It’s a funny old thing, confidence. Just when it seems like you’ve given it everything you’ve got & nothing seems to be going your way – especially after such a tumultuous run domestically, you go to a different competition & all of a sudden the belief that seems to be reminiscent of nostalgia from yesteryear, returns in kind. Such is the case for Liverpool FC, whose historic relationship with the prestige competition is indeed a rare one.
Liverpool FC: A Complicated History In Europe
From tension-filled bouts that have sent many fans on rollercoaster journeys, Istanbul being the most famous of them, to their countless Anfield-filled special European nights, no wonder it does not take much motivating from Jurgen Kopp to get his team mentally prepared for this, regardless of anything that happened prior.
The last time they lost to a German team was in 2002 against Leverkusen, fair to say they have had plenty of success against the German opposition. You think back to the first leg – the way they lifted themselves up, many people felt it was the turning point in an otherwise dismal season filled with negative records broken seemingly piling up.
But that was not to be the case. With their poor league form continuing, Liverpool looked to rely on their home away from home to provide some comfort for them in terms of their goals for the season. Being pushed so far down the table, all linked with Liverpool will conclude that the top four is out of reach & they have relinquished the season domestically.
However, they will look to the Champions League to rid them temporarily of the nightmares of the league that plague them this campaign as they may well have to win it to qualify next season. Do you think they could do it? Only a brave person would bet against it – with their blueprint seemingly being their persistence to win, even though absent in recent times, it would be foolish to believe it is gone completely for good.
Liverpool FC vs. Leipzig
With Fabinho slotting into midfield after a prolonged absence and being forced to play at center-half, fans had much reason to be optimistic. Trent Alexander-Arnold was back at right-back, with his partner in crime Andy Robertson playing alongside the pairing of Nat Phillips & Ozan Kabak who were prominently secure for much of the game.
Gini Wijnaldum was presented with the captains armband, with Roberto Firmino being absent, Diogo Jota lead the line well. Trent’s menacing runs in behind caused a host of problems for the Germans on more than one occasion, with him just failing to pick out a player to put the finishing touches on what would have been a brilliant move.
Salah had a glorious chance as well to put Liverpool FC ahead after an innovative first-time scissor kick pass from Thiago Alcantara was lobbed over the defense to send him clean through, only to be denied by a brilliant stop, with Sadio Mane only being able to head the rebound harmlessly into the ground and the chance was fluffed out. The chances kept flowing with Jota having a shot saved, shortly after missing a gilt-edged chance after an error by Upemecano gifted him the ball only to fire into the side netting when almost half the net was at his Mercy, by contrast, Leipzig looked flat with only having a few rare glimpses here & there, lacking cutting edge and drive.
A big second half for both teams, Mane was pushed through the middle with Jota moving out wide to the left. They had a good shape, were nice and compact on the ball & Natt Phillips was a stand out player – who seemed to not get anything wrong on the night. In the 54th minute, Jota again had a chance to extend the hosts lead only to be denied as his shot lacked the precision to beat Péter. The rebound fell to Salah who had an open net to slot into, only to be put off by a last ditch effort by the Leipzig defender.
Noticeably the difference in Liverpool FC’s game was their pressing being back to its usual efficiency, allowing the visitors no time to breathe on the ball at all. Whenever they did beat the press, they found Liverpool FC’s defensive shape rigid & struggled to pose any significant questions until they threw on Justin Kluivert, which gave them a new dimension and allowed them to up their tempo – however it turned out only to be a temporary spell.
With 70 minutes gone, Liverpool FC produced slick interplay to create a finely orchestrated attack, with Jota laying it off for Salah to finish. Origi and Keita were thrown on shortly after, turning out to be just minutes before the second, with another slick passing move in tight spaces to unlock space out wide for Origi to fizz a first-time cross curled into the path of Mane to tap in. He could not contain his happiness as he smiled, a smile we have yet to see this year – nor could Klopp, who grunted a very audible “YES!” with his signature air punch celebration.
We cannot ignore the form of Leipzig who have been in tremendous form domestically, making it even more impressive that Liverpool didn’t even look uncomfortable or troubled through the 90 minutes. On the same token though, we cannot ignore the form of Liverpool FC either. They have kept 5 clean sheets in their last 7 games in Europe. Their performance in general was immense, especially coming into the game under a dark cloud, they produced a stellar big-game performance of a ‘big side’.
With players returning to fitness & let’s not forget – their original positions, then the possibilities are promising. They will travel home happy, knowing that this is the perfect chance for a reset in a run of games that could yet prove to be the most fruitful & significant of their entire season.
Just as quickly as your form can go, it can return just as fast. Not many teams that you’d say have the quality to go on & win it with a return to form, but certainly Liverpool FC is one of those.
Can Liverpool FC produce the biggest turnaround to a season, by conquering Europe’s elite? It wouldn’t be the first time they’ve turned things around whilst wearing the ‘underdog’ tag.
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