Nothing beats an absolute peach of a free-kick flying into the top corner in a game as the crowd is sent into ecstasy following the piece of fine skill to strike a dead ball so cleanly.
Cristiano Ronaldo is a superb exponent of free-kicks but he has been usurped by the likes of Lionel Messi, Gareth Bale and Dimitri Payet in recent years, all of whom lick their lips when the opposition fouls their team-mate near the box.
Supporters believe that a ‘keeper should be throwing themselves in the direction of the ball whether they get close to it or not. This increases their chance of saving it massively and, for fans of the theatrical, it makes the goal look even better.
One such event that sparked annoyance was Paulo Dybala’s strike against Crotone in Juventus’ 3-0 win:
After all, goalkeepers are paid to dive around and stop shots; the very best are rarely seen standing watching the ball go past them.
Imagine seeing your team battling relegation or for the title and the opposition score a free-kick that the goalkeeper doesn’t bother to move for. It would send the supporters into apoplectic rage.
It is absolutely infuriating then to watch the goalkeeper stare at the ball, acting as powerless as any fan sat behind him, when he should hurl himself at the ball.
The situations in which the ball has taken a massive deflection and wrong-footed the goalkeeper are an obvious exception, but even then the player is likely to have taken a few steps in the first place in order to wrong foot themselves.
The one that is utterly unforgivable though is when they are beaten on their side of the free-kick. For those of you that don’t know standard goalkeeping protocol, the ‘keeper sets up his wall to protect the vast majority of the goal. They then take up a position on the unprotected side of the goal.
It means that the goalkeeper simply MUST save the ball if it is hit at his side let alone move for the ball. This utter travesty does happen though and it is infuriating to watch as the ‘keeper stares in defeat as the ball flies in on their side following them foolishly taking a step towards the other side of the goal.
Free-kicks can be a thing of real beauty with a flying save or a top corner strike lighting up a game, but the sublime strike can often be dulled by a goalkeeper admitting an immediate defeat. Why should the fans be contented with a ‘keeper not doing the one thing they are paid to do?