Uncomfortable scenes as Cristiano Ronaldo dressed for his meeting with the ‘hottest boyband in the world today’ without realising they were not Wham.
Anyone would think he’d died.
The wailing and gnashing of teeth across the networks, the United fans choking back tears as they described how their lives will never be the same again, the jostling across Twitter as journalists, bloggers, former players scrambled to get their angle on the matter out there.
In the end, of course, it all came down to Sergio Ramos. Jose Mourinho’s musing on the fact that Robert Lewandowski scored four goals in the first leg and yet was not fouled once was obviously taken to heart by the Real Madrid central defender, whose constant clattering, elbowing and bullying of the Polish international was sufficient for him to lose his composure in front of goal.
It’s a testament to Lewandowski’s focus and professionalism that he accepted the majority of the attention without complaint, despite ample opportunity to bitch to referee Howard Webb, and, amid rumours of his departure, it’s difficult not to feel like the Champions League trophy is his idea of a perfect parting gift to the club that gave him his breakthrough.
Dortmund’s necessarily stoic, functional performance last night in the Bernabeu makes it hard to argue.
The circumstances of his arrival couldn’t have been more inclement. Seconds after setting foot on the good ship Chelsea FC, former Liverpool, Valencia & Inter boss Rafael Benitez was struck by wave after wave of hostility that, at times, looked persistent and sizeable enough to drown him. As he floundered about on an unfamiliar deck, dissenting voices rang out, reminding him of the damage he caused to Chelsea’s European voyages in previous years, the fact that his arrival was at the expense of the man who had steered the ship to Champions League glory only five months before and he’d mocked their flag.
Oh, and most importantly, that a fat Spanish waiter had no business on the deck of such an esteemed vessel.
Love him or hate him, the bloated, whacked out world of elite football needs Jose Mourinho. The Real Madrid manager, still reeling from Borussia Dortmund’s captivating demolition of his team, stated in a press conference last night that he was certain his players could overturn the 4-1 deficit, claiming “Of course we can do it. On a crazy night where everyone performs at a high level and you score every chance, you can do it. What you cannot do is get knocked out without dying on the pitch.”
Like the replay wasn’t going to be entertaining enough without the likes of Sergio Ramos, Cristiano Ronaldo and Xabi Alonso overdosing on tanning oil if they fail to reach the final.
Bayern Munich. Purring. Image: Boris Streubel/Getty Images.
Would anyone have blamed Jupp Heynckes if he had sought advice from Pep Guardiola prior to last night’s Champions League semi vs. Barcelona? Few people are as well versed in the delicate handling required to get the best out of the purring supercar that is Barca, and with Guardiola set to take over from Heynckes in June, Bayern Munich, desperate to make up for the humiliating defeat at the hands of Chelsea at the Allianz Arena in last year’s final, could only have benefited from the Spaniard’s advice.
But Heynckes wasn’t having any it. “I admire Pep Guardiola,” he told reporters at the pre-match press conference, “but I don’t need any advice from other coaches“.
All of the time.
But as David Silva will testify, a good arse kicking is the least one can expect from the Premier League. Odemwingie might as well get used to it.
Despite Alan Hansen’s assertions to the contrary, Sir Alex Ferguson has proven throughout his career that it’s the little things that win Premier League titles. Expensive signings, column inches and glorious goal fests can propel you so far, but over the period of a season, if you don’t score more goals and win more games than your peers, as well as ensure your players know who’s the boss, the only thing you’re going to be lifting in May is a P45.