The Champions League delivers a thunderbolt at Anfield
Football once again defied expectation as it has a habit of doing on the Champions League stage over the past few seasons. What we saw last night at Anfield was incredible, a team with their backs against the wall against a side which for many are the best in the world with talisman Lionel Messi in a rich vein of form and widely considered as one of the finest exponents of the game...ever. Liverpool came into the second leg with an adverse (and deceptive) 3-0 scoreline. This first leg result was certainly not a reflection of what we saw at Camp Nou where moments of genius from Messi coupled with poor finishing from Liverpool contributed to the first leg scoreline in a game where the English side outplayed their hosts for considerable spells during the 90 minutes.
Mission impossible was the general consensus ahead of the game but 'football is football' as the great Boskov used to tell us. What Liverpool do have is that deep rooted sense of pride which was installed by Bill Shankly and later nurtured by Bob Paisley and there was a time when they were the most revered side in Europe. That pride and passion always comes to mind when talk moves to the legendary Istanbul 2005 Champions League final when the Reds fought back to beat AC Milan having been 3-0 down and was visible again last night against a Barça side who felt their hard work was done and that a place in the final was a mere formality. Not unlike the comeback in Rome last season, the Catalan side shipped four goals with the last of the four a source of embarrassment from the Barça defence who were caught napping.
Last night's result is possibly the biggest surprise on the European stage this year and has generated another chapter in the Barcelona annals of major Euro disappointments, taking place alongside Bern 1961, Seville 1986 and last years debacle in Rome. To add fuel to the flames, the exit is accentuated by the fact that Klopp's side were missing two of their key strikers with Mo Salah and Roberto Firmino, ruled out of the game due to injury. Now that there are no more Spanish sides involved it's worth looking back at Real Madrid's incredible achievement of three back-to-back Champions League wins in a competition where a bad day at the office can result in elimination as Barça witnessed at Anfield. Last night however was a night for Liverpool who are unquestionably worthy finalists for the June 1st in Madrid.