Arise Gamba Osaka (the team we recently battered 3-1), you are now Champions of Asia!
Great news for Japanese football as a team from J1 wins the ACL for a second year running, and with it, the title of best team on the continent.
The aggregate final score of 5-0 paints an entirely accurate picture. 3-0 at home, 2-0 away. There was only ever going to be one winner of this tie, and while it was something of a walkover, you can only beat who's put in front of you. In the semi final, Gamba dumped out last year's winners Urawa, who were bizarrely dropped into the tournament at the quarter finals, after the group stage was completed, and thousands of miles had been travelled and hundreds of minutes of football played.
Compare that with Gamba who next year won't enjoy the advantage of being placed in the tournament half way through. Indeed they may well not even get the chance to defend their title at all! Despite having won the thing, to compete in the competition next year they have to earn it like any other team. A top three finish in the J. League is looking unlikely, so unless they grab Japan's forth ACL spot by winning the Emperor's Cup, they most likely won't be in next year's tournament.
Well, forgetting the tournament's mad little idiosyncrasies for a minute, it's time to raise a glass to the Champions of Asia: Gamba Osaka. Undefeated throughout the tournament, and thoroughly deserved winners. Enjoy it!
Totally unrelated, here's a gorgeous rainbow which spread it's arms around Shizuoka earlier today.
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