Both real and american #football are complex sports, primarily because they are team sports. Skills and athleticism are required, of course but it is likely that teams and players at the #FIFA #WorldCup in #Brazil will all be top-notch athletes. Italy’s defeat against Costa Rica today is a clear example of how complex dynamics are at play, making predictions difficult.
“The italians were caught offside 11 times, evidence of their failure to adjust and adapt”, said Marc Santora in the New York Times. Adaptability is required because an important strategic feature of football is to optimize space when attacking and defending. Players must adapt their positions and movements on the field not only based on where the opponents are and how and where they are moving, but also in relation to their own team players. It’s like herding sheep! In the 1970’s, “total football” further broke players’ spatial barriers by enabling them to assume different roles on the field. Johan Cruyff, winner of the Ballon d’Or in 1971, 1973 and 1974, used to direct his teammates in real time while himself on the field.
It is the ability to adapt to the opponents’ tactics, and #complex interactions between players on the field, that, in the end, makes a World(cup)of difference.