Civil war averted

Within minutes of the final whistle at Wembley Stadium on Sunday night, confirming Chelsea as opponents to my Liverpool in May 5’s FA Cup final after they had just beaten London rivals Tottenham Hotspur, my good old friend Pacharo Kayira sent me a text which read: “Gracian Tukula vs Chris Tukula”. I cheekily responded: “There can only be one winner.”

I later discovered that the Manchester United diehard had posted the same message on Facebook and it attracted several comments as various friends came up with different takes on how this family feud would pan out. Naturally, there are those who agreed with my text response, while others thought that it was the Blues’ chance to salvage their season.

Noting the potential for a civil war, Chris and I called for an emergency cabinet meeting to resolve the matter. I am pleased to report that the meeting, which was very legal, went on pretty well and we both saw the spirit (although I am not entirely sure if it was holy) in that room. I sincerely hope that there will be no room for revenge when the two sides meet.

Chelsea-Liverpool match-ups used to be regular features on the English football calendar during the reigns of Jose Mourinho and Rafael Benitez as the two teams seemed to cross paths in almost every competition. The statistics then used to favour the London giants, but recent history has gone the way of the Merseysiders who have emerged victorious in the last four meetings.

Sunday’s result means that the sides, which have already met in the league and Carling Cup this season, will meet two more times in the final weeks of the season. Kenny Dalglish has the proud record of never losing to the Blues as manager in his two spells at Liverpool, but Roberto di Matteo has registered an impressive record since he took over JB style a few months ago, making the final difficult to call.

While the Reds can fully focus on the cup given that they no longer have anything to fight for in the league, Chelsea are the only English side with the privilege of still fighting on three fronts. They are still in with a chance to get a Uefa Champions League slot on the league table and also have the trip to Barcelona for the semi-final second-leg on Tuesday in the elite competition.

I have ever declared Barcelona as my second football love after Liverpool and there is no doubt in my mind they are a much better side than Chelsea, but I was rooting for the London side on Wednesday night. I also believe that contrary to the belief that the 1-0 first-leg victory is too slender to take to the Nou Camp, it may be just enough to help them scrape into the finals.

Obviously, the Catalan giants will typically dominate proceedings on Tuesday and create even more chances than they did at Stamford Bridge, but if the Roman Army maintain their discipline and resolve, they may just keep Lionel Messi and company at bay while getting a chance to nick a goal of their own. Barcelona struggle against physical sides and that is where they may fall short.

Having said that, I fully expect Pep Guardiola’s matadors to prevail in tonight’s El Clasico and reduce the gap at the top of the Spanish Primera Liga table to just a single point. And to end from where I started, I wish Pacharo all the best as he joins the league of the married later this morning. Welcome to sharing the remote control.

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