Ugly, but Effective

If you heard that team had only won a solitary game in their last 10 tournament matches, how many tournaments are we talking here? 3? 4?

In the case of Paraguay – it has been 2. They made the World Cup quarterfinals after winning one game and drawing three. And last night they punched a ticket to the Copa America final with their 5th consecutive draw, advancing for the 2nd game in a row on spot kicks. They are in their first Copa America final since 1979.

It has not been pretty, but damned effective. Who are we to argue about its success?

The proponents of the beautiful game call it the anti-futbol, and the last place they thought they would ever see it is in the Copa America. Let the Euros play ugly and win, leave the jogo bonito where it belongs.

Unfortunately for the jogobonitistas, futbol is not a sport that is decided by an outside influence. There are no judges lining the field, and games are not decided by technical merit and artistic impression.

This ain’t figure skating.

Soccer seems to be the only sport where a defensive style of play is universally frowned upon. In baseball, it’s good pitching, or small ball. Football teams with good defenses are dominant, and are fine with quarterbacks just managing games.

But a solid defensive team in soccer, there is nothing worse. Calling them boring is being polite. In Spanish, there is the term “ratoneros” – a team that plays like rats.

High praise indeed.

The final will then pit the two Guays. Uruguay, who is in the midst of a fine resurgence, can play any style they want: elegant, chippy, defensive, offensive.... Paraguay has been content to bend and not break, and so far, it has worked for them. They're gonna dance with who brung'em

Much to the disdain of lover’s of the beautiful game.