Steven Gerrard Bids a Bittersweet Farewell to Chelsea and Stamford Bridge

The Chelsea fans showed respect for a couple of seconds for me, but slaughtered me all game so I’m not going to get drawn into wishing the Chelsea fans well.

It’s nice of them to turn up for once today. The standing ovation from a stadium is always nice, but what’s important to me is the Liverpool fans and they have been there since day one.

~ Steven Gerrard

Spoken like a true competitor and like a Red through and through.  And I think it’s great.  There was just the right amount of respect and disdain from both sides.  The Chelsea fans appreciate Gerrard and his commitment to Liverpool as well as his passion for the game.  But they aren’t about to give him a farewell tour and shower him with gifts a la Derek Jeter with the Yankees. They are Chelsea fans and while they admire him, they also don’t care for him or Liverpool. So they applaud him when he leaves the pitch as a sign of respect for his career, but howl at him while he’s on the pitch trying to score against their beloved Blues. A sense of humanity swept over the Chelsea faithful as they saw one of their favorite pantomime villains leave the stage for the last time.  I can only imagine that the loss of Gerrard will allow them to turn their animus to their own players as they seem to rule atop the Premier League without any clear rivals.

But not that Gerrard is bitter about the reception from the fans or would expect anything different.  He wasn’t looking for a warm reception, which is why he used the chance to get in one last jab at the Chelsea fans.  He wasn’t seduced by the applause as he left the field.  He thanked them for the kind gesture, but reminded them that they will always be second class to the fans at Anfield that have supported him from the beginning.

Messi, Barca Dominate Bayern

Messi did steal the show tonight, but it’s true that the entire Barcelona team should also be credited for the convincing win over Bayern Munich.  Right from the start Barcelona was pressuring and pestering Bayern all over the pitch. Bayern never looked comfortable and didn’t even have a shot on target all night.  Yes, Messi’s goals were brilliant, but it required the entire team to dismantle Bayern Munich like that.  Everyone knew Barcelona had been playing at top form, but Bayern was considered arguably the best club in the world coming into this game.  After tonight’s though, it’s clear who the best club in the world is right now.  And Messi is the unquestioned leader of that club.

Can Juventus Really Beat Real Madrid? Pirlo Says The Message Is Clear

We sent the message that we are here, we want this final and we’ll fight to the end in Madrid too.

Andrea Pirlo, 5 May 2015

Start taking them seriously. This is not a fluke. It’s not luck. It’s a well coached team with talented players who want to win.

Juventus just beat Real Madrid and will take a 2-1 lead to the Bernebeu. Juve’s manager, Massimiliano Allegri has overachieved this season in the Champions League. Domestically they dominated, but no one thought they’d make noise in Europe. He doesn’t see his team as an underdog playing with nothing to lose. He sees his team as a contender and he was right. It’s been hard to take Italian teams seriously in the Champions League because they haven’t made much noise (maybe we’ll be saying the same thing about English teams soon?), but Juventus are back and playing to win.

Real Madrid fans have to be a bit worried at this point about going out to Juventus. Real are the current title holders and a return trip to the final would be a major accomplishment considering the injuries and struggles that Real have had this year. Despite that, there are rumblings that Ancelotti will lose his job if he doesn’t get his team past Juventus. If that’s the case, expectations are too high at Real Madrid. The bare minimum seems to be win the league these days. Ancelotti can point to the Decima that he brought to Madrid and wonder why that’s not enough if they fail to beat Juventus.

The good news for Real is the away goal. That puts this tie on good terms as they simply need a single goal at home and a clean sheet to get to the Final.