Thursday, 26 May 2005

Could You Believe It?

Well what a game that was last night eh? Much like the rest of Europe the lot of us who went to O’Neill’s to watch the game thought that Liverpool were dead and buried by half time. There was talk of another Euro Final exhibition style performance from Milan like 1989 when they put Steaua Bucharest to the sword 4-0 or 1994 when they gubbed Barcelona by the same scoreline.

But it wasn’t to be. Instead we were treated to one of the most unbelievable comebacks I’ve ever seen. Not least because with Crespo’s deft finish for number three Milan looked every inch European Champions and Liverpool looked like their journey to the final was achievement enough.

Jerzy Dudek made up for his occasional blunder throughout the tournament with first of all a fantastic double save at the death and then his penalty saves in the shoot out. And of course his Grobbelaar style antics on the goal-line. Grobbelaar himself said this “Jerzy Dudek was fantastic; he was like a starfish with jelly legs. I heard he was told to remember what I did in 1984 and he did it. He put the first one off and saved two penalties.”

Dalglish and Hansen both said that if Liverpool could do it last night it would be a greater achievement than what the teams of the 70s and 80s achieved and I think that’s correct. No one would say that this team is the best in Europe but they only way to prove it is by winning the Champions League and they had by no means an easy journey to the final. Juventus and Chelsea were, along with Barcelona most people’s tips to win it and Liverpool dispensed with both of them.

Now the talk turns to whether or not they will be allowed to defend the trophy next season. For me UEFA should allow them entry. It was their silly and greedy rule that installed 4 teams from England into the tournament in the first place so who cares if Liverpool as holders make 5? Well maybe the Spanish and Italian FAs. UEFA are saying 'the rules can't be changed mid season.' Well, for one thing it's not mid season, but these are rules that they themselves make up as and when it suits them. Back in the days when it truly was a Champions's tournament the only way more than one team from the same country could get into the competition was if the holders hadn't won their respective league that season.

However UEFA do seem to be sticking to their guns and refusing the holders entry for next season. In the latest twist TNS in Wales have volunteered to let their place in the qualifiers go to Liverpool if they were to beat them in a pre-qualifier play-off. A masterstroke by TNS as a 2 legged play off against the European Champions would be an excellent money spinner. However the Football Asociaton of Wales have since declared TNS’s suggestion ‘not feasible’ and that they will not back it.

Still Liverpool and their fans will I’m sure simply revel in this victory for some time to come.

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