Puyol! Listed as a generous 5’10” and 172 lbs, he should really be an outside back. But he doesn’t have the touch and pace for that. What he has are the qualities that are statistic-resistant. Toughness, mental and physical. He has a core of determination wrapped with six alternating layers of ferocity and fearlessness and then on top of that, as armour, is a sheen of calm invincibility.
Puyol, with his goal against Germany today, most likely saved his team of beautiful, goal-shy passers from a round of penalty kicks against a team that has never lost a penalty shoot out in the World Cup. This was a goal Spain will remember forever and one that only he and Pique could have scored.
Ever make a hard run off a corner kick from the top of the box and throw yourself into a fray of players at the penalty spot and connect with such velocity and concentration that the ball rips past the keeper and a defender on the line? Few have because few want to put themselves in harm’s way the way that Puyol does. Puyol’s home address is Harm’s Way (next door to the Camp Nou Trophy Room which he also has an ownership stake in). He has no respect for his body and treats every challenge, every tackle like it’s the 90th minute of a game that he is protecting a one goal lead in.
He won’t show too well in the passing stats and even less, generally, on the score sheet but when the game’s on the line, Puyol will be a force at at least one end of the field every time. He’s closing in on 100 appearances for Spain and that was his fifth goal for the national team today. On a day where, once again, Spain’s possession was just not translating into enough opportunities for their attacking players, it took a goal from a guy could be mistaken for a muppet…if muppets were made of granite.
Awesome. Reliable. Ferocious. No idea why he’s not captain of that team and a keeper with the courage of Lindsay Lohan is.
The game wasn’t a classic but I’m pleased to see that obviously Del Bosque was reading this heading into the game:
My moan was more to the tune of: every corner should be swung into the danger area. Ban short corners. You are being given a dead ball and the ability to bring as many players into the box as you want with timed, planned runs. Why would you not stick it in the mix? (from Fragile Brazil go out)