You can have the top stars to bring the attention. You can have the best stadium. You can have the best facilities. You can have the most beautiful project in terms of marketing and all this kind of thing. But if you don’t win … All the work these people are doing is forgotten.”
Real Madrid Coach Jose Mourinho’s philosophy of the game is representative of the movement in soccer from ideal and attractive play (joga bonito, or beautiful game), to a more realistic approach that prioritizes winning by defending.
His philosophy was especially evident in the extremely boring Champions League quarterfinal in which Inter Milan packed all their players in their half and defended desperately against waves of Barcelona attacks until they won.
Other successful teams such as Chelsea, Spain and Arsenal are proud proponents of the joga bonito. These teams focus not so much on defending as box-to-box midfielders and wingers who can switch the play from attack to defense and are good with long-range shots in a 4-5-1 formation. This scheme also allows for the striker, usually employed alone up front, to swap with the midfielders directly behind him and thus create a more dynamic flow of attack.
Current World Cup champion Spain successfully utilized this style of play and essentially defended their way into the finals, combining their best attributes of resolute defending, a slick passing midfield and the clinical finishing of David Villa.
This style of play is efficient and realistic, but from the spectators’ standpoint the lack of scoring makes the game less interesting to watch. In order to adapt to the changing styles and dynamics of soccer, certain rules could be revised to make the game more modern and appealing.
It’s a big concern for soccer fans to see the beautiful game taking a turn for the worse. So, as the Gemini duo, we have ideas for changing some rules in order to make sure the best soccer starts to win again.
To ensure that the game is fast-paced and flowing, the primary aim should be to increase the time the ball is in play. That can be achieved through changes in the offside and the foul rules, eliminating the unnecessary and excessive stoppage time to the game.
These changes will also favor teams who want to play quality, attractive soccer and are intended to increase the number of scoring chances to create a more exciting 90 minutes.
Although we believe that the offside rule is an essential part of the game, some changes to this rule could be implemented. For instance, eliminating the offside rule for passes from one’s own half would result in a faster game. Such a scenario would require that when an attacking player receives the ball behind the defensive line in a pass from his own half, offside should not be called. This will encourage teams to employ long passes and thereby have more attacking players up front. Also, the elimination of the offside rule when the ball is passed with one’s head would result in fewer offside calls, more in-play time and more goals without changing the nature of the game.
To minimize games in which teams only defend in an attempt to earn a draw – the aforementioned Barca-Inter matchup comes to mind – a rule should be set up to ensure that both teams have at least one player on the opposing half of the field at all times. This way, we would not allow all 11 players to be on their own half defending the goal. This would tremendously increase the chances of having more goals in a game.
With the new dynamics and playing style of recent years, we have also begun to see a substantial increase in the number of fouls committed in each game. Watching the Netherlands commit 28 fouls in the World Cup final against Spain brought about the realization that the rules need to be amended. Although soccer is a physical sport, fouling in order to slow down and stop the game takes away from the flow and pace of the sport. The remedy for this is the rule of an automatic yellow card after a team’s 10th foul. So, every player committing a foul after the team’s 10th foul would receive an automatic yellow card regardless of the what foul is. This would prevent games like the World Cup final, which was criticized for being boring due to the number of stops and fouls.