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Word of the Week

Word of the Week: Bananenflanke

Can you bend it like Beckham - or more like Ronaldo? Find out with this quirky German word.

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At the EURO 2016 in France, top from across the continent squads are fighting to stay in the competition, and capitalizing on each and every chance they get to score a goal.

Just one tiny mistake or wasted opportunity could be enough to send a team packing. Every pass, corner ball, and free kick counts. And for some players, that means pulling off a winning Bananenflanke - literally, a "banana cross."

It's a curling ball with so much spin that it appears to be traveling on a banana-shaped trajectory. Soccer players use the Bananenflanke when they're crossing from the sideline, or booting a free kick, in the hope that it'll curl around a wall of defenders, catch the keeper off-guard, or swerve towards the goal.

It's the Magnus effect - named after German physicist Gustav Magnus - that makes the spinning ball change direction in the air.

Not everyone can carry out a successful Bananenflanke, though. It takes skill, precision and a cool head. In a recent Euro Cup match against Austria, Portuguese superstar Cristiano Ronaldo didn't quite manage the Bananenflanke he's otherwise so good at - and took some heat from the press after that. But fromer British player David Beckham is perhaps best known for the skillfull way he could "bend" the ball.

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