Tevez does Argentina proud in Champions League final
BUENOS AIRES -- We wait for these finals for nine months.
And the first thing that comes to mind after watching the game between Manchester United and Chelsea is the idea that we cannot say it was an all-English final, given that, aside from the origin of the clubs and their traditions, the multiple backgrounds of the players is so diverse it becomes difficult to identify one particular soccer style.
In spite of this, both teams are still impregnated with the original spirit of the game, and the fact that they have chosen to preserve such element is a very important point that speaks to their favor.
By this I mean that, despite the fact that half of the players in the field were not born in England, they still displayed all the attributes that characterize the country's soccer idiosyncrasy.
There was aggression, respect, rhythm, personality and generosity.
Both sides refused to play the aerial game, which showed both in Wayne Rooney (England) and Carlos Tevez (Argentina) on one side and Michael Ballack (Germany) on the other.
We saw a game in which Manchester, playing low, complicated Chelsea's midfield and defense in the first part of the game. Oddly enough, United opened the score with a play in the high zone, with a great header by the best player in the world. Because that's what Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal) is today, erred penalties notwithstanding.
After the initial one-goal deficit, Chelsea pressed forward without creating dangerous situations, but with a lot of patience. It built its game and it slowly started to set foot in enemy territory.
In two counter-attacks, Tevez was unable to score to clinch the victory, and that was all for Manchester.
And when we all thought that the first half was going to end with that 1-0 scoreline, Frank Lampard (England) appeared with an isolated shot, and aided by a Edwin Van der Sar (Holland) slipup, scored for a well-deserved tie.
Now, I am going to use a phrase I recurrently apply when asked about what to do in a big final. When they do ask, I respond: We need to win it. There's no other possible question or answer.
Chelsea had a great second half, and deserved to win clearly, but was either unable or unlucky to take the trophy home after two shots that hit the woodwork. Under a torrential rain, the game went to overtime and it became a back-and-forth affair that didn't pay dividends for either team.
I am going to dedicate, with my apologies to the reader, a paragraph to the referee: How could you possibly dare to prevent Didier Drogba (Ivory Coast) from ending the game just for a reaction to an aggression? What you did is preposterous. You wanted to reassert your authority when there was no need for that. In any case, you could have done it when you failed to expel Ricardo Carvalho (Portugal) for that high kick on Ronaldo, which could have easily resulted in a fracture for the Manchester's stellar Portuguese midfielder.
In the penalty series, it is said, luck plays a major role. I still maintain that good luck is in fact important in every aspect of soccer, such as when a kick on the goal hits a post and goes back into the field instead of rolling on towards the net.
In such contradictory and special times, the players that lack the high profile of others during the game are the ones that sometimes take charge of the situation. The moment in which one has to run those final 40 meters and kick the ball in are tremendous, akin to trekking through the Sahara desert without a drop of water to drink.
Manchester ended as the big winner, with an unpredictable ending for the penalty series in which John Terry (England) Chelsea's captain, slipped before kicking the ball. He was then flooded by the greatest sadness he will experience in his sporting life.
But he didn't deserve such fate.
And fate put the final grain of sand. Because Ryan Giggs (England), in his record-breaking club appearance for United, made the sixth penalty. And Nicolas Anelka, who gives the impression of going through soccer teams as if they were seaports in the life of a seaman, ultimately erred.
Manchester is the fair winner. But I must say that the same could have been said about Chelsea if it would've had luck on its side.
I hope no one attacks Sir Alex Ferguson for winning two European cups, one in the 92nd and 93rd minute after being down 0-1, and this one on penalty kicks, in a 10-year span. I will repeat what I said earlier about final games: United didn't play well, but in a day in which they faced a better adversary, they said to themselves what every one of us should say before a big final: "We need to win it."
Lastly, it is beautiful to see an Argentine winning the championship of Europe. It's also beautiful that he represented us with such a gallant performance.
Thank you, Carlos Tevez.
Carlos Bianchi is the eighth-leading scorer worldwide in the history of soccer and the winningest coach in the history of Argentine soccer. He rose to fame in Vélez Sarsfield and later played in a number of clubs in France. Bianchi currently writes for ESPNdeportes.com.