Most Boring Final in Champions League History
Well, it finally happened, an all English Champions league final, it came true. Every single Brit was out of their minds excited just thinking about the potential of showing the entire world why the Premier League is the best league in the world, and with good reason. But, unfortunately, it did not pan out the way we would have all liked.
Liverpool and Tottenham came into this game as Europe's "come-back kings", as they both put a show on during the semi finals of the Champions League in order to crush Barcelona and Ajax's dreams, as they beat the odds to make it the first ever all-English final.
I was honestly, truly, very excited for this final having seen the attacking prowess both sides demonstrated in the previous round. I was expecting a shower of goals, a barrage of beautiful attacking football that would leave me in awe, instead I was rewarded with the most boring Champions league final I can remember watching (Cheers boys).
These two sides are known for their attacking style, it's precisely what's gotten them this far in the competition. But tonight, it seemed like they were out of fuel. Tonight, we witnessed a game that was purely based on defense, from both sides.
The game started off better than I could have ever dreamed off, Sissoko's early handball inside the area after a Mané cross, gave the reds a second minute penalty that Mo Salah converted with poise and power. With a 1-0 score after only two minutes it all looked set in Madrid for an exciting final as two of the best attacking sides in European football put up goals early on, which to me only meant more goals were to come, but as it's happened many times this season I was left disappointed (Why Barça? Why?).
From the 3rd minute, Jurgen Klopp's team became complacent, too comfortable, they stayed back and guarded their lead for the entirety of the game, without ever really trying to risk it and extend the lead, which is fair enough, but when you are paying thousands of pounds for Champions league tickets to see the best two clubs in Europe battle it out for the ultimate price you expect a little more than a 1-0 lead through 85 minutes of boring football.
With that being said, Tottenham were no better, although they were clearly the better side throughout the game (created more chances and held more possession), they were simply not clinical enough, every chance was squandered, and it ended up costing them the game. But they were put simply the only reason this final wasn't more boring than watching paint dry.
There was a clear take away from this game for me and it's about English football. I grew up with the Barcelona teams of Guardiola and the golden generation of Spanish football, in which quality and skill were the key to success. And regardless of the level of skill these players might have, the schemes are simply not what you would define as "Beautiful game," which in essence is why less physical but superior skilled player tend to look worse in England, but that's a whole different topic for another day.
Long balls in behind, entire 30 second sequences in which all you see are headers from one side of the pitch to the other, players pushing each other around, a lack of any sort of midfield build-up and an attacking style that heavily relays on counter attack and sending passes straight from defense onto attack.
Essentially, however, it all boils down to this: It just simply felt like neither team wanted it enough. Both teams looked like a soft version of Barcelona's second leg semi final team, they just played with no effort. I was expecting two sides who would play with everything to win this final, going at each other at full speed, a spectacle for the ages and instead i got a bore for the ages.
Especially disappointing were the performances of the big names; Eriksen seemed lost, Salah couldn't find his footing, Kane went missing and Firmino was simply a non-factor.
It's not all bad news however as I re-discovered my love for full- backs (who would have known). Both pairs were possibly the game's highlight as their crosses and runs in behind gave me reasons to believe this contest could actually end up being entertaining, but the striker's lack of aim proved me wrong (Thanks for nothing guys).
But let's not forget about the main man, Mr Origi himself, who, tonight, again, bagged himself a goal, his third in two UCL games to seal the deal for the Merseyside outfit.
I think, however, that this lackluster performance may have a reason, since it was brought up on numerous occasions that the players In Madrid were simply just not used to the extreme temperatures of the Spanish weather and were extremely tired. So much for doing it on a rainy night in Stoke.
If not for the final, then for their magnificent UCL and EPL runs, Liverpool definitely deserved to come out on top after a wonderful season behind German, professional troll and part time coach, Jurgen Klopp, who finally got his chance at lifting the cup, and deservedly so. Just try to play like you did against Barcelona next time, it hurt so much but it was still pure awesome.
Regardless to all I said: Congratulations Liverpool, 2019 UCL champions (Sounds good, don't it?)