The mathematics of football free-kicks: MATLAB code

This Saturday two of the best teams in the world, Juventus FC and Real Madrid FC are playing the final of the best club competition in the world, the UEFA Champions League in Cardiff, UK.

This motivated me to write an online blog for Chalkdust magazine. The content of the article is the mathematics and the science behind, from my point of view, the most spectacular goal I have ever seen in my life, the famous free-kick taken by Roberto Carlos in 1997. The very first time I watched it, I was a kid and I was so impressed by this goal that I could not find an explanation to it: how it was possible that the ball bent drastically and landed in the goal when it seemed that it was heading in a totally different direction. As a kid, you always try to do what your heroes do (in my case, Roberto Carlos was and still is one of my favourites football players), and I was not an exception: I tried to kick my football trying to replicate the “weird” effect seen in Roberto Carlos’ free kick. I never succeeded (just on a few occasions, but not quite good).

A picture I took during my visit to Spain: Champions League trophies, Madrid.

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