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Day: May 21, 2008

The Champions League Final – Live!

Well, this is it. This is IMPORTANT. Everyone must pick a side. Blue or red. You must choose. It’s the biggest match in world football since 1966. In about four and half hours time, we will know who is the biggest football club in the world. Over fifty years after the European Cup started as the impertinent challenge by a handful of continental clubs to the proud boast of Wolverhampton Wanderers to being the best club in the world, we have finally reached the conclusion of what has been a fifty-two year long quest to establish once and for all who is the biggest and best of all, and by about 10.30 tonight at the absolute latest, we will know for sure. Actually, I’m starting to wonder who and where all these people that care so desperately actually are. They don’t appear to be the supporters of either club, since tickets sales appear to have been sluggish. I know enough football supporters to be able to say with a degree of confidence that any club worth its salt would be able to shift 21,000 tickets for a match of major importance anywhere in the world. Even if they have, eventually, sold out, how come Manchester United, a club with an average home attendance of 76,000, had any difficulties whatsoever shifting its allocation, even if the match is being played...

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The European Championships – 2004

Depending on who you ask, Greece’s victory at Euro 2004 was either a victory for the footballing romantic or a dour triumph of defensiveness over attacking flair. Greece, who had only ever qualified for the tournament once before, in 1980, arrived in Portugal with a pretty straightforward philosophy – we know our limitations and will play within them. As the other major footballing nations fell one by one, the Greeks kept on plugging away and suddenly, without many people even having noticed, they were on the winners podium at the Estadio De Luz in Lisbon, having snatched the title from under the noses of the hosts, Portugal. Stranger still, England turned up, played decent football and were unfortunate to get knocked out at the quarter-final stage. There were those that had doubted whether this tournament, coupled with the perceived English penchant for drinking in hot weather and starting fights, could pass off without trouble, but English football continued the partial rehabilitation that had started in 2002 – critics of English supporters now have to satisfy themselves with drawing on crude stereotypes of English behaviour than anything that they actually do now. The tournament started with a warning that no-one seemed to heed. Greece rushed into a 2-0 lead in Oporto against the hosts in the opening match and managed to hold on to a 2-1 win. The major disappointments...

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