Imagine cogent a Tottenham fan, a few months ago, that their aboriginal Champions League knockout bold would attending like this:
– No Harry Kane
– No Dele Alli
– No Kieran Trippier
– No Eric Dier
– Playing the delinquent Bundesliga leaders
– Four centre-backs and Moussa Sissoko in the starting XI
– Still at blood-soaked Wembley
Now The Warm-Up knows a few Spurs admirers adored with the allowance of optimism, but that hardly reads like a compound for success, does it? Throw in their group-stage cobweb (yes they fabricated it through, but not afore authoritative Luuk de Jong attending like Gabriel Batistuta), and the pessimist-realists ability accept been forgiven for animating for a car crash.
And yet actuality we are, basking in the afterglow of what charge go bottomward as one of Tottenham’s best European performances in contempo memory. The excuses were lined up like dominoes, but never got an airing as Borussia Dortmund were brushed aside.
Or rather beyond into oblivion, with all three Spurs goals advancing from assurance aerated in from advanced areas. Jan Vertonghen, buffalo-rampant from larboard wing-back, teed up the aboriginal for Heung-Min Son with a devilish delivery, afresh got on the end of Serge Aurier’s centre to bifold the advantage.
Dortmund, who had played analytic able-bodied in the aboriginal half, looked stunned. And their ache was circuitous in the closing moments, aback acclaimed stealth merchant Fernando Llorente was accustomed to apparition in and nod home from a corner. It was, apparently, his aboriginal anytime Tottenham ambition as a substitute. Better backward than never, amigo.
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Tie over, then? Not necessarily: Dortmund were missing key men and are added than able of affairs article appropriate out of the bag aback in Germany. But Tottenham themselves accept added Kane-flavoured apparatus to reach, and should be activity appealing acceptable about activity this morning.
Is there annihilation added grim, added asphyxiatingly inevitable, than Real Madrid in the Champions League? God, they’re like every baddie from every film, book and video bold you’ve anytime consumed, all formed into one and dressed up in Adidas.
Ajax accept been abundant fun in the Champions League this division and played able-bodied aftermost night. They hit the woodwork, absent chances, and had a ambition disqualified out by VAR – correctly, you’d accept to say, but that alone became axiomatic afterwards watching the adventure 70-odd times. “There to bolt the bright mistakes” and all that.
But obviously, in the end, Madrid did their thing. Backward winner, aphotic arts from Darth Ramos, job done. They’re activity to win it again, aren’t they?
The Warm-Up has never acquainted the charge to apprehend How to Win Friends and Influence People, but assumes there is at atomic a baby articulation committed to the affair of all-embracing football. A few curve would apparently suffice. “Don’t comedy for one country and afresh adjudge to comedy for one of their celebrated rivals,” or article forth those lines.
At which point, access Declan Rice, Republic of Ireland prodigy. Hang on, let me double-check these notes… ah, sorry, now England prodigy, afterwards the cessation of the slowest volte-face of the decade yesterday.
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“This has been an acutely difficult decision,” said the West Ham man. “I accept according account for both England and Ireland and accordingly the civic aggregation I accept to represent is not a clear-cut, simple selection. Ultimately, it is a claimed accommodation I accept fabricated with my affection and my head, based on what I accept is best for my future.”
Which is a abundant nicer way of saying, “Erm, I’m acceptable and Ireland are a bit crap” than The Warm-Up could anytime accept appear up with.
You apperceive the lads. You’ve apparent them on the aerial street. You know, aloof accomplished the blah exchange. Accomplishing their little jumps. The lads! Appear on, don’t pretend. You apperceive the lads. With their hats and handshakes. Oh, they’re aloof trouble. Always afraid up cans of airy pop and accomplishing wheelies. A annoyance to the village! The blood-soaked lads!
Able-bodied they’ve alone gone and done it this time. That adventure with the Asda trolley was one thing, but this is a accomplished new level. The lads. At the stadium. The lads with a adept plan and the goddamn stones to cull it off, straight-faced. They’re legends now. Living, breath myths.
Also: “S17SOKO”. Utmost account for aggressive with that one adjoin all prevailing logic.
Overdue acceptable account at Blackpool: majority buyer Owen Oyston is assuredly actuality crowbarred from the club. The Tangerines accept been put into receivership, and will be awash so Oyston – conceivably the creepiest-looking man this ancillary of The Silence of the Lambs – can pay off some of the £22million owed to Latvian broker Valeri Belokon.
A actual adored altogether to Kevin ‘Mighty Mouse’ Keegan. Here’s a nice little array of annal footage from aback he pitched up to administer Newcastle aback in 1992, complete with added chichi tracksuits and ambiguous haircuts than you could agitate a stick at:
And we are of advance accurately apprenticed to accommodate this, which charcoal the best bluster in Premier League history, bar none:
“If you adore Qatar’s Voldemort-like cachet in a clash they absolutely won, afresh you’d accept admired the Khaleej Times’s headline: Unlucky Japan lose AFC Asian Cup final. Japan fought until the aftermost second, this adaptation of contest lamented, and like a best side, dug abysmal to grab a absolute aftereffect but couldn’t succeed. Mmm. Array of like a best side, then. And array of a absolute result.”
That’s Marina Hyde on Gianni Infantino and Hakeem al-Araibi. And a belated advocacy of ESPN’s continued apprehend about Ajax’s dream factory, including interviews with Matthijs de Ligt and John Heitinga.
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Those able souls who sat through the Europa League accumulation date alpha to get their rewards tonight, with a last-32 annular that absolutely looks – y’know – semi-watchable. BATE vs Arsenal and Malmo vs Chelsea are the English concerns, and not abundant cop, but Celtic vs Valencia looks promising, as does Lazio vs Sevilla.
Tom Adams, the man who would be baron at Eurosport Towers, will be manning tomorrow’s Warm-Up.
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