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                                           PREVIOUS: MADRID #1

Bayern’s Xabi Alonso almost got caught in possession again. He’s thrown to the ground, but gets a pass off to Thiago who pings a high loop to the corner for Philip Lahm to run after. A ball to space, a longing dream, just shoot it up there. Sometimes that’s the right thing to do, kick it far and hope.


As the ball travels through the air let’s take a moment — it’s the second leg of Bayern’s Champions League Quarterfinal against Porto. Bayern got smacked in the first, 3-1, but they’ve started the second by scoring two goals in 22 minutes. That’s bulldozing. The series is now tied 3-3, the ball is coming down, and Lahm is right under it. Thiago’s dream came true.


Lahm lets the ball bounce, so the heat on the pass can cool. It sits up for him, and he serves it across, one touch with the laces. It's a very German touch. Precise. Patient. Thought out. It’s a pass back to the top of the box, driven and curling. It never gets higher than a man and is perfect for the oncoming Thomas Müller, who is there all alone. 


Now, what do you do when you are alone with the ball at the top of the box? It's a lonely placeYou feel like you're in trouble, like you're somewhere you aren't supposed to be. Gaining such an advantage means you must be perfect. But the situation presents a variety of choices, and making a choice when all seem viable is very difficult.   


Do you shoot? 

If you miss, you’re skittish.


Do you dribble?

If you don’t score, you’re greedy.


Do you pass?

Why are you afraid?


You must commit and believe.

Müller picks pass and it's beautiful. The pass marks the intersection of sport and art. He pops it up like he threw it underhanded, right over the defender’s head, at the perfect velocity and angle. There's intelligence and skill behind his choice. He's Tom Brady, Joe Montana, the guy who wins you the play. He puts it right on his man's head. 


Then it's ball, meet Mr. Lewandowski. 


See the whole goal here.

              NEXT: DAVID BECKHAM

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