LONDON: Liverpool must beware. Just because they have shocked Manchester City in the quarter-finals of the Champions League does not mean that Jurgen Klopp’s team have become world-beaters overnight.
Over-confidence is a permanent danger at Liverpool because of a sense of entitlement which still lingers around the club – players, officials and most of all the fans – based on a proud history of 18 league titles, 15 domestic cups and 11 European cups.
But cooler heads will reflect that Klopp & Co were fortunate with refereeing decisions in both legs of their remarkable 3-0, 2-1 victory over runaway Premier League leaders Manchester City. If UEFA used VAR then Mo Salah would have been denied his instant goal at Anfield because of offside and City would have granted Leroy Sane’s ‘goal’ just before half-time in the return.
Those two incidents should make the European federation think again about its refusal to countenance the introduction of VAR for the knockout stages of the Champions League next season.
Certainly Liverpool produced two immense team performances to reach the semi-finals. At Anfield they attacked in style in the first half and defended with commitment in the second half; in Manchester they resisted bravely in the first half and displayed great mental strength to take advantage of their good fortune in the second half.
Roberto Firmino’s ninth European goal of the season won the game – inflicting a second successive European home defeat on City – and ensured a place for Klopp’s men in tomorrow’s [FRIDAY] semi-final draw.
Klopp acknowledged the unusual nature of the outcome when he said: “We scored five against Man City and only conceded one. These numbers are usually not possible. The boys found a solution in the second half. We had two or three opportunities in the first half already, so it was easy for me and the boys to see the development of the game. We had come through the whirlwind.”
Of course the players deserved enormous credit but so did a manager who is still chasing his first European trophy after defeats in the finals of the Champions League (with Dortmund against Bayern) and Europa League (with Liverpool against Sevilla).
Dutch defender Virgil van Dijk said: “He is the complete manager. He is a fantastic team manager, player manager as well to make sure that everyone is working hard together. Obviously his relationship with the fans is in people’s minds because that is what they see but he is much more than that.
“You don’t see all the hard work we put in behind the scenes. He has shown already that he is an outstanding manager.”
After two and a half years in English football Klopp still needs a trophy to prove the point.