Two major finals to boost our self esteem
My adopted city of Madrid has now staged two major football finals within the space of six months in Saturday's Champions League and last year's Copa Libertadores finals. There was talk ahead of December's game of two of the most demonic fan groups from Argentina wreaking havoc in the Spanish capital with the same worry ahead of Saturday's all-England match-up. Neither event produced any major incidents and much of the credit to this is down to the planning and coordination by the local law enforcement agencies.
Both games are excellent for our self esteem and also serve to boost our confidence with the quality on the pitch during both matches. It was generally felt that the quality on offer during the River-Boca game was a level below what we are used to watching week in, week out in LaLiga and I'm not just talking about Real Madrid and Barcelona but at any top flight stadium in Spain. That game did have the drama of extra time with the sight of Boca keeper playing as a center forward in the final minutes which combines both necessity and exhibitionism at the same time. The Liverpool-Tottenham game was conditioned by the first minute penalty and until the final rendition of ‘You’ll never walk alone”, what we were served up was a reasonably uninspiring event void of style.
It's not true that Liverpool and Tottenham regularly play as bad as they did on Saturday and I genuinely feel that the early penalty was a key factor in dictating the pattern of the match. Each team would have gone into the final with their respective game-plan and immediately that changed. One side would have attacked, the other defend but given an early answer, that immediately changed the question. What was interesting was the level of impotence from both sides, with Tottenham particular in the first half incapable of threatening the opposition goal. Neither Real Madrid, Barça or Atlético made it to the Madrid final and they only have themselves to blame but threat of the Premier League dominating the footballing panorama for time to come, deflates a little after Saturday's final.