Did the ghost of Istanbul haunt Barcelona? Anfield saw a performance of a lifetime last night against Barcelona. Trailing 3-0 in the first leg at Camp Nou, home to FC Barcelona, and without their 2 star performers of the recent times, Mohammed Salah and Roberto Firmino, no-one really gave them a realistic chance.
They had to maintain a clean sheet against a team that featured Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Phillipe Coutinho and score 4 without conceding against probably the best team in the world.
Let’s look at the factors which contributed heavily to achieve this miraculous feat, winning 4-0 in the second leg to make it 4-3 on the aggregate.
Liverpool crowd : the 12th man to stop Barcelona side led by Messi
The passionate atmosphere created by the Liverpool supporters was so intense that it induced mistakes from the Barcelona side, which in normal circumstances they would not commit. Messi failed to reproduce the performance of a week ago as he took a split second more to take his decisions on various occasions. The pre-match songs, loud chants for the entire match was enough to create immense pressure on Messi and company to crack and add to yet another glorious night at the Anfield.
Istanbul repeated, was this victory in the stars?
The spectacular victory reminded the world of a spectacular effort by the Reds 14 years ago in Istanbul when they turned around a 3-0 deficit against the world class AC Milan side. Reds needed to score 3 times in 45 minutes in 2005 and 4 times in 90 minutes without conceding in 2019.
14 years ago,in 2005 Steven Gerrard and Vladimir Smicer scored in 54th and 56th minute. Last night, also Liverpool scored in the 54th and 56th minute to make it 3-3 through Wijnaldum.
The uncanny resemblance has led fans across the globe to believe that this victory was written in the stars.
200 IQ play by Trent Alexander Arnold, the youngest man on the pitch last night
Trent Alexander Arnold produced the performance of his life to lift his side from the claws of an imminent defeat. A week ago, he was missing from the team as Klopp chose Joe Gomez to start in his place.
But the 20-year-old local lad just had to be there in the home leg. He chose the night to show the world what he is made of. The sheer magnitude of the occasion did not get to him one bit.
Showing composure and wit beyond his age, he caught the entire Barcelona team off-guard with his quick corner to give assistance to the winning 4th goal scored by Origi.
The Klopp effect
The difference in the 2 teams was clearly put to the fore in the fateful night. Jurgen Klopp has instilled a never say die attitude in this Liverpool team which just refused to give up at any difficulty put against them.
Liverpool player Dejan Lovren revealed exactly what the coach said to them before the match.
“Boys, just believe. Put in your mind that we can enjoy it’”. ‘It’s something that we never heard before. He said: “Boys, believe, one, two goals. Even if we don’t score in the first 15, 20 minutes believe in the 65, 66 and 67 minutes that we can score. And then with Anfield behind, trust me, guys, we can do it. We did it once, Dortmund game, we can do it tonight. Just show the f****** b**** tonight” and we did it.”
To sum it up, it was a win of passion, grit and hard work as the entire football world was left in awe with a superb performance.