Live: 2030/31 Champions League Final

“Good evening and welcome to the City of Lights! We’re here at the Stade de France, where Nicolaj Bur’s young Foals will take on Jose Mourinho and Paris Saint-Germain! The Champions League Final!”

“Thank you, Jamie! Good evening, everyone. I’m Gary Neville, and I don’t know about you, but this is a matchup for the ages!”

[Jamie looks pleasantly surprised at how engaged and chipper Gary is.]

“Tell me then, Gary, what are you seeing tonight? What are the keys to the match for you?!”

[Gary is extremely enthusiastic. To the point that his exuberance would normally be cause for concern. But Jamie is trusting Gary tonight, after several long talks in the Cotswolds this past week. So many of Gary’s troubles seem behind him. Jamie knows that a good match here tonight is what Gary needs.]

“There are a number of levels here tonight, Jamie. But let’s jump right to the obvious one. In one corner, we’ve got Nicolaj Bur — the man some are calling the Danish Bielsa, although the analogy breaks down if you look closely at their individual performances as youth players–“

[Jamie doesn’t see much harm here, especially because Gary has obviously prepared for this evening’s broadcast. Nevertheless, he interrupts. We’re getting too far afield.]

“Whoa, there, Gar-bear. Let’s save some for the match, yeah? I don’t really know if it matters, who scored more goals as a U13–“

“Nicolaj was a far more prolific goalscorer at the age of 12, Jamie-lad. It’s simple maths. I don’t see why you can’t understand that.”

[Jamie starts to get nervous, hoping to get Gary back onside.]

“Riddle me this, then, Gary. Who has the edge tonight? What can we expect from Gladerbuck, and from the Parisians?”

“Jamie, old son.  We’re going to see what we always see from these two. Bur will attack from deep. It’s in his blood. He can’t help it. Mourinho? He’ll sit back like a total ****ing **** and hope to hit ze Germans on the break. You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.”

“But won’t that defend-first mentality play into Bur’s hands, Gary?”

“Perhaps, Jamie-lad. But when you’ve got Kylian Mbappe on the counter…a Champions League and World Cup winning forward, 2-time Balloon Door winner…you can afford to sit deep like a ****. And make no mistake, that Jose is an evil **** if I ever knew one.”

[Jamie silently mouths a warning to Gary about his language, before trying to get things back on track.]

“Who wins then, Gary?”

[Gary turns to the camera, deadly serious.]

“I’m only going to say this one time, Jamie-lad. I can’t look past Mourinho’s PSG tonight. They’re utter thunderbastards, but they’re experienced, savvy thunderbastards. And I’ve never believed you can win anything with a side this young. They’re basically kids, for Sir Alex’s sake. You know what they say. You can’t win anything with kids. Simple as.”

[Jamie sputters, a look of confusion on his face.]

“Wouldn’t you say that is a little…I don’t know. Short-sighted, Gar-bear? I mean, look at your own United, the Class of ’92. Look at Panathinaikos just 2 short years ago, under the very same Nicolaj Bur who has now brought Gloobbuckbeak to a Champions League Final.”

[Gary is not impressed, and begins tapping his index finger on the side of his nose, as if suggesting he knows something that Jamie doesn’t. A crazed look has entered his eyes. Jamie starts to get nervous again.]

“Things aren’t always as they seem, Jamie-lad. The stories I could tell you about the so-called Class of ’92…have you ever seen Ryan Giggs’ passport from back when he was a kid, Jamie?! It wasn’t even his name! He played for England! Open your eyes, Jamie! The Welsh obviously did a body-snatch, replacing him with one of their own. It’s all very sinister, mate. But there’s no time to get into that now.”

[Gary turns toward the field. Jamie is speechless. The Champions League anthem begins to play, the players walking onto the pitch. Gary begins to sing along at the top of his lungs.]

[Jamie turns away, disgusted, and thus doesn’t see Gary pull out a flask and take a long swig of some purple-colored drink.]

[Note: If you are here during the live blog, you will need to hit refresh to see updates.]

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3rd minute

“Gladerbuckbeak pushing early, Zappasodi dancing through, dinks it…what a save from Pijneninrburger, the flying Dutchman in goal for PSG! Pontigo clears. Could be 1-nil to the Germans, there!”

5th minute

“Throw in, deep for Bur’s Glootburg, PSG clear and look to counter, that’s Mbappe running through…ooh. That was ambitious, son. Quite the angle on that attempt, drifted well wide.”

“Mbapp…did you ever listen to that Hanson band, Jamie-lad?  A criminally-underrated trio, in terms of their lyrics…  Tell me when ze German release the Krucken, yeah?!”

[Jamie is so focused on the pitch, he does not notice Gary finish his first flask and grab another.]

10th minute

“Solid build-up play from PSG now…Finweg through, but Birgir “Ice” Jonsson is there to deny him!”

12th minute

“And now it’s Glabber…duck…that German team, with a chance on goal, as they build nicely through the right flank, before finding Hamalainen on the left, Pinjerburger had to be big in the French goal!”

“Jamie-lad…yur talk funny.”

“Gary, this match is far more open than either manager will want. And both are in their technical areas, shouting instructions.”

[Gary giggles at nothing, and continues to guzzle his sizzurp. Jamie still hasn’t noticed.]

21st minute

“Things have really started to calm down now after a hectic opening few minutes…PSG, losing possession…Jork looking to…that’s just over! Almost converted something from nothing, there!”

[Gary bursts out in laughter, before breaking out in song.]

“JORK! JORK! IT RHYMES WITH FORK!”

[The horror of the moment dawns on Jamie, as he realizes his trust has been betrayed. A look of disappointment, not anger, crosses Jamie’s face.]

28th minute

“Free kick to PSG deep in Gooberbark territory…played short…that’s Mendy pressuring, forcing the turnover, and we go back the other way at pace, Hamalainen played in…switches play to Duftner on the back post…what a save from the Peenusburger in the PSG goal!”

[Gary stops singing his Gladbach songs long enough to burst out in laughter.]

“Jamie-lad, my old son…you just said…you…”

[Jamie just shakes his head and tries to ignore Gary.]

34th minute

“END-TO-END STUFF HERE IN THE CITY OF LIGHTS, AS GLADDYBUCKER COUNTERATTACKS, ONLY FOR PSG TO COUNTERATTACK THEIR COUNTERATTACK, WITH BIG BIRGIR JONSSON DENYING MBAPPE!!!”

[Gary is now shouting incoherently at Jose Mourinho, who is gesticulating wildly in the PSG technical area.]

45th minute (+2)

“Dangerous free kick here for PSG…Kimura to take…he curls it over the wall…WHAT A SAVE FROM BIG BIRGIR IN THAT GERMAN’S TEAM’S GOAL! HE’S HAVING ANOTHER MONSTER NIGHT, GAR-BEAR!”

Halftime

“Let me tell you something, Jamie-lad…this match is saucier than one of Phil’s farts after a cheeky Nando’s. The smell alone–“

[The producers quickly cut to commercial.]

50th minute

“Gladderbing can’t clear the corner and…oh, my…WHAT A SAVE from Big Jonsson in goal! Massive tonight, that lad!!!”

[Gary rolls around on the floor in fits of laughter, pointing a Jamie, wheezing as he tries to catch his breath.]

“Real mature, Gary. Real mature.”

58th minute

“Free kick to Gooderbucks, wide right…Bur’s men are pushing forward…Rodallega to take it…”

[Gary has lost all semblance of professional decorum.]

“RELEASE THE KRUCKEN, NICO-LAD!!!”

“Rodallega curls it in and…German Zarate is down in he box!!! PENALTY!!!”

58th minute (cont.)

“Rodallega steps up to take it… 22 goals on the year, 12 assists… You know, Gary, with a moustache THAT bad, he has to be THAT good…”

“…or just be Scouse, yeah?!”

“**** off, Gary.”

“…AND HE BURIES IT, LIKE A DOG WITH A BONE!!!”

[Gary begins to spray himself with sizzurp, screaming incoherently. Jamie attempts to describe the scene.]

“Mourinho is incensed on the sideline, shouting at the 4th officials, gesturing wildly.  Wait…where did he…Mourinho is now shouting at the Gladbook mascot…Junter, I think he’s called, who has confronted the Portuguese manager…he just stands there, taking abuse from Jose…and…oh, my…yes, that’s… Wow.  After just standing there, unresponsive, the mascot just gestured at Mourinho, drawing his thumb across his throat in a menacing fashion…and Mourinho has lost the plot!  The scenes in Paris are amazing, as an irate Jose Mourinho is heaving water bottles at the German mascot, who does not flinch away from the projectiles striking his head!”

[Gary just keeps screaming.]

“JUNTER, TAKE THE WHEEL!!!”

68th minute

“PSG patiently probing now, having regained their composure.  Mourinho is back in his technical area, seething.  This is personal, now.  The German mascot stands, immobile behind the German bench, staring at Mourinho…”

“…and that’s Mbappe, set free…what a save from Big Jonsson!”

[Gary screams obscenities at Jose Mourinho, who just tried to throw another water bottle at Junter, who doesn’t flinch as it smashes into his head.]

70th minute

“Corner to Gladderdonks, Gary…is this their moment. Substitutions are on, Spak on for Duftner, with Robin coming into the attack, Rodallega dropping into midfield… Jork to take…”

“JORK! JORK! IT RHYMES WITH FORK!!!”

“Yes, Gary…we know… plays it short to Zarate who checked to the top corner of the box…back to Jork…he finds Renard cutting in…AND IT’S IN THE BACK OF THE NET!!! RENARD THE FOX, WITH A DEFT TOUCH FLICKS IT INSIDE THE NEAR POST!!! 2-NIL AND PSG HAVE IT ALL TO DO!!!”

[Gary begins to run around the broadcast booth, a loud, piercing noise coming out of his mouth, like steam from an engine.]

83rd minute

“Another corner to Gladdingbox, Renard the Fox…yes, he’s calling for a substitution. There’s something going on with his foot. Captain Fantastic, the Belgian libero has done his duty tonight…shutting down the vaunted PSG attack and finishing one of his own. Eat a ****, Frank Rijkaard, is what this performance says, really.”

[Gary lies prone in the corner, gasping for air…calling out in a hoarse whisper, for Bur to release the Krucken.]

90th minute

[Jamie shouts to be heard over the air horn that Gary found in an unlocked drawer.]

“THERE WILL BE FOUR MINUTES OF EXTRA TIME. JOSE MOURINHO STANDS IN THE TECHNICAL AREA…5 FEET BEHIND HIM, THE GLADINDERBOOK’S MASCOT SILENTLY STARES AT HIM, MOCKING HIS EXISTENTIAL DILEMMA. SURELY EVEN HE KNOWS THE JIG IS UP.”

90th minute (+5)

“THERE IT IS, THE FINAL WHISTLE!!! NICOLAJ BUR’S SIDE HAVE DONE IT! THEY WILL BE DANCING ON THE STREETS OF GLABBUCKBEAK TONIGHT!!! ANY FINAL WORDS, GARY?!”

[Gary is running circles around the room, having regained his voice.]

“REEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE”

“I couldn’t have said it better myself, Gary…goodnight from Paris.”

Post-Match

Holy ****. I need some sizzurp to get through these.

And it is way too late. I can’t think straight.

I’ll put some actual thoughts together for the season review tomorrow.

Bottom line — Gladbach are done. We had a strong 1st XI, sure, but … Wow. Done and dusted.

One chapter ends, and another begins.

If you’ve stumbled upon this post and are finding yourself a bit confused… Don’t worry.  The basic concept behind the Nearly Men save is explained here.  Just need to catch up? Each installment in Nicolaj Bur’s story can be accessed through the Nearly Men Archive.

And if you just can’t get enough…join us for The Ballad of Toothless Bob, a series conceived and co-authored by Seattle Red and Oriole that explores the world of Nicolaj Bur, away from the pitch. What is Project Arcturus? What lies beyond the twisted redstone door, deep in the bowels of the Santiago Bernabéu?


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