The Reds are off to Munich tonight and all of a sudden hope has sprung eternal that the country’s favourite team could be on the march to another European Cup adventure, ending in Madrid on the June the 1st.
Alright, Liverpool are far from the country’s favourite side, but like staging the Eurovision in April or celebrating Christmas in October, I think we can all agree that having a Champions League final in June feels wrong. I’m sure it’s just a blatant attempt to make some more money from the already extortionately priced and astonishingly corporate grand finale, but we all have to put food on the table and UEFA are no exception. Those crafty Europeans.
Although it might seem like this whole season is about the league for the Reds, it can’t be forgotten how badly both players and fans want redemption for last year’s shortcomings in Kyiv.
Ajax singing “Always look on the bright side of life” in the Bernabeu. pic.twitter.com/uuE2BkexjO
— Andy Mitten (@AndyMitten) March 5, 2019
The competition has opened itself up in the last week without doubt. Real Madrid are out, which everyone should be really happy about given the fact that they barely celebrated winning the whole fucking competition last season. Just imagine being nonplussed about three European Cups on the bounce.
Paris Saint-Germain have departed the fray going out to Man United. This should also be great news for those of us who remain willfully blind to banter accounts, dabbing and Paul Pogba’s Instagram account in order to convince ourselves that professional footballers are still able to go down to the pub every second night. The bank-rolled project of the Qatari government is everything wrong with modern football, and every year that goes by without a Man City or PSG triumph in Europe should be classed as a good one.
Dortmund’s exit means we don’t have to listen to hipsters harp on about their ninety-minute singing despite it having zero effect on the match. While Porto and Ajax’s presence in Friday’s draw will provide some much needed new faces and also some favourable opposition for anyone who can join them in the hat in Nyon. Or Monaco, or wherever UEFA are conducting their operations nowadays to minimise taxation.
The path to the final for whoever progresses in Bavaria tonight seems a lot clearer, although still fraught with potentially difficult ties.
It’s a big opportunity for Liverpool though, as it is for Munich. There’s every chance Manchester City win all eight of their remaining Premier League games 4-0. And provided Jurgen Klopp doesn’t send Albie Moreno to Manchester to spike Sergio Aguero’s tapas with laxatives, there’s nothing Liverpool can do about it.
It’s been seven years since the Reds last won a trophy, and beating a then Championship side after a 2-2 draw whilst missing the opening two penalties in the shootout isn’t exactly one of the club’s most dominant or memorable triumphs.
ON THIS DAY: In 2012, Liverpool beat Cardiff 3-2 on penalties to win the League Cup after a 2-2 draw in extra-time. pic.twitter.com/jzJbRWFGzR
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) February 26, 2016
And if you go back further, you’re talking about the 2006 FA Cup. Out of the 14 players who featured for Liverpool that day, ten of them are retired and that doesn’t even include Djibril Cisse, who according to Wikipedia is currently plying his trade in Serie C for A.C. Vicenza 1902, who I’m fairly sure aren’t a real team.
I’m old enough to have a pint, buy a house, drive a car and so on. You know, all the adult stuff. Yet I can only vaguely remember Gerrard being interviewed after the final in ’06 and Lord knows what I was doing during Istanbul.
I’m desperate to see Liverpool lift the league title or the European Cup, just one of the big two. The trophies that aren’t just a day out to Wembley, but the ones that if lifted allow you a full summer of basking in the seemingly never-ending glory of victory. The ones that turn every player in the squad into heroes on Merseyside for years to come.
Liverpool have more than enough to beat Munich tonight, but I can’t say I’m not concerned about whether they’ll have the hunger needed to knock out Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s lads.
A big reason why the Reds were so spectacular in Europe last season was that it was all that they had left. A top-four spot looked wrapped up early on and Klopp’s team were out of both cups by the end of January. Liverpool had nothing to lose, and it showed as they demolished Porto 5-0 away from home, scored seven over two legs against Roma and beat what was probably the best team in the competition 5-1 in the quarters.
Liverpool looked tame in the first leg, at least in comparison to their heroics of 2018. There did seem to be an unnecessary context playing its part at Anfield. Everybody in the ground knew that whatever happened Liverpool would still have a league title to try and win afterwards.
The key to victory tonight is for the Reds to become ravenous, if not feral. These chances don’t come around often and Liverpool need to take it.
Djibril Cisse’s 37 years old, and Peter Crouch is 38. The clock is ticking lads. They’ve got a B-list Hollywood actor managing them, there should be no fear.