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Live: 2035/36 Europa League Final

“Welcome one and all to the Nuevo Mestalla in Valencia! I’m your host Jamie Carragher, here in a city well-known to my co-host, Gary Neville! I can’t imagine a place I’d rather be!”

[At this, Jamie gestures amiably to his side, the camera pulling back to show Gary and Jamie standing in a broadcast studio overlooking the pitch. Gary does not respond, but grunts discontentedly, glaring at Jamie, his right eye twitching ominously.]

“Oh, Gary, Gary…come on, Gary! Why the long face?! Don’t you have fond memories of your stint here as manager?!”

[Gary turns to stare blanky into the camera, ignoring Jamie completely. The lack of a reaction from Gary seems to unnerve Jamie, who knows that Gary is nothing if not deadly serious about his ‘banter.’ Jamie proceeds cautiously, turning his focus to the match.]

“Alright then, Gary! A big night, the biggest of nights! We’ve got Leicester, the Foxes of Fosse Road, the Kings of the King Power Stadium, the Earls of the East Midlands, squaring off against the young upstarts, plucky Duruji Kvareli, the 9-time defending Georgian champions, led by their enigmatic, charismatic and oh-so- apothegmatic Levan Akhobadze, known as “Goose” by their supporters. A veritable clash of the titans, isn’t it, Gary?!”

[Gary refuses to look in Jamie’s direction or acknowledge his presence, but addresses the question at hand after a lengthy, awkward delay.]

“Jamie-lad, you ignorant slut. Let’s be frank, yeah?! Leicester are has-beens, never-weres, and never-will-bes. I’ve never even heard of these ****ing Georgian wankers. Top Gun is overrated, never mind the obvious question as to why you would name yourself after a character who died in such a terrible movie. If you’re going to be someone from Top Gun, you should aspire to be Tom Cruise or that guy what played Huckleberry Finn in the cowboy movie. No one cares about Goose, much less cares about this second-rate, cancerous bollock of a match, least of all you and me. But, yeah, we’re getting paid, so I’ll try to remember to quote, ‘have a good attitude’ un-quote, as you so sanctimoniously reminded me a few minutes ago, as if you were Neville Neville himself. And I’ve warned you about that, now haven’t I?!”

“Hold on, now Gary. Just you hold on, and let’s put the personal to the side for now. Leicester won the Premier League! Sure it was 20 years ago, but that has to count for something! And, they’ve won this competition, the Europa League, twice in the last 5 years! The Georgians knocked off the likes of Betis, Villarreal and Liverpool en route to the final! If memory serves, you never beat Betis. You never beat Villarreal. Tell me, how many Europa League finals did you reach as a manager?! So let’s give some credit where credit’s due, yeah?! We can’t all be the Iceman to your Maverick.”

[Jamie laughs in what he perceives to be a good-natured fashion. Gary turns to Jamie, staring him down. The twitch in Gary’s right eye is increasingly more pronounced, and rapid. Jamie laughs awkwardly and drops his voice lower, although it is still caught by the microphones.]

“It’s just a bit of banter, Gary. Come on, the give-and-take. What it’s all about, yeah?!”

[Gary pauses momentarily, staring at Jamie without blinking. Suddenly, he begins to laugh maniacally, like a hyena, spittle visibly flying from his mouth. After a few seconds, the laughter cuts off as suddenly as it began, a calm, preternatural stillness coming over Gary’s face as he takes a long drink from a large mug shaped like Sir Alex Ferguson’s head. The twitching in Gary’s eye slows noticeably as as he groans in delight, an uncomfortable sound that rings of raw, pure sexuality.]

“Jamie-lad. It’s like the gaffer used to say — he who pays the piper names the tune, and ’round these parts I’m not inclined to tempt fate. Leicester are just the sort of club to revel in fluking the Premier League title 20 years ago, with a bunch of players no one even remembers–”

“I remember them, Gary. I remember them well! That was one of the most epic, awe-inspiring–“

[Gary interrupts, thrusting his hips aggressively at Jamie in a continuous, mesmerizing motion, Ferguson mug clutched greedily in both hands, a wild look in his eyes.]

“You remember nothing, Jamie-lad. Nada. Zip. Zilch. Not unless I say so. Savvy?!”

[Jamie nods as an awkward silence once again descends over the studio. The only sound is Gary humming a song only he can hear, muttering softly (and unintelligibly) to himself, as he continues to thrust his hips in a suggestive fashion. After approximately 20 seconds of dead air, the new Europa League anthem (The Killers’ Mr. Brightside) begins to blare from the speakers of the Nuevo Mestalla, the players now taking the pitch.]

[The producers gesture at Jamie. He gamely begins to announce Leicester’s lineup, dropping in various bits of color commentary regarding each player, Leicester’s tactics and manager Roger Schmidt, before turning to Gary, who is charged with discussing the Duruji Kvareli lineup and tactical approach.]

“Nikolaou in goal, that lad’s a good lad. Tall, lanky. Like a Cyprussian Edwin van der Sar, that Dutch fella…but with better hair. Although I know the only question Jamie has is whether the curtains match the drapes, yeah, Jamie-lad?! You saucy minx…”

[At this, Gary trails off, a look of confusion on his face as Jamie closes his eyes, wishing himself to be anywhere. Anywhere but confined in a small, enclosed space with Gary Neville for the next 2 hours. For his part, Gary does not bother to say anything further about the Duruji Kvareli players, but simply sings along to the anthem, wide-eyed, stopping only to drink the dense purple liquid in his Alex Ferguson mug. As the song ends, Gary turns to Jamie.]

“The only question, Jamie-lad, is if it’s that kind of match, you know?!”

[Jamie winces and, against his better judgment, asks the question no one needs answered.]

“What…what kind of match, Gary?”

“The kind where I take my pants off or not, Jamie. Naturally.”

“Uhh…any predictions on the score then, Gary?”

[Gary takes a long pull from his mug, muttering again beneath his breath, before turning to Gary, a glint in his eye.]

“Duruji to win by a touchdown at least, Jamie-lad.”

[Behind Gary and Jamie, the players are taking up their positions on the pitch, as Rupert Grint parachutes into the stadium to deliver the match ball to the referees. Much to Gary’s visible delight.]

“Tell you what, Jamie-lad, if I’d known that ginger **** from Harry Potter was going to bring in the match ball, it’d be pants off for sure! But, the real question here is why not fly it in on a broomstick?!”

“Broomsticks can’t fly, Gary.”

“Not with that attitude they can’t! I heard that Harry himself was going to be here, but his plane had to be diverted after…well, you know…the unpleasantness with Hermione.”

“I have no idea what you’re talking about, Gary. Can we please just focus on the match?!”

“It’s bull****, Jamie-lad. Highly-enriched, weapons-grade bullshit.”

“It’s an outrage, I’m sure, Gary.”

“It is an outrage, Jamie. Just like in the movies, UEFA are like Uncle Dursley, keeping the great Harry Potter living under the staircase.”

“It’s an interesting analogy, Gary, but I’m not sure I see the point…or the connection to the ginger.”

[On the pitch, Rupert grins mischievously to lukewarm applause. Gary takes the disinterested reception as a personal affront.]

“Do you see that, Jamie-lad?! That…that… Disrespect?! But what happens in the Harry Potter movies, yeah?! He rises up and kills all the muggles. That’s what. So you’d better watch your back, you daft, Scouse ****.”

“I don’t think that’s what happens, Gary.”

[Note: if you are here during the live blog, you will need to hit refresh to see new updates as the match progresses. Full details on Duruji Kvareli’s 2036 campaign, leading up to the Final, can be found in the 2036 Open Thread: How Loose Is Your Goose?]
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5th minute

“A delicate start to the match, isn’t it, Gary? Neither side wishing to get caught out. But Leicester have a corner, let’s see if they can do anything with it.”

[Gary smacks his lips quite noisly.]

“Jamie-lad, does it taste like magenta in here?”

[Jamie just ignores him.]

“Nice defensive header there from Daugaard, the young Danish centerback. Libicki racing on to it…space in front of him…is the counter on?! Look at the pace from the young Polish lad!!! None of his own teammates can keep up…”

[Gary begins making racecar noises, clearly interested in what’s happening on the pitch now.]

“Luis dives…oh, my…Libicki has done him there, Luis diving in to tackle, but Libicki cuts inside and shapes to shoot…”


[Gary unleashes a torrent of profanity, his disappointment clear.]

8th minute

“Look lively there, Gary…free kick to Duruji Kvareli in a dangerous position. That was just too easy, Gary. Even you could have saved that, drunk as you are.”

“I’m not drunk, Jamie. I’m the very picture of sobriety. Just ask Phil.”

12th minute

Leicester look to go long, quickly…Redjepi playing it to Lim in space…the wily Foxes sensing a chance to catch Duruji out…but that’s some brilliant defending by Daugaard there, to get across and break up the play.”

“I’ve got a semi just watching that young lad’s positional play, Jamie. I’m not gonna lie.”

19th minute

“Nearly 20 minutes gone, Gary. Any insights, as Duruji prepare to take a long throw in? That Mickovski can heave.”

“The lad must have abs like me, back in the day, Jamie-lad. But, in the grand scheme of things, I’m not surprised there have been no goals thus far. Like a baseball game this, boring as ****.

Redjepi punches clear in the crowd…what a heave from the…where is Mickovski from?”

“Somewhere ’round Sussex, I reckon.”

25th minute

“Leicester looking to build from the back, dealing nicely with the high press for the moment…but that’s Hristov, with the interception…Freidmeigas…looking for Libicki in space…”

[Gary begins to moan.]

“…firing from an oblique anglestraight at Redjepi. I thought it was their moment there, Gary. I really did.”

“Just like a Polish girl Ryan used to talk about, real talented at bringing you right to the edge, and leaving you waiting, Jamie-lad. That’s a skill, that is.”

31st minute

“I tell you what, Jamie-lad. 30 minutes gone, and I’ll never get it back. If this continues, I’m going to need a refill of Neville Neville’s cough medicine.”

“Gary, I don’t know what to tell you, but Libicki is looking a little rough…like Phil after one of his benders, you know? He was nursing a knock ahead of the match and has been the Georgians’ most dangerous player thus far. It’ll be a big blow if he has to come off.”

[The minutes pass in silence, as nothing remotely notable happens on the pitch. Gary hums Mr. Brightside softly to himself.]

“Yes, that will be it for Libicki, Gary. I bet Goose is wishing he still have Ivkovic to throw on, but instead we’ll see their homegrown Czech international, Jiri Rak. Normally deployed on the right wing, today he’ll head out left instead of the young, virtually untested Tabukashvili. Make no mistake, this is a blow to Duruji Kvareli’s hopes.”

“There’s just no hiding that level of inbreeding, Jamie-lad.”

[Jamie looks somewhat alarmed at the heavy slurring in Gary’s voice, but decides that discretion is the better part of valor, and ignores the comment.]

43rd minute

“A disaster for the Georgians, Gary! Back and forth we go, but Duruji Kvareli are caught out on the turn! Drew Hulme is wide open, and has no trouble with a delicate chip over the onrushing Nikolaou! 1-ni to the Foxes!”

[Gary mutters a string of unintelligible profanity, rocking back and forth in the fetal position, mumbling “Keano not liking this, not one bit.”]

“I tell you what, Gary., Duruji Kvareli need to find something in the 2nd half. Some sense of purpose. They’re as flat as your missus was before she went to that clinic in Ibiza.”

[Gary seems oblivious to Jamie’s jibe, having turned his attention to the electrical box in the corner.]

Second Half

[The broadcast feed immediately cuts out after the second half kicks off, just after several thousand volts of electricity go coursing through Gary’s body, preventing further live commentary from both he and Jamie, to whom the electricity arced. The remainder of the match thus plays out in blissful silence.]

Hristov came close for the Georgians in the 57th minute, chipping Redjepi but clipping the post. Hosseinpour replaced the ineffective Ntombela in the 67th minute, with Hjaltason in dire need of a substitution. Cipot replaces him a few minutes later.

Disaster strikes in the 75th minute, as Leicester are able to all-but walk the ball into goal, with Cellerino smashing home from close range. Down 2-nil, we have no choice but to throw caution to the wind and get more aggressive.

Luis immediately draws a 2nd yellow card, reducing Leicester to 10 men…but is it too little, too late?!

For 10 long minutes we are ineffective, but Jiri Rak snatches one from 25 yards in the 86th minute. We continue to press and probe, harrying Leicester…and in the 90th minute we are rewarded, as Rak buries the equalizer.

With 5 minutes of injury time…is this our moment? We cannot find a goal, so it will be extra time.

Hosseinpour gives us the lead in the 100th minute, a beautiful finish after a brilliant chip from Cipot. We’re dead on our feet, but holding firm even as Hristov has to leave with an injury. We are immense. We hold on, to claim the title, 3-2 after extra time.

Thank you for joining us in Valencia. Duruji Kvareli’s 2036 campaign continues here, in the the 2036 Open Thread: How Loose Is Your Goose?

God leaned over to the Devil, drew him close and declared, “those who will drink three glasses of chacha may be on my side. After that, they are yours.”

If you’ve stumbled upon this post and are finding yourself a bit confused, the basic concept behind Duruji Subsequent ThreadSave is explained here.  Just need to catch up? Each installment in Levan “Goose” Akhobadze’s attempt to take over the football world, starting from the Georgian Regional Leagues, can be accessed through the Duruji Subsequent ThreadSave Archive.

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