Last night we witnessed yet another monumental achievement that seemed so far away not too terribly long ago. The Reds held on for grim life in the first half after an early Gabriel Jesus goal gave City the lead and a shred of hope. However, Liverpool roared back in the second with goals from Mo Salah and Roberto Firmino capping off a famous win. But what did we learn from this incredible night? The Anfield Talk’s Ronan (@ronan_orourke) takes a look.
Klopp Is King
Well just in case anyone didn’t know this already. Since arriving at Anfield, Jurgen Klopp has lost just two European fixtures (Villarreal away and the Europa League final if anyone wanted to know). Therefore, it doesn’t take a genius to deduce that he is unbeaten in the Champions League with Liverpool.
It is absurd to think that there were quite a few detractors earlier in the season. He has developed a true team capable of taking on anyone in the world. The tactics yesterday were risky, in letting City come at us but it was perfectly judged as the team came out in the second half with just a tad more ambition and ruthlessly took advantage of their opportunities.
Doubters to believers. In Klopp we trust!
No Panic Zone
Loris Karius had a first 90 seconds to forget. Despite repeated pleas from Virgil van Dijk to slow the game down, he still threw it short and only a few passes the later the ball was in the back of our net. Karius had a similar issue in the second half of the drawn game away at Sevilla. However, on this occasion the team did not lose their focus. It would have been so easy to panic after conceding such an early goal but Karius and his teammates did not lose their heads.
It is again a testament to Klopp’s management skills that the team is prepared for all situations and they no longer falls to pieces when things go wrong. A mentally strong team is always tough to beat and we certainly seem to have one now.
Ride Your Luck
I’m not going to lie and pretend we didn’t have a few decisions perhaps go our way. However, that is of course the nature of football. After all, City too had a few favorable calls over the course of the tie. The difference was that we made more of our opportunities than they did. For all their possession and slick passing, City did not create enough chances over two legs to beat us.
Even yesterday, many of their more dangerous moments were shots from distance. As Gary Player famously said: “the harder I practice, the luckier I get”. Teams often create their own luck or at least prepare for scenarios which allow them to exploit circumstances more.
Fortunate situations or not, most neutrals would probably agree that the better team over the 180 minutes advanced and that’s really all that matters.
We Can Play With Anyone
This squad has come a long way over the last few years. Two years ago, we navigated our way through a tricky Europa League draw to make the final and certainly rode our luck along the way in that campaign. This team has taken the next step since that incredible run and now can properly stand toe to toe with most teams in Europe. It is not a coincidence that we have now beaten the previously all conquering City three times in 2018.
Real Madrid are an incredible side, as are Bayern Munich and Roma of course also proved that they are no pushovers. Yet after 10 years in the wilderness away from European royalty, it does appear that we are now deservedly back where we belong.
I still cannot believe we are actually back in a Champions League semi final. As Klopp rightly pointed out, we have just knocked out who many would consider to be the best team in the world at the moment. There is nobody left to fear. We can look forward to Friday’s draw and be happy not only that we’ve come this far, but we are so close to achieving something truly unspeakable until recently. For now, we can sit back and enjoy the moment.