Belfast Telegraph

It's a tie in Milan as BT score an Owen goal in Champions League

Things you never thought you would experience in this or any other lifetime - seeing Rio Ferdinand dressed like Cliff Thorburn and longing to hear the dulcet tones of Robbie Savage.

Somehow BT Sport managed to achieve both of these wishes on Saturday night as Madrid took on Madrid in the Madrid Cup decider, or the Champions League final between Real and Atletico if you prefer.

We should have expected something special in Milan, or Milano to those in the know, as Gary Lineker greeted us with "the second largest city in Italy (Italia) is known for its beautiful architecture, museums, theatres, shopping and, of course, its football".

And so it proved as Rio appeared on our screens resplendent in a bow tie but sadly Steve McManaman hadn't delved into the wardrobe for his old cream suit, deciding on a slightly more subdued blue number.

But if it's bad material you're after then look no further than Owen Hargreaves, aptly given his injury record up against Holby City on BBC1, popping up with touchline reporter Des Kelly, who burst Ferdinand's bubble that Cristiano Ronaldo had waved up at him.

"Don't feel too special about that for before that he gave his first thumbs up to Owen," he said, the first time anyone has ever used that greeting when they hear that Hargreaves is about to commentate.

Don't get me wrong, he sounds like a nice chap, he speaks well in a strange Graeme McDowell-like way, and he has won the Champions League twice, but he's a bit like opening ceremonies - you know you need one but it doesn't half drag on.

Nice to see Alicia Keys, daughter of Richard, getting the gig, Andrea Bocelli popping up again after his performance at Leicester and just before we handed over to Hargreaves and commentator Darren Fletcher we were asked for predictions, and I'm sure, although it may have been muffled by Cliff's bow-tie, Rio went for Madrid.

"Everyone is asking for a prediction but it's too close to call," said Owen (left) offering expert opinion, before beginning his one-man guide to saying nothing at all.

Thus we had such gems as "top players can decide games" and "good players find space", the latter definitely being true as Chris Waddle's penalty from 1990 finally found the target as it skelped off the back of Tim Peake's helmet.

Sergio Ramos opened the scoring for Real, with Atletico's Antoine Griezmann given the perfect opportunity to equalise from the spot, Hargreaves on hand to advise.

"One thing you can say as a penalty taker is you can't afford to miss," he said, and he duly did, but substitute Yannick Carrasco levelled to take us to extra-time and penalties to decide it.

Real were perfect, Atletico too up until Juanfran missed, leaving Ronaldo to score the winner.

"Football is so cruel sometimes," concluded Hargreaves and he's right, it's not fair to inflict him on us all.

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

THE GOOD: You can always rely on Paddy Power to put things into perspective and the firm’s Euro 2016 advert taking the hand out of Scotland for not getting there is genius. Any advert that features the line “Scotland won’t be there, do you think we really care? We don’t mind, we won’t disappear because we have Krankies and lush red hair” is a winner. Unlike Scotland.

THE BAD: I know there have been calls for Michael O’Neill to include more experience in his squad but former player and part-time Plug from the Bash St Kids impersonator Iain Dowie questioning his decision not to include ‘Jim’ Boyce during Friday night’s coverage on BBC NI is surely taking it too far?

THE UGLY: And a word of warning, prepare to be largely ignored by the national media over the next while, if the blurb on BT Sport’s coverage of Germany vs Slovakia is anything to go by. “Germany host Slovakia in a friendly match as they continue their preparations ahead of Euro 2016. Slovakia will face England in Group B.” I think we all know what the ‘B’ stands for. Bias.

Belfast Telegraph


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