The last three Champions League qualifiers show that there is a world beyond rational logic
Since the eighteenth century, the enlightened struggled to replace faith in miracles with faith in reason, creative freedom with ordered work, ineffable experience with scientific empiricism. The world would be governed by an internal logic that we could decipher: 2+2=4. The romantics refused to accept this axiom: they considered that there are realms that are not accessible by reason and that, in fact, man has achieved extraordinary achievements because he refused to accept that we cannot expect anything beyond what logic dictates. .
Statistical logic considered it virtually impossible for Madrid to come out of the last three Champions League qualifiers alive. In all three cases - PSG, Chelsea and City - there was a time when the meringues lost and the chances of a comeback were insignificant. Fortunately, a player is not a scientist and he knows that doubting logic and considering the impossible feasible is the essence of sport, which is nothing but a form of play.
In part, this has to do with the athletes being young. Almost a millennium ago, the theologian Daniel Anselme wrote that the young accomplish unimaginable feats because they ignore the certainty of the old: that certain things are impossible. Rodrygo got ahead of his marker at minute 89:20 to put Madrid in the match and headed on goal a minute and a half later to force extra time. The Brazilian affirms that God looked at him and said: “today is your day”. Rationally this is absurd, but fortunately not everyone is guided by reason. God has never spoken to me, but reading the mystical poetry of Saint Teresa or Saint John of the Cross makes it abundantly clear to one that others experience realities that are not explainable with rational parameters.
Guardiola knows exactly where the magic of the game lies: "Football is unpredictable," he said after the inexplicable defeat. The mystic plunges into another world and the fan goes to the stadium because there the logic of daily life is temporarily suspended. "God is dead," Nietzsche declared in the face of growing atheism stemming from the new faith in science, reason, and progress. And yet, the fervor at Holy Week, at pilgrimages and other popular festivals has only grown in recent years. The enlightened cried out against the excess of parties and games and proposed that only by taking life seriously and applying reason to all our facets could we progress. But lo and behold, in the same way that romanticism is, in essence, a movement against the excesses of reason, soccer rebels against the hegemony of rational logic. Because the soccer industry can be made up of corrupt structures and millionaire budgets that reveal the primacy of power and money.
But this does not hide the fact that football continues to be, despite everything, a game, in the sense described by Johan Huizinga in his Homo Ludens (1938): an activity that is guided by ends that are beyond material interests, that emphasizes spontaneity and freedom from the ordered daily routine, which temporarily absorbs us allowing us -in a specific time and space- to live other worlds that are not constrained by rational limitations and that is surrounded by a halo of mystery because it continually contradicts the affirmation that things are as they are and that they cannot be otherwise.
Dreamers save us from boredom and hopelessness because they force us to recognize that "impossible" is just another word, like "future" or "discipline," but that it should not be taken as an absolute truth. In the last Champions League qualifiers, the Madrid players have put on the suit of Lord Byron, who was convinced that when a man stops dreaming, denying the impossible and creating, he has ceased to exist. My students do not read Santa Teresa or Lord Byron. But as long as they don't miss out on these types of games, hopefully they won't be swayed by those who tell them that gambling is a waste of time, that settling down means setting practical, productive and achievable goals, and that they haven't get carried away by the romantics when they affirm that life is not only what we can reasonably think and expect.