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We felt like we belonged in the Champions League
First up, credit to Atletico. They dealt with everything we threw at them incredibly well, and ultimately demonstrated that they are a much better team than us. They were the worthy winners over 2 legs and I hope they go on to win it. They got their away goal, which is what they came for, and were happy to sit back and defend it after that. Very impressive team to watch.
For all that though, it felt like we ran them close. What a second half for Leicester, we made a real go of it. I’ve said from day 1 that I just wanted to see us exit the competition swinging – no complaints here at all, they’ve done us proud. For spells in that second half this was a Leicester team, who don’t really belong anywhere near this completion, battering an Atletico team who clearly do belong in the final 4 of Europe’s elite.
I think, to go through, we would need to be on point and need a good slice of fortune. Unfortunately it wasn’t to be. The first leg could have been a different story if their questionable penalty wasn’t given, or the Mahrez questionable penalty shout was. We got a slice of luck last night with them not being given a penalty that probably should have been, but didn’t get the breaks we needed at the other end, firing just over or into Atletico players when we needed to score. This is not me trying to claim we were hard done by, because I think the better team won, but the fact we can speak of fine margins shows that we gave them a game. This was no 10-2 rout.
Best of all, there was a 15 minute period where little Leicester made us believe that, just possibly, all the tactical might of Atletico could have been undone by some classic route one ‘pump it into the mixer’ football.
As was pointed out in the pre-game chat, two years ago we were at the beginning of our great escape run. Is there any club out there who has experienced anything like our fans have over the past two years? Ridiculous.
Ben (What’s next in the Leicester adventure?), LCFC
Leicester really should be proud
They should hold their heads up. They lost narrowly to a very, very good side, one almost certainly better than any to be found within these shores. They did not sulk about the paucity of their signings during the transfer window, they did not grumble about mental strength nor did they suggest the referee went into an incorrect dressing room. They played hard. They tried their best. They lost. And in doing so they fulfilled the demands that I recall every childhood coach I can remember laying on their players, that to lose if you give it everything you have is no disgrace.
The best team in England last year, the best English team in Europe this one. That really isn’t all that bad is it.
…And so it ends. And we are back to being good old Leicester City again. What a ride, how incredibly lucky I feel to have experienced that and, yet, how I wish it was still going on and into the semi finals for more fun and games on a rollercoaster we are unlikely to ever experience again.
A word on Atletico Madrid. When the draw was held (and how surreal it was that Leicester were in such company on that day) everyone was excited no matter who we got. I remember feeling at the time that we wanted anyone but Atletico. Not only had we played them before in our rare European excursions but they were, ultimately, the one team who couldn’t fall into our trap, simply because they did it better than us. And so it proved. I would love to have pitted our wits against aBarca or Real. Who knows what may have happened.
Whilst I was giving Simone the evils every time his black suited figure filled my screen I really hope they go onto win it. What a magnificent team. Such game management, tactics and fight. We put them under unbelievable pressure in the second half, the sort of pressure that would kill most teams, but who held firm in relative comfort? Who has gone through to the semis?
A tiny point amongst many but it is worth noting that at no point in the first half did they give away a thrown in on our left hand side in Fuchs territory. They did their utmost to keep the ball in play rather than give us that set piece pressure situation. And that is why they are the ultimate team.
Thank you Leicester City. Thank you for an utterly spellbinding adventure over the last three years from promotion, the Great Escape, the miracle of Don Claudio and now the European Tour. What fun and japes we have had. Please let us do this again one day…..
Rob (what will we do with our midweek evenings now?), Leicester
Football is murky. Or some officials are baaad.
So, we add a dodgy sending off and two offside goals to the Barcelona ref inspired “miracle” and we are supposed to believe that UEFA doesn’t influence games or play favourites. Cow Manure
Andrew Brown, Thailand
Was this the worst refereeing performance of all time?
I’m sure there are worse examples of this, but this has got to be right up there. The entire result of a tie turned completely on it’s head by the incompetence of the officials.
– Casemiro staying on the pitch is probably not the worst decision, taken by itself it can be explained by the referee not wanting to make a harsh decision. But when viewed alongside the
– Vidal decision, it just sticks out like a boner in spandex pants. Vidal does not commit a foul, as fair a challenge as you’ll see, and clearly the referee does not see it. If he’s not sure, how can he make that decision? It’s inexcusable.
– And the lack of an offside call for Ronaldo’s second. He’s a yard offside for god’s sake, and nobody is running when the ball is played. I know offside calls are hard in general but that’s got to be one of the easy ones. The goal snuffs out the last light in the tunnel for Bayern and it all falls apart.
Refereeing errors happen in any game, and even though this is the showpiece event for UEFA and we should expect better, I’m all for accepting that sometimes this sh*t can’t be helped…..IF we would see FIFA/UEFA at least try to learn from these instances.
No other major sport in the world has been as slow to adopt technology to improve the quality of refereeing. Instead of trying to learn from and fix these issues, the governing bodies bury their heads in the sand and go all out to not antagonise the referees. How do you even drive better refereeing performances when you’re not ready to question as poor a performance as that?
Ankur Ghosh, AFC (Tuned in hoping to laugh at Bayern limping out, ended up in their corner)
A wonderful email on Brighton
I’d just like to write in with a word about Brighton’s promotion to the Premier League on Monday. It’s been a hell of a couple of years for us on the pitch, and I think the magnitude of this achievement will take a while to sink in.
In a way, I’d say that the most impressive aspect of it is how the players have recovered from a very cruel collapse at the tail-end of last season. At times, last season felt like it was ‘our chance’ – mostly due to the utter balls that preceded it (thanks Sami Hyypia) – and when we failed to take it I really did worry for us, given the strength of some of the Premier League teams that came down.
I’ve found this season much more stressful, because there has been a lot more expectation. It’s really quite amazing how literally every single one of our players that were with us last year have improved significantly on already high performance levels. New boys Duffy and Murray have been huge in stature and significance.
It also has to be said that Chris Hughton has cemented his position as one of our all-time greats. Frankly, they should erect a statue tomorrow, hopefully one that bears some resemblance… He is classy, intelligent, polite, meticulous, committed, and our boys are just so motivated to play for him. We love him.
However, not everyone loves us. What seems to get bandied around with most newcomers to the modern PL is the ‘look where they’ve come from’ narrative, and the fact that we nearly went out of business 20 years ago is probably not lost on many people with any interest in football. And it is true, to be fair. I started supporting the Albion in our penultimate year at the Goldstone ground, and the ensuing 14-year struggle to get our own stadium was not easy.
However, it did foster a real sense of togetherness within the club, and, weird as it may sound, having unity against a common cause (Archer and Bellotti/the various forces that attempted to delay the stadium process) is ultimately a good thing. We tended to do quite well on the pitch in these years and to be honest even some of the protests/marches were quite fun. Whilst staggeringly unfit for purpose, we do have some fond memories from our time at Withdean.
Nowadays, there is a slightly different perception of the club, one that suggests that due to its rapid evolution and ’sanitisation’, it is now merely a shiny, local version of Chelsea. It’s not exactly a secret that not long ago we were playing in front of crowds of 7,000 and now we have 30,000 season ticket holders. It’s not a secret that Brighton is a city with a reasonable middle class contingent, many of which are able to pay a VAT-free, monthly amount to watch decent football in a great stadium.
It’s not a secret that we have more money than we used to. The temptation to resort to inverse snobbery and downplay our achievement in some way is pretty strong. However, what we’ve done and what we’ve achieved is simply what the modern game demands. You need money and you need fans. We’ve accumulated both and things are now looking pretty good. At home games my general feeling in terms of comparing it to how it used to be tends to be more along the lines of ‘wowzers, having a packed stadium is really quite cool’, rather than ‘how many of these JCLs were at Carlisle away with me 16 years ago?’
Monday was probably the best day of my life (I know, what a time I’ve had..) and to celebrate promotion with my family and our wonderful team on the pitch, on the trains and in the town centre was really very special. I still can’t quite believe I’m saying this, but we are on our way to the Premier League. See you there and I would like to complain in advance for the lack of coverage we will receive.
Ed, BHAFC (Whoever stripped Lewis Dunk of his shorts is a filthy swine)
Thank you, JT
I was amazed to see nothing in the mailbox about the John Terry leaving Chelsea. For such a divisive figure I was expecting something from both his detractors and fans.
As a Chelsea fan I think he damaged his rep slightly with the way he played on emotions to get a new contract. His comments on how he openly flirted with City to get a new deal in the past also didn’t help.
Nevertheless he will go down as our greatest player, and deservedly so. His reading of the game is nothing short of miraculous, and I’ve never seen anyone organising a back line better. I’m sure others will disagree but I believe he’s been the best defender in the Premier League era.
In years to come I think his unsavoury characteristics will be forgotten and he’ll remembered as he rightly should; a captain, a leader a legend.
A Bournemouth fan reviews Wilshere’s spell
Wilshere’s season is done. And after the initial optimism (mine included) I’m not so sure anyone has benefitted massively.
When he arrived at the end of the summer there was a real feeling among the Bournemouth fans that he would be the player to really dominate games. The early-season cameos reinforced this, and when he started playing full 90s in the autumn we all felt those performances weren’t far away. But it took until just before Christmas for the first assist to come, and despite hitting the woodwork a fair bit early on he has never really looked like scoring much himself.
His best game was probably Leicester at home in December, the only game where he played in the deepest midfielder role. Against the stronger teams Eddie Howe has preferred the energy of Gosling and (when fit) Surman in that role, so we haven’t seen him there since. That has to be on Howe, although apparently he himself prefers the ‘10’ role.
Since new year, Bournemouth’s questionable defending has often left us in the position of needing goals against teams happy to sit back and defend leads. There’s still a real frisson of excitement amongst an element of our support when he gets the ball, but 35 yards out with four defenders surrounding you are challenging odds for anyone.
Or there are games like Tottenham away on Saturday where we were never in the game and their press (especially the excellent Dembele, who ran the game) meant our midfielders had no time on the ball.
One final thought on his role in the team – Fraser’s introduction against Liverpool in December marked a bit of a turning point in the team’s attacking direction. For the first time here was a player happy to run at defenders with the ball at pace. This in contrast to channel or long balls for Wilson. Fraser has been much more of an outlet since then, so sometimes the rest of the midfield gets passed by.
Away from the pitch apparently he has been terrific. He and Afobe did a signing for the Junior Cherries last week, my wife took our son up there and said they were both fantastic despite the long queues. And all the other players, especially Arter, have been keen to stress his impact on the squad.
But in the long term, what next? This injury might knock his value down a bit, so Bournemouth could be in the market. But is he going to want to take the wage cut and more lower-middle PL slog (at best – Middlesbrough H and Sunderland A are our next two matches and crucial)? I doubt it. There was talk that Howe’s management of Wilshere was to be part of his audition for the Arsenal job but that seems unlikely now. Back to Arsenal seems to benefit no-one, the last thing they need is another return to the past. Everton maybe?
In summary – a great idea, good memories, Bournemouth fans love him (sold an awful lot of shirts), just not quite what it could have been. But that’s not all on him, expecting him to turn a game single-handedly when you’re 2-1 down away at West Brom having gifted two easy goals is not realistic.
Andy J, Bournemouth
I’m getting the same f**king adverts, believe me
Big thanks to Daniel Storey for the Hall of Shame piece.
I’m now the subject of a vicious retargeting campaign with a hideous Man City floral T-shirt following me around the internet.
Part of me thinks including the link was all just a brilliantly executed joke by F365.
Dan, Dublin (Hawaiian Shirt Hater) MUFC