The sheiks can relax: money still makes the difference in football
Spalletti’s Zenit Sankt Petersburg had to desperately defend in the last 15 of the 180 minutes of football in front of Unirea Urziceni, hanging on to a 1-0 lead that proved decisive, in the end. Just for the record, Zenit is the team that had payed around 30 million Euros for Danny and recently tabled another 22 million for Bruno Alves, while Unirea Urziceni finished last season in second place in Liga I, splashing out 500.000 Euros this summer, on the transfer market.
This was the sort of tie with one possible outcome, right? Then, what’s the purpose of this article, if Zenit sent home – in fact, in the Europa League’s playoffs – Unirea Urziceni, the underdog? What’s the point in discussing it, when the decisive goal was provided by Danny (the player bought with a transfer fee that would have determined even a sheik to check him up on youtube), after a one-vs-one duel with Nicu, the only player who was at Unirea when the club was playing third division football. This is what makes the difference, this is what football is all about, these days, right? Yeah, right!
For those who missed the second leg, played on Wednesday evening in Sankt Petersburg, on a stadium Zenit will abandon as soon as the new and impressive venue will be ready, the Russian club went through hell as the end of an otherwise controlled game was approaching. With a bit of luck from the pitch, inspiration and guts from the bench, the last 15 minutes of the second game could have easily changed the outcome of a tie decided by Danny’s classy finish. Then, the world would have found very interesting the following facts:
- Unirea’s players hadn’t been paid for the past three months.
- Unirea’s players had refused to turn against the club and ask, according to regulations, to be released of their contracts, even though several first team members would have had no problems in finding new clubs and better deals.
- Unirea’s players had decided to stay focused and turn up to work, knowing that the club’s owner, Dumitru Bucsaru, had earned last season around 20 million Euros from the club’s excellent performance in the Champions League, yet he refused to pay them.
- Unirea’s players had chosen to fight Zenit’s stars, ignoring the Russians’ spending spree and their own club’s 500.000 Euros transfer campaign, hoping to reach once again the group stage, while having no guarantee that, if they make another 20 million Euros for the club’s owner, they’ll at least get paid.
- Unirea’s players were determined to behave like the professionals that probably are hard to find even at top European clubs and put fame and glory ahead before money.
With these guys out of the Champions League, the world of football can relax. It’s still all about the money. At least up there, where the big boys are playing… with the big bucks.