Life does not always allow everyone to be happy. At least at the same time. The philosophical maxim of zero sum, of communicating vessels, works practically in all areas where money or happiness are at stake: that of some generally depends on the misfortune of others. The rule, however, does not work for certain football games at the end of the season. The other day Xavi was asked about the mess of the match between Barça and Getafe. And to explain it, he dusted off the exuberant dictionary of calcium. The draw benefited both, the coach admitted. But from there to there being “biscotto”… The term -biscuit in Italian- is used to talk about those games in which both teams need only one point and the tie appears as a solution that does not even need to be verbalized. Italy is the ideological and etymological cradle of this phenomenon.
Biscotto comes from Latin and means cooked twice. A sweet that pleases both parties, if we think about the final score of a match. That’s one version of his origin. The other must be found in some stables of the New York racetracks, where horse betting was rigged, generally with the mafia involved. The horses that had to be left behind were given a biscuit impregnated with some sedative substance so that his winning instinct would not send the profits of the gangster on duty to hell. The curious thing is that the horse was often drugged by its owner, who bet on another thoroughbred without raising suspicions. Applied to football: run less, shoot less, defend less.
The biscuit belongs to that unique and Italian universe of sfumatura. Leonardo’s trademark pictorial technique that could be defined as blurring, infinite nuances that gently destroy any pretense of certainty or roundness. The magic capable of making something invisible evident (in that Italy and the rigid Spain we are very different). Issues that are on the table, but are not discussed openly because there are things that do not need to be explained. For education or prudence. Gianluigi Buffon explained the term better than anyone in 2012. “Better two wounded than one dead. Matches are to be won. But if sometimes you have to do accounts, you are justified. Buffon, curiously enough, was involved in a betting mess around this time.
The cookie is a classic in World Cups and European Championships. Here the newspapers dusted it off during Euro 2004: Denmark and Sweden, in the same group as Italy, they drew the last game of the first phase. The only result that allowed both to access the final phase of the competition, leaving Italy in the ditch, which was eliminated. the taste of biscotto se gets more intense as the season finale approaches. In fact, part of the invention of the asymmetric league – the teams do not play in the same order in the round – is based on deactivating its magnetism. There are a thousand examples. Milan won in 1993 the shield in a situation similar to the one he faced yesterday in Sassuolo. Berlusconi’s team was served by the draw against Brescia, which, in the same way, thus avoided his relegation. After 80 minutes of embarrassing rallying, Albertini’s shot ended up in the back of the net for the small Lombard team. Two minutes later, as if he were Maradona, libero Luca Brunetti outwitted the entire Milan defense (Baresi, Maldini, Costacurta…) to restore the status quo.
The biscuit is so accepted that even Roma and Lazio, staunch enemies, reached a neighborhood agreement not to be relegated to the Second Division on May 15, 2005. Both had won the shield four and five years ago respectively. But the season had been a disaster. The game, known as the tedium derby, ended 0-0 with hardly any shots on goal. Something that well looked at, if applied to daily relationships, would solve many problems of coexistence. If one thinks of Buffon’s phrase, the biscuit it is a monument to civilization and progress. The zero tie, in short, as the maximum democratic expression.
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