I wrote them off at halftime. Down 3-0. AC Milan was walking all over Liverpool. They scored very early, then just pushed and pushed until two more goals buried the Reds and I was going to finish off my glass of wine and head home. Good thing my wine glass was ridiculously full because the second half revealed a Liverpool team that was so determined that it got one goal, another soon thereafter, and a third thanks to a Milan player’s somewhat questionable knocking of the Liverpool captain. 3-3 at full time. Thirty more minutes of scrambling. The players looked absolutely knackered. They had nothing left – the hustle, the focus, it was all gone. That’s an interesting state to see professional footballers in – to watch them deteriorate into mere jelly, wandering aimlessly and kicking at half-strength. And the match goes to penalties. Milan misses. Liverpool gets one in. Milan’s gets stopped by the goalkeeper. Liverpool gets one in. Milan gets one in. Liverpool misses. Milan gets one in. Liverpool gets one in. Milan’s gets stopped by the goalkeeper and Liverpool are European Cup Champions.
Champions League is my favourite to watch. It takes the top teams from countries all over Europe and lets them knock each other out of the tournament. It happens throughout the regular season, so the teams go in waves – when they’re hot in the league, they might be cold in Europe. The differences in the styles of play are most interesting – and similar to the genaralised assumptions about the countries themselves.
My heart can’t stop smiling for these guys. I am such a cheeseball anyway, but seeing the Liverpool captain lift the cup with red and white confetti flying around him, a look of bewilderment on his face, no smile to be seen - !!! Fah-klempt. And now, watching the parade through Liverpool on TV, thousands of fans behind the bus filled with their heroes, it just reminds me of all the good in sport, the love and passion and faith and intensity that goes into not just supporting a team, but feeling a team, living a team – that is truly magic.