Sunday, 20 May 2012

Football and Me: a turbulent relationship

If anyone knows me well, they will know that I'm not a big fan of football. OK, I've seen a few games at Villa Park (my family are massive fans of Aston Villa) and get into the footie spirit come the World Cup/ Euros, but apart from that, I usually skip the football section of the newspaper and ignore the endless tweets during an all-important game.

But recently, my view on football has changed. It hit me when I started my Journalism degree last year that I can't take the negative view I usually have towards sport anymore. Anyone that works in the news industry knows that sport sells. Since the late 19th century and the dawn of 'New Journalism', editors have realised that sport appeals to a big proportion of the public, and therefore, coverage is important to a newspaper's success.

Football, unanimously, leads the sports pages. Plus, the majority of the guys on the course love football. Six of them even produce their own podcast, which is entertaining and engaging (it's certainly taught me a few things about the beautiful game!) This gives me more reasons to get into footie.

So yesterday, when I sat down with the guys, a can in one hand and popcorn in the other, some might have questioned why I would be so interested in watching the UEFA Champions League Final. I haven't seen any of the other games, in fact, I barely know anything about it.

But even if you don't know much about football, last night's final was one of those games which makes you appreciate the game a lot better.

Held at the Allianz Arena in Munich, home side Bayern Munich played English side Chelsea in a nail-biting, penalty-deciding game that had me on tenterhooks throughout the whole game.

Bayern were favourites from the start, and to be honest, dominated Chelsea throughout the game. If you look at the statistics, you'll see just how many more attempts at goal, corners and chances they had compared to Chelsea. They're fast and smooth, pushing the ball forward with ease as they pass the Chelsea defence.

It was not until the 83rd minute that Muller scored in a fantastic goal which looked like it was all over for Chelsea. Petr Cech, despite some excellent saves, missed the ball and Bayern took the lead.

But it wasn't all over. In fact, it had barely began. The thing with Chelsea is that they're lucky. It's usually not until the opposition has scored that they pull rank and fight back. And in true Chelsea fashion, they pulled back within 5 minutes with a fantastic goal by Drogba. 1-1.

But then, disaster strikes. Drogba makes a reckless tackle within the penalty box, receiving a yellow card and giving Bayern their chance to win. A penalty, with only a few minutes to go till full time. This must be it right?

Wrong. Cech, showing his skill and expertise at the game, saves the goal. Extra time! 30 more minutes of chances by Bayern result in nothing, Chelsea fail to make an attempt. Penalties.

This is it now. Decision time. For a boy who doesn't really like football, I have to admit I was overcome by adrenaline. I was sweating, sitting anxiously at the end of the bed. Could this be it for Chelsea? Could the home favourites Bayern win, or could our English side clinch it?

Chelsea got off to a bad start, missing their first penalty. Two/ three more chances, and Bayern were leading 1-0. Then Bayern missed their 4th try. If Chelsea get there 4th in, it's level. Ashley Cole, who played a fantastic game in defence, gets in the back of the net. Level.

Then, disaster strikes Bayern. Schweinsteiger cocks up his run up and makes a poor effort at goal, easily caught by Cech. Chelsea, leaving the best to last, bring in Drogba. This is it. If he gets it in the back of the net, they win.

And he did just that. Chelsea the UEFA Champions League champions! It's all over. Cheers fill our room, closely followed by cries from two of my friends who support Tottenham (Chelsea winning the cup means Tottenham won't be able to make the UEFA next season).

What I thought would be a dull, pointless game turned out to be a fantastic, action-packed evening that has made me change my mind about football. OK, so I'm not going to turn into a die-hard fan overnight, but it's certainly opened up my eyes to the beautiful game.

Pictures courtesy of Wikipedia

1 comment:

  1. I watched it at a really busy pub with a pint or two.
    I honestly didn't even realise it was on until I arrived.
    I ended up watching the game and I honestly thought it was SO exciting - I actually got into it.
    A bit embarrassing when the pub was almost silent and Ashley Cole appeared and I screeched, "I know who he is!! Why did he cheat on Cheryl?!" :(
    but still, I kinda get why people like it so much now!
    Rad blog, as always.