Go with a smile!

Wednesday, May 08, 2019

Liverpool Reaches the Final

Here are the greatest stories in English Football over the last 10 years

1. Leicester winning the league in 2016
2. Man City vs QPR
3. Chelsea vs Bayern Munich (and the comebacks)
4. Fulham reaching Europa League final
5. Wigan winning the FA Cup
6. England reaching the semi-finals of the World Cup 2018

To all that, you had to add Liverpool overcoming a three goal deficit in a first leg to beat Barcelona 4-0 to get into the final of the UEFA Champion's League.

The really extraordinary aspect of this performance is same as the one in Istanbul: that it was achieved by people you wouldn't think of as stars. Not Divock Origi, even though Divock Origi has contributed some very crucial goals. Giogino Wijnaldum has been an excellent player all season, but he was a sub here. And Xherdan Shaqiri. Similar to the 2005 Liverpool side, who had these people you wouldn't normally think of when "UEFA Champion's League winner" is mentioned. People like Milan Baros, Steve Finnan, Dietmar Hamman, Vladimir Smicer and Jerzy Dudek. And somehow the bunch of them conjured 20 minutes of magic to give Liverpool their first UCL since 1984. (And to banish forever the ghost of Heysel).

Of course, you could say that the Barcelona team here was no vintage, but they still had Gore Vidal, Messi, Rakitic, Pique, Suarez, Coutinho and Busquets. Except that their defence probably hasn't really been tested all season long. It may be unfair to blame Messi, but he's been on the side of chokers. He's lost 2-3 Copa America finals he should have won. And last year, they also choked against Roma, also having been up by 3 in the first leg.

It's been said that Anfield's atmosphere unsettles opponent sides. English teams, when they do win the Champion's League, do so by outmuscling the opponents, and fighting harder. English teams also have a disadvantage in that they have to compete in a tougher league. However, in a way competing in a tougher league keeps you sharp, whereas playing against weaker opponents, as the Juventus, Real Madrid, Barcelona and PSG have found out, makes you susceptible when you suddenly meet a stronger opponent in the UCL.

Interestingly, if English clubs do win the UCL, their defeated opponents will eventually win the UCL in the next few seasons. Thus after Man U defeated Bayern in 1999, they won it a few years later. Liverpool won against AC Milan (champions in 2007) Man U won in 2008 again against Chelsea (champions in 2012). Chelsea won against Bayern Munich (champions in 2013).

I hope that Liverpool wins the UCL, even though if you want to favour the underdog, you'd go for the winner of Tottenham Ajax. But Liverpool has had such a great season that somehow they deserve to win something. Then again, there's also something wrong if Pochettino doesn't win anything for Tottenham during his 5+ years there.


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