Tim Leberecht

What business can learn from the greatest game on earth.

If you look at the history of soccer for groundbreaking, "game-changing" innovations, you realize they have been scarce; by and large the game hasn't evolved much. Some innovations resulted from a changing of the rules. Most of them, however, were driven by either organizational or individual excellence. For example, there is the position of the "libero," the "sweeper" before the goal-keeper who, freed from marking a direct opponent, was mandated with opening a team's game from deep in its own territory; the allure of the "playmaker"; the introduction of a three-man defense row in the 1990s; the "Sweeper-Keeper" performing the defensive actions of a libero; the increased importance of the "six," the defensive holding midfielder; and the Dutch "Total Football" concept, with its fluid, attacking 4-5-1 and 3-2-5 formations.

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