Thursday, 9 June 2011

The best of times, the worst of times

With the sun just set on the European season, a chance to reflect on a whirlwind finish as leagues, cup competitions and play-offs came to their conclusion. Undoubtedly the climax and highlight was the UEFA Champions League final, bringing together two stand-out teams in Barcelona and Manchester United to decide the trophy at Wembley. The occasion provided a great match and a great winner in Barcelona. The Catalans were masterful, worthy of every superlative, and a cut above United. Yet despite their dominance, the game remained in the balance for some time. After the Spaniards have taken a deserved lead worthy of their superiority, Rooney stepped up with a superb equaliser to leave the contest level at the break. For an Aussie, it was another example of the great attraction of the code - had it been Aussie Rules, a half time score of Barcelona 11.7, Man Utd 3.2 would have been apt, with the game all over.

Come the second half, Barcelona did exert control and the 3-1 win left even the most one-eyed United fans conceding they had lost to the better team. Having sat through a few of these, the Catalans' dominance took me back to AC Milan's similar superiority with their Dutch trio of Rijkaard, Van Basten and Gullit leading the way some 20 years prior.

What a contrast therefore to witness just days later the calamitous standing of FIFA, with scandalous allegations merely confirming what most thought, that the peak body in world football is a corrupt and lamentable beast. Another blow for those promoting the game in Australia. The naysayers having a field day- not only is the game ruled by cheats at the bottom - the divers, the "simulation" merchants, but it's clearly ruled by cheats at the top!

The juxtaposition of the Champions League final with the ructions of Blatter and co just days later was quite maddening. I hope as the years roll on I'll just be left with memories of the former, a beautiful night in London where the red and blue stripes reigned supreme.