They’re not Catalan, or even Spanish. Still, one youth soccer team featuring 11 and 12-year-olds from Giannina, Greece (pronounced Yahnenna) has earned the nickname “Baby Barcelona” for it’s fluid style and complete team effort while scoring goals.
After earning international attention with a goal that coursed through all 11 Giannina players on the pitch after an opening kick off, AO Giannina outdid itself recently, topping its own prior exemplary scoring effort with a 25-pass scoring sequence that eventually concluded with a remarkable over-the-head goal that was remarkably close to a full-on scorpion kick.
Like the team’s prior immaculate goal, AO Giannina’s latest effort saw the team work the ball around with such precision that the opposing squad, Asteras Ioanninon, was left chasing shadows all over the field. Eventually the ball ended up in the back of the net, with one Giannina player so shocked at the complete team goal that he stood at the side holding his head in his hands.
The goal was just one of seven during Giannina's 7-0 rout.
In fact, the goal is so good it’s hard to even pick out a favorite pass. While the shot for the goal may have served as the team’s crowning moment, there were remarkable passes from the Giannina goalie, a pair of midfielders on the right wing and, eventually, a fabulous clean first shot on goal, which just happened to strike the Asteras goalie.
Of course, rather than rob the world of remembering a beautiful passing sequence, that save instead set the stage for one of the goals of the season, via the aforementioned over-the-head kick.
Who knows whether Giannina will be able to continue playing the way it has. The team’s achievements and viral YouTube clips have earned it international acclaim, no small matter for a team of 11 and 12-year-olds in a country that doesn’t even use the English alphabet. The team’s first fantastic goal led to an invite and scrimmage from Barcelona’s youth team at the club’s famed La Masia academy.
Now the second great goal may earn it even more attention and acclaim. It’s already competed against the Barcelona youth squad, perhaps the full team is next.
- Sports & Recreation