Tuesday night saw two Missions Improbable completed successfully as both Liverpool and Tottenham found themselves in the next round of the UEFA Champions League.
The scene was set at Anfield, where Jurgey lad’s boys had to beat Napoli if they were to secure a passage to the next round.
Nights like these can often have dramatic twists and turns, none more so than when Napoli’s Milik found himself free in Liverpool’s six-yard box with moments left in the game.
And that was the moment when Alisson paid back his massive transfer fee. Going peak Peter Schmeichel, the Brazilian managed to keep the ball out with a save that Klopp admitted he ‘had no idea’ how it was made. Jurgen, Milik hit the ball straight at the keeper. It probably wasn’t that difficult.
Mo Salah, naturally, had scored the goal meaning Liverpool had some life to cling on to dearly but if Sadio Mane had brought his shooting boots rather than his miss from everywhere boots then the night could have been far more relaxed for the Liverpool fans.
Virgil van Dijk will miss the first leg of the Round of 16 tie meaning that Liverpool could well be aiming to stay in Europe once again relying on Dejan Lovren. That’s got to be a worry.
Kloppo said after the game he’d have ‘paid double’ for Alisson. And, after further inspection, the save didn’t exactly pay back his transfer fee. Liverpool get £11m for going through, so roughly about one-sixth of what Alisson cost. Still, they are not worried about that right now.
With five minutes remaining Tottenham were doing what most of us expected them to do and were crashing out of the Champions League knowing it was going to be a campaign full of regret.
Ousmane Dembele had given Barcelona an early lead, a rare goal from the Frenchman that wasn’t going to lead to something significant for the La Liga giants. With Inter surprisingly level with PSV the door was agonisingly ajar for the next 78 minutes, Spurs fans just about getting the concept that their team had to match Inter’s result.
And then Lucas Moura happened, bringing Tottenham level in the Camp Nou. For some reason, it feels kinda right that is was Moura. After all, he was the new signing that wasn’t a new signing. When he joined from PSG last January he was the player that Spurs were not going to see the best of until this season, so would be like a new signing in the summer. If that makes sense. And especially given Tottenham didn’t actually sign anyone in the summer.
Spurs had a bit of luck with Philippe Coutinho hitting the post twice but it would have been far less thrilling had it not been a very, very stressful evening for all involved.
After the game the Poch said he ‘never said it was impossible’ and news broke that the Round of 16 ties could be played at their new ground. Ah, now there really is a case of Mission Impossible.
We must be due a bit of PogMou this week? Of course, we are and here it is. Paul Pogba has expressed his ‘shock’ at actually being dropped from the Manchester United starting XI. Clearly, Jose Mourinho calling him a ‘virus’ in front of all his teammates and publically questioning him all season was not enough of a clue that he wasn’t the flavour of any month.
Pogba is expected to start against Valencia tonight and Mourinho is looking for some kind of ‘response’ and by that we can only presume he means on the pitch and not via social media.
The other day, Mou’s agent Jorge Mendes put a statement out saying how committed his client was to Manchester United. Yesterday, Mourinho moved to distance himself from that statement in a classic case of ‘the January transfer window opens soon and I want some money to spend’.
Mourinho said, “what statement? That was Jorge’s statement, not my statement” which brings just a little bit of Christmas hope to the Manchester United fans.
That said, United are thought to be scouting six of the Ajax players when they played Bayern Munich tonight. Surely it would just be cheaper to buy Ajax football club?
Yaya Toure has made himself available in time for January, walking away from Greek side Olympiakos after just five appearances. There must be a Premier League side daft/desperate enough to pay Toure silly money to come and stroll around their midfield for the rest of the season. I double dare Sean Dyche to move for him or, better still, Rafa Benitez.
Hang on, it says here that Liverpool are making a move for Hazard! That’s exciting. Could you imagine the Chelsea player being that unhappy at Stamford Bridge that he opts for a move North? Oh, hang on. It’s Thorgen Hazard. His brother. That’s far less exciting.
Rather than worrying about his new centre-forward leaving in the summer, Chelsea’s Maurizio Sarri is trying to persuade his former employers Napoli to get over their Champions League exit and let him take their full-back Elseid Hysaj off their hands. The Albanian could be allowed to move for around £50m which feels very much like the base line for any transfer rumour nowadays.
Dennis Man, who sounds like he’d fit in perfectly in Manchester, is a right-winger currently playing in Romania and has peaked the interest of both Tottenham and Manchester United. No? We’ve never heard of him either. And Jose moans about having 52 scouts.
Despite the fact he has been bobbins ever since he left Portugal, Claudio Ranieri still believes there is a top number 9 hiding somewhere in Islam Slimani and would like him to come and join the plethora of attacking options available at Craven Cottage. On loan, you understand. Claudio isn’t daft.
Rafa Benitez seems to think he is going to be given enough money to sign one of the stars of MLS, if there is such a thing. Atlanta United won the whole thing thanks, in part, to their midfield supply line from Miguel Almiron. There’s no chance Rafa’s getting the kind of cash needed to buy him. Get on the phone to Yaya.
Finally, Jorge Mendes has decided that Ruben Neves’ next destination after Wolves will be Juventus. So that will be happening soon, then.