We made it. The tournament began over three weeks ago with 24 hopeful managers and now we sit here with only two remaining. 15,000 words and 50 out of 51 matches later, it’s time to crown a champion. It’s Germany vs Spain (from the Ukraine, for some reason) and it’s LIVE (it’s not). Oh and also, team of the tournament.
Andrew W has had a long road to get here. He came through the Anglo-Italian Cup with Sheffield United to qualify and then after landing a great draw in Germany, he came through the group of death to earn himself a place in what has to be called the kinder side of the draw. Defeating Turkey, Poland and Wales to reach is probably not what he imagined by it’s a decent reward for seeing off France and Portugal (and, er, Scotland) to top the nightmare group).
Waiting on the other side of the draw is Spain. Rob Tait has a 100% win record in the tournament but it hasn’t exactly been a walk in the park. Chances have been created by the bucket load to reach this point but converting them has been another matter. Finland and England were seen off but not without a scare but Rob delved deep into his tactical rucksack to see off Italy. It remains to be seen whether he sticks with the formation that won the semi-final.
Germany vs Spain (Neutral)
As mentioned in the intro, the final is being played in Ukraine. I think it’s the biggest stadium in Germany, the league where these matches have been played. Anyway, I’m sure Kiev will be a welcoming venue.
If you’d rather watch the final as a video, the recording is available here (including manager reactions on audio)
Andrew sticks with the diamond that saw him edge past Wales. Sean Dundee will be looking to add to his frankly ridiculous tally of 12 goals so far this tournament.
Rob does stick with the 4-2-3-1 that saw him outfox Nikolai in the semis. Alfonso remains a sub with Fernando again leading the line.
It looks like Rob’s decision will be vindicated when Fernando hears the drums with a 19th minute opener. Another big decision made in the semis was to recall Molina for the erratic Zubizarreta and the keeper is in inspired form, keeping Dundee and pals at bay. Germany’s second half onslaught comes to a crashing halt when Raul and De La Pena score twice in 4 minutes to effectively finish the contest, with Kiko adding the gloss with a late fourth. Spain are the champions!
A typical Champ-manning finishes the tournament. Germany deserved far better than they got. Rob won every game he played in the tournament, so you can’t really argue with him as the winner.
Molina takes man of the match which tells you everything about the way the game panned out. Congratulations to Rob Tait!
Hierro lifts the trophy and so does Rob…
Genuinely unsure if Rob is massive or if the trophy is tiny.
All that’s left to do is for me to name my team of the tournament. For any avid readers of the tournament blogs, I’d love to hear yours too!
GK: Andy Dibble (Wales)
CB: Michael Streiter (Austria)
CB: Fernando Hierro (Spain)
WBR: Thomas Helveg (Denmark)
WBL: Moreno Torricelli (Italy)
DM: Andrzej Rudy (Poland)
CM: Gary Speed (Wales)
AMRC: Kiko (Spain)
AMLC: Sanchez Fernando (Spain)
FC: Robbie Fowler (England)
FC: Sean Dundee (Germany)
Turns out it’s quite hard to think of a team of the tournament when nobody can defend.
The race for the golden boot was won by Sean Dundee some time ago. Here’s the confirmation of how he did it:
Sean Dundee (Germany) 12
Robbie Fowler (England) 8
Kiko (Spain) 7
Miklos Molnar (Denmark) 6
Alan Shearer (England) 6
John Hartson (Wales) 6
Sanchez Fernando (Spain) 6
Lovely stuff. Thank you all for your company and interaction over this marathon tournament, our biggest and in my opinion the best yet. Thank you to all the managers in both the final tournament and the Anglo-Italian qualifier, great effort from all involved which makes this more worthwhile.
There’s only one way to end any tournament and that is Des Lynam reading Rudyard Kipling’s If.
I’m going to slink off for a few weeks now. Time to recharge my batteries and spend some time away from the computer. It feels like a lifetime ago we published the lockdown challenges which I know so many of you engaged in which I thoroughly enjoyed and I think we’re all glad life is showing signs of getting back to normal. If you’ve rekindled your love of the series during this time then I hope you stick around, or if this was a fleeting visit then thanks for dropping by. I’m delighted to say we’ll have a blog every day starting Sunday, 7 days a week for the foreseeable future. The lads, old and new, have worked so hard to come up with new ideas and you’re going to love it. Your champion Rob Tait will be starting a new series on Monday and it’s the most super of leagues. That’s all I’ll say for now.
I’ll be back with the Retirement Home in August but I’ll no doubt be tweeting and faffing about with the game over the next few weeks. Stay safe, enjoy seeing your families again if you’re allowed to and remember – always play direct.