Steven Gerrard’s tears round off a great Football week across Europe
For football fans, the weekend ended with the thrilling Liverpool and Manchester City six pointer…and captain Steven Gerrard’s tears.
Liverpool fans overcame all possible emotions within those enthralling 90 minutes. First the sadness of the Hillsborough tragedy anniversary; the silence; the goosebumps at kickoff; the anticipation of how the game will flow; then the elation after Raheem Sterling sidestepped the City defence to open the score; the dream of title; the straining of the vocal cords after going up 2-0; the skepticism of holding on; the ‘pinching myself’ at half time; the edginess at 2-1; the disbelief and curse of luck at 2-2; the fear when City dominated; the anger when Skrtel and Suarez flirted with trouble; the one filled with mock when Kompany mis-kicked; the ecstasy when Coutinho took advantage; the uncertainty of holding on; the relief at the final whistle; the tears of joy; the pumped up feeling when Stevie G rallied the troops; the spring in their step and the authoritative chest thumping. In between, as the scoreline remained dynamic, fans from both sides kept calculating different permutations and combinations.
It ended the most fascinating football week the game ever witnessed, with some of the most unbelievable results.
Mighty FC Barcelona lost out in midweek Champions league action and then fell behind in the La Liga race. Both 0-1 defeats to teams sitting at two extremes of the Spanish League table. Coach Gerardo Martino’s job could be over by this weekend as the famed Neymar-Messi combo hardly became the “Ney-Messis” they were expected to be.
On the flip side, Brazil, Spain and Argentina will be happy to see some key players getting some rest before the upcoming quadrennial mega event.
Mourinho gave Chelsea fans yet another trademark “Mou-ment” as he orchestrated a come-from-behind win over Ligue 1 champions PSG and then edged Swansea to remain firmly in hunt for the domestic title. The scoreline in both games was misleading, as Chelsea should have won with more to spare.
But if someone thought the Stamford bridge game would be the best come-from-behind-win this season, Mestalla witnessed a bigger miracle just 48 hrs later. Valencia overturned a 0-3 deficit by normal time and romped to the semifinals of Europa cup with a 5-0 win over Basel. A night, which their fans wont forget for a long time to come.
La Liga’s reputation got further enhanced when Sevilla FC overcame a 0-1 deficit to beat Portuguese Champions Porto 3-1 and meet Valencia in the semis. One Spanish team is now guaranteed to play the Europa cup finals. Four out of the eight European semifinalists hail from Espana.
Traditional Champions League rivals – Bayern Munich & Real Madrid – had mixed results over the week. Their semifinal encounter is the game both are looking up to now. The German club having won the Bundesliga in record time will have an edge over the Galacticos. The Spanish team would still be in race for La Liga and recent history against them.
However the quality of football this week was so high that the best team of the week would still not be either of the elite listed above.
Borussia Dortmund, the number two Bundesliga team were an aggregate 5-0 for the week – with mighty Real Madrid and Bayern Munich being their victims. However, to be fair, they had little to lose in both matches and went all out. Still, Carlo Ancelotti and Pep Guardiola would have been rocked by their displays and this is another feather in Jurgen Klopp’s cap. He is rightly being tipped to coach Barcelona in the coming season.
The best team of the week, and possibly the season, would be Atletico Madrid. The Rojiblancos first stopped Barcelona’s record seventh successive CL semifinals appearance. Then they extended their lead in the title race with a 2-0 win. Just like Liverpool, after two decades, Atletico see themselves within striking distance of creating history. With the finances that he operates at, Diego Simeone is already the best coach of the year, by a margin.
Here’s hoping both Liverpool and Atletico Madrid continue their march to the top.
And to the best footballing week in a long long time, thank you and we are leaving some nails behind for the finish. That reminds me.. Real Madrid do have a chance to make amends when they face Barcelona in Copa Del Ray final tonight. But then, Barcelona are also looking to make amends!