After being (undeservedly) beaten 3-0 by Barcelona last Wednesday, the impossible has happened: a comeback greater than that in Istanbul in 2005 – and Liverpool again! I watched both, but this latest one was just unbelievable (a word used by all players – and Klopp – in post-match interviews).
The best I expected was a 2-0 or 3-1 win for Liverpool, as Barcelona should have been able to control the match, even in a hostile Anfield atmosphere – especially as Liverpool were without Salah, Firmino, and Keita.
It was important to score first, and Liverpool did that after 6 minutes, thanks to a misplaced header by Jordi Alba, interception by Mané, parried shot from Henderson, and follow-up into the net by Origi.
Barcelona recovered, and had chances, (helped by endless misplaced passes from Shaqiri) but were mostly outplayed, and the first half ended at 1-0. Not without damage, though: the sly, cynical, Suarez crocked Robertson and got away with it. What a thoroughly unlikeable player Suarez is, and well deserved to be on the end of “Fuck off, Suarez” and “Cheat, cheat, cheat” chants from the stands.
And the second half… Wijnaldum on for Robertson… Goal #2 from his right foot, followed swiftly by goal #3 from his head, and game on! Barcelona looked shell-shocked, fatigued (in spite of having a week’s rest) and clueless. Their over-reliance on a (mostly) shackled Messi, and memories of throwing away a 4-1 lead against Roma last season must have been eating away at them.
Heading towards the 80th minute, and the final coup de grâce – and farce! Alexander-Arnold wins a corner; the ball boy quickly returns the ball; TAA places it, walks away, glances up and sees Origi in acres of space while Barcelona are wandering aimlessly about; TAA turns back, ball to Origi, and back of the net! Barcelona totally stunned and the rest of the world goes wild!
Unbelievable! This was not supposed to happen! No-one gave Liverpool a realistic chance of anything beyond a graceful exit. But Barcelona’s game is dated now, and many players old and slow. In reality, they deteriorated after Guardiola left, then Xavi, then Iniesta: now, if Messi goes missing in action, they’re stuffed; and he did.