A cup final is not about entertainment. It is weeks of growing anticipation and speculation. It is a day of travelling, drinking, singing and meeting old friends. And then it is a minimum of 90 minutes of worry and misery ideally interrupted by one or several moments of intense joy. But most of all its anguish distress and fear. On Wednesday we had 90 + 30 minutes of it, followed by a session of pure torture.
The only real relief was that we were not alone in our suffering. We shared it with the 15’000 or so Luzerners who had made the journey. It was all the familiar faces we have seen at Thun, Sion and Zurich, and this time we had a large contingent of big event fans that accompanied us to the slaughter house. But we should not complain, our event crowd is better than Basel’s who had to return some 3000 un-solds.
This is not going to be a match report. We were too worried to remember what exactly happened out there. FC Luzern ran like demons. We constantly put the Basel ball holder under early pressure, we ran, ran and ran some more. We kept good possession and kept trying to build the attacks from the back with fast short passing and counter attacks. We did almost everything right. But then a short lapse in concentration and Basel gets a free header on a free kick. 1-0. A sucker punch in the lower part of the stomach. Typical.
Now we tell our neighbor in the stand that this is it, no way can we come back, but secretly we do believe we have a chance, its only one goal and today we are at least as good as Basel. And sure enough, we do come back. An unorthodox but none the less magnificent header by Hero Puljic sends the Luzern end into euphoria. It is hard to explain the feeling. No other situation in life can be compared to a goal like this. In a second we have gone from desperation to hope, we have stuck one behind the cocky Basel keeper, we have done it together with the players and now we celebrate together all 15000 of us.
But only minutes after the goal anxiety takes hold again. Wouldn’t it be just typical if those mugs in the Crystal Palace uniforms gets lucky again? or even if they can’t do it we see the penalties coming up and anyone who truly loves football truly hates penalties.
The 90′ is up and we go into extra time. We have been the better team and we can with some justification say that if the referee had correctly applied the rules we would have had a penalty and Basel a red card.
The extra time is filled with cramps and half chances, we get the feeling that Basel is happy to drag it out to penalties. We are not. F***ing penalties. F***in hate them. They are the invention of a sadistic idiot, it’s like deciding a murder trial with a toss of a coin. It feels like we have no natural striker, someone who can with confidence just blast it into the back of the net. We have a few artists, a couple of hard workers, several good tacklers, some runners but no cocky strikers. But we have Zibung. Who do they have? A skinny youth goalie. Still, it’s penalties and we are f***ed.
The entire FCL stand forms a human chain where people hold each others shoulders, praying for a miracle. Some can’t stay and leaves the stand for the solitude of the concrete corridors of the Wankdorf.
Basel scores the first. Renggli equalize. Basel score again. Ohayon who has only recently come on to the pitch misses. Crap. We’re doomed. Basel scores again. Gygax scores. So does Basel. Stahel misses.
Our end is silent, Basel explodes, we want to go home. The players have been fantastic and deserves an applause but we do not want to see bad dancing by the mugs from Basel. We want to go home.
As we leave the ground not much is said. But deep down we know that a loss like this will make the true fans love their club even more and they will also know that the victory will eventually come, and when it does it will taste even sweeter.