A modest proposal: Uefa should now do the decent thing and cancel this year’s Champions League final.
After the sensory overload of the semi-final second legs, I don’t think that the body football, having experienced something like near-death by a thousand orgasms in the space of two nights, is in a fit state to ship any more exquisite punishment.
And, anyway, with the bar set so dizzyingly high, there has to be the very real danger that the Madrid climax will turn out to be an anti-climax, a routine five-goal thriller, say, that will leave us all going, yeah, yeah, close but no cigar.
For not dissimilar reasons, the Premier League should just abandon tomorrow’s Most Super of Sundays. Lest we forget — and that wouldn’t be hard after the week that was — Liverpool and Manchester City didn’t stint on the edge of the seat drama in their own domestic ‘semis’, what with Klopp’s boys edging it late on up in Newcastle and then Vincent Kompany — Vincent Kompany!!! - scoring that most improbable goalazo to keep City in the driving seat.
This view of the Kompany goal... could watch all day! pic.twitter.com/7Ch32Dv7R9— ASG (@ahadfoooty) May 6, 2019
So, please, let’s just be done with it now and jointly award the Champions League to Spurs and Liverpool and the Premier League to Man City and Liverpool for services rendered.
It’s a win-win-win-win situation, and then we can all go and take a long rest in a darkened room. Fair enough, we’ll allow Arsenal and Chelsea to play out the Europa League alright but we can’t say for certain we’ll be tuning in.
Speaking strictly as a neutral, if I had to pick the moment of moments from Tuesday and Wednesday, I think it would be Lucas Moura’s third goal for Spurs deep into Fergie time in Amsterdam.
Yes, I know Liverpool scored one more and, yes, they did it against Barcelona and Messi and, yes, yes, they did it without Salah and Firmino. But they also did it at Anfield where, on this not entirely untypical night of nights, there was some tantalising evidence that if the Kop didn’t actually suck the ball over the line, as it is often claimed the can, they inhaled with sufficient collective force to turn Trent Alexander-Arnold around and draw him back a couple of feet to take that brilliantly opportunistic corner which allowed Divock Origi to smash home the tie’s surreal clinching goal.
That was good, I’ll grant you that. But Spurs coming back from the dead? Away from home? Two goals down in the game and three down on aggregate? And without Harry Kane? Spurs? Flaky Spurs? Brittle Spurs? Southern softy Spurs? You know, Roy Keane’s, ‘Lads, It’s Tottenham’?
With apologies to their half of North London and, for that matter, Liverpool, the sight of Moura getting on the end of Dele Alli’s under-appreciated little pass before swinging his boot and finding the bottom corner of the Ajax net in the 95th minute, reminded me of nothing so much as that famous ‘it’s up for grabs now’ moment in 1989 at Anfield when Brian Moore supplied the immortal commentating assist as Michael Thomas burst through in injury time to sensationally snatch the title for Arsenal from Liverpool.
That was the goal which inspired one of the most magical passages in Nick Hornby’s Fever Pitch, the author, who’d been watching the game at home in London, describing how he raced out his front door at the final whistle and, arms outstretched like a little kid, aeroplaned his way down the road to the local off-licence where the man behind the counter, noting that the “light of reason” had gone out in his customer’s eyes, promptly ripped him off something rotten for a bottle of the cheapest bubbly.
For an equivalent show of emotion a full 30 years on, albeit played out in front of millions around the world rather than one mean bloke in the offy, see Pochettino’s tears in Amsterdam.
Ah, just wonderful, wonderful stuff all ‘round.
And now, with the Premier League set for a clean sweep in Europe, we can turn our full attention back to its domestic affairs for one more day to see if Manchester City and Liverpool can provide a suitably fitting finale to what has been a relentlessly compelling title race.
All that’s lacking on paper is the head to head dimension of that title decider that was more like a cup final in Anfield in ’89 but, in every other respect, it’s all up for grabs. The smart money, of course, has to be on City who, at least in normal circumstances, would be expected to make short enough work of lowly Brighton, even with the latter holding home advantage and looking to sign off in positive fashion having retained their top-flight status.
Wolves would be expected to provide a sterner test for Liverpool but you would also imagine that their own entertaining brand of football would be trumped on Merseyside where, notwithstanding the prospect of adding a sixth European Cup to their trophy cabinet, what the fans want, what they really, really want, is to bring to an end the title drought which has lasted since the season after Thomas put that sword through their red hearts.
So will it be City or Liverpool for the title? You know what, I’m not even going to pretend to call it.
After the week we’ve just had, one in which not just football logic but the fundamental laws of the universe appeared to be turned on their head, I’m not even prepared to entirely rule out the possibility that we’ll wake up on Monday morning to find that, somehow, Spurs are the Premier League champions.