Much like Game Of Thrones fans, Marvel movie enthusiasts and royal baby watchers, football supporters have been known to jabber on about their chosen pursuit in a manner evoking shrugged shoulders and blank expressions from all around them.
All of the above subjects have provided numerous ‘water cooler’ moments in recent weeks, as people spill over all the drama in a language that might as well be Double Dutch to confused eavesdroppers.
This morning, in offices all over Europe and beyond, the conversation was all about the so-called beautiful game as football fans shared their exasperation at last night’s epic Champions League encounter between Liverpool and Barcelona. The absolute manic nature of the match meant that otherwise uninterested commuters couldn’t avoid it this morning as radio stations filled the airwaves with You’ll Never Wak Alone and pictures of joyous Liverpool players jumped out of every front page in the newsagents.
While Liverpool’s amazing turnaround might seem unique, drama of this nature has pretty much become a staple of our midweek nights. If you’re not already in the know, the Champions League knockout stages take place over two legs, giving each team an equal opportunity to have the advantage of playing at home. Normally, if a club takes a big lead into the second leg, observers generally reckon the result is a foregone conclusion and some might not even bother tuning in for the return. That is until this season flipped everything on its head.
Already this spring, we’ve seen astonishing comebacks by Juventus over Atletico Madrid and Manchester United over Paris Saint-Germain and that’s before we even begin talking about the exploits of the swashbuckling young Ajax team. The Dutch giants have twice looked dead and buried against Real Madrid and Juventus before dumping their more illustrious opponents in a ruthless manner on both occasions.
Just three weeks ago, viewers thought they had seen it all as Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester City played out a ding-dong battle before Spurs nicked it at the death thanks to the help of the video assistant referee.
— Tottenham Hotspur (@SpursOfficial) May 8, 2019
All of this meant with Barcelona leading 3-0 going into last night’s game, we all should have known that Liverpool would end up turning things around. We all should have been so sure that we should have taken the 50/1 odds offered on a 4-0 Liverpool win and gone down to the nearest bookies on the way home from work (note: bet responsibly, folks).
Alas, common sense prevailed for most and Liverpool fans would have been happy with a decent effort and a moral victory. Except that Jurgen Klopp and Anfield on big European nights don’t do common sense. From before kick-off, the stadium’s raucous crowd roared their team on as their Scottish full-back Andy Robertson attempted to get inside the head of the great Lionel Messi by ruffling his hair inside the first minute.
£8M Andy Robertson treating Messi like he’s nothing.
— Azahari Sharif (@azaharisharif) May 8, 2019
Divock Origi’s seventh-minute goal set the ball rolling as both sets of players clattered into each other in what was a bruising first half under the Merseyside lights.
In the second half, two Georgino Wijnaldum goals brought TV viewers closer and closer to the edge of their armchairs before Origi’s second left them positively rolling on the floor leaving neighbours reaching for the phone to report the crimes that were apparently taking place.
The only crime that was actually happening though was Messi and his pals being robbed of the glory that they were so assured would greet them at the end of it all. Taking in the pre-match build-up, the main event and watching the TV pundits attempt to comprehend what they had just seen, it all made for about four hours of unrivaled entertainment, even for non-football fans and active despisers of Liverpool.
— FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) May 7, 2019
With the Reds now in the final, the only question left is who will join them. Ajax currently hold a 1-0 advantage going into their semi-final with Tottenham. Of course, there’s no way that Spurs could carry on this recent trend and turn it all around in Amsterdam tonight.
The Liverpool squad sing You'll Never Walk Alone with the fans on the pitch.
— Virgin Media Sport (@VMSportIE) May 7, 2019