Welcome, welcome, wellllllllllllllllllcome everybody to the season’s final installment of Spursday soccer, and a hearty congratulations to Liverpool for making it this far in “that other continental competition”… never mind that you pooed your pants domestically this season, a win today and you can go home and tell mom it was a successful campaign – and more or less mean it – thanks to having secured a spot in the 2016-17 Champions League.
[Note: a recap of the rest of the EPL, which was written soon after my butthertedness had achieved heretofore unseen levels following Spurs’ implosion, can be found here]
And what better way to get PUMPED then the official anthem!
Awwwwwwwwwww yeah, who else is now ready to run through some damn brick walls?
Anybody? Nobody? Bueller? Never mind then, let’s just move on.
Europa. We in here talking about Europa. I mean, listen, we talking about Europa. Not a game! Not a game! Not a game. We’re talking about Europa. Not a game; not the game that I go out there and die for and watch every game like it’s my last, not the game, we’re talking about Europa, man. I mean, how silly is that? We’re talking about Europa. I know I’m supposed care, I know I’m supposed to lead by example, I know that. And I’m not shoving it aside like it don’t mean anything. I know it’s important. I do. I honestly do. But we’re talking about Europa, man. What are we talking about? Europa? We’re talking about Europa, man!
Yes, Allen, we are indeed. And do you know why? Because the winner of today’s game gets no-expenses-paid trip directly into next season’s Champions League, which means many millions of dollars in revenues and can be a HUGE trump card when trying to keep/lure a world class talent to your club over the summer.
How’d we get here? This is how the two clubs fared in the semifinals:
Now for the big’un (relatively speaking)…
PICK OF THE DAY
First of all, these odds are more questionable than Portnoy’s self-professed height. Sure, Liverpool spanked Villarreal in the semis, but guess what? EVERYBODY has taken a turn having their way with the Yellow Submarine over the past month. No seriously, take a quick look at their results:
Two wins and five losses in a month is not a great look. So point being, keep that in mind when judging how good Liverpool looked in that 3-0 win at home in the second leg. And the thought that Sevilla would be such underdogs strikes me as silly. Almost silly enough for me to pick the Spanish club to win on principle – almost.
[Note: NEW RULE! If Sevilla wins today the entire competition, which they will have won three years in a row, should be renamed after them.]
On the other hand, to be fair, Sevilla’s recent form suggests the club packed it in domestically a long time ago and has set its sights exclusively on Europa League “glory”.
As for the game itself, there are some important injuries to be mindful of on the Liverpool side, particularly Divock Origi and Jordan Henderson who would be massive additions but are coming off injuries and seem unlikely to feature in the starting XI. Sevilla is relatively healthy.
If there is one matchup that could be a real serious problem for the English side it is Kevin Gameiro – he’s rull gud – against Kolo Toure. Klopp better use some of his magic to figure out a way of avoiding that situation as much as possible.
Prediction: my guess is that – after an initial feeling-out period – this will be the antithesis of the initial legs of the semifinals where clubs all sat back and bored fans half to death. If you want some specific bets, I love both teams to score, including goals for Gamero and Sturridge individually, but as far as the “final” score I’m going out on a limb and saying 2-2 draw in regulation, with Liverpool eventually lifting the trophy after penalty shots.
Also! Lest I forget, we got some midweek MLS action on the docket. Chicago Fire came out hot like… well… something hot this season (or the exact opposite – whevs), but may be catching the Red Bulls at the right time as they could be distracted by this weekend’s tilt against NYCFC in the time-honored Hudson River Derby.
Friendly reminder: we got cup finals, we got Champions League, we got Copa and USMNT, we got the Euros… so for those of you looking forward to a break from me – sorry in advance.
Sam U.L. Army