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What Tottenham reaching UCL final means

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From Rob Dauster, lead writer of College Basketball Talk

Let’s get this out of the way before I get rolling here: I am a Tottenham fan.

Die hard. I care more about Spurs than I do any other sports team.

[ VIDEO: Spurs stun Ajax ]

I assume we’ve all seen the video of Steve Nash losing his mind when Lucas Moura scored his last-second winner in Wednesday evening’s Champions League semifinal. He is a studio analyst for TNT’s Champions League and also a lifelong Spurs supporter with deep North London roots. He sprinted off the set, did two laps around the building and returned with tears in his eyes, all while he was live on the air.

My reaction was similar, only it was in my living room, I danced with my three-year old Boxer, I woke up a sleeping two-month old and I wiped out trying to take a corner in the dining room. My wife has the video. The blackmail has already started.

I say all that to say this: I don’t care if Spurs fall to Liverpool in the final on June 1. That’s the truth. I want them to win more than I’ve wanted any team to win any game since UConn won the 1999 college basketball national title, but if this is the end, if Jurgen Klopp‘s heavy-metal football overwhelms a worn down, banged up and, frankly, lesser Tottenham with a never-ending barrage energy, I’ll be fine.

More than fine, truthfully.

[ MORE: Pochettino hails Spurs heroes ]

The ‘Spurs have no trophies’ jokes will continue to be mildly annoying, but at this point that’s the same as saying ‘Rob, you’ve gotten fatter since college.’ Of course I have. If that’s the best you got, maybe leave the banter to someone a bit wittier.

(Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images )
(Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images )

Because I don’t care about winning trophies just to win trophies.

I don’t think that’s what being a fan should be about. I want Harry Kane and Dele Alli and Mauricio Pochettino to win anything and everything they can, but the reality is that Spurs winning a domestic cup doesn’t impact my life in any meaningful way. Let’s say Spurs did win the Carabao Cup this year. I would have been happy for a few hours. I probably would have had a beer or three to celebrate. I’m sure I would have watched the highlights on twitter a couple times.

And then you know what would have happened?

I would have come home and my three-year old would be having a meltdown because I told him he has to wear socks, my wife would be asking me to change my two-month old daughter’s diaper because she won’t stop crying, my dog would be going absolute bonkers because Boxers are incapable of doing anything else and between all of that I’d have to find the time to mow the lawn, fix a dresser and patch up a couple of holes in my ceiling where the nails popped.

The same is true if they find a wait to beat Liverpool in three weeks. Or if they lose to Liverpool.

And despite wearing a lucky matchday jersey that was too tight 15 pounds ago, I’ll have absolutely no control over the result.

So if I have no control over it, and if my life will be exactly the same regardless of whether or not they win, why am I going to get torn up over a trophy?

That’s not what I believe sports should be about for fans.

Jimmy Greaves is Tottenham’s all-time leading goal-scorer. He played for the club for a decade in the 60s. He’s a legend in North London, and nine years ago, he said this to the Daily Mail:

“People are always coming up to me, ‘Jim, can you remember that goal against West Brom in 1968?’ and I say, ‘No.’ But that’s all right because they only want to tell you about what happened to them, anyway. ‘Well, you had the ball on the halfway line, and I remember that because I was with Charlie and we’d just got two pies…’ and it turns out the real story is about Charlie dropping his pie and what you did wasn’t all that important anyway.”

And he could not be more right.

Being a sports fan should be about the memories, about the moments, about the buildup leading to the biggest game in your club’s history. It should be about the experiences that come along the way. No matter what happens in Madrid on the first Saturday in June, nothing will ever be able to takeaway the experience of watching Wednesday night’s comeback, or the jubilation every Spurs fan mainlined when Moura scored the winner.

(Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images )
(Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images )

And nothing will be able to takeaway the indescribable swing of emotions that occurred during the second leg of the quarterfinal tie against Manchester City, when Spurs gave up three goals to put themselves in a losing position only to retake the lead before Raheem Sterling‘s 93rd minute winner was disallowed through VAR.

And I’ll never forget the final matchday of the group stage, when that man Moura scored in the 86th minute in the Camp Nou to get a draw that sent Spurs to the knockout rounds, or watching on a second screen as PSV Eindhoven found a way to make some miraculous saves that allowed them to draw Inter and keep Spurs in second place in the group.

And I’ll always remember Christian Eriksen‘s 79th minute winner over Inter on matchday five that kept Spurs’ chances of advancing alive, just like I’ll always remember the two goals Harry Kane scored in the final 12 minutes to give Tottenham a come-from-behind win on matchday four, when they were dead in the water after mustering just a single point from the first three group stage games.

And I will make sure to remind everyone I come in contact with that this all happened as Spurs played without a home until April, played without a midfield for the second half of the season, dealt with more injuries than Jon Snow’s army of the living in the Battle of Winterfell.

This run should not have been possible. And yet, here we are.

That’s the beauty of sports and sports fandom.

That is literally all that I can ask out of the club that I support. Give me a reason to spend day and night looking forward to the next time they set foot on the pitch. Give me an escape from reality for a couple of hours a week. Give me a reason to feel alive in the leadup. Give me heart palpitations for 90 minutes.

A win on top of that is nothing but icing on the cake.

After VAR drama, does new handball law need to change?

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The fallout from Manchester City and Tottenham’s wild 2-2 draw at the Etihad Stadium continues, as late VAR drama stole the show with Gabriel Jesus‘ strike ruled out deep into second half stoppage time.

[ MORE: VAR drama dominates

Jesus’ goal in stoppage time was ruled out for a handball on Aymeric Laporte after being checked by VAR, as the new laws brought in by IFAB this summer were interpreted correctly. The exact same thing happened as Wolves had a goal chalked out against Leicester during the opening weekend of the season.

But do those new laws need to be tweaked?

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights

The new rules state that if there’s a handball in the box from an attacking player which either a) leads to the ball going into the net or b) leads directly to a goal being scored, then it will be called a handball.

However, the same law states that if a defending player handles in the box then it is down to the referees discretion to decide whether or not it was a deliberate handball.

As you’d expected, Man City midfielder Ilkay Gunodgan has strong feelings on this law change, and our broadcast crew discuss whether or not this law needs to be changed in the video above.

The overall feeling is that the law needs to tweaking to state that handballs in the box by either attacking or defending players are treated the same and called a handball.

Watch Live: Sheffield United v. Crystal Palace

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Sheffield United host Crystal Palace at Bramall Lane on Sunrday (Watch live, 9 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com) as the Blades fans will enjoy their first home game back in the Premier League.

WATCH LIVE ONLINE

Chris Wilder, the lifelong United fan who is now their manager, will be emotional and fans of the Yorkshire club will create a heated atmosphere for opponents to visit this season.

In team news Sheffield United are unchanged from the team which drew at Bournemouth last week, with club captain Billy Sharp on the bench.

Crystal Palace bring in star man Wilfried Zaha who starts up top


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Zidane says Bale will stay at Real Madrid

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Gareth Bale is staying at Real Madrid.

The Welshman was not wanted by manager Zinedine Zidane, who stated that publicly on many occasions over the summer.

But Bale started and grabbed an assist as 10-man Real beat Celta Vigo 3-1 in their La Liga opener on Saturday and it seems like Zidane is ready to brush all of this Bale talk under the carpet.

“He’s going to stay and we all have to think of that as a positive thing,” Zidane said. “The injury to Eden Hazard was bad luck for us but it didn’t change the plans we had for Bale in this game. Gareth and everyone else here is going to show this shirt the respect it deserves.”

After his move to China broke down at the last minute amid conflicting reports blaming Bale and the club for the collapse of the deal, his future at Real has seemed pretty much dead in the water.

Adding in a serious injury to Marco Asensio and Eden Hazard picking up a knock, and all of a sudden Bale is needed again. But for how long?

He was linked with a loan move to Bayern Munich but Philippe Coutinho moved to Bavaria instead, and Bale wasn’t chased by Premier League clubs during the summer due to his huge wage demands. With the transfer window across many European countries closing at the end of this month, he has run out of options to leave a club where the hierarchy and fans don’t want him.

Bale, 30, is now stuck at Real and he has another three years left on his contract. It will be interesting to see how this plays out for the man who has won four Champions League trophies at Real, yet has become the main villain at the Santiago Bernabeu as fans lambast him for playing golf and not learning to speak Spanish fluently during his six years in Spain.

Ibrahimovic scores twice, 10-man Galaxy ties Sounders 2-2

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Carson, Calif. (AP) Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored in each half and the LA Galaxy tied the Seattle Sounders 2-2 on Saturday night despite playing nearly the entire match down a man.

The Galaxy’s Daniel Steres was sent off in the sixth minute for the denial of obvious goal opportunity.

Ibrahimovic tied it at 1 for the Galaxy (13-11-2) with a header in the 45th minute. In the 65th minute, he was taken down by Kim Kee-hee while going for a header in the area and converted the penalty, making it 2-1 with his 20th goal of the season.

LA defender Jorgen Skjelvik scored an own goal in the 82nd minute when he inadvertently deflected goalkeeper David Bingham’s attempted clearance into the Galaxy net.

Raul Ruidiaz opened the scoring in the 42nd minute for the Sounders (11-8-7). Harry Shipp hustled to round up a loose ball and fed it to an open Ruidiaz, who slotted it home.