Wayne Farry looks back on seven days of supermoons, scissor kicks, and symbolic banter.
Where else to start this week other than at Anfield where, unusually for the Premier League, the weekend’s big match truly lived up to its billing. We’ve grown accustomed to the Greatest League In The World (TM) being more PR exercise than anything else, with the story being told by the advertisers a world away from the actual action on the pitch. But on Sunday fans were served up exactly what broadcasters Sky had advertised – high intensity, high skill and high drama action. United came into the game in decent form, with last week’s battering of Spurs a timely boost to players and fans alike, while Liverpool were unbeaten in 13 games as they roared back from the most tepid of starts to the campaign. With both sides in direct competition for the final Champions League spot this game really meant something, and not just on an emotional level. And it showed. This was a proper game of football. Physical, fast paced, no lack of skill. It really was a great advert for the league. Van Gaal’s philosophy manifested itself through two gorgeous Juan Mata goals and to cap United fans’ day off was the reddest of cherries on top. Less than a minute into the second half, even before Mata had scored his stunning scissor kick into the corner, Steven Gerrard was sent off for the most petulant and utterly stupid of stamps on Ander Herrera. Even for Gerrard – known as Captain Hollywood in some circles – this was spectacular. The man has long had a habit of making any Liverpool story about himself but to be sent off after less than a minute – at home against his hated rivals, in his final game against them no less – provided the sort of ending Hollywood would have rejected due to its implausibility. The only predictable thing about it was that he managed to fit in a pointless 40 yard pass between coming on and getting sent off. What a captain, what a legend.
From one side’s unbeaten run coming to end, to another’s. Last week saw the world treated to a solar eclipse, a supermoon and the spring equinox all in one day. In ancient times this has been seen as a signal for the end of the world. But we’re in modern times now, we’re smarter than to fall for silly Nostrodamus style predictions of “the end is nigh” and such. Or so it seemed until the rarest of all phenomena occurred in Germany this Sunday. Birds stopped singing, dogs stopped barking, fish swam to the depths of the ocean floor and Pep Guardiola no doubt spent the hours afterwards drawing triangles in his own excrement on the walls of his Bavarian mansion. Yes, Bayern Munich lost. At home. After beating Shakhtar Donetsk 7-0 at the Allianz Arena last week they were beaten through two goals from Borussia Monchengladbach’s Raffael. It continues a strange trend for Bayern as they struggle against fellow top sides domestically but it matters little, as they remain ten points ahead of second placed Wolfsburg. Perhaps Bayern will be able to emerge from the burnings ruins of the new post apocalyptic world and come up with something a little better against Dortmund next week. Otherwise, the universe might just collapse in on itself.
Finally, we stay in Germany for our final piece of news and it’s a humdinger. Last week it emerged that Hertha Berlin’s Salomon Kalou could face criminal charges over defacement of the Berlin Wall. The striker was filming a promo for his side’s game against Schalke and presumably figured there’s no better way to annoy rivals and endear yourself to your own club than partially damaging one of the most important symbols of that nation’s modern politics and society in general. Kalou was said to have been shocked by the reaction, insisting it was “just banter”. In fact, so dismayed is he by the impassioned outcry that he’s considering a move elsewhere. He is said to be weighing up a choice between moving to AEK Athens or Roma – presumably so he can piss on either the Parthenon or the Colosseum.