THERE was always a possibility.
A possibility that Barcelona might dish out the kind of first leg beating to Liverpool that would render the second leg of this European Cup semi final all but redundant.
Liverpool had the capacity to have beaten the Catalans and beaten them well, but fate wasn’t having it. I felt we’d either rock Barca in their own fortress and carry something like a 3-1 win back with us to Anfield or we’d be on the wrong side of a serious reverse.
No one imagined that Liverpool could both so comprehensively dominate Barcelona at the Nou Camp and yet take a proper hiding.
The bullish (deluded) among us think we can summon the spirit of 2005 and turn this tie around. But Barcelona are surely too good to be made mugs of, especially by a seriously weakened and distracted Liverpool.
The early news on the wires is that Mo Salah and Bobby Firmino are definitely out. I’m content with that if it increases the chances of them both starting against Wolves at the weekend. At the time of writing the odds are against us lifting the Premier League trophy next weekend but they’re still better than our chances of yet being crowned European Champions this season.
Aside from Mo and Bobby, Jürgen Klopp will want to take as few risks with his main men as possible. I don’t think that will extend to resting the likes of Virgil van Dijk or Sadio Mane but if anyone is nursing a minor niggle expect them to be benched at least.
Hey, I’m not giving up on us knocking Barca out entirely. I will be in my usual perch at Anfield on Tuesday night. By kick off I’ll have talked myself into believing that if we can just get a first half one-goal lead that anything will become possible.
In the corner of the multiverse where Liverpool do stage a remarkable comeback and reach the Champions League final, Klopp will pick a front three which will feature Sadio Mane as its spearhead with Divock Origi and Xherdan Shaqiri providing the pace down the sides.
The latter two were cameo stars of the breathtaking and emotional victory over Newcastle on Saturday night. If ever you wanted to contrive a scenario where you were able to properly warm up stand-ins to come in from the cold then it was provided at St James’ Park.
From being cast aside and left only as witnesses to the unfurling of an incredible Liverpool campaign suddenly, from nowhere, the likes of Origi, Shaqiri and Sturridge found themselves centre stage. None were exactly world class on the evening but all contributed and each would’ve felt themselves reinserted into the story of the club and the season. All three would’ve slept very sweetly on Saturday night and maybe for the first time in a good while.
Jürgen Klopp will know this and look to channel the positivity of freer minds for the team cause.
In the dream where The Reds win, this new front three, with Sadio running wild ahead of a pumped up supporting cast, Klopp has selected his bulldog midfield of James Milner, Jordan Henderson and Gini Wijnaldum. These lads certainly know the ropes.
They collectively rolled up sleeves and ran Liverpool to last year’s final. They were all lungs and sinew and Europe couldn’t deal with them. If each soldier finds his highest level then maybe even Barcelona will be blown away by their hurricane.
Of course, Barcelona will be the more rested side. Valverde put out the reserves in La Liga at the weekend. Liverpool won’t care, though. Liverpool are brimming with adrenalin and ablaze with a burning sense of injustice that they will most likely end this campaign without silverware.
There may be a temptation to rest one flying full back but the clipping of attacking wings that the injuries to Salah and Firmino represent could lead Klopp to resisting. If he pulls Trent it will be for Joe Gomez. Andy Robbo would be replaced by Milner, with Fabinho then stepping into the midfield rather than being rested.
The other wildcard Klopp has to play is Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. Out for a year but back in training and some first-team minutes under his belt against Huddersfield, it may be a case of “if not now then when?” with Chamberlain. There’s an argument for giving him 60 as the surprise element that Valverde will not have anticipated.
My hope is that this game is, at a minimum, an enjoyable, pride restoring (not that we have really lost any) exercise and hors d’oeuvres for a much more pressing engagement at the weekend.
Let’s remind Barcelona that they are mortal and that we are coming for their crown.
If not now, then most definitely soon.
Predicted 11: Alisson; Trent, Matip, van Dijk, Robertson; Henderson, Milner, Wijnaldum; Shaqiri, Mane, Origi
Kick off: 8pm, Tuesday
Referee: Cüneyt Çakır (Turkey)
Odds by RedsBet: Liverpool 6-4, Draw 53-20, Barcelona 7-4
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Good lineup for me.
Studge and Fabinho off the bench are good options. Chambo also there and a wild card in Brewster. But lets hope we dont need to put him on.
Bench: Migs, Lovren, Gomez, Chambo, Fabinho, Studge, Brewster.
I’ve followed this club for over 40 years and I refuse to believe that a season like this is just going to fizzle out with nothing to show.
Come on you mighty reds. Your places amongst our legends await.
I want us to nail these bastards big style. That is all.
“No one imagined that Liverpool could both so comprehensively dominate Barcelona at the Nou Camp and yet take a proper hiding.”
It didn’t feel like a hiding to me in retrospect. LFC put up a far better performance and missed clear chances.
Bayern gave Barcelona a hiding in dramatic fashion with not much fight from Barcelona in their 7-0 drubbing. At least we fought for the amount of possession we had.
I think Barcelona and Valverde just outfoxed us and took their chances.
“Let’s remind Barcelona that they are mortal and that we are coming for their crown.”
They were, and still are, and we certainly will try tonight.
Come on you Reds!
@Sash “I think Barcelona and Valverde just outfoxed us and took their chances.”
They took their chances that all. they were lucky with the 2nd and scored a worldie with the 3rd (after Messi twice moved the ball forward). I don’t recall them out foxing us, as even the XG showed we had better chances. Our forwards were unlucky on the night and if that game was played again with the same players and a decent ref, then I know the scoreline would see us win… There was no outfoxing, just one team suffered some bad luck and poor officiating.
It doesn’t matter who had the better chances or how much possession. It’s what you do with it in the end.
To me it looked like Barcelona just waited and took the low road with their low block setup and hoping we wouldn’t score. That plan was not extraordinary by any means. Where it changed from watching the match again, was when Valverde’s switch of Vidal on the flanks and introduction of Semedo at right back that made a positive difference to their game.
Klopp experimented too long with an untested Gomez who was returning from injury, when everyone including TAW wrote about likely effect of Jordi Alba in such a crucial stage of the CL. No problem with risks, but need to be quick on observations and reactions.
By not reacting quickly to replace Gomez with TAA due to Alba’s persistence, it looked like Klopp gave Valverde too much time to think his own weaknesses over.
Regarding the ref, what else is new with these “elite” teams? Just looked like we didn’t learn from the outing with Real Madrid last time.
Hard pill to take once I calmed down and took off my rose-tinted-glasses, but it was what happened in the game and why I think they won it.
With the loss of keys players, and now depending desperately on players who were not favored or cast aside by Klopp, I just hope he and the Reds have a plan to outfox Valverde and Barcelona tonight.
I’d like to see Gomez back in alongside big Virg with Trent and Robertson. Sounds like a solid unit at the back to me. Then whatever the lads do up front, good luck to them.
I wonder if Gomez will come in at RB with Trent on the right of a five man midfield. Div up top with Sadio on left. Crosses could be key. Fab and Gini holding with Hendo playing further forward. Come on you Redmen! Good luck! In the name of Defiance.
@Dave Gomez from his past outings was awesome as CB partnership with VVD. Granted Matip has improved and did really well in the first leg for the most part.
Robertson and TAA bombing forward on the flanks as they’ve done due to their pace is what has helped us in past games when they both played.
I’m not sure now though with Firmino and Salah missing as they had a different style to their play and of course the pace and closing down.
Shaq, Firmino and Sturridge offer different possibilities, but not sure how Klopp wants to line them up. What do you think Dave?
Well there you go.
You were right. I thought Istanbul made me tear up.
I just broke down and cried when I saw the 3rd goal go in.
Absolutely stunned when the fourth went in.
I bow down to this team of Reds and Klopp.
Hail to the deluded!
(And as much I as I am a believer I was none of them – Klopp pulled one not for the first time, but I thought not this time….)