In the FA Cup, they call it the “Magic” of the Cup. In NCAA basketball, they call it March “Madness”. I’m not sure what they call it over at UEFA, but whatever sorcery’s going on in the Champions League these days cannot be explained just by the usual “anything can happen in single-elimination tournaments” cliche.
To be clear, it’s definitely something wicked that’s at work as we’re faced with the daunting task of watching a Champions League final between Liverpool and Spurs.
But hopefully all its energies have now been spent, and we can enjoy a straightforward second-leg win over Eintracht Frankfurt after last week’s 1-1 away first leg draw.
On a personal note, in addition to the football drama/tragedies this week, I’ve had two (TWO!) cars break down on me in the span of 12 hours, got swamped at work due to unreasonable deadlines, and I was also told that I tore my ACL and will need surgery and a year of rehab ... and that’s all before we’ve even gotten to Thursday, which, as we know, is the worst day. (Be sure to follow me on Twitter for other such riveting and on-brand content as that!)
So, come on, Chelsea! Need this.
Date / Time: Thursday, May 9, 2019, 20:00 BST; 3pm EDT; 12:30am IST (next day)
Venue: Stamford Bridge, SW6
Referee: Ovidiu Hategan — who? (First Chelsea game for the 38-year-old from Romania, who was also in charge of Frankfurt’s 1-0 away win against Inter Milan in the Round of 16.)
Forecast: Cool and rainy
On TV: BT Sport 3 (UK); Univision Deportes (USA); SONY TEN (India); elsewhere
Streaming online: BT Sport Live (UK); B/R Live (USA); SONY LIV (India)
Chelsea team news: Chelsea’s final home game of the season, and possibly the last home game for Eden Hazard — not to mention the players whose contracts are actually expiring next month, like Olivier Giroud, David Luiz, and a few others.
The Blues set a new competition record with a 16th match unbeaten in a row with the 1-1 in teh first, dating back to the 2012-13 semifinals, but none of that will matter if we don’t finish the job. That task has been made even tougher by losing N’Golo Kante to a hamstring injury — he joins Antonio Rudiger and Callum Hudson-Odoi on the sidelines.
On the plus side, Chelsea did secure a top-four finish over the weekend and guaranteed Champions League football next season, but we’re here for winning trophies first and foremost, and this final is not only achievable, it’s must-have-able.
Eintracht Frankfurt: Ante Rebic returns from suspension to join Europe’s most wanted, Luka Jovic in attack. The visitors know they need to score and are certainly capable of doing so. That said, they were absolutely destroyed over the weekend, losing 6-1 to Bayer Leverkusen — and you thought our European hangovers were bad! — to get drawn right back into the Bundesliga’s top-four race (teams currently placed 4-8 are separated by just three points with two games to play)!
Incidentally, with Arsenal holding a 3-1 first leg lead in the other semifinal, should Chelsea finish the job here, we could set up all-Premier League finals in both of Europe’s biggest competitions!
Previously: The game was one thing, but the fans were something else.