The Warm-Up: Just like the good Ole days
Jack Lang assesses a vintage European night, and conducts a meme post-mortem (post-memeton?) of PSG's epic collapse...
Down and out in Paris (and Madrid)
Look, we’ll get to Manchester United in due course, but first it’s time to offer a detailed analysis of Paris Saint-Germain’s ability to crash and burn in the most hilarious fashion in Europe. Ready? Here we go: hahahahahhahaha oh my God hahahahahaha what did you do hahahahahaha seriously I can’t even punctuate because I’m shaking with laughter.
There’s only one thing funnier than a complacent Real Madrid side bombing out of Europe in front of their own fans, and that’s – you guessed it – a complacent PSG side crashing out of Europe in front of their own fans. It’s the bonfire of the overdogs, folks, and we’ve all had front-row seats.
Naturally, the mind wants to skip ahead. 2024: more disappointment for the renamed FC Paris as all-conquering BATE Borisov beat them on away goals. 2029: another galling night in the French capital as the Ligue 1 champions-in-perpetuity squander a lead against an Arsenal side led by the reanimated corpse of Arsene Wenger. 2040: Qatar threatens to withhold its last reserves of oil unless their dear flagship sports-entertainment-lifestyle brand are cut some slack, after the latest second-leg humiliation at the hands of Facebook-Amazon Rovers.
And so on and so on. Look, The Warm-Up is well aware that mocking a losing team is neither big nor clever. But it is hugely enjoyable, and so we’ll see you here in a year’s time for more PSG bashing after the 2019/20 round of 16. À bientôt.
Devils in the details
Paul Pogba was suspended. Anthony Martial was injured. Jesse Lingard was injured. Juan Mata was injured. Ander Herrera was injured. Nemanja Matic was injured. Alexis Sanchez was injured. Matteo Darmian was injured. Phil Jones was injured. Antonio Valencia was injured.
Eric Bailly played like the world’s most transparent double agent for 30 minutes, then got injured.
Manchester United started with a midfield of Ashley Young, Fred, Scott McTominay and Andreas Pereira. In a Champions League knockout game. Against PSG.
Romelu Lukaku ended the game as an ancillary centre-back.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer padded his playing squad with Football Manager regens. One of them, a 17-year-old, was the closest he could find to an impact sub. Another, who doesn’t so much need a haircut as three or four consecutive haircuts, spent injury time playing floaty crossfield passes to opposition players.
And yet – AND YET – Manchester United did it. Goodness knows how, really; this wasn’t so much fairytale as fever dream, all woozy colours and strange shapes. They were getting absolutely pounded, but somehow winning 2-1 at the break. Then they seemed to have run out of gas, only for Father Fate to smile on them, like he has so many times before.
The players were immense, every last one of them. But wow, Marcus Rashford. Added time in the biggest game of your career so far, and you don’t even let anyone else think they even have a chance of taking that penalty. Even though you’ve never taken one before at senior level. That, ladies and gentlemen, is guts.
It was all pleasingly nostalgic, too. Solskjaer on the touchline, Fergie in the stands, all the odds piled against them… you could throw the evening in a blender and sell the results as Liquid Manchester United.
Maybe The Warm-Up is getting a bit carried away, but even the neutrals would struggle to turn down a pint or two of that after last night. Cheers for the memories.
Partying like it’s 2004
High five to FC Porto, who survived extra time against Roma to book their own place in the last eight. Theirs isn’t a side bursting with household names, and they’re unlikely to repeat the achievement of Jose Mourinho’s 2003/04 team, but it has been a stirring campaign nonetheless.
Special credit must go to striker Moussa Marega, who became the first player to score in four consecutive Champions League games for the club since Mario Jardel in 1999. Not bad company to keep.
IN OTHER NEWS
The week’s other hilarious bottle job is only a day and half old, but already things are starting to shift behind the scenes at Real Madrid. Think of it like a Spanish Game of Thrones, only with less nudity and more backstabbing (although still about the same amount of incest).
It’s also a bit Back to the Future, with the club reportedly already in contact with both Zinedine Zidane and Jose Mourinho about the possibility of replacing Santiago Solari. Creative stuff, guys. Maybe you should just save some time and create a WhatsApp group for these moments. The Warm-Up hears John Toshack and Vanderlei Luxemburgo know their way around a crying-with-laughter emoji.
HEROES AND ZEROES
Hero: Patrice Evra
The former left-back played for Nice, Monaco and Marseille in Ligue 1. Now The Warm-Up is no Inspector Morse, but it stands to reason that he hates Paris Saint-Germain. He also loves Manchester United, obviously, and watched the game in the company of Paul Pogba.
Now imagine the person described above celebrating a historic last-ditch United win, then multiply it by 75 because IT’S PATRICE EVRA and the bloke lives every day like he’s having a birthday party during the apocalypse.
The Warm-Up can barely begin to compute how annoyed any onlooking PSG fans must have been at these scenes, and thus gives this video an unreserved thumbs-up.
Runners-up medal for wild, screamy celebration, incidentally, goes to Jesse Lingard. Altogether now: “Macccazzzrashfaddddddd!”
Back, back, back from partying at Carnaval, the Brazilian hit a few crossover engagement KPIs by posing with a [checks Google] digital games person before the match, but the mask had slipped by the time the final whistle was blown.
“This is a disgrace,” Neymar seethed on Instagram. “They put four people that know nothing about football in charge of looking at the slow-motion replay. It’s a joke! How can the guy raise his hand when his back is turned? Go f**k yourselves!”
Mi-, and indeed, -aow.
Also speaking the Queen’s French, albeit in a slightly less blamey way: centre-back Marquinhos. His take on the night’s events? “Now we need to eat our own s**t.” Put that one in the drawer marked ‘lost in translation’.
It was a great night of football, and an equally great night of Twitter. Here are some of the highlights. You’re welcome.
Oops, looks like I accidentally included one of my own tweets there. That’s embarrassing.
IN THE CHANNELS
OK, can Gary Neville please do all post-match interviews from now until his death? These may have been 5% too chummy – always a danger when the questioner properly knows the interviewee – but both Lukaku and Solskjaer were more open with him than they have been in similar chats recently. Shame he didn’t get to plant that kiss on the latter’s head, mind.
The phrase “After the Lord Mayor’s show” was invented for nights like tonight. Not because the Europa League isn’t capable of producing excitement, but because the draw somehow kept all of the fun teams apart. So we’re left with Rennes vs Arsenal and Chelsea vs Dynamo Kiev, as far as domestic interest goes, with Eintracht Frankfurt vs Inter the only tie that really screams ‘potential upset’.