In the second minute of extra time Barcelona led AC Milan 3-0, but a Milan goal would send them through and knock Barcelona out of the Champion’s League. Barca thwarted a Milan attack and Leo Messi held the ball on the Barca side of the field before sending it wide. At this moment, and for reasons deep within him, left back Jordi Alba began a headlong 70 yard sprint on the back side of the play. He passed, by most accounts, three teammates, collected a cross and buried Milan. It was a brilliant statement of optimistic speculation.
I coach basketball and watch soccer. I love fluid motion games. The fundamental word being motion. The ball must move, and so must the player. Sometimes it is not clear what, or if, the movement might ultimately lead to, but without it, nothing is possible. This was the beauty of Alba’s run. When he started it was without any certainty, or even likelihood, that he would become involved in the play, but he made it anyway.
Runs like this are the product of conditioning and mindset. If you are not fit, you are not able to make runs for the length of your game. Just as critically is the mindset that allowed Alba to abandon is defensive role to make this run at a decisive moment of the game, and the willingness to do so.