Match report: Liverpool vs Sevilla
Written on 22 May 2016, 08:15pm
The English translation of a match report that I wrote in Romanian for anglofil.ro:
The road towards the stadium smells like the spring. Basel is a very clean city and – even if it’s garbage day – the afternoon rain spreads some refreshing scents. I’m taking the long road the stadium, preferring the residential areas. As I’m telling myself I should never walk alone, I see the first match-goers: 4 LFC fans from London who are asking me if they’re going the right way. They sip from local beer cans and seem to be in a good mood. I ask how they got their tickets and they sigh, with bitterness: Viagogo.
One more mile and the stadium roof becomes visible in the distance. Not for everybody though, since a orientation-challenged or drunk supporter asks us where the ground is.
The fresh spring scents slowly turn into a mixed-smell of beer and tobacco. Smoking is prohibited inside the arena, so people take their last chance. Sevilla fans walk along Liverpool ones. Both of them wear football shirts: some are reading Istanbul 2005, some others read Dnipro, Benfica, Espanol, Middlesbrough. I feel some chills down my spine while I the names of Viduka and Maccarone go through my mind.
A red fan asks where he can buy some vodka. ‘Russia, mate’ – answers another one on a tongue-in-cheek tone.
My ticket indicates sector C5, close to the Sevilla stand. Already knowing the stadium and the seating map, I go the indicated gate. We’re in Switzerland, and I expect everything to go seamlessly. But it’s not the case: anticipating the simple yellow path, I find myself following the long and complicated blue one:
After 45 minutes and a number of redirects that would probably crash the most stable browser, I am back to gate C/G. This time, the mismatch between my red shirt and the proximity of my place to the Sevilla stand is no longer a problem, and I am allowed to enter the stadium. My place is at the first floor, so I take the stairs while the crowd starts singing YNWA. I rush to the stairs, passing another filter where my ticket is scanned. ‘Enjoy the game, mate!‘, wishes me a steward with a perfectly German accent.
At the end of the storm, there’s a golden sky…
I make my way through neutral people holding their plastic glass of beer and their ginormous pretzel, but I only reach the LFC stand to hear the end of the anthem:
You’ll never walk alone…
I get to my seat just in time for the Sevilla song. I look around: to the left there is a British family supporting LFC, to the right a neutral spectator. Most probably Swiss, who else would be neutral at this game?
Almost the entire stadium is red, except for half of the stand next to me, which is white and sings. They will not stop until the end of the game. The sunset casts a nice light over the packed stand, before it gets covered by a huge Sevilla banner.
The first half
The game is on. Emre Can shoots from 30 yards but cannot do a Smicer. Not even a Gerrard.
Sturridge has two chances, but nothing comes out of them. Firmino begs for two penalties in the same time, but none is given. From where I stand I can’t tell if it should have (l.e. – it has), but I am in the perfect place to see one of the best goals of the recent finals: Sturridge finds the perfect curve, that goes between two defenders and a goalkeeper’s glove and ends in the side net, in a place where some time ago the goalkeepers were hanging their towels:
The goal reminds me of Roberto Carlos in 1997 and could serve as example of both the outside curl shot and the Magnus effect in fluid dynamics. The reds come to celebrate in front of my sector, but unfortunately there is a floor between us:
The goal was outstanding even for the neutrals around me, who are cheering for seconds.
The game continues on the same note. Sturridge denies Lovren a goal just as important as the winner against Dortmund, and one minute before the break (the best time to score a goal) flicks the ball in front of Firmino who was getting ready to score the 2-0 goal.
The first half ends as Sevilla fails to register a shoot on target, while the general impression is that the one-team show will continue after the break. Out-played on the pitch and out-numbered in the stands, it seems that Sevilla only came to Basel for the museums.
During half time I think about Moreno. He played very well in the first half and I anticipate a scenario in which he scores against the team where he started his career and so enters the club of players scoring against their former teams (Morata, David Villa, Lampard). Football is a bitch, isn’t it?
Footbal is indeed a bitch. Moreno confirms my feeling that he will be a game-changer, but for the wrong reasons. He fails to clear a relatively easy cross, then gets nutmegged and allows the whites to come back in the game only 16 seconds into the second half. Half of the spectators misses the goal because of the snacks or the toilet queues, but hey, on Wembley it could have been worse.
Neutrals enjoy the unexpected goal, anticipating a more interesting second half. I am no longer sure that the whole stadium is red because they support Liverpool or it’s just the casual fit of the Swiss neutrals.
I start to feel cold, even though there are 15 degrees.
Kolo gets standing ovation and – probably a contract extension – for a glorious tackle, but apparently the Swiss ground has a problem: it’s apparently tilted towards my left. So now it’s Sevilla’s turn to take advantage of it, supported by the whites whose chants get louder and louder.
There’s a light drizzle over the pitch, but it does not seem to make Liverpool feel at home. The early goal puts extra-weight in their shoes, and they seem vulnerable. Migs saves a great opportunity for 2-1, and I think that at this point our best chance is the penalty shootout and the Joe Allen decider. I barely finish my thought that it’s already 2-1, after Lovren gets its turn in being nutmegged. It’s getting colder in Basel…
Origi in. His first task is a defensive one, but he fails to make an impact and it’s almost 3-1. All the reds expect something form Coutinho. But something creative, not the unfortunate deflection that leads to the Sevilla’s 3rd. The reds argue with the referee, but the outcome is yet another Sevilla celebration in the special designated spot for celebrating goals: right in front of me. Fortunately, there’s a floor between us. I start to regret that I have such a ‘good’ seat.
Klopp makes a few offensive changes, that seem a bit desperate.
10 more minutes. I still believe it’s possible, especially now, when Messia Allen – our Welsh Pirlo – is on the pitch ready to take the deciding penalty. It takes just a sparkle to start the final rush, like the goal of Coutinho against Dortmund. But this time he fires wide; it looks like the sparkle will not ignite tonight.
5 more minutes and the neutrals start to leave the ground. The whites on the pitch make sure that no more football is played. The LFC stand starts singing YNWA, but I’m too close to the Spanish supporters to hear it properly.
The final whistle is blown; the organizers play ‘Viva la vida’ and ruin it for me. I love Coldplay since Gerrard was not yet the captain of Liverpool, but it will take some time until I will be able to listen to that song again.
The player with a drug nickname gets the ‘Man of the Match‘ award for scoring the two goals even though it was not him scoring the equalizer and turning everything around.
The Sevilla players come to celebrate next to their supporters, just in front of me. It’s pretty clear: the spectators at the opposite end did not see anything interesting tonight; they should ask for a refund. From Viagogo.
I’m leaving my seat and go towards the LFC end. The red players are laying on the ground; for some of them it was the last match for Liverpool. They get up, one by one, and get an applause.
I know they will get close to the supporters stand at the end, but before that there’s the trophy award ceremony. I’m not sure I want to see Sevilla lifting the cup for the 5th time, so I’m heading for the exit. A few touts calling themselves ‘collectors’ ask for the tickets to sell them on ebay for 10 Euro.
I’m walking towards the hotel through the night drizzle. Next to me, a few LFC fans talking about the match.
The city still smells good.
Some see in this final a reflexion of the whole Liverpool season:
If one game could personify Liverpool’s 15/16 season, it has to be the Europa League final. In that game we saw the best of Liverpool and their high intensity, composed and passionate style of play. We also saw the un-organised, shapeless and leaderless side of Jurgen Klopp’s squad.
I rather saw a tight game, which could have gone either way. There were 4 controversial referee decisions and all of them went Sevilla’s way. If any of the 4 would have been judged in Liverpool’s favor, we would have seen a completely different match. Then, there are the 2 moments on each side of the half-time break: in one we don’t score because we have too many strikers up front, in the other we concede a goal from the single striker well positioned:
Then there is the referee system. It must change, the sooner the better. There is no reason why the goal-line technology – already used successfully in the Premier League – cannot be adopted by UEFA. The 2 extra referees behind the goals are as useless as the flags in the corners; I am not aware of any major decision influenced by them. Ever.
And finally, the challenges + video reviews (instant replay) must be adopted from sports where they are successfully used, like tennis or rugby. 2 challenges per half for each team (or 3 per game) and Liverpool would have benefit from 2 entirely deserved penalties in the final.
All in all a bitter-sweet end of season for Liverpool. But there are positives: an amazing coach and a 2017 season where we will concentrate exclusively on the Premier League. With a few key summer transfers the future seems to be bright.
Written by Dorin Moise (Published articles: 256)