Tonight’s Super/Splendid/Marvellous Cup in Helsinki, between Big Cup holders Real Madrid and Euro Vase winners Eintracht Frankfurt, represents an echo of European football’s glorious past and a glimpse into its AI-powered future. The previous competitive encounter between these two clubs was the European Cup final at Hampden Park in 1960. Not much happened: Madrid won 7-3 thanks to four goals from the great Ferenc Puskas, plus a hat-trick from someone called Alfredo Di Stéfano.
The attendance of 127,000 remains a record for a European Cup final and Madrid’s performance that night, beamed around the world to millions of TV viewers, was “by general consent, the most sumptuous club performance in football history,” as the late Frank Keating wrote on Big Website, in 2002.
“Without question, Real at Hampden in 1960 was by far the most delectable feast I ever described,” Kenneth Wolstenholme, renowned commentator, would later enthuse, in what was presumably a bitter blow to his mother’s cooking. “It was football on a different level than I’d been taught,” parped Bobby Charlton, in what was presumably a bitter blow to his brother’s backyard training sessions. “My first thought had been, ‘this match is a phoney, edited’,” ogled Bobby. “These players are doing things that aren’t possible, aren’t real, aren’t human.”
Speaking of things that aren’t human, the Super/Splendid/Marvellous Cup will provide a piece of history regardless, with semi-automated offside technology (SAOT) – Fifa’s and Uefa’s latest attempt to be down with the kidz – set to be used officially for the first time.
“The new system will operate thanks to specialised cameras which are able to track 29 different body points per player,” Uefa tooted, before adding a line oddly reminiscent to the Fiver’s breathalyser record. “A total of 188 tests have been performed since 2020.” What could possibly go wrong?!
As for the actual humans, Eintracht kicked off their Bundesliga season with a 6-1 home thumping by champions Bayern Munich, but head coach Oliver Glasner is remarkably taking the positives. “Sometimes it’s good to get a slap in the face,” he whistled, seemingly unaware that tonight’s opposition – which includes messrs Benzema and Vinícius – might give him another one. Chin up Oli, at least you don’t have to deal with Puskas and Di Stéfano.
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QUOTE OF THE DAY
“To say I’m excited is an understatement – the lure of the sequins and the call of the salsa has me swapping my battered old football boots for a set of Strictly soft shoes. Am absolutely thrilled to be giving it my all on this year’s 20th anniversary of Strictly Come Dancing. I can’t wait to meet my partner – god help her – and start the dancing” – Former Arsenal and England captain Tony Adams MBE has signed up for some salsa classes after being announced as a Strictly Come Dancing contestant.
“Re: yesterday’s Fiver. Disappointed our North Macedonian friends endured the bog-standard airport service, but as they say in Tallagh … Shkupit up buttercup” – Paul O’Neill.
“The photo of Lucy Bronze with the Lego replica of the Euro 2022 silverware (yesterday’s News, Bits and Bobs) is nice, but surely there are enthusiasts who can do better. How about a mock-up of the little car delivering the ball for the kick-off? What about recreating Alessia Russo’s backheel goal? Or perhaps a large montage of figures, showing a full pride of Lionesses chasing Chloe Kelly as she waved her shirt around in celebration of her tournament-winning goal?” – Peter Rehwaldt.
“I can’t help thinking that Spurs’ signing of Destiny Udogie (yesterday’s News, Bits and Bobs) was somehow written in the stars?” – Paul Dixon.
Send your letters to firstname.lastname@example.org. And you can always tweet The Fiver via @guardian_sport. Today’s winner of our prizeless letter o’ the day is … Paul O’Neill.
BITS AND BOBS
Rangers are one step away from the Big Cup group stages after a dramatic turnaround against Belgian side Union Saint-Gilloise. “I am so proud of my players. They played with passion, fire and desire. It was an amazing night for all of us,” chirped Rangers manager Giovanni van Bronckhorst.
The BBC has refused to back down over its decision to scrap the classified football results on Radio 5 Live. “The classifieds were taking around five to seven minutes to read, which would have taken up around a third of the programme – constraining the range of sports we could cover,” laughed a miserable BBC suit.
Englishman Mark Parsons has left his role as head coach of the Netherlands women’s national team following their quarter-final exit at the Euros. “I want you to know that I always worked with one goal in mind and that is to help this team move forward,” Parsons parped. “I truly wish to have achieved better results for you.”
Brentford have splashed the cash on Mikkel Damsgaard. The latest Dane in west London has cost a pretty penny, with the Bees exchanging £12.7m for his services.
Shamrock Rovers are through to Big Vase’s group stage after seeing off FC Shkupi 5-2 on aggregate, but manager Stephen Bradley is miffed that they’ve had to endure plane-based misery of their own and fly home from North Macedonia to Shannon too, rather than Dublin. “We’re really disappointed,” he sniffed. “There’s serious questions that need to be asked.”
Former Football League defender Ryan Cresswell has warned of the danger of players becoming addicted to sleeping pills after the problem nearly claimed his life.
STILL WANT MORE?
Chelsea are still very much short of natural goalscorers – Jacob Steinberg looks at how Thomas Tuchel’s side will find the back of the net this season.
Classified results still bring joy, regardless of technological advancements, writes Steve Pye.
Granit Xhaka and Nick Ames have been talking bull.
Which clubs’ transfer record has stood for more than 30 years? The Knowledge has the answer.
Bobby Charlton and George Best did not get on and would not even pass to one another in the end, explains Jonathan Wilson.
Get the latest transfer tittle-tattle in The Rumour Mill.
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