IMAGINE if Liverpool won the European Cup again.
It seems such a far off possibility as we contemplate not turning makeweights Maribor into a bad season-defining banana skin of an opponent. We don’t trust our Reds much these days. We’re not sure which incarnation — the free-scoring braves or the limp biscuits — are the real deal.
Liverpool have lots of good players. Phil Coutinho’s worth 150million quid. Sadio Mane’s better than him, and Mo Salah could yet see off the pair of them. Then there’s Bobby Firmino. An electric eel in human form. They can never get a grip of him. And what about the lad Adam Lallana? We never knew what we had till he was gone. But he’s better now and back soon. Praise be.
The rest aren’t terrible either. Not when they’ve got the wind at their backs anyway. Juventus want Emre Can and Jordan Henderson is England’s captain. We’ll not talk about defenders this week.
This Liverpool may not find the consistency to have a good league season but they have the potency to tear it up in Europe.
Jürgen Klopp can draw important performances out of these boys. Not all of the time but (still) more often than not on the biggest occasions. If we get through this group, how would you fancy Bayern Munich in the last 16? Klopp does. He wants them bad. He gave them a taster when his side tore them apart in the Allianz arena pre season. Bayern were scorched 3-0 by a rampant Liverpool and crawled off their home pitch on their knees. If they get drawn against us they’ll be up nights for weeks.
Them out of the way and we’re four games from our eighth European Cup final. Yes, Real Madrid in the semis will be a tough one, but those Fancy Dans in their back four won’t fancy Sadio and Mo running at them. Cristiano Ronaldo will probably have a pre-World Cup injury, and one of the other big names will be sulking about something by then. They’ll be there for the taking. Maybe we’ll have signed one or two more superstars by April anyway. Virgil van Dijk and Naby Keita could come in handy in the Bernabeu.
Barcelona in the final won’t be a problem. We beat them 4-0 at Wembley 16 months ago. I was there. I saw them. They were shit.
Klopp can harness Anfield’s power like Rafa Benitez and the gods before him did. We had tasters in 2016. Manchester United, Borussia Dortmund and Villarreal were swept aside. Away from home this Liverpool will score goals and score them against the biggest and the boldest. Our manager knows the drill. He took his Dortmund troops to the brink of Champions League glory in 2013.
It would help to get out of this group stage top of the pile and beating Maribor again would aid that cause. The bookies see the Slovenians at around 80-1 to win at Anfield. I don’t think I’ve seen longer odds on a Liverpool opponent in my lifetime.
Maribor at home on the first frosty night of the autumn isn’t the first step on what could prove a lengthy and perhaps glorious journey. It is the next marker though and I’m going to enjoy it. Some of you reading this are laughing at me right now, but let’s wait and see. Cut this clipping out, fold it up and put in your wallet. Open it up again in May. The story of Liverpool’s season is yet to be written.
Predicted 11: Karius; Alexander-Arnold, Gomez, Matip, Moreno; Can, Wijnaldum, Oxlade-Chamberlain; Firmino, Sturridge, Salah.
Kick off: 7.45pm on BT Sport
Referee: Ivan Kružliak (Slovakia)
Odds: Liverpool 1-16, Draw 22-1, Maribor 80-1
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