Words from my heart
There are two types of people in this world: those who understand the magnitude of the Champions League final and those who don’t. Jaime does, I don’t. Soccer confuses me. Not how the game is played—that’s simple enough to understand (except Law 11 which is best explained in Bend it Like Beckham’s picnic table scene: “The offside rule is when the French mustard has to be between the teriyaki sauce and the sea salt.”). No, soccer isn’t confusing because of how it’s played. It’s confusing because it never ends . . . ever.
Professional teams belong to leagues within national associations governed by the international federation known as FIFA. That translates to hundreds of games and countless tournaments that overlap on television all year long—like, one-team-playing-in-three-tournaments-at-the-same-time long! And then throw in aggregate scoring? Someone save me!
For those in my group, those who don’t understand the magnitude of the Champions League final, here’s what you need to know:
The Champions League (formerly the European Cup) . . .
This year’s finalists, Real Madrid and Atlético de Madrid, are from the same city and have been rivals for 100 year—it’s their first Champions League meeting. What does that mean? Today’s game will be HISTORIC! Read Raphael Minder’s New York Times article and begin to taste the magnitude.
Surprising though, Minder says Real and Atlético are “mostly friendly” and “lack bad blood.” Not bitter rivals? How is that possible? In our sports-crazed world, good sportsmanship can rot faster than a tomato in California’s Death Valley, so how refreshing to have finalists with good blood. But don’t misunderstand—there will be heat.
Real, the most successful team in the Champions League, has nine wins and wants ten. Atlético, runner up forty years ago, has no wins. However, as newly-crowned La Liga champions, momentum is in their favor and they’re ready to lift the Champions League trophy high toward heaven. With a coach like Diego Pablo Simeone, it can happen. His magic touch has turned several clubs into champions—he knows the key to success. After winning the league title last week, Simeone said:
“It’s the work, which we never bargained with. We always try not to be committed to any one [player] and I believe the team always understood this, made it their own and I honestly think that today will be one of the most important days in the Club’s history. Going away from Barcelona being champions . . . only joy.”
Only joy—such beautiful words. There’s nothing confusing about joy, and you don’t have to know a single thing about soccer to be inspired by Atlético’s story. They’ve built a reputation for knowing how to win and lose with class, so whatever happens Saturday, only joy.
It’s hard not to get excited about the 2014 Champions League final, even with my limited understanding. Because of Jaime, my children, and long list of soccer friends, I can say from my heart’s depth, the beautiful game brings me joy.
Image courtesy of Danilo Rizzuti / FreeDigitalPhotos.net