The Warm-Up: Death, taxes and Real Madrid winning the Champions League
Jack Lang picks through the bones of Saturday night, salutes Fulham and heads to hospital for an emergency ear replacement after hearing the official World Cup song...
MONDAY’S BIG STORIES
Resistance is futile, episode 359
Oh great, here they come again. All in white, like Stormtroopers, and every bit as determined to erase you and everything you represent, resistance be damned. They’re in your face and they’re in your bed and they’re in your nightmares and they’re laughing. They’re boring and thrilling, regal and dirty, high-concept and low-brow. They are borderline indestructible and they’re coming over the horizon like daytime.
It was pretty but also not, historic overhead kicks competing for bandwidth with fatal arm locks and off-the-ball shoulder-barges.
It was convincing but also not, requiring not one but two of the worst individual errors ever seen in a major sporting event.
It was a night to savour but also not, two of the main protagonists preferring to immediately shift the focus onto their futures rather than bask in glory.
It was kind of weird. It was sad, tear-stained and maybe even a bit empty. Liverpool were deprived of their talisman for the majority of the game and poor old Loris Karius played as though he had just awoken from a coma. These are hard things to recover from.
But this is just what Real Madrid do: they force you to cling onto the mitigating circumstances. Because while you’re thinking about them, or changing your approach, or even just looking at them quizzically, wondering if they’re actually that good, they’re winning.
Death, taxes, Real Madrid. They might not win many popularity contests outside the Bernabeu, but it’s hard not to grudgingly admire the inevitability of it all.
Tragic news for keen observers of the public effects of hubris: the universe has cruelly denied us a series of close-ups of John Terry’s face in the crowd at Stamford Bridge next season. The centre-back, recall, had asked to be spared the turmoil of playing against his beloved Chelsea in the Premier League next term, presumably because he still “bleeds blue” or something similarly cloying.
Well Terry needn’t have worried, because Aston Villa will very much still be in the Championship in 2018/19, having been beaten in the play-off final by Slavisa Jokanovic’s silky Fulham side on Saturday. Glassy-eyed heartthrob Tom Cairney scored the only goal of the game for the Londoners, who return to the big time after a three-year absence.
FC Fulham Play-Off Aston VillaImago
My ears. My poor, poor ears
Strength in numbers is a force we can mix.
We raise our flags and put our pride on our back.
We feelin’ like a champion when we shine our light.
We got the power, make condition correct.
Words to live by, there; indeed, just this morning I bonded with a neighbour of mine over our mutual love for making condition correct.
Huh? Oh, sorry. It’s the official World Cup song. Or, as your ears will come to refer to it in the months ahead, THE SOUND OF BREAKING.
Legal disclaimer: The Warm-Up bears no responsibility for any rash acts undertaken as direct, primal reactions to exposure to this piece of “music”. Always be in the presence of a responsible adult when consuming cultural products signed off by sporting governing bodies. Terms and conditions apply.
IN OTHER NEWS
It goes without saying that the best World Cup ad of all was the Brazil airport spot before France 1998. And you know what? By the look of this teaser, we could be in for an updated version this summer. Here’s hoping.
HEROES AND ZEROES
Hero: Jurgen Klopp
Question: What is the best course of action when you’ve just lost one of the biggest games of your career?
Answer: Getting absolutely caned, staying out until morning and learning the words to a hastily-assembled song about that very defeat. Bravo.
Zero: These guys
No. No, no, no. No, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no.
" They had flown all the way across Europe, from its very western edge to its very eastern frontier, for a single game of football that many of them didn’t even have tickets for. The guy in the next seat along had come all the way from New Zealand. The guy next to him had come from Marseille. He sang Allez Allez Allez with a perfect French accent and You’ll Never Walk Alone with a perfect Scouse one.They had come from all over the world, with vague promises of a dingy hostel bed, or a friend’s floor, or nothing at all. Because it was the last step of the journey, and they wanted to take it together. They filled Kiev with their flags and their faith. And as dawn broke, many of them were still tramping the sticky floors of an all-night bar on Independence Square: shirts off, songs on, sleep later."
As we move from the superhighway of the football season onto the bleak backroads of summ… wait! Hang on! World Cup warm-up matches are starting already? Glorious. We never doubted you, dear calendar deities.
You may have to perform some dark arts to view them (they’re not on TV), but Portugal vs Tunisia and France vs Republic of Ireland should see you through a dull Monday night, and you could even do a bit of pre-tournament scouting by checking out games involving South Korea, Iran, Saudi Arabia and Nigeria, if you were so inclined. No judgements either way.