The Warm-Up: Liverpool and Barcelona avoid Champions League disaster
A disappointing night of European action for fans of big clubs falling on their faces at home. Which is everybody, right? Right.
THURSDAY’S BIG STORIES
Liverpool didn’t lose!
It’s a Thursday morning of lingering regret — even more so than usual — as Europe wakes up to the upsets that almost happened. The shocks that were promised, then cruelly snatched away. The chaos that could have been. Because … well, come on, Liverpool. It would have been really funny.
3-0 up, back to 3-3, but fundamentally just too flippin’ competent to become the punchline. And while Jürgen Klopp will presumably be a little concerned at the heavy wobble, everybody else in Anfield got to enjoy two kinds of victory. The oh-so-easy dominance of a brilliant football team in full flight and the never-say-die scramble of a team up against it. Two Gazproms for the price of one.
“That’s—” *takes a long sip* “Ah, that’s classic Gazprom.”
In years to come, when we look back at The Klopp Years, there will be goals to consider. Lots and lots of beautiful goals. But the Warm-Up is calling it now: Liverpool’s second, which began with Andy Robertson cutting inside from left-back and ended with Andy Robertson poking home inside the six-yard box, is going to be the definitive one.
Certainly not “the most important”. Probably not “the best”. But if we go looking for a goal that entirely encapsulates this team, this glittering, flashing knife of a football side, then this might be it. Full-back over to full-back and back to full-back again, the entire width and length of the pitch, before you’ve even got time to say “Wait, where the hell does he think he’s going?”
Barcelona didn’t lose either!
Aren’t Barcelona weird at the moment? Obviously, they still remain a supremely talented collection of players. But there’s something not quite right, as though they were all playing with some minor but annoying ailments.
Their visitors on Wednesday were Inter, who were a little lucky to score the opener — their first in the Camp Nou, apparently — and then a little unlucky not to add another two or three. Barca were a mess. Inter, by contrast, were busy, sharp, and dangerous. But don’t just take our word for it. Take Ernesto Valverde’s:
And then Barcelona won. Of course they won. Because Lionel Messi is the footballing equivalent of a couple of ibuprofen and a good sit down, and because Suárez would never let anything as trivial as personal pain get in the way of inflicting wide-scale, general pain. He’s a man with a mission.
“So, Pep, any thoughts on …”
"It is alleged that the Manchester City player’s activity breaches FA Rule E3(1) as it was insulting and/or improper and/or brought the game into disrepute. It is further alleged that the activity constitutes an “Aggravated Breach”, which is defined in FA Rule E3(2), as it included reference, whether expressed or implied, to race and/or colour and/or ethnic origin. "
Being bloody stupid and/or a bit of a berk, in other words.
Anyway, that was all more or less inevitable; the FA’s regulations don’t contain caveats for “He’s a mate” or “Look, it was just banter”. Now, as we wait for the FA to roll some dice to determine the length of Silva’s ban, one big question remains. Has somebody at Manchester City managed to have a word in Pep Guardiola’s shell-like and asked him to just, like, maybe not say anything else on the subject? We’re guessing not.
IN OTHER NEWS
In a social media environment often dominated by the loud, the flashy, and the aggressively attention-seeking, there’s something very endearing about this video from Bayern Munich. How do you celebrate a 7-2 win over last season’s finalists? You stick up a short clip of some pleased footballers ambling around an airport in suits.
"Born in Liverpool in 1875, Clarke made her professional debut for the British Ladies team in 1895, in Crouch End, London, in front of a crowd of 11,000. She would have earned around a shilling a week playing football at a time when huge numbers of spectators would attend women’s matches, garnering widespread press coverage."
In a spirit of morbid curiosity we looked up Spurs’ record European defeat, an 8-0 thrashing in the Intertoto Cup by FC Koln. And here are the goals. Not pretty. Turns out Bruno Labbadia, Toni Polster, and Toni Polster’s mullet were quite a bit better than Stick Your Intertote line-up made up mostly of kids. (Including a young Stephen Carr.)
Enjoyed the canvas chairs-as-benches, though, and Chris Hughton in disguise as a referee.
Europa League. I-ropa League. We all-ropa League. Plenty of games to choose from, as ever, though followers of Manchester United’s ongoing breakdown will be interested to learn that their game against AZ Alkmaar is being played on “the worst” plastic pitch Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has ever seen. The scene set for another disaster.
So who’s warming you up tomorrow? Well, give me a T! Give me an Om Adams! That’s right, it’s Om Adamst! Enjoy.