Date of publication: Wednesday, November 28, 2018. 11:04
Even when they triumph, the 21st century of Liverpool never seems to make Europe an easy way. Their victory in the UEFA Cup in 2001 was secured by their own gold goal in extra time in 5-4 victories over Alaves, while their victory in the Champions League in 2005 required two separate repeat victories in the third half: one against Olympiacos in the group stage and the other – as you may have heard once or twice – against Milan in the final.
Jürgen Klopp always felt well suited to Liverpool, so it’s quite right that he kept this tradition. The German still has to pick up any of these trophies, either in Liverpool or in the former Borussia Dortmund club, but he has appeared in both finals since arriving in Anfield. They did not hit any of them in a straight line.
Their escape to the Europa League final in 2016 demanded a return from 3-1 against Dortmund, all clubs, in the quarter-finals, with the aim of injuring Dejan Lovren, ensuring a 4-3 victory. The final meeting in the Champions League last year appeared after they entered the second stage of their semi-final against Roma with 5-2 lead and sang through 7-6 on the amount.
The group, which included Naples, Paris Saint-Germain and Red Star, would hardly have been easy, but after another European winner at the last minute in Enfield in their starting group game – 3-2 victory over PSG, kindly provided by Roberto Firmino – on the day that Napoli scored in Belgrade, everything looked pretty pink for the red ones.
Not this way. Their 2: 1 loss to PSG's superior side means that Liverpool has lost three of the last four games in the Champions League, leaving them to win on the side of Naples, which should receive only a draw. Worse, they may have to win either with a clean slate or with two clear goals, although any gain in one goal will be sufficient if the PSG cannot win.
If they want to even dream of digging up the UEFA Champions League tiebreak criteria, they will need to improve this job. Carved on the front line, consisting of Kilian Mbappé, Neymar and Edison Cavani, is not a particular cause of shame – especially the Brazilian in such excellent shape as he was in the first half – but they can be upset by what they easily did. this.
Jordan Henderson was caught running in the assembly to rookie Juan Bernat, and the captain was unable to cover up teammate James Milner after he missed the projectile halfway through. This forced right back Joe Gomez to go inside to close Marco Verratti, who, in turn, left Lovren in two minds to pick up Mbappa or Bernat. Thus, when Virgil Van Dijk made poor ground clearance, the normal reverse opposition of Liverpool was everywhere, and Bernat ended up throwing the ball into the net.
With Maney and Mohamed Salah, as usual, “Liverpool” 4-3-3 also inevitably meant pushing forward to get some width, and this allowed PSG to second. The combination of Neymar with the Mbabpe canal on the left took PSG by Gomez in her own half, and Lovren – halfway through. With this, Liverpool was in their power again, and Neymar finished a wonderful step with a simple touch.
Milner pulled the ball from the penalty spot after Sadio Mane was hit by the ridiculous challenge of Angela Di Maria. That the penalty demanded that the referee be corrected, and that Verratti was very lucky that he stayed on the field after a terrible foul on Gomez, and of course that Neymar was up to his usual theatricality, gave Klopp a convenient one: after the match, he had an interview with BT Sport mainly consisted of complaints against officials.
In truth, his side deserved more. Despite the fact that 56% of possession away from home, the Milner penalty was Liverpool's only shot at the target and their only chance for any real note. This is the side that built its reputation on its attacking power, but in this case the devoted trio of Man, Firmino, and Sal was made to look like imposes for their costly counterparts in rabid white shirts.
As a result, there is a very good chance that Liverpool will end up in the Europa League or even from Europe as a whole will come on December 11, when Napoli visits Enfield. This is a winning game, but again, there are good chances that they will need to score at least twice, possibly three times, against the Italian team, which needs only a rally.
Superstitious fans and scientific experts have said that there is no place with a better precedent for removing something special in Europe, but their more realistic colleagues will wish that once, just bloody once, Liverpool could avoid having to do it with difficulty.
Stephen Chicken on Twitter