Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Two Years On...

May 25, 2005. I awake around 5am, turn on my tv and see that Liverpool are 3-0 down to AC Milan in the Champions league final. I'm a little disappointed, after suprising everyone by getting this far it looks like it's an anti-climax for Liverpool fans in the final. I was considering going back to bed when Steven Gerrard pops up with a goal - the look on his face said it all - game on. An hour later and Liverpool are champions of Europe, in one of the greatest football matches I have ever seen.

Two years on and the same two teams are again facing off, this time Liverpool is no longer a suprise packet, and look a much better side than two years ago. Having said that Milan deserve to be favourites after their impressive semi-final win over Man United. I think anyone will agree, if the game delivers anything like the excitement of two years ago it will be great to watch.

As I compare this game to the match in 2005, I compare my feelings and passion for football and there is one big difference. Two years ago, the A-league was only being talked about, as was Australia's potential entry into Asia. Now, the A-league is a massive success, and Sydney FC are looking forward to their own big, continental match. Finally Australian football has something to compare to what the big clubs of Europe are going through.

Tonight, Sydney FC travels to the Saitama Stadium in Japan, 60 thosand fanatical Urawa Reds fans will be on hand for effectively a knockout tie. The atmosphere in Japan will rival that of big European matches. It strikes me as amazing, that only two years ago, this was a pipe dream. It begs the question - where will we be in 2009?

Unfortunately I don't think Sydney will be good enough to win, their lack of match fitness is going to hurt them, and they need to be at their very best to beat Urawa. Let's hope they put in a good performance though, as that would at least promote the A-league as a high quality competition.

As for the European Champions league... I think this one could go either way, if Liverpool is to win, Steven Gerrard will need to fire - without him, Milan are too classy. I also expect Harry Kewell to play a part, hopefully off the bench, as he could make a big impact in my opinion. Over the past few years he's made several comebacks, and he's always taken a lot of time to get back into decent form. This time is different, already he looks fast and in form.

Good luck Sydney, Good luck Liverpool, Good luck Harry. It's going to be an interesting 12 hours...

PS. For now, here's a reminder of 2005

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