In the past couple of weeks, I had the opportunity to attend two football matches that had a similar set-up, similar dynamics and ended with almost identical results. In addition to many similarities, there were a couple of interesting differences.
These were matches of the younger categories teams (boys ages 12 and 13). Both games were competitive and in both games, one team was among the top 3 championship teams. In either case, one team had physically dominant boys (it looked like they were a year or two older). In both games parents, friends and relatives were in the audience.
Matches have been played in different countries and in both countries, football is the most popular sport. In addition to the different cities and states, here are some other interesting differences I noticed.
In the 1st match, the boys were constantly commenting referee’s decisions. They were loudly expressing dissatisfaction, asking the referee to get a foul, offside or to show yellow card the opponent.
In the 2nd match, the boys were silently accepting the referee’s decisions. It is possible that they were not satisfied with all the decisions, but their dissatisfaction was not seen and they did not protest.
In the 1st match, the better team had the most, physically, dominant boy on the field. As the first 15 minutes passed without a goal, the more dominant team started playing exclusively on that boy. All passes were going towards him. Soon he scored the first goal and then the second and then assisted with the third goal. The viewers next to me were supportive, I heard comments such as “Play with what you have”, “Pass more balls to number 10”, etc.
In the 2nd match, physically dominant team played as a team. They were patiently creating chances. Danger lurked on all sides. They scored once than one more time and by the halftime, their team led 4-0 and four players scored.
In the 1st match, the losing team lost their motivation after 0-3, before halftime they practically surrendered and the game ended with a score of 7-0.
In the 2nd match, the losing team continued to fight after 0-3. I believe it was not easy for them but you could not see it in their attitude towards the game, they played as if it was 0-0. At the end, they managed to score an honorary goal. The game ended with a score of 7-1.
In the 1st match, spectators were constantly commenting on the referees’ decisions, boys’ moves and they applauded after the goals.
In another match, a similar audience were just applauding after goals.
The 1st match was bursting with ego moments of 12 and 13 years old boys.
In the 2nd match, two team egos clashed. The ego of a stronger team played game to its end without yielding, and the ego of a weaker team did its best to score an honorary goal.
The national selection of the country in which the 1st match took place is positioned as 30th+ in the FIFA rankings, while national selection of the country where the 2nd match took place is positioned around 10th place at the same list.
Expected or just a coincidence?