Tuesday, May 29, 2012

While I was in Europe

I just spent ten days in Europe: Barcelona, Prague, Brussels and Madrid. I had originally planned to try to go to Munich to the CL final, but when I could not get tickets, I went to Prague and watched the final at the lovely and lively Old Square. It was on the same day where the Czech Republic had played and lost to Slovakia in the semifinal of the hockey World Cup, so there was a disappointed atmosphere under the sun in the square. Still, most places were full as the Champions League final between Bayern Munich and Chelsea started.
Much bad has been said of Chelsea's defensive style in their defeat of Barcelona, so surely how they played against Bayern Munich cannot be surprising. Chelsea has been reborn under Roberto DiMatteo, so why change style? Surely Bayern Munich was most attacking, but it is also about defending and counterattacking, and Chelsea have proven great at both. Just as we were expecting a home triumph after Thomas Mullers' late goal for Bayern, Didier Drogba scored after Chelsea's first corner kick in the entire match. Undeserved perhaps, but any football fan knew what this meant for Drogba, who again scored in the most important game ever for Chelsea.
Then, that Bayern's great player Arjen Robben could not keep his nerve on the penalty spot, made everyone feel that this would be Chelsea's night after all, and indeed it was: after penalty kicks Chelsea took their first, and well-deserved CL title ever!
Roman Abramovich, the guy that did exactly what I would do if I had a billion dollars, has finally taken the most prestigious prize of all. And he should surely keep Roberto DiMatteo as coach!

Watching the Champions League final 
I was in Madrid on May 25th on the day of the Copa del Rey Final between FC Barcelona and Athletic Bilbao. Two hours before the match I went to Vicente Calderon Stadium, in part to experience the already lively atmosphere around the stadium, but also to see if it was possible to find some re-sell ticket. The latter was impossible, but surely experienced the lively atmosphere between fans of two teams that were having their last chance to win something this season. FC Barcelona surely would have expected to be somewhere else, but were triumphed by Chelsea and Real Madrid in the CL and Spanish League respectively. In the meantime, Athletic Bilbao had not expected to be so close at the start of the season, but they have surely grown under coach Marcelo Bielsa. They nevertheless lost the Europa League final to Atletico Madrid, and were surely hoping for glory in this match. Before the match started I found a tapas bar to watch it in, and talked with a passionate Bilbao fan who told me with tears in his eyes his memory of Bilbao winning the league as a child, and how for them, this meant much more than for Barcelona fans: "We have the club in our hearts, and we have won nothing for 28 years!"
There really was no contention about the best team of the match though: With two goals by Pedro and one by Lionel Messi, Barcelona was comfortably ahead 3-0 in the first half, and really did not seem to make too much of an effort to win the match in the end. The biggest pleasure of the players was clearly to give coach Josep Guardiola a proper goodbye with yet another title.
A pity for the Bilbao fan I talked to, but he was right about their passion: after the match I saw proud and dignified Bilbao fans all around the streets of Madrid, while Barcelona fans seemed to disappear into bed to sleep over yet another victory of those they are so used to...

1 comment:

Stig said...

Cool guy :-)