It must have been a real torture for Liverpool fans watching the Champions League final against Real Madrid. In the end, it was a triumph of football artistry and experience over grit and relentless determination.
After the first 10 minutes when it looked like Liverpool would overwhelm Real Madrid with their characteristic high-pressing game, the match settled into an unexpectedly one-sided affair. The Galacticos patiently stroked the ball around. The ‘Reds’ chased shadows.
No matter how hard Liverpool chased and tried to force Madrid into making mistakes in possession, it didn’t work. The men from Spain kept the ball calmly, passed it around confidently knowing they had all night to do a job.
They had done it successfully in the last two years, this felt like just another day in the office for them.
By the time the first goal arrived in the 51st minute, it wasn’t a tribute to Madrid’s brilliance or dominance. It came instead from stupid error from the Liverpool goalkeeper, Karius, and guile from Kareem Benzema.
After getting hold of a high through ball that had too much pace on it for the Madrid striker to catch, Karius attempt to release the ball quickly to a teammate ended in a spectacular cockup.
Benzema stuck out his foot to prevent the pass. He got lucky. The released ball struck his foot and bounded into an open net. 1-0 to Madrid.
Things would get even worse for Karius. It just wasn’t going to be his night.
His name would feature more prominently in any review of this match even more than Cristiano Ronaldo and Mohamed Salah, the two players expected to light up the night with goals and dazzling skills.
The goal seemed to wake Liverpool up from a stupor. They charged forward. The crowd roared them on. It was the Liverpool everybody had come to see.
And the equalizer came 4 minutes later. Dejan Lovren rose high above his marker to head a corner back across goal. Sadio Mane reacted fastest to poke the ball in from close range. Keylor Navas, the Madrid keeper, didn’t stand a chance. 1-1
And it was game on. Or so the watching world thought. Real Madrid shrugged off the disappointment of allowing Liverpool to level so soon.
They reestablished their stranglehold on the game. And this time they didn’t let go until the match was well and truly over
If Jürgen Klopp, the Liverpool coach, had a strategy for this match, his lineup did not reveal it. He stated with his preferred first eleven with Wijnaldum taking the place of the injured Oxlade-Chamberlain.
Zinedine Zidane, surprisingly, opted to use Isco as part of his front three instead of either Bale or Asensio. His intent was clear.
He wanted his team to keep the ball away from the opponents with possession. A style reminiscence of the 2009 champion league final between Barcelona and Manchester United.
Barcelona defeated United while hugging the ball throughout the contest; effectively neutralizing United’s threat. It was a completely one-sided match as Barcelona ran away 2-0 winners on the night.
In the end, though, it wasn’t Isco’s trickery on the ball that settled the game.
Before the game, Liverpool knew Real Madrid could hurt them from the bench. And so it proved.
In came Bale for Isco in the 61st minute. 3 minutes later he scored a goal that would surely rank alongside Zinedine Zidane’s goal in the 2002 Champions League final as the best Champions League final goal.
It was an overhead bicycle kick similar to Ronaldo’s in the semi-final against Juventus in Turin. But this was better because it was at a bigger stage. 2-1 Real Madrid.
That is the kind of goal borne out of supreme confidence in one’s ability and physical fitness.
And in the 83rd minute, Karius featured prominently again as he allowed Bale’s direct shot from outside the area to slip through his gloves into the net behind him. 3-1 game over.
All neutral fans would agree Madrid deserved the win. They proved once again they were the kings of Europe. The Champions League trophy is why the club spends so much money on only the most outstanding talents.
1. Did Sergio Ramos intentionally injure Mohamed Satan’s shoulders to cancel out Liverpool’s biggest threat? You can’t put that pass Ramos. He knows all the dirty tricks in the world.
If that was the plan, it worked brilliantly. Salah had to leave the game after half an hour. Could his presence have made any difference to the final result?
That is one question we would never have an answer to.
2. Cristiano Ronaldo, in the absence of Salah, failed to shine like he did in the last two finals. By his standards, he was anonymous.
He has now failed to score in three consecutive Champions League matches. Worrying streak.
3. Was this Ronaldo’s and Bale’s last match for Real Madrid?
Their post-match interviews seemed to imply that. Bale talked about wanting to play regularly, something that was rare for him this season.
Ronaldo, on the other hand, talked about his performances in the past tense. As if his future, already decided, was a different club.
All EPL New Rules For The 2019/2020 Season
The International Football Association Board, IFAB, has affirmed English Premier League, EPL new rules and changes for the 2019/2020 season. The new principles would influence the Freekicks, Handball, Substitution, Drop ball and cards for coaches, NIGERIA NEWS reports.
The Video Aide Ref popularly known as VAR would so be implemented by next season in the English Premier League, EPL. The aforementioned areas where there would be new implementation would surely have a great effect in the league.
EPL New Rules Ahead 2019/2020 Season…
The rule that would be implemented under this is that there would be no chance given to any players to waste time on the pitch anymore, as substituted players would have to leave the pitch at the closest side of the pitch and card may probably be awarded for wasting time.
The Goalkeepers would, therefore, have to have a foot put on the line and would not be allowed to touch the goal posts before the shoot out of the penalty kicks. In this manner, no Goalkeeper would be able to exploit any chance to avert an opportunity to lead.
The coach would also have to be carded by the Referee in a similar as players were being carded during a match. Both yellow and red cards would also be applicable to coaches as well as starting from next season.
- The goal would be denied if the ball actually strikes any player’s hand during the development to have a goal.
- If any player should make any favourable moves in handling the ball outside the penalty kickbox, even if it regarded unintentional, freekicks would be awarded.
- The IFAB dispose of ‘manufactured’ restarts if there be any drop balls.
The IFAB make it clear that:
“The current dropped ball procedure often leads to a ‘manufactured’ restart which is ‘exploited’ unfairly or an aggressive confrontation.
“Returning the ball to the team that last played it restores what was ‘lost’ when play was stopped, except in the penalty area where it is simpler to return the ball to the goalkeeper.
“To prevent that team gaining an unfair advantage, all players of both teams, except the player receiving the ball, must be at least 4m (4.5 yds) away.”
VIDEO: AFCON Mascot pictures and full details
African Cup of Nations, AFCON 2019 organisers on Sunday shows the world the 2019 Mascot with video obtained by this online medium of Facebook
The video was posted on the official account of the football team of the continent a few hours ago as they unveil the 2019 AFCON Mascot in video on Youtube
The Organizing Committee of the 2019 African Cup of Nations has revealed the AFCON 2019 Mascot; The child “Tut” followed by the Pharaoh King Tutankhamun.
The competition for the AFCON 2019 is to start by June 21, about a month from today
The competition will see 24 countries for the first time competing for the cup against
NIGERIA NEWS reports that Cameroon who was initially tipped to hold the competition lost it to Egypt as a result of lack of enough preparation when the supervision officers went for an inspection early January
Earlier, Eypyt and South Africa were considered for the competition but Mohammed Salah country won the bid
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