Arshavin’s Cross

That was just a brilliant game. As many have noted, Holland had the air of a successful, confident young man who suddenly runs into his more successful, more confident Doppelganger on the street: they didn’t quite know what to do. And in retrospect, maybe the Dutch had it too easy in the so-called Group of Death, feasting on an Italy that obviously sent out the wrong XI, a France in steep decline and an all-too-Romanian Romania. But let’s not take anything away from Russia, a team transformed in the last two games by the reappearance of this…this…this…this Arshavin kid. He looks like a 12-year-old who decided to go as the Fifth Beatle for Halloween, but the way he plays makes it seem like the last five or ten years of ball-flicking Brazilian mononyms and Portugese step-over artists never happened. Could the best player in the world be a wicked fast, clever, attack-specialist Slav? Not saying, just asking.

Anyway, hyperbole aside, that second Russian goal keeps playing in my head. You’ve seen it a million times: a player rushes down to the endline like he has something Important in mind…and then the ball spins out of bounds, or dribbles to the keeper, or flies off into row Z on the other side of the park. But when was the last time you saw a player pull the rock back, loop a parabola all the way over the goal, and hit the exact six-square-inch spot at the far post occupied by the lashing ankle of a teammate who started his run 30 yards out? Good night, Irene. Man.

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About zachdundas

Freelance journalist. Author of The Renegade Sportsman (Riverhead Books). Thank you.
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4 Responses to Arshavin’s Cross

  1. shawnlevy says:

    That “kid” — who seems truly amazing — is 27.Just sayin’….

  2. Dan says:

    So, let’s have a prognostication Tolstoy — the Dutch defense was suspect from the start. The keeper saved them going down by many more. Not that way with Spain, which served Italy a cold cup of discipline soup (Spain-Italy was an epic, romantic struggle that has slow stretches but remarkably featured no operatic collapse of any sort by two strong teams.) I think you think Russia has the cojones to break through. Do you?

  3. Zach Dundas says:

    Russia will score. Spain will score. That’s my prediction. Something more refined? How about 2-2 at full-time, with Russia winning 3-2 AET? Now that I’ve said that, of course, it will be 0-0 and Spain will win on penalties.

  4. It was made even more beautiful by the fact that the three adoring Russian teenage girls, underage and perched at the barstool waiting to be kicked out, weren’t even sure if the second Russian goal went in, and when they realized it had, they made a sound that could only be described as primordial…

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