Of the many ways to upset the Proper Football Man™, few stir up as much anger as a coward in the wall .
Slotting in somewhere between inappropriate shirt-swapping and spitting/biting (just mouth stuff, in general), turning down the opportunity to take a full-force football in the face is a terrible crime for traditionalists.
Inevitably these incidents only come to light when there have been real-life football consequences.
Wednesday night‘s example from Paris Saint-Germain was wall negligence of the worst kind. Any cowboy builders watching would have felt ashamed.
How did it happen?
Free-kick awarded to City in a threatening area. Kevin De Bruyne looking highly likely to be the taker and already getting early Oscar 2022 buzz for his convincing work. Note the three lines of defence between ball and goal. City’s fake wall (needs a fancy European name, let’s go with il falso muro), PSG’s real one, and Marco Verratti lying behind it in the glamorous role of draft excluder.
Despite De Bruyne’s fine work it’s Riyad Mahrez who takes the shot. Die falsche Mauer ducks, no obvious structural issues with PSG’s yet.
Ball now in between la pared falsa* of City and PSG’s real one. No danger, surely of it going any further?
*You may find it useful to note that the Spanish for wall is ‘pared‘.
Hang on, the wall has malfunctioned. That ball has made it through, Keylor Navas has had an unpleasant surprise, as has professional lying downer Marco Verratti:
Goal for City. Navas and Gueye lead the impotent inquest:
So who’s to blame? What happened? Which footballers shall we begin making an effigy of? The Spidercam angle reveals little indication that things were about to go awry:
This is rather less flattering:
That’s Leandro Paredes (left, whose surname translates as ‘walls’, wonderfully) and Presnel Kimpembe seemingly worried about being hit by a football.
You could drive an electric scooter through that gap, and Navas’s angle suggests Mitchel Bakker wasn’t exactly covering himself in glory on the left either:
There is something quite charming about such a high-stakes match in Europe’s most glamorous competition (barring Eurovision) being decided by something as prosaic as a wall failing to do its job.
Something pleasantly post-pandemic too about slipping into such familiar footballing discourse after a game. “You can’t do that,” “that’s poor,” “schoolboy stuff”. Pundits desperately trying not to say ‘be a MAN’. Not cool any more.
Tough to know how Mauricio Pochettino can correct what he called an “accident”. Do you go carrot – lovely new pair of trainers for every stinging nipple received from ball in the line of duty? Or stick – press-ups, lines, detention, no steak frites for a week?
There’s one clear way to sort this out for PSG – chuck out the free kick wall mannequins from the training ground and make the players practise a key footballing skill, being hit by a football.
Time for the sport’s first specialist wall coach.