Calm before the storm
Calm before the storm
LISBON — The red and white scarves have been stowed for the season, the plaza at City Hall last night was being swept up of the cups and flags. Over at Restauradores, the only rally was for graduating university students – something to do with big wooden spoons and lots of beer, by the looks of it. A Bola is still gleefully printing pictures of Benfica players holding up three fingers but the rest of the city has moved on towards the big game on Saturday. The headline in Record read: “The world is watching.”
But until then, there’s not much to do, soccer-wise. The teams are training in Spain, the fans have yet to trickle in, and Lisbon, the oldest city in Western Europe is glorious. So, why not see it?
Now, I have a weakness for trains. I believe they are the only civilized way to travel, and I have been known to walk miles between train stops rather than take a bus. I once refused a plane trip from Berlin to Warsaw on the grounds that I could take a sleeper car there overnight. The fact that it turned out to be a Soviet-style bed car, complete with hissing steam, did not teach me any lesson whatsoever. On the contrary, I am of the belief that it made me stronger, much as the journeys from Leuchars to Dundee on the sublimely discomfiting Fife Rail trains of the early 1970s, all plaid and burr.
Much to my glee (and my partner’s despair) Lisbon has had an urban train system for nearly 130 years. Yesterday, I decided to ride all of them, going from the ancient basilica on the west side of the city out to the giant flea market that occupies Alfama just west of the castle. The points are connected by an ancient tram line, the “28,” which runs through the winding roads along the harbor line. The “28” started out as a horse carriage line (I pity the poor beasts on these hills and cobblestones) but switched to overhead electric in 1901.
Sevilla - Europa League winners
What universal qualities must a team have to make a Champions League final?
Good coaching, a dependable goalkeeper, star power on offense, and a little bit of luck are probably the minimum requirements. But most importantly, the team needs to have balls. Preferably big balls.
At least, that’s what Atletico manager Diego Simeone would reason.
After his side reached its first Champions League/European Cup final in 40 years with a 3-1 win at Chelsea on Wednesday, Simeone thanked his players’ mothers for equipping them with large “cojones.”
Simeone on his team: “I want to thank their mothers for giving birth to players with balls this big [gestures to show substantial size]”— AS English (@English_AS)April 30, 2014
Unfortunately, we don’t have a picture of Simeone gesticulating at his press conference, but we imagine it looked something like this:
Image via RedCafe
Sergio Ramos had already given Real Madrid an early 2-0 lead over Bayern Munich in the second leg of their semifinal tie, but Real’s crowning moment of the first half set a new Champions League record at the same time.
Obviously, Cristiano Ronaldo was involved.
The goal was Ronaldo’s 15th of the current Champions League campaign, setting a new all-time record. Lionel Messi previously held the record with 14 goals in the 2011/12 season, before Ronaldo equaled that mark with a goal in the quarterfinals against Dortmund.
Naturally, Ronaldo was ecstatic. And just so that everyone watching at home was aware of his new record, Ronaldo and friends spelled it out for the TV cameras:
Just look at how happy he is:
And before all was said and done, Ronaldo added one more to his tally, bringing his total this season in the Champions League to 16.
He’ll have one more match — the final — to increase his own record. Odds are he does.
With a squad depleted by injury, transfers and card suspensions, Borussia Dortmund’s lineup is a far cry from what it was last year during the UEFA Champions League:
One player available, though? Kevin Grosskreutz, the jack-of-all-trades for BVB. But it’s a shame he can’t play every position against Real Madrid … or can he?
This video isn’t particularly new, but it’s certainly relevant. What would Dortmund look like with Grosskreutz between the sticks, leading the line, and everywhere in between?
Thanks to the internet, now we know. And we also know Grosskreutz falls like a total klutz after getting beaned with a ball.
Ups and downs of a PK shootout
Don’t mess with Webb
Thursday wasn’t a great day for Tottenham, having had their Europa League dreams essentially dashed by Benfica in a 3-1 loss.
The already-tense affair grew even more testy after Luisao scored his second goal of the contest. Benfica boss Jorge Jesus celebrated by throwing up three fingers, which appeared to be in the direction of the Tottenham technical area.
Spurs manager Tim Sherwood caught sight of it and took exception. At one point it looks as though Sherwood even squared Jesus up before thinking better of it. The world’s tiniest fourth official then stood between the managers as they shouted at each other, and cooler heads finally prevailed.
After the match, Jesus pleaded his innocence, saying: “I was saying ’number three, Luisao. Number three.’ That’s his own problem if he felt like that.”
Sherwood was unamused and accused Jesus of lacking class. “I thought his team were very good and showed a lot of class. It’s just a shame their manager didn’t,” Sherwood said.
"Waving goodbye like that? It lacks class. Why would anyone do that? He’s got a good side, of course he has, but not for me thank you. I have no intention of speaking to him.”
We can’t wait to see what the second leg has in store next week at Lisbon.