Hopping an easy game for Barcelona
The astonishing moments brought by Messi in the first leg and a Liverpool squad who looked tired made me confident that Barca will go through the final and get the trophy in Madridista’s city.
I must admit that Dembele’s huge missed opportunity to set the second leg scoreboard at 4-0 to Barcelona made me less euphoric. As I told to a few friends, an early goal by Liverpool followed by a second one would affect Barca’s morale and rebalance the odds.
Therefore, my pre-match hopes were for Messi’s teammates to keep the ball into Liverpool’s pitch and score within the first half. That would offer them an easier game.
We cannot forget Liverpool’s comeback at Istanbul against AC Milan: three goals within five minutes. Liverpool is my favorite team from Premier League, so I wasn’t happy that two of my favorite teams faced each other for the Champions League 2019’s semi-finals.
How I’ve watched the match
I was watching the match from my couch in front of my Samsung Smart TV. Nothing fancy, just me in front of the screen chatting with my brother, father and a few friends throughout the match, while my wife is following her favorite tv series upstairs.
But I won’t lie you. I was nervous prior to the first whistle. We know it very well that everything can happen in football.
An early goal: my fears became real
Min 6. Liverpool started an attack with Joel Matip aiming Sadio Mané with a long pass. Jordi Alba eased the process by heading the ball to Mané who then capitalized and passed it to Henderson (c). Marc-Andre ter Stegen carried out his low shot but straight to Origi who took the opportunity and opened the score.
1-0 for Liverpool and Anfield was dreaming. As English commentators are saying, “What a start for Liverpool”.
I was not 100% confident anymore as the first part of my pre-game worst scenario is getting real…
Barca tries to score
Liverpool was still far from their decisive victory. My optimism came back as Barca started to dominate the midfield and pushed forward. Messi fired twice off-target and Jordi Alba missed a huge chance before the half-time when he got alone in front of Alisson Becker (GK) who was there to save it and bring Liverpool with 1 goal ahead for the second half.
Frustration was building up as I know that missed opportunities can have a high cost in football when your advantage is getting thinner. In normal times, Barcelona would manage a 2-goal difference, but they weren’t at their best for the first half. Barca should change something for the second half or it would be a painful way through the final whistle.
Things changed during the second half, but not for Barca
Blaugrana squad started the second half with Messi finding a Suarez who only had to aim for the goal. But the former Liverpool striker only poorly shot toward Becker.
And so, it began.
Min 53. Alexander-Arnold received a long pass he poorly headed. He won the ball back from Jordi Alba and found himself with free space to advance a few steps and then low cross the ball towards the penalty area. There, it found Wijnaldum who shot it. Ter Stegen should have saved it, but he wasn’t able to catch the ball which passed the goal line just bellow his arms.
2-0 for Liverpool by the dutchman who entered the game at half-time replacing the injured Andy Robertson. What a flair from Jürgen Klopp!
Min 55. Just two minutes later, Xherdan Shaqiri crossed from the left wing towards Wijnaldum who scored the third goal with a powerful header. Anfield is on fire! What a comeback and what a nightmare for Barca and its fans. Unbelievable, I’m stumped as it’s 2005 all over again. This time however, I’m not for the cormorants.
Barcelona must wake up. One goal was enough because Liverpool would have to score two more. Barcelona took the lead for a few minutes and got a small chance. Rakitic threw a lob to Messi, who shot straight into Alisson Becker. The angle was too narrow.
The magic of Anfield
Then came the most magical moment of the evening. Alexander-Arnold moved a few steps away from the corner but as Barca defense was napping, he came back and passed towards Origi who marked the qualifying goal. Anfield was wild!
No one could describe it better than Jurgen Klopp:
“I saw the ball in the net and didn’t know who had taken the corner; it was too quick for me.”
What a genius inspiration. I’m a bit pissed off for Barca, but glad to live a historical moment in football.
There were around 10 more minutes to play, but Barcelona was down. Same players and coach but a disastrous game style compared with the first leg. I was hopeless and frustrated that Liverpool would have the chance to win the Champions League when their focus should have been the Premier League title. But that’s football; just a select group of teams can get all the trophies at once.
Now, I wish that Jurgen Klopp will bring back the Champions League title to Liverpool and that Messi will got at least one other chance to lift it for the fifth time.
They will never walk alone