Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Chelsea-Liverpool: Football Heaven!

This is a blog about the 2010 World Cup but allow me to digress and focus on what was one of the most exciting matches I've ever seen in my life: Yesterday's Champions League quarter final between Chelsea and Liverpool.

For those who haven't seen, please check out the video below.



When the draw for this round of the Champions League was announced, most football fans let out a collective groan.

Liverpool-Chelsea again? They'd met in 2005, 2007, 2008 ... every season, no?

With all that familiarity, was this going to end up the insipid affair most have seen between the 2 clubs the past few seasons?

Former Real Madrid sporting director Jorge Valdano has this to say about the English wars ahead of their 2007 semi-final clash.

"Football is made up of subjective feeling, of suggestion - and, in that, Anfield is unbeatable. Put a shit hanging from a stick in the middle of this passionate, crazy stadium and there are people who will tell you it's a work of art. It's not: it's a shit hanging from a stick.

"Chelsea and Liverpool are the clearest, most exaggerated example of the way football is going: very intense, very collective, very tactical, very physical, and very direct," he added. "But, a short pass? Noooo. A feint? Noooo. A change of pace? Noooo. A one-two? A nutmeg? A backheel? Don't be ridiculous. None of that. The extreme control and seriousness with which both teams played the semi-final neutralised any creative licence, any moments of exquisite skill.

"If Didier Drogba was the best player in the first match it was purely because he was the one who ran the fastest, jumped the highest and crashed into people the hardest. Such extreme intensity wipes away talent, even leaving a player of Joe Cole's class disoriented. If football is going the way Chelsea and Liverpool are taking it, we had better be ready to wave goodbye to any expression of the cleverness and talent we have enjoyed for a century."


Bold words from a passionate man.

Although I don't agree with all of Valdano's opinion, he had a point.
The games had become predictable and bland, defensive nightmares to watch.

Yesterday's match and their encounter last week at Anfield were anything but defensive nightmares. There were 12 goals scored overall, an avalanche compared to the one goal scored in their 2005 semi-final encounter.

But more than that, it was the passion and grace exhibited in the two ties.

Two of the biggest clubs in the world going toe-to-toe in a heavy weight battle. It's not often we watch two behemoths such as these slug it out in an encounter as free-flowing, as physical, as intense.

It was a true joy to watch. It's the kind of game that serves as an advert for the uninitiated. When someone asks me why I love football, this is a game I can point to.

'This ... this amazing match is why I'm so addicted to this game!'

Who didn't think Liverpool had another Istanbul 2005 in them after Xabi Alonso scored that penalty? Who gave them up for dead after Chelsea's second goal, only to see them fight back?

What about that Alex free kick? Or Frank Lampard's two goals at the end of the game to send Chelsea to the semi-finals once and for all?

Was this the greatest Champions League match of all-time? The Guardian ranks it up there but doesn't rate this number one.

So which is? And what did you think of yesterday's match?

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