Radamel Falcao – The Complete Goalscorer

Radamel Falcao displays eye of the tiger to fire Atlético Madrid to win.


Radamel Falcao had scored 182 goals in his career but not one of them was a free-kick. He made his debut in the Colombian league at 13 and became a starter for River Plate in Argentina at 19, scoring seven in his first seven starts, before joining Porto where he scored in his first four. He scored 24 league goals in his first season in Spain, plus 12 more in the Europa League — top scorer for the second year in a row, with two different clubs. He scored in both finals too and then tore Chelsea to bits. He had hit well over one hundred goals in Europe. He had curled them and chipped them and hammered them and headed them; first touch and fifth, left foot and right, from inside the area and out. But he had never, ever scored a free-kick. Not even a flukey one.

So when Cristian “The Onion” Rodríguez tumbled on the edge of the area in the last minute of the weekend’s last game and Falcao rushed across and, to use his manager’s own words, grabbed “desperately” at the ball, you could have forgiven his team-mates for responding: “Piss off Radamel, this is the one thing you can’t do.” For pointing at Gabi and saying: “Leave it to an expert.” You could have forgiven his team-mates for thinking that Falcao was being a bit selfish; that, never mind the team, what he really wanted was to keep his record going. He had, after all, scored in nine consecutive games and was chasing the perfect 10.

You might think that. Especially when you looked up at the scoreboard and looked down at the league table: Real Sociedad 0 Atlético Madrid. Draw and Atlético would break a run of six consecutive league wins and slip two points behind the leaders Barcelona at the top.

This was no time for messing about, no time for personal battles. But Falcao’s team-mates didn’t say that and they didn’t think that either.

Because Falcao’s team-mates know Falcao and they knew that he was ready. They knew that the time was right and the reason was too: this was not a moment of inflated self- importance, a grab for individual glory.

This was logic. The implacable logic of The Tiger.

Before this season began, Falcao was asked if there was a part of his game that he could improve. He responded succinctly: free-kicks. He wasn’t just saying so either. “Falcao’s hunger for goals led him to take the free-kick,” said the Atlético Madrid coach Diego Simeone last night, “he has been working hard on that side of his game.”

“Whenever we can we stay behind after training to practice them,” Falcao admitted. And so it was. In the 90th minute, he finally felt that he was ready and in the 90th minute he curled a wonderful right footed free-kick over the wall, swinging away from Eñaut Zubikarai and into the top corner.

“The goal,” said Simeone, “was delicious.” Just when you thought there was something Falcao couldn’t do, he goes and does it. 1-0. Another goal, another win. “I’d scored free-kicks as an amateur,” he smiled, “but never as a professional.”

Read the rest of the article by Sid Lowe on the Guardian website.

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