Rog looks ahead to Saturday’s epic Battle of Winterfell reenactment.
I write with fingers a-tingle after a Europa League Final that filled the world with Chelsea’s Bakutastic glory. The whole affair was a little tawdry. The lack of thought that went into it seemed to be a perverse attempt to prove CONCACAF is not a place but a frame of mind. Eden Hazard departs a winner, however. Maurizio Sarri most probably leaves unloved and misunderstood. The only way it could get worse for Arsenal would be if these 5 words are spoken on Saturday, "Tottenham Hotspur: Champions of Europe."
And well they might, as the Europa League was merely the undercard for Saturday’s epic Battle of Winterfell reenactment in the Champiooooons League Final between Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur [3 p.m. ET on Univision and TNT]. Two of the most aspirational nearly-nearly teams in British football, both of whom miraculously survived semifinal journeys that would have sunk all others. And that includes Hercules, Indiana Jones, and Dora The Explorer.
The news in the run-up to kick-off in Madrid has been almost exclusively positive. Bobby Firmino has shaken off a groin strain and will bring his primo-dental wattage to the game’s biggest stage. All those Horse Placenta Milk Shakes Harry Kane has guzzled have also paid off. He will be available to fling his body against American Fans’ Premier League Player of the Season Virgil Van Dijk if needed, defying medical science and the ligament damage that has sidelined him since April.
The game will ultimately be a test of two deeply motivational man managers' tactical acumen and their teams’ will. Jurgen Klopp’s squad will play with fury down the flanks, carrying the wound of last season’s final defeat, courtesy of a Sergio Ramos arm bar TKO to Mo Salah. Their hunger will be augmented by the frustration of being pipped to the Premier League title by A.I.’s Manchester City, despite losing just once all season.
Mauricio Pochettino will milk the motivation that his players -- who have faced up to a grinding season with an unreplenished squad -- could now lift the biggest title of all. To do so would shatter the stereotypical notion that Tottenham are a team who raise collective hopes only to shatter them cruelly, changing the very DNA of the club, and the Pochettino project.
The stakes could not be higher. The storylines more humanly intense. We have joked this game is as if the Super Bowl and Game of Thrones finale commingled to spawn a bastard offspring of Hype. And we are only half-kidding. I have to favor Liverpool who have lived through this circus 12 months before, but I never bet against any team that fields human joy incarnate, Heung Min Son, and have to believe he will be the difference maker.
We will preview the match further in our Champions League Final Preview, Presented by Jagermeister, which will launch on our social channels this afternoon.
BOSTON, we are headed your way for a Post-Champions League Final Live Show Special… Special… Special… in which we’ll provide Instant Reaction to the best European Final since this THIS ONE. We’ll also look ahead to the Women’s World Cup. TICKETS ARE AVAILABLE HERE. And we’ll be raising a drink post-show at Lir on Boylston Street. Come and be with us.
Talking of the World Cup, it is now just eight days away. And we have a glut of USWNT content coming your way. Our American Legend Series, presented by Budweiser includes Pods and digital videos with Alex Morgan, Crystal Dunn, Lindsey Horan and Megan Rapinoe as they prepare to do battle in France. All American Legend Series content will be available on THIS PAGE leading up to the tournament.
The day the USWNT kicks off that campaign, Tuesday, June 11, this suboptimal circus will be in the spiritual home of women’s football in this country, PORTLAND, Oregon for a special Live Show with the Thorns and GFOP Meghan Klingenberg. TICKETS ARE AVAILABLE HERE.
Philadelphia, Kansas City and Nashville, we’ll also be in your magical cities this summer. Information and tickets for Men in Blazers Football’s Coming Home Summer Tour are available HERE. Additional dates are still being added, so standby, we may yet bring Crap to your backyard.