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Spectacular nights in Lisbon

By Tony Afejuku
21 August 2020   |   3:55 am
Necessity is the mother of invention. This is a well-known English saying that has become globally popular since it entered global consciousness and lexicon aeons ago. No matter what we may think or say about it today or tomorrow the saying will never ever lose its power or force through over-use or over-exposure. The saying…

Paris Saint-Germain’s players leave the team hotel in Lisbon on August 20, 2020, days before the UEFA Champions League final football match between Bayern Munich and Paris Saint-Germain. LLUIS GENE / AFP

Necessity is the mother of invention. This is a well-known English saying that has become globally popular since it entered global consciousness and lexicon aeons ago. No matter what we may think or say about it today or tomorrow the saying will never ever lose its power or force through over-use or over-exposure. The saying never becomes trite from over-application. It will never become a cliché or a stereotype on account of its universal popularity with its billions of users in the different languages of the world in different regions and climes where it has been(and still being)employed to suit different ideas, actions and habits.

The organizers, managers and custodians of the 2020 UEFA Champions’ League in this 65th season of Europe’s top club football tournament have brought the ever-green saying to our consciousness, I mean to my consciousness again, without any complaint whatsoever from my end. Before now, and right from the previous 27 seasons when the tournament was re-christened from the European Champions’ Clubs’ Cup to its current name European Champions’ League, clubs played each other on a two-legged home-and-away format up to the final that was usually a one-legged one on a neutral venue. But on this 28th season since its renaming all the matches from the quarter-finals to the final were billed to take place in one-legged combats in neutral venues in a neutral city in a neutral country: Portugal and in the country’s football-crazy city of Lisbon, the capital and chief port of that country, in the southwest on what Portuguese and Europeans call the Tagus estuary.

The global pandemic ravaging everywhere caused UEFA organizers to re-think and re-invent their ideas and actions to save the tournament from the menacing clutches of COVID-19. As approved for the respective leagues in Europe by UEFA the clubs were to play all matches in empty stadiums, without spectators, from the quarters to the final. Estadio da Luz (home of Benfica) and Estadio Jose Alvalade (home of Sporting) were the two football venues that COVID-19 compelled UEFA to bring home to us the compelling necessity of this year’s historic matches that many football historians in years to come may call COVID-19-defeated games.

Well, I, on my part, have called what the UEFA organizers and guardians have done the necessity of invention – which actually is that invention is the conqueror of necessity. And how spectacularly have we seen this on display in Lisbon! All the nights of all the matches played were spectacularly spectacular nights of UEFA football in Lisbon that became Portugal’s capital since 1256.

On Friday, 14 August, 2020, mighty Bayern massacred and roasted equally mighty Barcelona in a fabulous manner of the fabulist of massacres that was good for supper. The Lisbon oven roasted very well Barcelona for Bayern. And Messi was mercilessly roasted in a manner that made him hate the delicious smell that we all television watchers of his roasting cherished. Robert Lewandowski, Muller, Serge Gnabry, Ivan Perisic, Leon Goretza, Joshua Kimmich, and Davies, the latest Bayern’s left back imported from Canada, were the fabulist’s creator of a coach, who coached them, to watch and admire. Believe it or not, Barcelona’s era of dominance is gone and gone forever. The 8-2 fabulous roasting of Barcelona in Lisbon’s spectacularly historic night has left Messi and company excessively and uncomfortably heated with unforgettable pains. That moment was not a moment of one-swallow-does-not-make-a-summer.

That night was a COVID-19 night that they would like to rub off their memories permanently. But they can’t and never will be able to do so. Interestingly, Quique Setien, the Barcelona coach, has been made the scapegoat. So the bosses and managers of Barcelona hate being roasted and being made mince-meat! What they did to others in the past decade, they now hate to experience themselves. Life does not go on always as they wish. There is always a time to lose; there is always a time for one massacre or the other to happen in the spectacular world of football. The spectacular night of 14 August, that spectacular night in Lisbon has announced and underscored this to Barcelona and Messi and Suarez and Pique and company. Their Barcelona time is finished. And they should learn to cope, how to cope with their Karma. Karma never fails. Messi in particular who has robbed CR7 of at least two global laurels that the latter would have since added to his lofty possessions must be told this. His powerful lobbyists and admirers had made it impossible for Ronaldo to suppress and surpass him in terms of the number of world titles each one has garnered. But that spectacular night in Lisbon has revealed all that were hidden about Messi before then. Disagree with me if you are courageous enough to dare to disagree with me, and I shall rubbish and massacre and roast you with facts – as Bayern sensational ball jugglers have just done to your idol and his followers.

What of Pep Guardola of Manchester City and his wards? They had their night of pain of pains in Lisbon on Saturday, 15 August, in Lisbon’s night that Lyon turned to their spectacularly buoyant night after the France Ligue 1 side gave the English club a bitter pill of defeat to chew and swallow. A great lad called Dembele, a great black lad, was the architect of the second quarter-finals victory that coach Rudi Garcia’s resilient squad won at the expense of Pep Guardola and his magnificent side that was magnificent-less in the night of 15 August that saw the English side bundled out in the Champions’ League quarters twice in a row. What a night of nights for both sides! And what a night of contest between two Spanish coaches!

I am writing this in the afternoon of Wednesday, 19 August. Bayern and Lyon would have clashed by the time you read this. It would be the first time for them to get to the final of the competition. But the German machine would be merciless, and dim the hope of the French under-dogs. But let’s take nothing for granted. What a night!

And the final on Sunday, 23 August will be another terrific and thrilling night – what will happen? Anything, I say. Neymar da Silva Santos Junior, Angel Di Maria, Kyrian Mbappe and the other French worthy warriors who are in the final for the first time ever will paint Estadioda Luz in the colours of football greats and greatness in another spectacularly thrilling and thrillingly spectacular Lisbon night. We can’t under-write how they rocked and rolled and rocked and rolled over beautifully stubborn Atalanta of Italy and RB Leipzig of Germany in the quarters and semis respectively. The coach of the champion of Ligue 1 of France is as confident as ever. In fact, Coach Thomas Tuchei strongly believes that Paris St. Germain (PSG) will write a new club history on Sunday, August 23 spectacularly historic moments and night of nights in Lisbon. What will really happen? Again, I say: ANYTHING! Yes, ANYTHING!
Afejuku can be reached via 08055213059