Friday, May 15, 2015

Football - bloomin' heck!

[image from Wikipedia]

Please, this glorious morning, let’s all take a moment to appreciate & celebrate the momentous achievement of Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk in reaching the 2014-15 Europa League Final, prevailing 1 – 0 in last night’s semi-final, second leg against Napoli to secure a 2 – 1 aggregate victory.

In these days of Champions’ League homogeneity (even allowing for the results of the semis of that competition this season at least producing the only acceptable final possible, & we’ve certainly never been fans of Juventus here at TOoT), the Europa, following on from the UEFA Cup, continues to allow some of the continent’s less-fashionable & unheralded, unfancied clubs at shot at glory, with an unlikely name emerging blinking into the Final spotlight (dimmed though that might be in comparison to the glare of the CL) with relative regularity (think, only since the turn of the millennium, of the likes of Deportivo Alaves, Middlesbrough, Fulham, Sporting Braga, for instance), claiming a few notable scalps along the way – Dnipro, lest we forget, qualified from a group featuring InternazionaleSaint-Etienne, & then overcame Olympiakos, Ajax, Club Brugge (3 of which favourite teams would happily be amongst TOoT’s semi-finalists in either competition, of course) & now most latterly & notably, not least given their manager Rafael Benitez’s career record in winning European tournaments with numerous clubs, Napoli -  &, for that, should be fondly clasped to our football-loving bosoms for the variety & colour it provides, the upsetting of the ‘massive clubs’ narrative.

Dnipro, of course, are a team that have held a place in our hearts since the early-1980s when they were known to the world by their Soviet-era Russian name, Dnepr Dnepropetrovsk, which, ineffably, impossibly romantic as it is, we still prefer in our habitual ‘Ostalgic’ fashion, & it really is fabulous to see them reach such a pinnacle, which allows us to dream on that they might actually win the trophy, stacked though the odds would seem to be against them – bring it on!

In a clear case of life imitating art, it's interesting to note that, over at the idealised football universe of 'Delusions of Randomness', Dnepr Dnepropetrovsk reached the final of last season's European Champions' Cup, there to lose narrowly to RWD Molenbeek, the third time in history they've alas fallen at the ultimate hurdle of that competition: one day, maybe.

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