mgranados' essays

Champions League was insanely good this year

July 2019

I could not believe the joy I felt when Tottenham scored their last minute goal in Amsterdam to leave Ajax heartbroken on the field. I could not believe what was going on. What a superb way to finish the Semifinals. I was sorry for the Ajax, because they had a lot of youngsters and were playing pretty well, they even knocked Real Madrid and Juventus on the way. But the surprise was pretty amazing. The three Tottenham goals were made by Lucas Moura who was not particularly known for putting the team on his shoulders.

But a day before Liverpool pulled a miracle themselves and eliminated super favorites Barcelona, even when they started the match 0-3. They needed 4 goals and actually scored them. It was a special miracle because they did not rely on their superstar Salah. Goals came by subs of the regular team and star Sadio Mané. But they actually pulled the result on minute 93. It was a breathtaking win for them.

After listening to Fernando Palomo's podcast: Nos ponemos Pilas. I got the confirmation of a specialist that Champions League was a special thing this year. Like one with the biggest comebacks in decades. Or maybe ever, except of course for that brilliant Liverpool championship. But why are comebacks so joyful? What makes rooting for the underdog and watching it succeed so amazing? What brings this amazing feeling of accomplishment to a soccer match?

Maybe it's the impressive list of skills you need to pull a comeback: The capacity of focusing in spite of mistakes previously made, playing your best at the very end, keeping your emotions under control. It's a scenario in which only a Hero would make it possible. By Hero you could just assume a very capable and talented person with maybe a little bit of luck, a little bit of serendipity.

Ajax was a team full of youth and played with an amazing vertical style that started the surprises by knocking off Real Madrid. Then knocked Cristiano Ronaldo's Juventus in Turin. Tottenham was not the favorite to classify by a mile, but managed to beat by away goals rule the super favorite Manchester City while visiting.

To be in semis Liverpool had to beat the always favorite Bayern Munich. Liverpool had to overcome a 0-3 score against Barcelona. With their 2 biggest stars missing from their lineup. The game was played greatly by Liverpool, and won on the minute '93 with two goals scored by Origi and two goals by Wijnaldum . It was unbelievable to see a team come back from a 0-3, not taking into account that the other team was Barcelona, one of the eternal favorites to win the tourney.

Just the day after the big Liverpool comeback, Tottenham won the game 2-3 against Ajax in Amsterdam! What a crazy game it was. On the last play on the very last minute of stoppage time. All goals from Lucas Moura, a top player but not the best forward on the Tottenham lineup by far. I cried because of the rollercoaster of emotions it was. (And I was not the only one.). Is it to be noted that the big story on this game was that Ajax went to half time 2-0 in what seemed a secure win that got them a place in the final.

I can only compare the feeling of both semifinals to Boston Red Sox's epic victory over New York in 2004 to win the American League and a days later overcome Bambino's curse after 86 years.

I have never witnessed someone fight with all its capacities against adversities and overcome them so joyfully and I am so glad, and thankful that I got to watch both games. It is even less common to see such feats from teams like Liverpool and Tottenham! What an amazing performance and coordination, teams must have to achieve this. No wonder futbol is (El deporte más hermoso del mundo) world's most beautiful sport, quoting sports relator Luis Omar Tapia.

So if you enjoy watching occasionally the World Cup and rooting for your country maybe also take some time to enjoy the Champions League. You may not be able to rewatch this year's tournament live but there should be amazing games to come. Also, this was not sponsored in anyway by the UEFA 🤠.

Thanks to Jimena Ibarra, Rocio Quiroga and Luis Rodriguez for reading drafts of this.
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