradona from Napoli or Pele from Santos.

And yet today, this is surely not where one can see the highest level of football conducted by the top minds on the game. Club football, with the financial growth of the top leagues, is the big fish. There is much unfamiliarity on the pitch between national team players; playing with one mind only comes through years of games played on a regular basis. There is too little time for coaches to develop intricate or sophisticated styles, which is why the coaches who want to live football on a daily basis join clubs. Often victory comes down to how the squad of old and new players, thrown together for a few weeks throughout a calendar year, can come together under one idea of football. Chemistry thus makes this level of football highly unpredictable. You might see brilliant football at stretches and then amateurish garbage at others. The teams that have phenomenal depth at every position, France e.g., can indeed overwhelm lesser squads. But in international football, it is not uncommon to see highly organized and motivated squads, such as Italy, which has in recent competitions seen its reputation drop several rungs on the ladder, execute the fundamentals as a team and pull off a tournament win. Sudden highs and lows are in the nature of these competitions, making them both highly entertaining and yet typically frustrating from a football purist point of view.

And now, a selection from “The Real Madrid Way” By Stephen Mandis.

[...] Real Madrid gets the world’s best players that match the community’s values to play an attacking, beautiful style of soccer with class to win championships and capture the imagination and inspire a current and potential global audience and community. Take Cristiano Ronaldo as an example. He is the most followed person on social media in the world. In 2015, Ronaldo had 167.9 million followers on all social media. According to jersey sales, he’s also the most popular player — and for good reason. Ronaldo is a champion and has been voted, multiple times, the best soccer player in the world. He is talented, stylish, exciting, multilingual, and multicultural. The Real Madrid community expects the management team to sign players like Ronaldo to be inspirational to them.

Winning is not enough to the Real Madrid community. This is in direct contrast to the idea of “win at all costs” or “the end justifies the means,” or selecting players based on data analytics first, or “taking a calculated risk” in signing a troubled talented player that can “help the team win now.” The Real Madrid community has a different standard and demands more. They want the team on the field to reflect the values and expectations of the community, which is winning with a team philosophy, class, style and elegance. The Real Madrid community wants the club to be “champions and gentlemen.” If the team loses, the community wants at least to see effort until the end, courage, and dignity. This is what makes them happy, and Real Madrid always tries to satisfy their needs.

Mandis, Steven G. “The Real Madrid Way: How Values Created the Most Successful Sports Team on the Planet.” Pp. 18-19. Dallas, Texas: BenBella Books Inc., 2016.

‘Pre-season begins on July 5...’