Is it too romantic, to see these goals by Southampton’s Cuco Martina and Stoke City’s Xherdan Shaqiri as the range that soccer has to offer? One, a powerful strike demanding the instincts and execution of a top-level player. The other, a touch a 12-year-old could execute, but only if that child’s feet extended from the mind and reactions of a near-world class talent.
We’ll start with the latter, the more recent, a goal that left Everton goalkeeper Tim Howard with little recourse on Monday at Goodison Park. How often do you see an attacker hit this on the half-volley, trying to lob the keeper rather than settling Bojan Krkic’s ball into the space in front of him? Howard, like the rest of us, was expecting the Switzerland international to take a touch before having a shot. And Howard, like the rest of us, was left shocked as Shaqiri scored his second goal of the day:
In terms of power, Shaqiri’s goal rests on the subtle end of the spectrum, the end that balances what we saw from Martina. Southampton’s second choice right back gave us Saturday’s goal of the day against Arsenal, opening the scoring with a blast out of Roberto Carlos’s arsenal. Cutting across the ball with his right foot, hitting it with the outside of his boot, Martina rendered David de Gea irrelevant, starting his shot well outside the `keeper’s right post before the ball dove into the left side-netting.
Different techniques, different levels of power, but the same outcome; one an envy-inducing act of aggression, the other defying empathy. For most, Martina’s will be the better goal; for most, his is also the more explicable. We can all relate to throwing our foot through a ball, striking it at just the right angle and finishing that shot you’d only imagined before.We’ve all hit and hoped. Whether you can relate to Shaqiri’s, though, comes down to whether you’d even consider doing that with your first touch.