May 25, 2013, 5:52 PM EDT
I would love to have strapped an EKG monitor to fans of either side during the 2013 Champions League final between Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund.
It was exhausting from a neutral perspective; imagine what being a fan of that marathon would have been like?
And yet, that’s what we all hope and pray for – for the match to live up to the hype.
A game featuring two bitter German rivals, it had every storyline, every angle anyone could dream of. It was a media member’s salivary gland. It featured defection (Gotze), underdog (Dortmund), retirement (Heynckes), redemption (Bayern’s two previous losses), hometown loyalty (Lahm/Reus), past failures (Robben), validation (follow-up to the semifinals), and plenty more.
Almost always, a game with so much pre-match hype never lives up to the ridiculous expectations set by the public dissection of what will happen on and off the pitch.
Except this time, it didn’t. It did the impossible. Despite all the hype, it still made me turn off the TV and just go “…..whoa.”
The first half of the Champions League final was maybe the most bonkers 0-0 half of soccer you’ll ever watch. Neuer and Weidenfeller both made world-class saves. It had blasted shots, it had slicing passes, it had crunching tackles, it had face saves, it had Franck Ribery blood vessels.
The second half, though, was where it all came together. Or fell apart. Or made you want to take a nap. Depends on your point of view.
The second half featured shots, more shots (29 altogether in the match), penalties, goals that counted, goals that didn’t count, a goal-line clearance, an ankle stomp, a beautiful backheel assist, more angry Riberys, and a crying Arjen Robben.
That’s not even including the 89th minute goal that won the Champions League, erasing 3 years of personal and team heartbreak.
What saved the match from being a completely draining watch was the relatively good refereeing. The fact Dante wasn’t sent off after his kick to the groin of Marco Reus was a bit of a head-scratcher, but then again his first yellow card was quite soft, so it evened out. Otherwise, there can be hardly a complaint, which is wonderful to see in a game where refereeing is often at the forefront. Hats off to you, Nikola Rizzoli.
Robben said after the match, “It’s so many emotions.” We feel you, Arjen, we feel you.
Whatever your emotion, whatever your angle towards this match, one thing is for certain: you’re going to need some sleep.
Apr 18, 2014, 11:08 PM EDT
A trio of players have been charged in a match-fixing ring involving 17 first-division matches in the Austrian Bundesliga since 2004.
Apr 18, 2014, 10:22 PM EDT
Everton takes on Manchester United this weekend as the American shot-stopper hopes to save their Champions League dreams.
Apr 18, 2014, 9:09 PM EDT
The German manager says when he was brought in the players were afraid of his reputation, but that fear has long since dissipated.
Apr 18, 2014, 7:38 PM EDT
Stoke City are on a tear, but they have yet to truly figure things out away from the Britannia. Can Cardiff City capitalize on the Potters’ shaky away form for a second straight surprising result?
Apr 18, 2014, 6:53 PM EDT
Whether this new corruption allegation implicates Ricardo Teixeira with regards to the Qatar World Cup bid or his ties to Barcelona, it’s more bad news for the former president of the Brazilian Football Confederation.
Apr 18, 2014, 6:09 PM EDT
With the World Cup still over two years away, Tab Ramos is beginning preparation with North American-based players.
Apr 18, 2014, 5:24 PM EDT
Jose Mourinho has guided Chelsea to an astonishing nine straight clean sheets at Stamford Bridge. Can the bottom-dwelling Black Cats pull off an unforseeable upset?
Apr 18, 2014, 4:46 PM EDT
Following in the footsteps of Samir Nasri’s comments last month, Manchester City’s Ivorian believes being from Africa is preventing him from reaching the game’s individual pinnacles.
Apr 18, 2014, 4:23 PM EDT
With Chicago the draw specialists early on, can they beat New England on Saturday? Watch live on NBCSN, 4 p.m. ET:
Apr 18, 2014, 3:05 PM EDT
With the game played in Valencia’s Mestalla Stadium, the local law enforcement decided to have some fun…at Marc Bartra’s expense.
Apr 18, 2014, 2:30 PM EDT
Where and how to watch all the PL games during Week 35:
Apr 18, 2014, 1:57 PM EDT
Three Chelsea legends to sign on the dotted line?
Apr 18, 2014, 1:10 PM EDT
Can van Basten get the best out of Johannsson?
Apr 18, 2014, 12:25 PM EDT
U.S. national team head coach speaks out on Altidore, USMNT squad, American Outlaws and more:
Apr 18, 2014, 11:30 AM EDT
Spurs and Fulham set for derby scrap, with both team desperate for three points:
Apr 18, 2014, 10:27 AM EDT
Rooney and Fellaini fit to face their old team, as United aim to scupper Everton’s top four:
Apr 18, 2014, 9:13 AM EDT
Hammers’ youngster loses battle against cancer:
Apr 18, 2014, 8:23 AM EDT
Six nominees for PFA Player and Young Player of the Year award announced:
Apr 18, 2014, 7:51 AM EDT
Beckerman and Bradley; the perfect midfield combination for the USMNT?
Apr 17, 2014, 11:33 PM EDT
MLS’s nine-match Saturday kicks off Saturday at 4:00 p.m. ET, with Chicago hosting New England on NBCSN.
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