Tis the season for magical UCL comebacks.
Ajax did it against the reigning champions Real Madrid. Juventus did it against Atletico de Madrid. Manchester United did it against Paris Saint-Germain.
But this one was truly the greatest of them all!
No Firmino and Salah, three goals down in the tie and Lionel Messi were just some of the factors that rode against them heading into the match. Pundits and fans alike wrote the Reds off while some had a little faith that the impossible could be achieved.
Barcelona had choked a three-goal lead in a UCL tie last season to Roma in the quarter finals. Messi and co. came out and said they learnt from their mistakes and stated it would never happen again. Well it happened again. A 3-0 victory in the first leg to only be overturned and lose 4-0 (4-3 on agg.). So, let’s get to it and review one of the greatest comebacks in UCL history.
The football world is still trying to process the events that unfolded at Anfield. So just how in the world did the Reds manage to pull this off?
In the seventh minute a mistake from Alba gifted Henderson the opportunity to run through the defence before the ball found Origi and tapped it in. Wijnaldum was subbed on for Robertson on the other side of halftime before producing two goals in two minutes to level the tie. With just over ten minutes to go, Trent Alexander Arnold caught Barca’s defence napping and played the ball to Origi in the box who struck it in the top corner to send his side to the Final for the second consecutive year running. Klopp’s side played with passion, determination and adopted the never say die attitude as they were arguably the better side over the tie.
Klopp’s post-match interview and the stadium’s You Never Walk Alone chant said it all on a night where the impossible became reality.
They’re unstoppable at home. A pub side on the road. But the most shocking thing was, they choked a three goal lead again. It’s been labeled as one of the biggest embarrassments in the club’s history and it’s hard to argue with the media on that one.
Arturo Vidal was the only player with the right mentality and heart to give it his all and he was eventually substituted for it. Messi had an off-night and was bullied at certain stages, Suarez spent more time on the ground crying than playing, Coutinho lost the ball at least twelve times and the midfield lost the battle of the two. But it’s the defence where it hurt the most. Jordi Alba was punished for his mistakes which led to two of the goals before they were caught napping and allowed Liverpool to tap it in rightinfront of them.
Different year, same result. When will Barca learn?
Trent Alexander-Arnold. Remember the name. It’s ok if you don’t because he’s emerging as arguably the best Right-Back in the world.
The Englishmen has provided the most assists (14) out of every Liverpool player across all competitions this season. Last night against Barcelona alone he had the most touches (81), passes (56), crosses (8) and interceptions (4) of any Reds player on the pitch. Not to mention his slick assist from the corner which caught everyone by surprise.
Former Barcelona and Chelsea player Cesc Fabregas praised him by tweeting “People will tell you it’s bad defending. I’m telling you it’s pure intelligence and vision”. The most incredible thing out of all this; he’s only twenty years old.
There’s only so much Ernesto could have done to prevent déjà vu. He picked the best starting lineup at his disposal and came with a three goal lead with one foot already in the Final. His substitutions made no impact in the game and failed to raise the team’s mentality after Wijnaldum’s unexpected brace. He looked a broken man on the sidelines and when questioned post-match about his future his response was “I don’t know”.
With the league already wrapped up and the Copa Del Rey Final on the horizon, it may not be enough to keep his job. Roma was the name they dreaded for a year and now It’s Liverpool.
Liverpool close the Premier League season against Wolves at home with a chance of claiming the title. For that to happen they must win and hope Manchester City drop points against Brighton.
For Barcelona, they host Getafe in their final home league game of the season where they’ll be awarded the La Liga title. It’ll tend to the wounds of this nightmare for a little while at least.