Pedrito, Spain’s libertarian tiki-taka antidote

By Paul Morrissey, in MadridFollow on Twitter here

The Spanish press have been gushing in their praise for various protagonistas in Spain’s group ‘final’ win over France.

Victor Valdes? He made two saves. Good ones; but just the two. (His praise appeals to his romantic ‘he’ll always have Paris’ narrative what with having shone in Barça’s 2006 Champions League final. )

The Xabvis? They controlled the game, but then Spain always do. La Roja managed 70+ % possession without the two pass masters against Finland, but it took a set-piece for them to actually score.

Hombre, the real hero of Spain’s march on Paris doesn’t care much for the tiki or the taka. He plays for Barcelona, but thanks to a formacion away from La Masia, he’s managed to remain relatively free-thinking and free of the possession indoctrination. To tell the truth, he’d rather shoot and score. Pedro Eliezer Rodríguez Ledesma, the guy who scored the only and winning goal, the Canarian tiki-taka antidote. Not for the first time, Pedrito’s been overlooked for his galactico peers.

Vote For Pedro 

Pedrito is a bit of an anomaly. World and European Champion, the only player to have scored in all 6 available club competitions in one year (2009/10),he could walk the streets of London, Paris or Berlin completely unmolested. Or at best be asked to produce some ID.

He’ll probably never get the credit he really deserves. Maybe it’s on account of his late blooming; he was never tipped to retire anyone nor was he ever filmed playing keepy-ups with an orange.

Maybe it’s on account of his name being Petey: let’s tell it as it is, it’s a ridiculous name for a professional footballer to have. Pedro something – Rodriguez, for example, would work. But not just ‘Pedro’. Not since Napoleon Dynamite.

Or maybe it’s on account of his cheeky little pencil moustache, which gives him more the look of a teenage waiter who should be serving you cañas and patatas bravas in a provincial Cerveceria instead of scoring elite-level golazos.

Most incredibly, in spite of being Canarian, and hence non-Catalan, and hence without the emotional ties of Xavi or Busquets, and hence more apt to defecting from Barcelona if the opportunity ever arose, and hence buyable …no one has ever come in for him. Ever.

Not once has the news snippet ‘Pedro linked with…”, ”X after Pedro”; or, equally surprising given how he’s been kept out of the team by Alexis Sanchez (wtf?) this season, ”Want-away Barcelona ace Pedro…”. It’s not as if he’s content on the bench, it’s just not in his Canarian joie de vivre nature to complain.

‘Oh what the fuck’

Having left out both of his libertarian extremos (Pedro and Navas) for last Friday’s Finlandazo, Vinny Wood knew he needed a game winner in Paris, and opted for the little Canariano.
Peter has proven time and again the antidote to the horizontal passing ad infinitum that afflicts La Roja; he did it in the World Cup semi-final against Germany, he did it against France at Euro 2012. And he did it on Tuesday night in Paris.

His goal was the perfect illustration of spontaneous inspiration that the system can’t legislate for, that moment where the game seems stuck in attrition and needs a shock of electricity to spark it to life.

Because as comforting as control and possession is, a tight game requires someone to stand up and just say ‘what the fuck’. Iniesta’s been that guy on two historic occasions and still retains a fantantista edge to his brilliant playmaking. It’s just that he doesn’t score anymore.

And with Villa still lacking that bit of Maravilla, the tacit goal burden fell on Pierrot.

Having been denied a blatant penalty in the first half, and also sensing he was about to be subbed off having spotted Navas warming up, Pedro had his ‘what the fuck‘ epiphany in the 58th minute. (Tostao was similarly inspired to create Jairzinho’s goal against England in 1970 having sensed he was about to be subbed off.)

Picking up the ball just inside the French half, he jinked and shimmied past two defenders as if they were cones, saw Monreal overlapping on the far wing, and sprayed the ball out to him with the tacit message ‘I’m getting it back’. He latched onto the 1-2, and in his own words has no idea how it went in, but it did. A combination of heart, desire and passion.
An act of necessary high treason against the tiki-taka monarchy. Of his 12 goals for La Roja (just shy of 1 in 2), this was the first decisive one.
And the first golazo.

That’s 10 international goals since the Euros, making him the maximo goleador in international football for the season.
He even has 7 games to equal Der Bomber’s record of 14. But don’t expect too big a deal to be made of it.

Petey, Pierrot, Pedrito: the most underrated crack in the world. Now let’s be having those patatas bravas.