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.
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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.
So here we are then: the game that will ultimately define our season. Has the hard work been done? Yes, the foundations are laid, but there is still plenty of work to be done.
A Merseyside derby, sandwiched in-between the two legs of our Champions League quarter final with Manchester City, all preceded by a game against Crystal Palace which looks far easier on paper than it is in reality.
When he was quizzed on whether his side deserved their 2-1 win over Liverpool last week, Jose Mourinho’s response ranged from the defensive to the downright maniacal.
It is not a game that will live long in the memory of anyone who witnessed it, but Liverpool’s 0-0 draw with Porto on Tuesday was significant in that nothing went wrong. Nobody played abysmally, and nobody got injured. Ahead of Saturday’s trip to Old Trafford, we couldn’t wish for more.
Jurgen Klopp is a consummate professional, and so his post-match interviews are conducted with a stony-faced stoicism throughout, but even he would have been delighted with the 5-0 win over Porto in the first leg of this Champions League last 16 tie.
A change is as good as a rest, so the old saying goes, yet a more accurate mantra in football might be ‘a rest with no change is just as good.’ Liverpool’s early exit from the FA Cup had given them an extended break ahead of last Saturday’s clash with West Ham, and that was evident in the energy and vitality the Reds’ players showed from the first whistle to the last.
It seems like an eternity since Liverpool last played, and there can be no doubting that the rest will have done the players a world of good. They signed off on Valentine’s night in the most romantic way: a 5-0 drubbing of Porto that has all but booked our place in the Champions League quarter finals.
How to sum up the 2-2 barnstormer with Tottenham in a succinct and concise fashion? Hmm…. We can say that Liverpool were the better side for the opening 70 minutes and deserved to lead through Mo Salah’s goal. Then Spurs boss made a couple of substitutions that would ultimately change the game.