Raphinha & the annihilation of the offside line

What do Raphinha, rugby and the offside line have in common? Well, everything, as it seems.

Barcelona wrote history in Pamplona by managing to come back from a deficit in a numerically inferior position on the pitch. Down to 10 men, your best player red-carded after just half an hour of play and the home side fired up like never before after going 1:0 up. By all means, a recipe for disaster. But despite a clearly insufficient first half, Barcelona clawed their way back to victory, saved by Pedri’s sensational hit and Raphinha’s brilliant header.

But interestingly enough, despite both of those moments being of the utmost quality, it’s something else that caught my eye again. Raphinha’s goal was the carbon copy of the one he scored for Brazil against Tunisia in September and it wasn’t just the header that mattered either. It was the movement prior to that.

The best forwards or goal-scorers move better than the rest. It’s as simple as that. Of course, there’s a lot more than goes into it but the movement of elite forwards is what often separates them from the rest. And being able to manipulate the offside line is a huge part of that. In football, even though it’s sometimes a concept non-fans have trouble grasping, offside is a relatively simple term within a relatively scarce concept. How so? Well, in football, how often do we get offside situations per game? Perhaps a dozen times throughout the full 90 minutes of a match. And often enough, a dozen would be regarded as a lot. Still, it’s one of the regular obstacles a forward will face on his way to rattling the inside of the opposition’s net.