Imagine going into the semi-finals of the European Cup second leg with a 5-2 lead and coming out on the other side 7-6. Yep, that’s Liverpool for you. As fans we don’t have to imagine. We’ve seen it all before. Liverpool never do anything the easy way.
When you look at the numbers, Liverpool have been breath-taking in Europe this season. Following Mane’s strike last night, he, Salah and Firmino are now the highest scoring trio in UCL history with 29 goals (in second place are Bale, Ronaldo and Benzema who collectively scored 28 in 2013/14). Overall it’s 46 goals in 14 games for Liverpool in the Champions League.
Liverpool have shown that they can score against anyone. They have a 20/30 Minute period where the red mist descends onto the pitch and they score goals. Lots of them. The worrying thing is that they often look like they will concede. This is a long standing issue with Liverpool that needs to be addressed before the final. They only have to look at Bayern, arguably the better team in both legs against Real, but due to missed chances and Real’s efficiency in front of goal, they lost.
However, the very fact that Bayern had these chances is a positive for Liverpool. Real Madrid are vulnerable. I watched both games against Bayern and the games against Juventus before that. I’m sure Liverpool were watching too and no doubt Mane, Salah and Firmino were licking their lips at the prospect of facing the Real Madrid defence.
However, despite their defensive fragilities, which they share with Liverpool, Real Madrid do have an advantage that this Liverpool team do not have and they have it in abundance. Experience. This will be Madrid’s 4th final in 5 years. They’ve won the last 3 Champions League finals they have been in and their squad has remained largely unchanged. Both Liverpool and Madrid play attacking football and both have suspect defences. It is this experience and success in big finals that could well separate the two teams and tip the balance into Real Madrid’s favour.
Nevertheless, you can never write off Liverpool, particularly in Europe. From scoring 3 goals in 6 minutes to win the Champions League in Istanbul in 2005, to winning the UEFA Cup 5-4 in 2001 with an own goal, golden goal in the 117th minute. In football, anything can happen.
On the 26th May, Liverpool will go into the 8th European Cup final in their history. More than all other English top flight teams combined and you can be rest assured that if Liverpool were to go on and win it. History has shown us that the chances of it being a simple 2-0 win are very slim indeed.
As Henderson said last night “We never do it the easy way”.
Bring on Kiev!