It will take some time for the scars to heal after a heartbreaking loss in the Champions League final, and for the players the torment is both physical (Mo Salah’s shoulder injury could keep him out of the start of Egypt’s World Cup campaign) and emotional; you wonder if Loris Karius will ever pull on a Liverpool shirt again.
It was a journey that began in Hoffenheim on August 15, and took in the delights of Seville, Moscow, Maribor, Porto, Manchester and Rome. And it ends on Saturday in Kiev when Liverpool take on Real Madrid in the Champions League final.
We are just over a week away from the Champions League final in Kiev, and all eyes will be on the continental showpiece on Saturday May 26. Liverpool are the underdogs with the bookmakers, and yet there is a feeling that our vibrant attacking play could cause the shaky Real Madrid defenders plenty of headaches in the Ukraine.
All roads lead to Kiev on Saturday May 26….a mentality that was ultimately our undoing against Chelsea last week. Make no mistake: we enjoyed lots of possession and created some outstanding openings, but there was a general lack of intensity in our performance that enabled the Blues to walk away with a 0-1 win.
A journey which started way back at the preliminary stage in August will end on a glorious night in May: Liverpool are in the final of the Champions League.
Everything about the 0-0 draw with Stoke on Saturday suggested that the Liverpool players were at Anfield in body if not spirit. And who can blame them? For many, Wednesday’s Champions League semi-final second leg against Roma will be the biggest game of their lives; or at least a precursor to the most important game of their lives, hopefully.
As has been the case a few times this season, Liverpool were so close to attaining football perfection and then threw it away rather late in the piece. Five-nil up after 68 minutes in a Champions League semi-final….does it get any better than that? We were certainly close to sporting Valhalla thanks to braces from Mo Salah and Roberto Firmino and a single from Sadio Mane.
There was a worrying prescience to this column – rare indeed! – when we previewed the West Brom match last time out. We suspected that the Baggies, a proverbial footballing ‘wounded animal’, would put in a good performance on home soil in front of a largely disillusioned crowd.
It is, undeniably, a distraction. On Tuesday we take on Roma in the first leg of our Champions League semi-final, and everyone associated with the club – from the players and fans to the manager and his coaching staff – would be telling a fib if they said that wasn’t on their mind.
In hindsight, the Champions League tie against Manchester City could not have gone any better. Be under no illusions, we were full value for the 5-1 aggregate lead against the best team in the land; a source of frustration for many Reds fans who are aware of just how good we are on our day.