Liverpool embody their resilient season, to give us what football is really about
You could say it was overplayed before the start. Liverpool had a three-goal deficit to overcome, but many were going on about Anfield, miracles, Roma last season and possibilities. It was not impossible, but those references and what not seemed a bit much. Yes, there was noise and passion of Anfield, but Barcelona had a three-goal lead, a player who can make passionate crowds fall silent, or applaud, and surely they weren’t going to toss this away like last year.
In the end, it was the Liverpool players – some of whom were in tears – who were being serenaded by their home fans – some of whom were in tears. Liverpool had had a mountain to climb; less than an hour into the second leg, they had climbed it. With 11 minutes left of it, they had taken control of the mountain. Anfield and its magic had done it again.
But this isn’t just about Anfield, not just about the Kop and the noise and support they create. This is about Liverpool’s ability to never give in. A dogged, resolute, and, truth be told, particularly for opponents, annoying ability to not lie down. This was the kind of result and night that mirrored – if not – exceeded the win against Olympiakos in 2004, Istanbul in 2005, and the turnaround against Dortmund three years ago. When the walls close in, and there’s no way out, the Reds manage to find a way out. When the chips are down, and things threaten to go south, Jurgen Klopp’s side turn potential collapse into cause for celebration.
It’s been very much their forte, particularly this season. There was that freak winner from Divock Origi (who scored twice in this Barcelona win) in the Merseyside derby. There was another freak late show against Spurs (potential Champions League final opponents) in March. The determined comeback against Southampton a week later, and the win over Newcastle on Saturday. When the game says ‘take a knee’, Liverpool pull something out of the hat. For all the excellent football they’ve played this season, nothing will eclipse their never-say-die attitude.
Nothing will. Not even if this all ends without silverware. Liverpool could end up without the any of the league title or the Champions League; they could get shown up by whomever they meet in Madrid in June, after potentially watching Manchester City lift the league title. But, that’s a bit irrelevant. As much as many put joy – and barometers of success – in trophies, those are limited in availability. 20 teams compete for a league title and only one can win. 32 teams go for a continental trophy 31 will fail to win. 92 Football League teams play in the League Cup, but 91 will surely face defeat.
But joy and unbridled elation are both unlimited and immeasurable, and ultimately that’s what football is about. It’s about those moments that happen for a short time, but last a lifetime. About those moments that make you jump for joy then freeze in disbelief. The moments that leaves you at a loss for words. It’s about looking back, 20 years on, not to how you won a League Cup title, but how you saw your team perform the impossible. How, years from now, you talk to someone about Liverpool v Barcelona in 2019, and the reply is ‘oh yeah, that incredible night’.
Kunle Ajao57 Posts
Kunle Ajao is a football writer and columnist for spotkick. Having made a toss of himself trying to actually play the game, he knew better and got a pen instead of boots. Spends a bit of his time with the game, and thinks he's a bit like Sid Lowe. He's not