The Fiver | Liverpool, Real Madrid and the likeable deans of the modern game


After a season that has become more extraordinary as the weeks go by, it all comes down to this. Two teams driven by a sense of fate, competing for a huge prize in a gleaming modern football cathedral; it’s just a shame that someone has to lose. And yet, when The Fiver submitted their 3,000-word opus on the League Two playoff final to The Man, it was sent back to us in a thousand pieces, the confetti laid out on what passes for a desk to spell two words: BIG CUP.

And if that opening gambit was more telegraphed than a $tevie Mbe Hollywood pass, Saturday night’s showdown in Paris promises to be far less predictable. Liverpool will start as favourites, but Real Madrid have shown they can destroy a carefully constructed Big Cup project in 90 seconds, let alone 90 minutes. After increasingly dramatic late comebacks against PSG, Chelsea and Manchester City, we expect Karim Benzema to appear with a late winner halfway through Liverpool’s trophy parade.

So if you’re the kind of fan who likes to post your chosen team’s ‘UCL’ count on all the disgraces available on social media, as if you’re contributing in some meaningful way, here are some patented Fiver analytics for you. Liverpool can move up to seven major cups, putting them level with Milan – but, more importantly, spoiling the flow of that dreary ‘we won it’. [x] times” chant. Madrid have of course won 13 – not that they like to talk about it. That’s right, The Fiver mocks teams for winning too many Big Cups. But what else is there?

Both teams have earned their place, and both are coached by sympathetic deans of the modern game. Carlo Ancelotti’s tactical in-game tweaks may amount to a conversation with Luka Modric and a theatrical eyebrow raise – but hey, it works. As for Jürgen Klopp, he remains the Big Cup-winning manager most likely to keep his spirits up during a weekend of team building – closely followed by Roberto Di Matteo. To the naysayers who might point out that this is just a repeat of the 2018 showpiece, and that six of the last nine Big Cup finals have featured at least one of these clubs – fair point. But again, one of these teams lost at home to Sheriff Tiraspol in the groups; the other went through with a last-minute header equalizer against West Brom. By their keeper. Bad luck, Mansfield and Port Vale – that’s the real underdog story of the weekend.


“There were a lot of dark days and there will be in the future, but I felt ready to be able to lead my team and my players” – Vale manager Darrell Clarke on his return from a close family bereavement this year, as he prepares to lead at Wembley on Saturday.

Vale’s Darrell Clarke. Photography: Christopher Thomond/The Guardian


“A few hours after you graciously printed my letter in yesterday’s Fiver, Soccer Canada canceled its friendly match against Iran. I knew you were a world power in the world of football, but that’s just remarkable” – Alan Etherington.

“It’s interesting that the Norwich suit describes their team as average (Yesterday’s News, Bits and Bobs). I think if they had reached the high peaks of average they would still be in the Premier League” – Dominic Dawson.

“Stir the last dregs of ‘clap the silver on TV’ (Five Passim Letters). Just watch Antiques Roadshow to understand how to clap the silver. Low value gets no crowd applause presents, great value gets a lot of applause… but nobody did anything, they just got the news of a big sum of money linked to them. Cheers to you! Newcastle fans can relate to that idea” – Paul Sanderson.

“Like John McKay (yesterday’s letters), I can’t believe I stoop to writing a letter to The Fiver. Especially since I really have nothing witty to say. Kind of like The Fiver” -Steve Mintz.

Send your letters to [email protected] And you can always tweet The Fiver via @guardian_sport. Today’s winner of our invaluable letter of the day is…Dominic Dawson.


Get your ears around for the latest Football Weekly Extra. And while we’re at it, Max, Barry and the pod crew are hitting the road again. Tickets for live shows in June and July are available here.


Looks like Sadio Mane could stay at Liverpool after all. “Come back to me on Saturday and I’ll give you the best answer you want to hear for sure,” he teased. ” It is special. I will then give you everything you want to hear.

Sadio Mané with a big cap game en route to Paris.
Sadio Mané with a big cap game en route to Paris. Photograph: Oli Scarff/AFP/Getty Images

Forest Green believe their handling of attractive Notts County manager Ian Burchnall is in Watford’s eye. “Between us, we’ve shown how moves in football can always be done right and above the board,” said chairman Dale Vince.

Pete Wild, who swapped Halifax for the League Two Barrow gig, is another non-league boss on the move.

England captain Harry Kane chatted on Jimmy Fallon’s late night talk show in New York. “We have a great team, very good players, a very good coach, and we’ve built this World Cup well and I’m really looking forward to it,” he cooed, giving him the old stare at a relatively empty audience. “Hopefully I can try to break that goalscoring record while we’re at it.”

Badoom-tish. Photography: NBC Photo Bank/NBCU/Getty Images

That high-pitched whine you might be able to detect is the ongoing feud between French and Spanish football suits, over this whole Kylian Mbappé affair. “When Lionel Messi, Sergio Ramos and others left your league – by choice – last year, rather than acknowledging their [greatness], you commented on their age and brandished our league as being ‘like the league of legends given the age of certain players’”, sniffs Vincent Labrune of the LFP in a letter to his counterpart Javier Tebas. “Now your disrespectful libels seem to be directed at Mbappé, who is widely recognized as one of the greatest players in the world and who simply did not join your league, by choice, despite receiving a similar offer. .”

And in more grown-up men’s news, Rio Ferdinand and John Terry went head-to-head on Social Media Abomination Twitter, over ranking the premier of the Premier League’s best centre-backs – with himself at No 1 and Terry at No ° 5. It’s too tiring to go further.


Want to know where the Big Cup final will be won and lost? So lend your eyes to Jonathan Wilson [he’s written a tactical breakdown, he’s not gone serial killer – Fiver Ed].

Here we are.
Here we are. Composition: Getty, Shutterstock

Karen Carney gives an overview of Liverpool v Madrid, while Philipp Lahm gives his take on the big game.

Liverpool’s Ibrahima Konaté tells Andy Hunter how happy he is to return to Paris and Sid Lowe has news from Thibaut Courtois. Meanwhile, Steve McManaman reveals his true allegiances are with Liverpool. Shocking!

It could be quite the weekend if you’re the Huddersfield type, reports Aaron Bower.

Another one 2021-22 Premier League final review, this time taking pre-season predictions into account.

And if that’s your thing…you can follow Big Website on Big Social FaceSpace. And INSTACHAT TOO!

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