Was beating Barcelona 4-0 a better performance than winning in Istanbul?
On the face of it it’s a simple question and it’s one that should give an easy answer. For me I’m going against the grain and probably against popular opinion to say it was and here’s why.
2005 in Istanbul as it’s been pointed out to me online was a magical night. One that really only we are capable of. That side had no right to even be in the final let alone put it upto one of the best club sides of the era. The first half showed that. 3-0 down and our limitations were exposed. Nobody told Rafa though and at halftime his tactical changes coupled with the captain leading from the front inspired arguably the greatest comeback in cup final history. We all know the stories and no doubt we’ve all watched it over and over. But it was a draw. 3-3 and a win famously on penalties. Still the most emotional I’ve every been over a football game, until May 7th 2019.
In my head i’d talked down Barcelona in the week leading up to it. Truth was they were ruthless in that first leg and we weren’t. We had chances and didn’t take them. BT sport talking up the game in the week were talking about anfield nights, “if it’s gonna happen anywhere it’ll be at Anfield” was the pitch but I knew in my head that 3-0 down, no Firmino, no Salah, against in my opinion the best attacking side of the last decade, let alone in Messi an absolute freak of a player that we were on a hiding to nothing.
We had to not only score 4 minimum, we had to keep a clean sheet. We had to shut down the side that last week scored 3 against us. For 95 minutes I sat in my spot on the sofa going through every emotion possible. After the final whistle I sat back and said to my wife, I’ve never seen anything like that. She said what about Istanbul. I replied no, this is better because Istanbul was a hiding to nothing. We shouldn’t have been there in the first place and for 45 mins we were inspired. Then held on for dear life in extra time and won on penalties. A great night and one that lives long in the heart.
Tonight we had to be tactically perfect. We had to score 4 unanswered goals. Plus we did deserve to be there. We are on merits one of the best sides in Europe over the last 3 years. What I mean by that is that it takes a different mentality to do what we did v Barcelona. That’s something that previous Liverpool sides have lacked. That night we showed a strength that is rare. The signs were there earlier in the season vs Napoli. But scoring 4, come on, that’s almost unheard of against what is the current Spanish champions and a very solid defence. We beat them mentally. They crumbled. That’s why I believe it was a better performance because for 95 mins, we were perfect.
We’re a few days away from another European final. This time we’re favourites. We can draw on the mental strength shown in that Barcelona second leg coupled with the experience gained in last season’s build up. I’m confident of the win while not underestimating the challenge spurs bring. We’re bringing big ears home. Roll on June 1st.
Everyone has their own opinions and I’d love to hear yours. Was May 7th our best European performance? Maybe there’s no one definitive answer.