Valencia resist battling Betis amid the ‘blessed madness’ | Sid Lowe

It’s hard to know where to start with Real Betis 3-6 Valencia, the game that was always likely to be fun but proved to be even more fantastic

“I’m too old for this,” Marcelino said and he’s only 52. Three weeks ago the Valencia coach, who once got cramp in a press conference, pulled a muscle celebrating a dramatic late winner at Anoeta. That night it was his hamstring that hurt; on Sunday night it was his heart. His head too. His and everyone else’s. While he might be an excitable bundle of energy, dashing and leaping and pointing his way along the touchline, he wasn’t alone: it wasn’t just his brain spinning or his sternum about to burst. Down at the Benito Villamarín, amidst all the heat and the noise, they were having a collective coronary. When eventually it subsided, when they had survived, they realised they’d never felt so alive.

“Blessed madness,” El Mundo called it. Super Deporte went for “scandal”, which they meant in a good way; Estadio Deportivo chose “Russian Roulette”; AS, “festival”. Valencia captain Dani Parejo didn’t know what to call it, so “…?” would have to do. That and a couple of faces crying with laughter. Marcelino said it almost as well without saying anything when cameras caught him turning to assistant Rubén Uría on the bench – where, for once, he was actually sitting – and shooting a look that asked: “What the hell’s going on?” Uría shrugged. He didn’t know and it wasn’t like anything he said would be heard. All around, people shouted: “Yes, we can!” And, amazingly, everyone thought they could. Could? Would. As one cover said: “They dreamt amid the chaos.”

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