ThursdayJohnGibbons

WE’VE been in Porto since Monday and finally the promised wet weather has arrived.

I’m sat in my hotel room looking across a rainy city rather than the one baked in sunshine that we have been enjoying for the last couple of days. We were warned, though. Not least by Craig Hannan who has been constantly updating me with the percentage change of “precipitation” since we got here. Marketing and the weather. How did we survive before him?

But it’s not just the sunshine we got that makes me glad we got here early. I love seeing a city filling up with Liverpool fans. The way it goes from a smattering to an invasion over a couple of days. On Monday night we drank with some Liverpool fans. Last night we seemed to drink with all of them. A lovely big game of mates.

An American here for his first European away asked me last night “how does everyone know where to go?” It’s a fair question I didn’t completely have an answer to. It’s not like we are in one giant WhatsApp group. We just all manage to gravitate together.

Someone finds a bar and text someone else to say its decent and the next thing you know there are hundreds of you and the two bar staff expecting a quiet Tuesday night are absolutely chocker.

This happened to us last night. The party came to us. We went from the only people in a bar to not being able to move singing about Mo Salah. I hugged strangers and drank wine and toasted the mighty Reds who had brought us all together. There are certainly worse ways to spend an evening.

Earlier in the day, when I spoke to my close friend Jürgen Klopp, he talked about “the journey we have made with each other”. Even since the Porto game last year we have come so far, literally and metaphorically. We went into that tie hopeful of going as far as possible. Now hope has been replaced by expectation.

We’d be shocked if someone stops us from reaching another final now, even if they do have Lionel Messi. Expectation comes with pressure, but also hopefully reward.

The fans know this could be a special time for all of us. In the bars in Porto, songs from the past have been replaced by songs of the present and future. Of course, history is important. But why sing about Steve Heighway when you’ve got Mo Salah?

These are our heroes. The ones running on the pitch tomorrow night. The ones top of the league, with 85 points from 34 games and on the march to a second consecutive Champions League final. These are our boys.

Today outdoor drinking areas will be replaced with indoor ones. Yesterday Kev Walsh and his lad Shaun got sunburned. Now they need an umbrella. The weather has changed but the mood remains the same.

How lucky we are to be alive right now. To be able to watch this team run on the pitch and look to conquer all before them.

Today even more Scousers will arrive and fill every welcoming watering hole with Euros, and songs, and expectation.

Then we’ll all go and watch The Reds in the rain.

For more buildup to The Reds’ Champions League quarter-final second leg, and extensive reaction on location from Porto, SUBSCRIBE to TAW Player…

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