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Legends of the Caucasus!

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Georgia defeats Portugal with Mamardashvili and Kvaratskhelia as stars, and reaches the round of 16. It will be Spain’s rival. Christian, unhinged and without a goal.

The Eurocup demanded a big splash and Georgia gave it, a country of only four million inhabitants, a team that had never been at the top of the top elite, quite the contrary, as it was until recently considered the tailgate of the European football. Their victory against Portugal, the Portugal of Cristiano Ronaldo and João Félix, is the history of this tournament and this sport.

The feat will allow them to stay alive in Germany and face Spain in the round of 16, no more, no less. A rise as great as the fall of the Portuguese, who already knew they were first without playing and go into the crossroads with the specter that any team can beat them.

To where Europe ends and Asia begins, in that inhospitable football terrain that countries like Georgia have always been, tactics, knowledge, and methodology have also reached there. Seeing the Georgians in a tournament of this relevance perhaps should begin to become normal , because in addition to a geographical challenge it is also a reality of current football.

In the Caucasus, a Frenchman named Sagnol, a full-back in his day, brilliant to the point of reaching Bayern, has become coach to give a modest team a sense that it lacked. Portugal could not sink their teeth into him at any time, making Roberto Martínez and especially Cristiano uncomfortable as ever.

Kvaratskhelia’s goal at 93 seconds uncorked a game for which no one had put up a sign like that to announce it. The Portuguese line-up, full of substitutes although with their goalkeeper and their starting striker in the eleven, and the spirit of a Georgia that was playing the game of its life set up a duel between the lazy favorite and the inexhaustible meritorious one.

Legends of the Caucasus.

The fleeting counterattack was completed by Kvaratskhelia before the holes left in defense by Antonio Silva and Danilo. It didn’t take long for Portugal to miss Pepe, the life insurance for a defense that is not very strong. It hurts him to play so exposed and in a zipper, since he attacks with three center backs and defends with four at the back.

Roberto Martínez understood that he had to open up the pitch with Pedro Neto and Conceiçao, but even then Portugal did not find any avenues through which to filter in the inside. João Félix wanted to and could, but his shots always came out weak. Cristiano, who tested Mamardashvili with a long-range free kick, was drowning in his own obsession with scoring and in the referee’s lack of permissiveness, who did not hesitate to caution him for protesting or Pedro Neto for diving.

Gelsenkirchen, converted into a small Tbilisi, suffered and enjoyed in equal measure. The defensive performance of Georgia’s three centre-backs was colossal, as was the figure of Mamardashvili. Between Cristiano never finding a clean shot and the Valencia goalkeeper making the save of the year, the match definitely became a funnel with no solution for Portugal.

Before Cristiano left substituted kicking the grass, Georgia’s madness had expanded with the naive penalty that Antonio Silva committed on Kvaratskhelia. The referee did not see it but the VAR did, who caught the attention of his teammate while the Georgian stands exploded in full ecstasy. Mikautadze extended the lead.

Without pride or formula, with João Félix off and the changes without any influence, the remaining time was a mix between the Portuguese discredit in the face of a tough defeat and the coronation of a Georgian team that not only defended its advantage with honor and pride, but He was also able to score more goals with an unleashed Kvaratskhelia. An epic of those that football leaves from time to time. A story that will be remembered forever. That of the legends from the Caucasus who were able to one day defeat Cristiano and his people.

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