MONDAY’S BIG STORIES
This is the best team!
On 25 June 2019, the 2019-20 Champions League got underway. Feronikeli beat Lincoln Red Imps 1-0, and FC Santa Coloma beat Tre Penne by the same scoreline. One year, one month, and 30 days later, after another 1-0 win, it’s all over. Bayern Munich have won their sixth title. Everybody can have a well-earned sit down.
Secretly, the Warm-Up was hoping for a nine-goal thriller. But instead we got a tense, high class, end-to-end first half that spoke to both sides’ quality, and then a less thrilling, rather bitty second half that Bayern, the grown-ups of the occasion, were better able to navigate. Manuel Neuer was colossal. David Alaba and Thiago were pretty damn large as well.
And what a night for PSG. Often criticised for simply hosing cash all over the place, they must have been delighted to see one of their own — a Parisian from their academy — turn in a man-of-the-match in a Champions League final, and score the only goal of the night. Pity it had to be for the opposition, but details, details.
In truth it was an even game until the goal, and Kylian Mbappé will be regretting that miss towards the end of the first half for some time. But honestly, it’s hard not to think that Bayern were the correct winners here. They’ve won every game they’ve played in this competition, 11 in a row, by an aggregate score of 43-8. No, aggregate scores over a whole competition aren’t a thing, but still: bloody hell.
And here, at the end of this strangest season, it’s kind of comforting to see the obvious thing happen. A little reminder, perhaps, that in amongst all the chaos and confusion, some things remain the same. Bayern Munich are pretty good at winning trophies.
These are also the best teams!
One Champions League is over, but the other is just coming to the sharp end. To nobody’s great surprise Lyon are through to the semi-finals, where they will play PSG, who overcame a rusty-looking Arsenal.
On the other side of the draw, Barcelona squeaked past Atletico Madrid thanks to a single goal. They’ll play Wolfsburg, who put nine (9 (nine!)) past Glasgow. Unless, that is, Uefa gets back to us quick-sharp about our letter. Because this was Glasgow’s consolation goal. Look at this.
That’s got to be worth 10 normal goals, right? Send the Scots through!
The Warm-Up has a lot of time and a lot of respect for Antonio Conte. But the actual business of being Antonio Conte, well … it looks extremely stressful. Every decision, every tackle, every moment a life or death happening, to be greeted with operatic intensity and much flailing. And then opposition players coming over to insult your hair.
It’s no wonder Conte seems to burn through clubs like Alphonso Davies through defences. According to reports he’ll be leaving Inter shortly, after finishing a point behind Juventus in Serie A and a goal behind Sevilla in the Europa League final. Max Allegri will be replacing him: an altogether calmer presence.
This means, excitingly for everybody else, that Conte will be back on the hunt for work. A world-class manager, and one of the worst losers in the history of the game, just hanging around waiting for a big job to come up. Between him and Mauricio Pochettino, the dugouts of Europe will be operating under some long shadows this season. Now more than ever, managers need to pray that their chairmen aren’t feeling twitchy.
IN OTHER NEWS
We’re guessing they enjoyed Bayern’s victory in Munich. But it looks like they really, really enjoyed it in Marseille.
You know, while we’re on the subject, let’s have a look back at Marseille’s victory in the 1993 Champions League. What we learned later isn’t important right now. What is important: Basile Boli’s denim shirt, and Didier Deschamps’ massive grin.
Over on the Guardian, Donald McRae interviews Patrice Evra — who seems to be a delightfully chaotic conversationalist — about his playing career, racism, Alex Ferguson, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, panda suits … you know, usual footballer stuff.
“We can play with shirts that say Black Lives Matter but it’s more important what your parents teach you or what you teach your kids. When I do the message against racism I dress up in a panda costume because I want to educate the kids. The panda bear is black, white and chubby. I want kids to be like that panda. Be cool, be funny but respect everyone.”
A bit of Eredivisie, a spot of Jupiler Pro League, a soupçon of Ligue 2 … but nothing compulsory. Your time is your own.
Marcus Foley will be here tomorrow to start the countdown to next weekend’s Community Shield.