I’ve just got home. I'm hurting. It’s gone midnight. I need to write this out now as I’ll wake up in the morning and probably find myself distracted by commentary and footage as I’m sure supporters are focusing on individuals and incidents as they dissect the match. The more that gets debated online, on Twitter, the more I'll probably find my reaction to the result change as others influence me with their own perspectives whilst I re-review some of my gut reactions to what I witnessed.
So make do with these raw post-match thoughts instead. Deeply philosophical is my current state of mind. You'll have to deal with the lack of editing/flow and also the likely typos and grammatical errors. This is a one time free form attempt to scribble how I feel before I sleep.
I'm absolutely gutted. I'd probably go as far as saying devastated.
I'll be okay after a bagel for breakfast I'm sure. I won't be over it though. Not for a while. Not because of any controversy or sense of entitlement. I just think...I just know...this team is capable of more. Perhaps not, perhaps we could be capable of more. Soon. That's the bit that hurts. The waiting. The wait for the catalyst that changes everything. Be it the result (which might have been the one tonight) or going onto win something. That catalyst might never come. Believing it will is enough. If your team can give you that belief and you know it to be pure and not some disfigured delusion masquerading as a dream - then you're half way there. The other half is the bit where you consolidate it all. To even suggest any of this would be easy is insane. We're close, just not close enough.
The first half was pulsating. I spent most of it willing the ball to go in so I naturally lost my sh*t when Son appeared to shin the ball into the net. Their goals and the other opportunities we had all seem to be a messy memory for me at the time of writing. I'm not sure if I can handle watching the highlights.
I remember Son got hacked aplenty. Mousa drove forward, the ball stuck to his feet but perhaps not as dominant as I would have hoped him to be. I never felt like we owned the midfield. We bypassed it when attacking, stretching it wide but it almost felt like there was a dimension missing in the middle, especially in the second forty-five. We competed, some of our football was great. The sense of urgency, the way we moved it out wide and out of sticky positions. Actually, maybe I'm wrong about how the battle in the middle played out. I might need to read some of the perspectives others are sharing after-all.
The ref dished out yellows when deserved and ignored the chance to hand out more. None of it mattered. Yet everything mattered. Our nerve was perhaps damaged a little by the pressure of retaining the lead, enough for the visitors and their relentlessness to find a way through.
As much as we wanted it they knew they could have it. There was always that ominous inevitability that the game would conform to standard because it's Juventus and they know how to manipulate. And it did.
My waffling point to all this is that we should have anticipated better in the second half. We know who they are, how they play - so why didn't we prep for it? Again, easy for me to sit here and say that. I don't want to dismiss the fact that Spurs went pound for pound, toe to toe with them.
I do still think there was no necessity to play 100 mph all of the time. It can work against English clubs but Europe's finest not so much. Not outside of the group stages.
At 1-0 they had to come at us right? If you allow them to counter...well, we saw what happened. Was it avoidable or could they have hurt us regardless? I almost feel like we could have slowed the tempo down, retained possession. Congest, control and contain. Let them come at us then we can counter them. We did that so well against Dortmund and Madrid. I feel like we walked straight into a trap. Out-thought because we tried to outplay. We got it wrong. Easy to say in hindsight mind. The same performance on another night might have seen us through. I'm proud, truly. I'm trying to balance it all and not lose myself in romanticised notions of giving it everything, heart on sleeves, because that isn't enough.
Allegri and his players soaked it all up. They played a game of patience and the second we lapsed we got punished. We were rattled, we lost the momentum and wallop the second goal killed us. They were far too experienced to give the lead up at that point. Time wasting, tetchy fouls, defending deep and still countering when we went forward. Go back to the first half and I won't blame you if you thought his formation was a touch baffling. But he flipped it round for ruthless end product and some of his players lead by outstanding example.
How would they have reacted had we switched it up in the second half and done the opposite of what they expected us to do? Of course, we might not be savvy enough to accomplish such canny strategies.
We kept going but it was repetitious. We made changes to find another way in but perhaps we should have defaulted to something that wasn’t so high octane (now I'm repeating myself). Even the balls forward to Llorente seemed way too obvious a punch. I’m being harsh again. They’re a good side and we had a right proper go and thanks to the angle from my seat I have no idea if the ball was anywhere going in on a couple of occasions towards the end. One (a Kane header?) looked a goal. I can still hear the sound of my fists thumping the two seats in front of me.
The learning curve here was brutal. Savage. It's wrecked me.
We are so near yet still so far away.
Juventus have won titles and European Cups. They have a pedigree that fuels them. We are fledgling. Even if you can sit there and argue that man for man we have the better team or played the better football - it isn’t enough. It hurts but it’s our reality for now. We only get better because of nights like this. In spite of how we feel, it allows us to keep growing. Poch especially will understand there are levels to attain. His counterpart showcased a masterclass of shrewd tactical changes and his team were clinically. These are the difference makers.
We’ll see what happens in the quarters now. It will be especially interesting if Juventus play one of the three remaining English clubs.
I know they could have had a pen before we scored. We might have had one too. At least that’s what I’ve been told. There were chances, but on this stage the football is akin to a game of chess. I hate that analogy but it fits. One wrong move and you’re done. Even if you think you’re winning. You make a mistake. It’s over.
There’s no shame in this defeat. We’ve been magnificent during this campaign. The desire to go further is tangible. We were here, in this competition, to compete not to go through the motions. The old guard of Italy taught the young upstarts of England a lesson.
It would be easy to just say we were naive. Technically, there's no argument about it but we have no benchmark for nights like this. Not really, not at this particular level and rate of intensity and expectancy. We are building that benchmark with every progressive step we take, trying to forge a winners mentality. How we achieve the next one that solidifies the necessary mental and physical traits required to overcome such obstacles will be answered in the seasons ahead. Winners win things.
Heads up high. We battered some top sides. We’ll smash more next season where we might find ourselves to be the bigger badder bastards in each and every narrative we endeavour to write and re-write. The villains that don’t die in the finale.
Sons dejection at the end, getting picked up off the turf, that’s me for the rest of the week. Gonna need a pick me up. Luckily supporting Tottenham means there's one on the way.
Edit: I've just seen the replay of the Kane error at the end of the game. How did that not go in? Oh man, I feel sick now.
Edit2: Giorgio Chiellini: "Spurs just need that little something to start winning games like this - a trophy, a spark, a something. When you can't win with great football you have to find another route. We used all our experience and know-how to win tonight"
Edit3: Regarding winning a cup even if a domestic cup doesn't carry the weight of importance it once did in terms of stature, it appears to be a requirement when it comes to building towards a true winners mentality. It feels like it's one of those things that's tricky to wrap your head around. CL qualification is paramount but winning a cup final will add a missing dimension because the players - as a team - will experience completion on a journey and solidify their efforts, reward them. Defeats like this will help but only if we find a way to fix up and win this ilk of game next time round. I don't even want to contemplate their being a time limit on this.
Edit conclusion: We all want success now, all fans do. But the graft is real and unavoidable. We keep improving and our failure is to lose out on the next level up we've reached.