Could England make it the full set of four Euro-finalists? (Spoiler: yes it could)

Concerning Arsenal v Valencia, I liked this, from whoever was doing the BBC text commentating:

I know I said I wouldn’t do it. But Valencia have one minute to score five so I’m saying GAME OVER.

Arsenal are going to the Europa League final.

Indeed they are.

Chelsea, on the other hand, having drawn 1-1 in Frankfurt, found themselves drawing 1-1 in London. Chelsea needed to score, but even more, they needed not to be scored against, again, because they’d then have had to score twice more themselves. So, for Chelsea, it made sense to play it carefully and hope to win on penalties.

Which they did, and did.

Way back on April 17th, I quoted a BBC text commentator asking this:

Are we heading for an all-English Champions League final AND an all-English Europa League final?

Mission accomplished. It will be London v London, in Baku, and (as maybe you heard earlier) London v Liverpool in Madrid. West Ham, where were you when London needed you?

Catch up on the Chelsea Frankfurt game here.

By the way, I only just found out that “Eintracht” means “harmony” or “concord” or “unity”. So Eintracht Frankfurt basically means Frankfurt United. Tonight, united in grief. Or maybe not. Is there also a Frankfurt City?

Not again

Indeed. Spurs were cruising to defeat, but then, this:

One more goal and Spurs win.

Yes: Again. Moura scores a third at the death, and Spurs do win.

“That touch from Dele Alli through to Moura …”

“Unbelievable.”

But of course.

“If last night hadn’t happened, could tonight have happened?”

Good point.

LATER – Stephen Pollard:

Told my son he could stay up for the first half. If we stood any chance he could stay up for second half. So of course he had to go to bed.

How do I break it to him tomorrow? How do I stop him never speaking to me again?

Another good point.

I believe it

The word “unbelievable” is being used a lot, as I listen to them talking about this game, but I believe it. I mean, why would the BBC lie about such a thing?

That’s it. That’s the souvenir I wanted to have here. Match report here:

Roared on relentlessly by their fans, the Reds produced an incredible all-action display to claw back and then ultimately overturn their 3-0 deficit from the Nou Camp with an unanswered four-goal salvo in thrilling style.

I suppose “incredible” makes a change from “unbelievable”.

Tomorrow, Spurs need to beat Ajax, also against the odds, which as of now is unbelievable, but which nevertheless could happen. Then, Arsenal and Chelsea need to beat whoever they are each half way to beating in the other Euro-thingy, and it’s a full house for the UK. All four finalists British. That would be … unbelievable.

LATER: Just after 11pm, I googled “Liverpool 4 Barcelona 0” and got 289,000,000 results. Unbelievable.

And hello, what’s this? Google says that the Telegraph has this story:

Liverpool pull off incredible comeback against Barcelona to book place in Champions League final

But, in the actual headline, they changed “incredible” to “epic”. Why? Did some sub-editor have the same thought as I did? I mean, why would you put the word “unbelievable” in a headline about something you want people to believe did happen?

Two bad nights for Manchester – an amazing night for Spurs

Last night, United crushed in the Champions League by Barca, in Barca. And tonight – glory be – City knocked out by Spurs in a mad scramble of a game in Manchester. So, Spurs win without Kane. They’ve been doing a lot of that lately.

Did you see that result coming? I didn’t, and especially not after City scored after about one minute. And then, after about three more minutes it was 2-2. Bonkers.

Are there any Mancunians who support both United and City against all comers? The way I support all the London teams? If so, such persons had a bad two nights.

Meanwhile, what’s happening at the top of the Premier League means that I am having to set aside my London-wide support for the duration. Man City or Liverpool are going to win it. But Spurs, Arsenal and Chelsea are now competing for two Champions League spots next season. So, when Liverpool recently played Chelsea, I found myself, albeit with a heavy heart, supporting Liverpool. Chelsea lost, which meant Spurs stayed ahead of them. Hoo. Ray.

THE FOLLOWING EVENING: Well, I’m back to supporting Chelsea and Arsenal, against Slavia Prague and Napoli respectively, in the Europa League. Both are strolling it. Go, London! Asks the BBC footy feed:

Are we heading for an all-English Champions League final AND an all-English Europa League final?

Despite Brexit. It would be a lovely thing to see, but there’s a bit to do for that to happen. Like Spurs and Liverpool beating Ajax and Barca.

Originally posted at Brian Micklethwait’s Old Blog

On supporting Spurs – but not properly

Well, it’s official. I care more about cricket, as played by anyone, than I care about football, as played by Spurs, the football team that I tell myself I support.

If I truly support Spurs, how come I only bothered to wonder the next day how badly they had lost to Barcelona recently, in their clearly doomed attempt to qualify for the last sixteen of the European Champions League, or whatever they call it? Answer me that. On the night, I was so concerned about when the next test match between Australia and India would start, and whether I could hear any commentary on it, that I completely ignored Spurs. When you consider that this Barca/Spurs game was on Tuesday night, and that the Australia/India game didn’t start until the small hours of Friday morning, you can see what a crap Spurs fan I am.

It was only some time on Wednesday that I internetted the news that Spurs had got a draw against Barca (thanks to a late equaliser), and that because Inter Milan had also only got a draw in their game, Spurs had squeaked through, but only after an agonising wait for the Inter result caused by that game going on for a couple of minutes longer.

While all this drama was going on, I was oblivious to it, and was instead scratching about on the internet chasing that cricket game.

Which is still going on. Day 3 will be getting underway in a few hours, on Radio 5 live sports extra. My sleep is already deranged, in a way that usually only happens when England are playing in Australia.

Today, I did keep track of the Spurs Burnley game, which Spurs won (thanks to a very late winner). So: more drama. But although I was aware of this while it was happening, I was again scandalously relaxed about it all, despite this game being billed as a Spurs Must Win If They Are To Stay In With A Chance To Win The League sort of a game. Oh well, I was thinking, as it remained 0-0 right up until extra time. Oh well, that’s how it goes. Maybe next year, when they have their own stadium to play in.

Maybe the reason I am not shouting at Spurs in my kitchen, urging them on to glory, is that they are indeed engaged in building themselves a brand new custom built headquarters, in the form of that new White Hart Lane stadium. So according to my way of thinking, they shouldn’t now be doing this well.

However, it would seem that all the money that the new stadium will bring into the club has caused Spurs to do something now that they haven’t been doing for several decades, which is keep their best players. I’m talking about the likes of Kane, Deli Alli, Moura (who scored the late equaliser against Barca) and Eriksen (who got today’s very late winner). Such stars might still make more money if they went to Real Madrid or some such even richer club. But, at Real, they might not do as well on the pitch as they are now doing for Spurs. They might then fall off the football pyramid of greatness, never to climb back on it again. Footballers are interested in money and glory, not just in money, not least because glory turns into more money later, when they later try to get football jobs without being players any more. Spurs look like they could be about to do both money and glory rather well.

The same goes for the current rather-hard-to-spell Spurs manager who is masterminding all this. Many now assume that he will shortly move to Madrid. I’m not so sure.

I mean, if this is how well these Spurs guys can do while the new Spurs HQ is still being finished, think how well they might do when they get really settled in in the new place and are able to concentrate entirely on football.

Or maybe it’s that a new stadium is not really a new headquarters building, more like a huge new factory, for something like a brand new airplane. Boeing bets the company every time they launch a totally new aircraft. A football club bets itself whenever it moves into a new stadium. But this stadium is actually for doing football, rather than just a place to do lots of headquartering.

Originally posted at Brian Micklethwait’s Old Blog

Waterloo sunrise

Radio early bird Julia Hartley-Brewer tweeted this photo, early this morning:

Best comment:

Enjoy it while you can Julia, because after BREXIT there will be NO sunrise. The Polish and Romanian workers who lift the sun up every morning will be gone.

Those laser beams that her camera has created make the sun look like a … white hole.

Originally posted at Brian Micklethwait’s Old Blog

An encouraging picture for Spurs

I became fixated on Spurs in the 1960s, like a baby goose, because then they were so good. Plus, I always like their Jewish angle and still do. I have supported them, strictly at a distance and media access permitting, ever since. They’ve been sporadically good since that ancient time, but never as good. Finally, that seems like it might be changing.

Today Spurs beat Chelsea at Chelsea, the last time they did that having been in 1990. Spurs are now in fourth place, which if they stay there is high enough to get them into the Champions League again. They are now 8 points clear of Chelsea in fifth. With seven more games to be played, it’s not settled yet, but things just got a lot better for Spurs.

I just watched Dele Alli’s two goals on the TV highlights, and with both it was not just the skill but the speed with which he did what he did that was so impressive. Before that, Eriksen hit what the radio commentators were calling a potential goal of the season. One of those long distance, fast and late inswingers.

So, to celebrate, here is a photo I took of the new Spurs stadium, which will get moved into next season or thenabouts. It will be a few games before the Spurs team settles in and starts enjoying their home advantage whenever they play there. But judging by how well they did this season at the at first unfamiliar Wembley, it shouldn’t take them too long to settle into New White Hart Lane.

So, this is how New White Hart Lane was looking last November, with one of the Walthamstow reservoirs in the foreground:

Mmmm. Cranes.

I haven’t checked progress more recently, and can offer no photos from since then. But here are 103 more pictures, and counting, of New White Hart Lane’s progress. I knew you’d be excited.

Originally posted at Brian Micklethwait’s Old Blog