Most every time it’s happened, when Liverpool are up 2-0 at Anfield within a game’s first 15 minutes, especially on a European night, and the stadium is coming loose with noise and the team is swarming, teams tend to fold. That kind of atmosphere once folded Lionel Messi’s Barcelona not so long ago. It once bowed Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea at the height of their powers. What it hasn’t seen is a team simply yawn, give their back a quick stretch, and go about their business like it was just a morning routine of walking the dog, getting the paper, and making some coffee.
But this is Real Madrid. This is Carlo Ancelotti’s Real Madrid, and perhaps there’s been no marriage of a more cold-blooded manager and club. We all witnessed last season as they Houdini’d their way out of every kind of peril and deficit on their way to their 13th European Cup. This time they thought a little more authority was needed.
Sure, it helped that Liverpool these days are a kindergarten’s production of a defense right now, but this was ruthless on the level of a medieval king putting down a challenger or rebellion. Madrid ripped off five goals in 46 minutes, ranging from the brilliant to the absurd to artistically simple looking.
And the artistically simple looking:
And this is the same Madrid side that’s been serving up lukewarm cuts of meat in La Liga, trailing Barcelona by eight points. They have looked pedestrian at times. But that’s the league, and this is the Champions League, where something else just kicks in.
You can take your lead, you can have your momentum. It matters not. They’ll get the ball. Modric and Valverde and Camavinga will start stroking the ball around, they’ll find their rhythm. Maybe on another day, it’s Kroos and Tchouaméni, and Rodrygo. All of them taking their cues from a manager who couldn’t typify Italian cool more if was literally on a Vespa the whole match (Ciao!). They’re just never ruffled. And then they’ll find Vini Jr. in space, he’ll tear whoever’s right-back apart, and then their fans are shouting, “Ole!” the rest of the match.
At this point, they’ll head into every Champions League match already leading 1-0 or 2-0. When will any team think they have them beaten? This has become child’s play for them. At this point, it’s just how much they can up the degree of difficulty.
More McDavid Madness
Connor McDavid was providing more ridiculous stats last night after racking up two goals and an assist in a 4-2 win over the Flyers.
It is important to note that all those players who reached 800 points faster than McDavid played in an era where goals rained down like blood on Carrie and over goalies that looked like this. McDavid is doing it now.
Haiti qualifies for women’s World Cup
In some news that lightens the day, yesterday Haiti qualified for their first women’s World Cup with a 2-1 win over Chile in the international playoff. It is obviously one of the biggest sporting accomplishments in the nation’s history, and it’ll be a tremendous story to follow in New Zealand and Australia. They become the fifth team from CONCACAF to qualify, and there could be a sixth in Panama.