What Football Taught Us This Week (That Dragons Cannot)

May 10, 2019

 From fanfare over misplaced coffee cups, Ghost getting ghosted, tacky time travel tales, and all things zeitgeist in between, American eyes might have been glued to the wrong screens these past few weeks. Sure, we are holding out hope that Dany rains dragonfire on King's Landing and that there will be sixteen more Marvel movies in the next ten months, but during working hours just this week the beautiful game was carrying its own plot twists. In moments both big and small, glorious and heart-rending, through Tuesday and Thursday viewers remembered that old adage: football finds a way.

 

Here are some of the images that captured the week in soccer best.

 

Lucas Moura tips his hat late, scoring 3 for Tottenham as they overcame AJAX to reach the UEFA Champions League Final.

On the back of the Brazilian's three goals, Tottenham will enter the UEFA Champions League final for the first time in their club history, their best finish prior dating back to the 1961/62 season where they were semi-finalists. The performance not only lifted a club that was up against it from the start of the season—they spent zero money in the past two transfer windows to help pay for a new stadium that they didn't even get to play in until March (for comparison Manchester United spent 52 million on Fred); a rough run of matches that saw them face Manchester City three times in as many weeks just last month; not to mention sidelined striker Harry Kane—but it brought Lucas Moura to tears. The Sao Paulo prodigy who was mostly outcast at Paris Saint-Germain could hardly contain himself as the big moment caught up to him on Wednesday. See Lucas' post-match interview where he listens to Brazilian commentators capture his pinnacle goal on broadcast and you'll note a man who sees the sport as much larger than one goal or one club.

"The ball is in the box....Lucccaaaaas! Luccaaaaaas! With his heart!! He doesn't listen to his mind, but to his heart!!! Tottenham, Finalist, Historic!!! It had to be you, Lucaaaaas!!"

 

Lucas praised his hometown, his coach, his family, and teammates on the day.

Hazard says goodbye to the Bridge? Eden seals Chelsea into the Europa League final with his penalty kicks winner over Frankfurt.

Another less glamorous cup tie took place on Thursday, with your top leagues' sloppy-seconds getting a shot at the next-biggest title in Europe, and Belgium's Eden Hazard was front and center as the teams entered penalty kicks on a 3-3 aggregate at Stamford Bridge. Chelsea, much maligned for their underwhelming performances against big clubs this season in the Premier League, not to mention their shady practices off the pitch, had something left in the tank for the fans as the 18/19 campaign came to a close. Hazard has been strongly linked with the likes of Real Madrid (though who isn't?), yet saw fit to tuck his penalty away and clap off the pitch at Stamford one more time before the big unknown of summer signings. Chelsea play Arsenal in the UEFA Europa League final May 29th.

Fabinho hounds Messi in the Champions League Semi-Final at Anfield, Milner in tow.

 Liverpool's holding midfielder doesn't score goals, he just breaks up play. Much has been written of the rise of the modern Number 6, the player who is as important to unlocking a team's attacking width as he is to providing defensive shape, but not as much has been written on Fabinho, the man who rode Messi's back through much of Tuesday's semi-final match against Barcelona. His relentless work rate could only be overshadowed by the timing of his tackles as he held Messi, who brought Camp Nou to their feet with one of the goals of the year in the first leg, goalless in the second leg. Watch this potato quality video to see how how he shaped up against the world's biggest little man in the late minutes of the game. 

Liverpool's Mo Salah, Coach Jurgen Klopp, and Virgil Van Dijk chant with their fans after Tuesday's remontada versus Barcelona.

Too much happened in Tuesday's game to characterize it all here, but the image just about gets it: the best defender in the world right now, head bowed to the chants of Anfield; a jubilant coach, veneers glistening in the spring night; and an injured star player, sitting out for yet another Champions League match (remember last year with Sergio Ramos?) but still fit to emblazon on his chest a cliche made novel again: three goals down, top strikers out injured, facing the top attacking talents in the world—let's give it a go anyway! Liverpool play Tottenham on June 1 for the second all-England final in CL history. Do you know who was first?

 

 

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