Hipster confessions first: I've been watching the World Cup since 1998, where I learned the first sacred principles of the sport: always root against Brazil, Italy and Germany, in that order. As with the others things I do in my life, I like to learn about the mechanics of the sport as I go along, in order to better understand the game. This time around I learned two things: the importance of the first touch, and the difference between high-crossing and attacking the box as offensive styles. Both of the ideas are simple. The first touch a striker gets matters a great deal, because he has the maximum offensive advantage at that point, having a plan for what he wants to do and keeping his opponents from knowing. Touches beyond the first give defensive players a chance to get into better position, close off potential angles, and figure out the striker's plan of attack. High-crossing offenses rely on confusion amongst central defenders to make scoring opportunities; box-attacking offenses crowd players into the center and allow offensive help to come on the wings.
What fascinates me about this is the same thing that fascinates me about the technical problems of writing or reading: they represent human attempts to solve human problems, where an author's strategies for tricking himself for writing are different tokens of the same type as high-pressing a tiki-taka offense. Any one particular author's solutions are unlikely to work for me, since my problems and difficulties have different emphases, but the approach to solving a problem is likely to be quite useful, even as a solution for an entirely different type of problem. I've written before about how "The Part About the Crimes" in 2666 was a great model for my dissertation, since they faced on some level of abstraction the same difficulty: how to write small variations on the same sort of thing over and over again while keeping the reader interested.
I find the incuriosity of people in the face of the boggling variety of human expressions to be baffling, but that's another post for another time.