Father's Day allowed me the opportunity to take in a little world-class football today. The quality of play by the Portuguese and Germans did not let me down. As much as I love the physics associated with football aerodynamics, what dropped my jaw today was the physics of the ball on the pitch.
The Navigators are lucky to have Cristiano Ronaldo on their club. Ronaldo is fortunate to have teammates with the incredible skill to put the ball in the just the right place for him to shine. Click here for the ESPN GameCast of Portugal's 2-1 win over Netherlands in Kharkiv. Joao Pereira set up Ronaldo's first goal in the 28th minute with a fantastic ball through the Dutch defense. About 30 meters (33 yards) from the goal, Pereira sent the ball off the outer portion of his right boot to meet Ronaldo nearly 14 meters (15 yards) from the goal. The timing was perfect as the ball met Ronaldo in stride.
Ronaldo's second goal came in the 74th minute after an even more impressive setup. Nani was racing down the right side of the pitch and kicked the ball about 27 meters (30 yards) from the goal line along the right boundary line of the penalty area. Nani booted the ball with his right foot. Note the counterclockwise rotation (as seen from above) Nani gave the ball. That rotation caused the ball to curve to the left as it rolled along the ground, reaching Ronaldo in stride about 11 meters (12 yards) left of center of the goal. The friction force from the pitch on the ball was responsible for the force that pushed Nani's ball to the left. As the ball reached Ronaldo, it was literally moving sideways into Ronaldo's left boot. A truly spectacular pass from Nani! I urge you to watch the video on the ESPN GameCast page, especially the winning goal for Portugal.
Click here for the ESPN GameCast of Germany's 2-1 win over Denmark in Lviv. Take a look at The Team's opening goal in the 19th minute by Lukas Podolski. The flick from Mario Gomez to redirect the ball to Podolski was a thing of beauty. The Germans showed how teamwork and precision passing led to a goal. Human reaction time is at least 0.2 seconds or so. Once Gomez flicked the ball and Podolski was in place for the smash into the net, The Olsen Gang could not react fast enough -- no team could.
Portugal and Germany move on to the quarterfinals of the Euro 2012. The Czech Republic (against Portugal) and Greece (against Germany) will have to defend great movement of the ball on the pitch!