Liverpool are in the Champions League final. I’ve had to start this blog post with that sentence because I still can’t quite believe it. Liverpool, a side who last week were written off by the footballing world, have overcome a 3-0 deficit to beat Barcelona 4-0 at Anfield in what is arguably the greatest comeback in the sport.
|Image via The Express|
Those who read my blogs or follow me on Twitter will know I’m quite a rose-tinted fan, I’m the one always searching for a positive or something to cling on to, even when the chips are down. On Tuesday though, not even I seriously thought we could do something about this semi-final. I held on to a glimmer of hope and kept saying “you never know” but I never truly thought we’d be able to prevent Barcelona from scoring and find the net on enough occasions to make Madrid.
The only way we could do it, if we were going to complete this miracle, was to find an early goal I knew that much. So we did, Divock Origi the absolute hero latched onto a ball splayed out from the Barca keeper after he attempted to save a Henderson shot. Divock netted after just seven minutes and Liverpool had immediately laid down their intentions on this match.
Anfield was absolutely buzzing, what I would have given to be there, the atmosphere on a European night at that ground is unrivalled on a night like Tuesday. Say what you want but no team wants to come to Anfield for a European game, not even Barca who are 3-0 up in a semi-final.
The early goal seemed to stun Barca, their players looked deflated instantly, despite the fact they still had a two-goal advantage and an away goal on their part could change everything. They’d rested all XI players in their last league match and had the likes of Messi and Suarez to call upon but we made the Spanish side look bang average.
Liverpool continued to play calmly in the first half, creating chances and raising the heartbeats of Kopites all over the globe, but it wouldn’t be until nine minutes into the second half when the Reds found themselves a second.
Gini Wijnaldum with a powerful shot in the centre of the box fizzed one home for the Reds having only just entered play. The Dutchman replaced Andy Robertson who picked up an injury during the first half.
Gini is one of those players that everybody loves but he’s not really known for scoring goals. He changed that on Tuesday evening against one of the best teams in the world because just minutes later, he scored again.
A lovely cross from Shaqiri on the left was placed perfectly for Gini who rose with a powerful header to take the game to 3-0. Absolutely phenomenal. At this point I’m not afraid to admit, I was basically crying with joy. I could not believe what I was seeing. Over the years I’ve watched Liverpool pull off some astonishing results but surely to god we couldn’t find our way to this year’s Champions League final? Surely heartbreak was awaiting.
I tried to calm down, I was shaking like a leaf and was screaming, literally screaming like a child at every goal. This game was insane but even with the Reds now 3-0 up and shooting towards a raucous Kop End, it would only take a goal from Barcelona to spoil the party. Barcelona, one of the best teams in world football.
The thing was though, Barcelona were far from the Barcelona we know, as mentioned previously, even after the first goal they looked utterly deflated. At 3-0 it started to look like they’d ran out of ideas, the pressure of the Anfield atmosphere along with the high intensity of all of our lads was just too much for them to deal with, they didn’t have a second to breathe or even think straight.
Then, a twenty-year-old Trent Alexander-Arnold walked over to the corner, a scouser through and through, at Liverpool Football Club from the age of six. He drops the ball down in the corner, casually starts walking away as if Shaqiri’s going to take it but he’s spotted Divock, he knows he’s free. A quick return to the corner flag sees him whip the ball into the Belgian who finishes perfectly in front of the Kop. Barcelona caught with their pants well and truly down.
At this stage I’d gone wild, I mean I was already pretty wild for the three previous goals but this was the point when I actually, truly thought we could be in that final in Madrid. The sheer audacity of Trent to even try that?!
I watch most of our matches with me fella but as you all know he’s a massive Wolves fan (bit awkward next week!!!) so while he enjoys watching Liverpool with me, he doesn’t really care about results. For some reason I just resort to attacking him in these massive games. Jumping all around him, ruffing up his hair, punching him in the arm, slapping him on the legs hahaha it’s the adrenaline, I have to release it somehow and he’s just there or sometimes it’s me brother haha!
I genuinely at points on Tuesday night felt like I was about to faint, what I was witnessing was so special and the reactions to each goal just got bigger and bigger and bigger. Just a phenomenal evening of football.
The final whistle about 15 minutes after Liverpool’s fourth confirmed the fact that nobody could quite believe: Liverpool would be 2019 Champions League finalists.
I spent the majority of the following day at work in a daze with a Barry White tone to my voice from all the screaming. Even typing this now at 8:30pm on Wednesday evening, I still can’t quite believe it but I am massively excited.
Whatever happens on Sunday now, we have a final in Europe to look forward to and I can’t say that’s something I was expecting.
The Miracle of Anfield.