When you go up against Barcelona in any given game, whether it be the Champions League Final or a pre-season friendly, you know that it’s going to be an absolute war from start to finish. It may not seem like it on the face of it, but they’ve just got that kind of infrastructure and stability that is enough to tear even the best of teams apart on the night. That’s not a prediction, either, that’s a spoiler.
Last night Liverpool went up against Barca in the first leg of their Champions League semi final tie, and for the most part, it was a really entertaining game. The Reds came forward with real intent and Barca, as you can expect, showcased the kind of flair and talent you’d expect at this level. It was a really fun and competitive encounter, but in the end, the scoreline didn’t suggest that as the La Liga champions were able to build a 3-0 lead to head to Anfield with.
A recent report from The Guardian in the hours after the game seemed to suggest that tactics were to blame for Liverpool’s defeat. In some ways you could argue that’s the case, with BBC Sport even reporting that they (Barcelona) were able to ‘stun’ the Reds. Again, there’s a theory to that, but we still don’t believe the overall takeaways are all that complicated.
In our mind you’ve got two ways of thinking about this: either you focus on Lionel Messi or you don’t. If you choose to do so, then it’s quite simple – having the best player in the world, and potentially of all time, has quite clearly made the difference. Messi has been proving himself to be the world’s greatest footballer for so many years now that it’s kind of baffling to even bet against him at this point. Nothing he does should come as a surprise to anyone, because he thrives on doing the unthinkable and making the impossible a reality.
On the flip side, you can argue that this is just how football works sometimes, and nobody can really describe or explain why. Liverpool had a series of great opportunities in which they could’ve given themselves a vital away goal or two, and yet, they weren’t able to take them.
Banishing the myths
Some Reds fans, as Spurs fans did yesterday, will claim that their team just didn’t show up, but that isn’t the case at all. They showed up and they put in a great shift throughout the course of this game, but in the end, the footballing gods sometimes just don’t allow for the storybook ending to come true.
We all know that this is set up perfectly for one of those magical nights at Anfield, but this is certainly going to be a hard sell when it comes to convincing people that Liverpool can complete this comeback. We’ve seen them do it on the grandest stage of them all before back in Istanbul, but this Barca team are seemingly on a whole other level.