Liverpool 4 – Barcelona 0: That’s Why Everyone Hates Us

In the wake of the full-time whistle last night I spoke to my mate Robert Lawson. He said to me ‘How are you going to write about that tomorrow?’ I didn’t really have an answer. The greatest modern day poets would struggle to come up with an adequate way of summing up what happened at Anfield. We were dead and buried after the first leg. According to Andrew Beasley, we had about a 5% chance of making it to the Champions League final. A 3-0 loss in Barcelona meant that we had a mountain to climb the likes of which few clubs could manage. We’re not like most clubs, though. Anfield isn’t like most stadiums. There are many things we can talk about when it comes to Liverpool Football Club, with one of the most endearing being that we don’t do things the easy way. That’s why there was always the slight hint that we might just able to do the impossible. Yeah, statistically we only had a 5% chance but what were the statistics saying in Istanbul?

It’s not just that we were trailing 3-0 from the first-leg. It’s not even just that we were missing arguably our two most important players in Mo Salah and Roberto Firmino, needing to turn to bit-part players in the form of Divock Origi and Xherdan Shaqiri. It’s that we were going up against a Barcelona team that contains Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez, a pair of players that our defence had generally done well to contain at the Camp Nou but that still scored three goals between them. We needed to score three just to take it to extra-time, so as we pushed forward looking for the goals they’d find space at the back and destroy us, wouldn’t they? That was my fear pre-match and I’d be lying if I said that I even thought we had a 5% chance of progression. More fool me for ever doubting these players and that crowd. The footballing world asked the question of whether we’d be able to do the impossible and the players and supporters had the answer. No wonder they all hate us.

Other Clubs Just Don’t Do That

There’s been a lot of talk lately about Scouse exceptionalism. The idea that we think we’re somehow better than everyone else, that our supporters can do what other teams’ supporters can’t. There’s an extent to which I think the criticism is fair. Then you watch a night like last night unfold and wonder what other football club could do it. There’s a reason why Anfield is a world famous stadium, why no other ground in the country is synonymous with comebacks quite like our place. St. Etienne. Olympiakos. Dortmund. Barcelona. Pick a generation and they’ll have their own tale to tell about a night when they witnessed their Liverpool team achieve the seemingly impossible. Fans of Manchesters City and United, Everton, Arsenal, Spurs etc will all have tuned in last night hoping to watch us lose so that they could jump on social media and tweet some banter about Jürgen Klopp ending another season without a trophy. To steal a phrase from Lucas Leiva, unlucky.

What amazes me almost more than anything about last night is that I thought we would have to be absolutely flawless to get anything from the game but some of the players didn’t even play that well. Shaqiri stank the place out in the first-half, constantly under-hitting passes and putting us in trouble. Origi has a habit of looking like he can’t be bothered most of the time he’s on the pitch. Fabinho allowed himself to get wound up by Suarez early on and looked as if he was going to let his frustration boil over. Yet Shaqiri put the ball in for the third. Origi scored two and was very much switched on at the moment he needed to be. Fabinho was flawless throughout. Even without being at our very best, with key players missing, we do that. I’ll keep saying it, but no wonder they all hate us.

Sunday Is About Showing Our Appreciation To This Amazing Squad

I’ve accepted that the title is gone. Manchester City’s win over Leicester City put the final nail in the coffin for me. I’ve been told by countless people that I should still believe, that this Liverpool squad can do improbable things. In truth, if it was somehow in our hands then I’d believe that. If we needed to do something virtually impossible, such as score ten goals past Wolverhampton Wanderers, then I would still believe. Sadly it’s out of our hands and I thoroughly believe that Pep Guardiola’s team are simply too professional to allow anything ridiculous to happen. Brighton have scored something like two goals in their last nine games at the same time that City have conceded three in their last thirteen. There’s improbable and then there’s impossible. There’s nothing I’d like more than to be proven wrong, of course, but I’ve made my peace with us not winning the title this season and I just hope we beat a very good Wolves side to reach that 97 point mark.

Whist I do think the title is gone, I won’t be any less vigorous in my celebrations come 3pm. I’m heading to Anfield fully determined to show Jürgen Klopp and this Liverpool team my appreciation for a wonderful season. To combine a second Champions League final in succession with a potential 97 points in the Premier League is insane. Even Guardiola and his limitless pot of cash couldn’t make it past the quarter-final stage of Europe’s elite competition whilst taking on the domestic tournaments. We’ve been sensational since the kick of the very first ball and even our likely second-place finish in the league would have won the title in all but two season. The first was last year and the second is this one. I’ll be singing my head off, giving Klopp and his players every ounce of my thanks and praise. The most amazing thing about it is that I don’t think these lads are going anywhere any time soon. We’ll keep taking the fight to City, keep being European royalty and keep doing the impossible. No wonder they all hate us.

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