It all started with those damned unbeatable weapons. Two sides in possession of these, each growing to fear the other and rearming themselves continuously because they just couldn’t afford to fall behind the other. Others falling entirely under the shadow of these two behemoths and left in the wayside as it almost began to feel unthinkable that either side could actually even begin to fight and win the war. Two unshakeable philosophies dictating how “it should be done”, leaving friends and families torn apart on both sides of the divide. Your opinion became dangerous to state even, depending on the company you were presently in.
No, not the actual cold war. I’m talking about football in the last decade and the never ending Messi-Ronaldo debate.
Kind of ironic that we go back to Russia isn’t it? But on a cold night in Moscow in 2008, Cristiano Ronaldo powered United ahead and after a lot of drama, wrapped up the Champions League title. At that time, Messi and Ronaldo were already among the world’s best players but what was frightening was that there was so much talent at such a young age that honestly everyone thought the sky was the limit.
Huh. How wrong we were. The sky it seems. These two left that far behind on their way to becoming the greatest stars the world has ever seen. We will never see their like again. What could possibly top this? Year in year out they constantly smashed records, scoring goals and racking up trophies like never seen before. If the atom bombs brought on a level of fear that no weapon in history had ever done, then surely these two fall in the same category. It almost didn’t seem fair if one side had one of these two on their team. Just ask FIFA players 😛
And so over the past years it’s reached a point where the best players in the world simply wanted to either join Madrid or Barca to leave their mark on this war. Ozil and Khedira light up the 2010 World Cup? Snapped up by Madrid. Suarez goes on a tear and brings Liverpool on the brink of the title? Soon presented at the Nou Camp. James Rodriguez, Gareth Bale, Neymar, Isco – suddenly it was as if any player that outdid himself almost had to choose between Barca and Madrid. There was no real alternative. Eden Hazard has been courted for years, Griezmann too. It felt like there was a new class above that the world’s best strived for.
I know Bayern put up a real fight but that’s really testament to how the well oiled German machine has managed to keep up against all odds. But it’s been so many Champions League semi final defeats in a row that both Guardiola, Ancelloti and now even Heynckes have come and gone without that elusive prize.
Just as the 80s rolled around and apathy towards both sides began to grow, now we see new names cropping up. Arguments of aging are continuously dispelled year on out. But big money moves are now headed elsewhere. Specs of light passing through as gaps in the curtain emerge. Pope John Paul II visited Warsaw and brought about a passionate wave of sentiment spurring on Lech Walesa and others to break apart from the two camps. Simeone and Allegri have masterminded triumphs and their cults have begun to grow. But that one decisive blow still seems missing.
The Wall is yet to fall. Which brings me to tonight and why this piece goes out tonight. Mo Salah and Jurgen Klopp have captured the imagination of the whole world. Never before has a player had a season to rival the big boys and lead his team all the way to the Final. There is the chance for some magic to happen tonight and legends to be made. As the age of Rock and Roll came up as a result of uncontrollable thoughts and feelings which ultimately ended the war, perhaps Heavy Metal football could make a serious dent in this one.
Am I a Liverpool fan? No. But do I want them to win? Yes. Why? It’s time to see some change around the footballing landscape. Would one victory make that much of a difference in the grand scheme of things? You can’t really say. Probably not. I mean even Chelsea sneaked a title win in between somehow. But it’s not the same. This isn’t an approach that ends with Ryan Bertrand on the wing. Yes they won, but at what cost. Watching Liverpool play this season, you can’t help but smile. They really have got the neutrals behind them this time. They have that devil may care attitude that keeps you invested, if nothing else to see if they either score five or concede four. A breath of fresh air if there ever was one. No one is winning this debate. Let’s all just move on shall we?
But you could have said the same of Griezmann and Athletico in 2016 too right? They took Madrid all the way to penalties but at the end of the day, they lost. As much as it hurts, as much as it stings, they did lose. So while a loss today wouldn’t be the end of the world for Liverpool, a win leaves the chance open for a more uncertain, a more exciting tomorrow.
Even if it doesn’t happen today, it’s coming. The Winds of Change are in flow.
And remember there’s a World Cup coming so wouldn’t it be a nice way to cap the domination back in Russia where it all began.
Whoever wins today, history beckons.