Halftime Sports

Champions League Reactions: The Final

June 7, 2019

I’m writing this because I really had to sit here for two days trying to figure out what to say. So, here goes nothing.

Tottenham Hotspur FC 0-2 Liverpool FC

I was bored out of my mind by the Europa League Final between Arsenal and Chelsea, and I thought there was no way this would be worse. And for those first five to ten minutes, it looked like I was right, as Liverpool looked to have identified a weakness in Kieran Trippier and playing balls over the top of him for Sadio Mané, and it paid off immediately, with Mane’s cross hitting Moussa Sissoko’s arms for Mohamed Salah to smash home the penalty. Trippier was forced to recover and concede a corner a couple minutes later, but Tottenham looked to be giving as good as it got. Harry Kane dropping deep pulled Virgil van Dijk out of position and put Son Heung-Min through on goal, but Trent Alexander-Arnold made a brilliant recovery run to win the ball. But then the game settled after 15 minutes, with Liverpool content to make sure they weren’t stretched out and pounce once Tottenham had to open up the game. And it nearly put me to sleep. Aside from a few long shots, the most notable thing to me was that TNT changed commentary feeds at halftime, and the only reason I noticed that was because Steve McManaman was the only thing that kept me awake in the first half and he suddenly wasn’t there anymore. The problem with the game though was that Tottenham never seemed to realize that this was the final, and simply a league match where a 1-0 loss away from Wembley isn’t a disaster in the race for the top four, and Mauricio Pochettino held his substitutions until the 65th minute, when he finally pulled off Harry Winks for Lucas Moura. Jürgen Klopp at least realized the game needed energy and introduced James Milner for a flagging Georginio Wijnaldum and Divock Origi for Roberto Firmino. Sissoko pulling up injured forced Pochettino’s second substitution (though I’d contend Winks was the better of the two anyway and should’ve stayed on so you could say it was wasted in that regard), and for the final substitution, Fernando Llorente came onto the pitch instead of Erik Lamela. Worse still was that Kane, who was playing for the first time in nearly two months, stayed on for the full 90 minutes despite doing nothing. Alisson made the saves he had to make, but none of them were particularly difficult to deal with, and Origi’s left-footed finish sealed the title for Liverpool, but after all the drama of this year’s competition, the final was a disappointment. I’ll leave TNT alone because I could write a separate piece on how poorly I think they do the Champions League, but to me the Premier League should be lamenting a missed opportunity. In two all-English finals, with a chance to truly cement the Premier League as the most exciting league in the world, we got two duds. Only four players consistently made something happen in the attack: Mané, Origi, Eden Hazard, and Alexandre Lacazette. Of those four, Hazard is leaving, Origi is a squad player at best, and Lacazette can’t always make the starting lineup because Arsenal can’t figure out how to play with two strikers. Not a great way to advertise.

On another note, I’ll be giving up this “series” now that I’ve graduated. I hope someone picks this up for next year because I had a great time writing these, and for those of you that actually managed to make it through my semi-stream-of-consciousness thoughts on the Champions League, thank you. And if you still want my thoughts on soccer, whether next year’s Champions League or the impending Women’s World Cup, follow me on Twitter @Jorge_DeNeve. So now, after 15 of these pieces this year, I officially say goodbye, at least as far as writing for the Voice is concerned.

Jorge DeNeve
Los Angeles native. Still wondering where the Galaxy went wrong and decided buying Jermaine Jones was a good idea.

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