The knockout style Champions League and Europa League in the looming empty stadiums of Portugal had the feel of an apocalyptic spectacle. Having matches on a daily basis has spoilt us, and I’m not really sure what I’m going to do with my evenings now. Focusing solely on the last two and half weeks of European action, here’s my awards list for the
Best Player: Romelu Lukaku. The Belgian notched four goals and an assist in three games, but the own goal in the final marred it all. Football can be a cruel sport.
Best Player in a Supporting Role: Joshua Kimmich. Is there any position he can’t play?
Best individual performance: Copenhagen goalkeeper Karl-Johan Johnsson’s imperious performance in the Europa League quarter-final against Man United was a sight to behold. His 13 saves in the game is the joint most saves made in the Europa League since its inception in 2009.
Best match: Bayern Munich. The 8–2. The fact that this could be Messi’s last game for Barca makes it all the more poignant.
Best goal: Serge Gnabry’s first goal in the semi-final against Lyon.
Best Disallowed Goal: Lionel Messi vs Napoli. Callum Hudson-Odoi’s effort against Bayern deserves a shout too!
Best story arc: Philippe Coutinho coming off the bench to score twice and assist another against Barcelona. Who writes this stuff?
Most Rewatchable Moment: The Alphonso Davies assist for Bayern’s fifth goal against Barca defied belief. My thoughts and prayers are with Nelson Semedo.
Most Questionable Fashion Choice: Julian Naglessman’s striped suit in the game against Atletico Madrid raised a few eyebrows, but I for one, am really happy to see managers putting in some effort into their dressing.
Santiago Muñez Supersub Award: Moussa Dembele’s brace off the bench against City is the obvious choice here, but just for the pure hilarity of the moment, I’m going to give this one to Chuopo-Moting, for his winner against Atalanta.
Éver Banega Award for Classiest Player of the Tournament: Éver Banega’s performances have been worthy of having an award named after him. In another life, he was most definitely a Pakistani cricketer — he has the prodigious talent, the style but also the disregard for fitness and a work ethic.
James Rodriguez Award for Most Hyped After Just One Tournament: Lyon’s Houssem Aouar
Jamie Vardy Award for Shithousery: Midway through the first half of the Europa League Final, Sevilla player Banega reportedly mocked Inter manager Antonio Conte about his hair, asking if his wig was real. “I’ll see you after the game”, came the incensed Italian’s reply. You love to see it!
State of Florida Award for Most Likely to Get Covid: The entire Sevilla team. Did anyone else see how every single one of them planted massive smooches on the trophy?