The Mentality Monsters March Their Way to Madrid

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Article by Anish Dogra @Anish_Dogra 

Football has often been described as “22 players kicking a ball about, and in the end the Germans always win”. After last night 11 of those 22 players were guided by perhaps the greatest German to ever represent Liverpool Football Club and I don’t think many will disagree with my statement.

Not many, including myself (I have to admit) thought we overturn a gargantuan deficit that had never been completed in the history of this great European competition. Without Mo Salah, Bobby Firmino, Naby Keita, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and 45 minutes of Andy Robertson the task went from a James Bond type of mission to a Tom Cruise Mission Impossible movie, after last night I wouldn’t be surprised if a movie was made about the herculean effort from the Men in Red.

Where do I even begin to analyse that game and performance. I think a fitting place to start would be THE front three. Without a doubt everyone associated with Liverpool or even football knows who the club’s front three are, Mo, Bobby and Mane.

In years gone by luck has never been on our side (perhaps we’re still paying the price we paid the Devil in 05), and again luck was not on our side going into this game, Firmino aggravating an injury after coming on in the Camp Nou last week, Salah suffering concussion after being wiped out against Newcastle United on Saturday night. Already our fearsome front three are down to just one sole survivor, Sadio Mane.

No front three and 3-0 to one of the best teams in Europe and against the best player in the world, no hope surely? Think again. 7 minutes on the clock a hopeful pass by Matip is poorly controlled by Jordi Alba, Mane pounces, Henderson gets past a few Barcelona players as if they were not there, shot saved, and the rebound falls perfectly to the feet of one of the new additions to the front three, Divock Origi. 5 yards out he simply could not miss. Game on.

The statement has been said a thousand times but if you are in the 5-yard box then you will probably score 10 goals a season, thank goodness Origi was there on Tuesday night to reduce the aggregate score to 1-3. Now I could easily talk about this goal for the rest of my life but Origi wasn’t the only hero last night.

Xherdan Shaqiri, a player who hasn’t been in the starting eleven since Boxing Day and perhaps understandable considering his passing was questionable on many occasions last night, but similar to everyone who wore the red shirt on that field last night, his effort and application could not be questioned, and as previously shown Shaqiri can either channel his inner Bayern Munich or his inner Stoke City, it most certainly can be agreed that his inner Munich was unleashed for that peach of a cross for Wijnaldum’s second and our 3rd of the night.

3-3. Anfield is in raptures, the men in Red are on the up, Barcelona are on the ropes, Liverpool need one more goal to ensure the game wouldn’t go to extra time and to ensure that it would be Liverpool playing in Madrid and not the Catalonians. As typical, Trent Alexander-Arnold finds himself high up the pitch, 3 players around him – his best possible outcome from that position would be earn his side a corner, and that’s exactly what he does.

Then, the most audacious corner Anfield has probably ever witnessed comes to the forth, Barcelona players are asleep, in fact most of the Liverpool players are asleep too bar two. The corner taker Trent, and the man who scored 6 goals the season before whilst on loan at Wolfsburg, Divock Origi. A low whipped in cross, Origi has the goal at his mercy and he rifles the ball past Ter-Stegen in the roof of the far corner of the net. The comeback is complete, limbs on the stands and on the pitch, anyone associated with Football cannot believe what has happened.

The mighty Barcelona along with the best player in the world Lionel Messi have thrown away a 3 goal lead to a depleted and under-strength Liverpool team. But you know what they say about European Nights at Anfield, it isn’t over till it’s over.

The courage, determination, belief, effort and application of every one of those Liverpool players was absolutely incredible. They hustled, harried and pressed every single one of those wearing a Barcelona shirt. Normally I would never agree with Jose Mourinho, but his post-match comments epitomised the reason why Liverpool won this game, Jurgen Klopp. To this day I still remember one of his most famous comments, “We must turn from doubters to believers”. Jurgen Klopp made his players believe and by God didn’t they echo his words perfectly.

Back-to-back Champions League finals, 94 points in the league, what Klopp has done with this team is nothing short of remarkable and on the 1st June 2019 those relentless reds will have the chance to forget about the heartbreak of Kiev in 2018 and become heroes in Madrid against fellow English Rivals Tottenham in 2019.

Article by Anish Dogra @Anish_Dogra 

 

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