Deconstructing a Beautiful World Cup Goal

Goals are a rallying point in a soccer match as I noted in my prior post “People tend to be more creative with spelling goal when their team scores”. Yeah that’s pretty obvious but how people see that goal is seen offers a bunch of different vantage points. For me I tend to look at the back of the net to see if it moves, for other’s its enough to judge by the roar of the crowd.

While the World Cup in Brazil is just starting I think it’s safe to say Van Persie’s first goal against Spain will be mentioned as one of the best of the tournament. His goal also serves as a great example of peeling back the goal to see how it happened.


There was number of angles of the actual goal though I think this animated gif shows how truly amazing the goal was between the distance of the pass, the timing to make contact and arc of the ball going over the goaltender.

Nice, but where did he actually make contact with the ball?

Screen Shot 2014-06-15 at 8.52.32 AM

Looking at the diagram that ESPN made shows where inside the 18 yeard box contact was made. Comparing the gif to the diagram the goal becomes even more impressive. The simple diagram demonstrates the level of difficulty of the goal. From that distance to accurately place the ball in the net fails more times than it succeeds.

So how did the goal come to be?

Screen Shot 2014-06-15 at 8.36.13 AM

As bad as the NYT can be for writing about soccer culture (See Deadspin’s article The New York Times Turns Soccer Fandom Into A Trend), they’re take on the actual World Cup is quite good. They’re posting info about each match in near real time. The above diagram was posted moments after the goal. Unfortunately there’s no anchor links inside the post so you’ll have to scroll down a bit to see the chart at…/worldcup/spain-vs-netherlands

What should also be mentioned is that I saw all these clips via Twitter as the match was going on. Each of those pieces of data adds another layer of what a great goal Van Persie’s really was.

And… #persieing

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  • Vibhor Sharma
  • comment 145

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  • Sapna rani

    This really really great goal, the finishing is awesome and you have demonstrated it greatly, I like they way you have shown it. A big thanks from Kajri