Over the last month, the vital role played by supporters as the 12th man has only been emphasized in the Champions League. Take the case of Real Madrid, who made not one but three UCL comebacks against PSG, Chelsea and Man City on the back of the tremendous support at the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu.
The crowd creates a bellowing atmosphere that gives the players the endless belief to perform miraculous remontadas such as those by Madrid. But alongside the loud voices, fans also tend to unveil huge banners or tifos which are impressively designed and displayed on the stands.
In most cases, the artwork or text on the tifos would have some connection with the club’s history or style from the past. During their second leg against PSG in Madrid, the Real fans unveiled an imposing tifo which said “Somos los Reyes de Europa” (We are the Kings of Europe) alongside the image of the Cibeles fountain where Madrid traditionally celebrates their titles. The tifo was a callback to Real’s rich history in Europe which was meant to both encourage the home team players and at the same time meant to be intimidating for the rival team.
In other cases, supporters have gone with more creative approaches with their designs. In 2013, Borussia Dortmund fans unveiled a classic tifo where the famous Yellow Wall at the Signal Iduna Park sported a mosaic of yellow in the background with a BVB fan in the foreground with binoculars. The tifo was accompanied with the text, “On the Trail of the Lost Trophy”. The tifo seemed to have had a great impact on the team as Dortmund reached the UCL final during that season.
Perhaps in a similar fashion, English side Sunderland (aka Balck Cats) unveiled a brand new tifo during their League One Playoffs semi-final first leg encounter against Sheffield Wednesday on Saturday.
The design was a fairly simple one yet made an impression on many fans as it consisted of giant orange cat eyes being presented by the fans on the East Stand at the Stadium of Light. Such a brilliant effort that even fans of arch-rivals Newcastle couldn’t help but get impressed.
Ahead of the match against Sheffield, Sunderland’s official Twitter account confirmed the plans for the tifo as it tweeted inviting supporters on the East Stand to form the design together.
As in the case of Real Madrid and BVB, it looks like the tifo played its part in the match as Sunderland came out 1-0 winners and headed into the second leg with that slender advantage, in their quest to return back to the Championship.
Having been relegated from the Premier League during the 2016/17 campaign, the English side has plummeted down to the Championship and further into the third division. With newfound support as was on display against Sheffield Wednesday, Sunderland players would be looking to rely on their fans as they make the final push in the Playoffs to kickstart their PL return campaign.