The writer of this blog is a football realist from Helsinki, Finland, who is interested in the cultural aspects of the game, the diversity of tactical approaches and the interconnection between society and football.

The naive worship of ‘attacking football’ that is blindly polarised against ‘the defensive’, as if the two were separate notions existing in different spheres of reality, is perhaps the most prevailing and tiresome feature in the Finnish football discourse. In aesthetic as well as actual terms, football is as much about poetry and beauty as about ruggedness and cynicism, the latter pair doesn’t exclude the former. There is beauty in a perfectly timed tackle or a meticulously organised defence, in a silky touch or a surprising back-heel as well as is in a 1-0 victory.

Beauty takes many forms, but what is the most beautiful thing that can be done on a football pitch? In the words of the football author John Foot: “There is nothing more beautiful in football than a swift, clinical counter-attack.”

I couldn’t agree more. For reference, see the second goal by Italy in the 2006 semi-final. How space is exploited after taking possession. How the vertical triumphs over the horizontal. How time is used to its perfect measure without rushing it, without a moment of hesitation. How the whole move works in mathematical precision and is executed with exquisite grace. Beautiful.