Thoughts on an entertaining Champions League final
A strange endeavor, this: writing about a sporting event occurring 3,204 miles away from a couch in a basement in Amherst, Massachusetts. I have never set foot in Cardiff, the site of today’s Champions League final between Real Madrid and Juventus. In person, up close, I have yet to see either of these historic clubs enact their legendary interpretations of the beautiful game. I wish, for a moment, to express awe before modern technology: live streaming, Apple TV, apps, Fox Sports Go, Fox Sports Bonus Feed: Match 360, and all other forms of alchemistic distortions of time and space.
Real Madrid just entered their locker room, suits and coifed hairdos. And I saw every step in certified High-Definition.
Casemiro and Marcelo in the building! #UCLfinal #LaysUnited
And here comes the Juventus bus. And out they pile, not in suits. They, these Italian representatives, opt for form-fitting dress shirts. All of this, and the eager selfie-taking fans writhing in their seats: in glorious High-Definition.
Cool as you like, Gigi Buffon #UCLfinal #LaysUnited
You may have heard this European spectacle paralleled to our Super Bowl. That is false and a cheap mind game intended to suck in United States viewers.
The Champions League final is a manicured plate of Steak tartare.
The Super Bowl is a five-pound hamburger with two bricks of C-4 instead of buns.
Juventus fan casually having a cigarette in the #ChampionsLeagueFinal
One fan just snuck a drag from a half-finished cigarette. Another fan, bored and beautiful, was stone-faced when the camera caught her. And she remained stone-faced until the camera left. American sports crowds have much to learn from their European cousins. Like that fan, in the back, in a deep sleep, chest heaving.
The Singing Fans
That Juventus fan, singing and tossing two middle fingers up at no one in particular, flipping off the idea of Real Madrid.
The Idea of Real Madrid
Money. Power. Dominance. Attack. Attack. Attack. Attack.
The Idea of Juventus
Money. Power. Dominance. Defend. Defend. Defend. Defend.
The Idea of The Champions League
Money. Money. Money. Money. Money.
The Black Eyed Peas
The Black Eyed Peas perform at the Millennium Stadium ahead of kick-off at the #UCLFinal.
Somehow, they procured the pre-game performance spot. And this man with a trumpet — what is he up to? How did this happen? A baleful of money, I assume. Or some tragic misunderstanding. And where’s Fergie?
Pre-Game Personal Curiosities
Which tactical set-up will prevail: Madrid’s spring-loaded 4–3–3 or Juventus’s brick-layered 3–5–2?
Is Paulo Dybala the next Great One?
Will I tell my grandkids about this Juventus backline?
Who was the man in a blue suit? Pumping the Champions trophy over his head? Should I wear that blue suit at my wedding?
Liverpool legend Ian Rush presenting the Champions League trophy to Real Madrid.. #LFC
How much better would this be if Gareth Bale was 100% fit?
Will Ronaldo celebrate with his teammates? Will he ever find true love?
Imagine this Juventus team with Luka Modric playing the maestro.
Imagine this Madrid team with Dybala slipping down the wing.
In this scenario, playing in this game, would the average person suffer an immediate and catastrophic coronary episode?
To smack a ball that hard, that low, with that much nasty swerve — that’s Centaur-like, non-human and inhumane.
To see that goal mouth lurking behind, to follow the ball into the lights and all the way back down, to raise that trunk of a leg, to tap the ball that soft — that’s epic in the poetic sense.
Mandzukic's goal is even better with Titanic music over the top #uclfinal2017 #UCLfinal #mandzukic #ChampionsLeagueFinal https://t.co/fuppXGEfqx
Maybe Ronaldo is human after all. Only our human-like desire to imitate beautiful acts would lead Ronaldo to attempt that 18-yard bicycle kick.
Cristiano Ronaldo going for a Mandzukic... ❌
Dybala is going to hurt tomorrow.
The Juventus wide players are the best wide players in Europe.
Imagine Dani Alves and Marcelo dueling it out on Copacabana, in the moonlight.
GAMETIME WANDERINGS, PT. 2
Barzagli, that was on-brand Catenaccio.
Bonnuci, that trailing leg as Isco shook past you — Catenaccio.
In no other sport are deflections important deciding factors. Once you put the ball in your sights and it’s bouncing a little and you’re staring down the goal and the box is packed and you dig in — who knows what that ball is going to do?
Well, obviously, he loves this.
On Cuadrado and Referees
How any professional athlete maintains focus and discipline in an atmosphere like this, a pulsating arena, with all this money on the line — that explains the first yellow. The second yellow was pointless from every perspective.
No idea how Sergio Ramos survived such a barbaric attack by Cuadrado! Put that man in prison! #UCLFINAL2017 https://t.co/hIOBGB6Tjx
On Marco Asensio
Imagine your 21-year-old self living out your dreams. How would you celebrate? Would you jump in the crowd? Would you look for Cristiano and Modric and jump in their arms?
Marco Asensio. Remember the name.
On Adults Crying
How would you react under that emotional pressure? Would you leave after 3–1? Would you leave after the red card? Back in the car, on the way home, would turn away from your wife and discreetly wipe away the tears at a red light? Would you feel ridiculous because none of this matters?
Look at all the fun they’re having, these Madrid fans and players. Look at Buffon, stoic and heart-broken. There’s something important underneath it all, I think, if you want to look closely at the pieces: two century-old high-class athletic clubs engaged in a playful contest during serious global times; both clubs once existed through dictatorships and corruption; both clubs are symbols of economic inequality, with their bottomless transfer budgets and big-business marketing teams; both clubs travelled in to anti-European fervor in the United Kingdom, on the eve of an election, on the heels of an unthinkable terrorist attack carried out at a massive entertainment event. I’m not sure what the important piece is. I think it’s knowing that you’re one person, out of millions, watching these professional athletes try to keep cool under immense pressure. Maybe the important piece is watching a tension-filled contest knowing that the consequences don’t matter and the world isn’t going to end because of this. Not a spectacular game, not a classic; something nice to watch on a Saturday afternoon. A good game.