Was This The Greatest Week In UEFA Champions League History?
It’s a simple question; was this the greatest week of UEFA Champions League that we’ve ever seen? Well, it’s a pretty simple answer too; yes. Yes, it was. It was the craziest, wildest, most astounding week – and we’re still struggling to take it all in.
Tuesday saw Liverpool mount a comeback which might have ranked as the most remarkable in the competition’s history. Their claim to that title lasted all of 24 hours, because Wednesday’s tie saw Tottenham do the even-more-impossible in Amsterdam. It was breathtaking, brain-scrambling, cannot-believe-what-you’re-seeing stuff.
There’s an all-English final to look forward to on June 1st, live on Virgin Media One – but there’s plenty of time to talk about that. First, it’s worth dwelling on this week – what on earth did we just witness? We’ve tried to process it in the cold light of day; it’s still not easy to understand…
THE UNLIKELY HEROES
Liverpool and Spurs aren’t short of household names; whether Salah and Firmino or Kane and Eriksen, the two teams have their share of star-power. So who were the men to take centre-stage on this week of weeks? Divock Origi, Gini Wijnaldum and Lucas Moura. Obviously. Seven goals between them; who could say they saw that coming? Heroes are made, not born, and a this relatively unheralded trio certainly chose their evening well!
ON THE DOUBLE
Both ties were turned by quickfire braces; Wijnaldum bagging two in as many minutes, Moura landing a pair four minutes apart. More drama was to follow, of course, but the momentum was altered utterly in these brief spells. Pity anyone who picked that point to pop to the loo or to grab a drink; they missed a lot!
REMEMBER THE FALLEN
While the headlines – deservedly – belong to the victors, it would be remiss not to mention the vanquished. Ajax were a joy throughout the tournament, their swashbuckling style an invigorating sight; sending Real Madrid and Juventus packing in previous rounds, their run was the stuff of fairytale.
As for Barca, one could pave a road to Catalonia with the column inches devoted to their qualities; the genius of Lionel Messi, the efficient perfection of their patented passing game, the quiet and accomplished direction of Ernesto Valverde. It makes their collapse at Anfield all the more remarkable, and further underlines how preposterous the whole thing really is.
A PLACE IN HISTORY
Istanbul will live long in the memory, but it wasn’t repeated the following night. The famous 1999 final at the Nou Camp stands out, but it stands alone. This was the ultimate, a one-two punch of unfathomable drama to leave any football fan feeling dizzy. Games like we saw this week are once-in-a-lifetime; when they arrive twice in a week, you know something special is going on. Breathe it in; we may never see the likes again…
THERE’S MORE TO COME
So that’s it for another yea…wait a second! Yeah, after a pair of games like that it’s hard to wrap your head around, but the actual main event is still ahead. Tottenham and Liverpool will now contest the first all-English final since Manchester United and Chelsea waged rain-soaked war in Moscow 11 years ago. It’s live on June 1st on Virgin Media One (Virgin TV 103), and it’s even vaguely like the semi-final stage, then we’re in for a night to cherish!
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