The annual showdown between the winners of the Champions League and the winners of the Europa League took place in Windsor Park , Belfast, Northern Ireland. Unusual place for a European final but you can see what UEFA is trying to do, taking soccer to the previously unreached parts of Europe which is commendable. The pandemic has also something to do with it too, travel restrictions affecting movement across Europe too. Chelsea were more or less full strength excluding Cesar Azpilicueta who was replaced in the lineup by Chalobah fresh from loan spell at Watford. The yellow submarine had striker Gerard Moreno in from the start with ex Watford player Capoue pulling strings in midfield but were second best in that part of the field. If you look at the Ziyech goal it came after losing possession in midfield with a counter attack on the cards. Ziyech would go off with a dislocated shoulder later on in the half which is bad timing with the opening game of the season coming at the weekend .Great day for Senegal and African soccer, great to see two countrymen(Dia and Mendy) on opposite sides with the Goalie having the better day.
Moreno was probably culpable for the goal conceded in the first half as well as a miss with Mendy to beat on 51 minutes but the Spanish international made amends with a goal of good quality. One two with Dia showing that they could be the partnership to watch in La Liga this season. Now, in regards to the penalty shootout, you would remember a few seasons ago when Sarri was in charge of Chelsea in a league cup final and he wanted to take Kepa out of the match with a penalty shootout looming then. Kepa would refuse to leave the pitch and well Man City won the final. Well ,Tuchel did the opposite, bringing on the Spanish keeper for Mendy and the gamble worked(The irony keeps cracking me up). Kepa saved two penalties this time to win the Cup for Chelsea. The insubordinate keeper saved one against City I should point out. The fact that he survived at Chelsea to this point shows the amount of player power which now exists in the modern game.
This game traditionally goes the way of the UCL holders and so it did, but only through the penalty lottery. The level of competition in the Champions League is higher owing to the caliber of clubs in that competition but the Europa League shouldn’t be looked down on and the gap is really closing between the two. One thing to consider is that the Europa League has a lot of ROUNDS compared to UCL making it tougher. I am in favor of the home and away format for this Cup(similar to what the CAF Super Cup was some years back) to get more of a great spectacle.