UEFA Champions League: Liverpool Need To Rediscover The Miracle Of Istanbul
With Salah and Firmino on the side-lines, Liverpool ought to find attacking alternatives if they need to turn a three goal deficit against the Catalans.
Fourteen years ago at Istanbul, Liverpool’s fate was hanging by a thread against AC Milan in the 2005 UEFA Champions League final. Three goals down in the first half, Liverpool’s title hopes were all but over. In the second period, Liverpool leveled the score, extending the game towards extra time and ultimately to the penalty shootout. And the rest, as they say, is history.
Liverpool’s comeback in the 2005 UCL final was known as “The Miracle of Istanbul.” They will be facing a similar situation, but this time against Barcelona. Tonight at Anfield, The Reds need to instill some kind of confidence in the team, to turn a three goal deficit.
Stats Say it All
At Camp Nou, Liverpool’s parameters were better in all aspects against a possession hungry Barcelona, yet they lacked the conversion rate. They managed to thwart the Spanish attack, with the Reds having an aggregate possession of 52% compared to Barcelona’s 48%. This is the first time since the 2015 Champions League season that Barcelona had lower possession, the last one coming against Bayern Munich. Be it shots on & off target, set pieces, number of touches and more, the Reds had the upper hand in both attacking and defensive lines.
Jurgen Klopp – A Tactical Genius
Fielding a 4-3-3 formation, it transformed into a 4-3-1-2 line up on the pitch. Wijnaldum, on the left flank was playing more of a central attacking midfielder role, behind Salah and Mane. Even without Firmino, they managed to cause a lot of problems in the opposition half, forcing Barcelona to make a mammoth 32 clearances. Klopp’s side managed to keep them at bay, despite Suarez’s opening goal, until Messi’s brace stole the show, late in the second period.
Injury to their Attacking DNA
With marquee players like Salah and Firmino ruled out, Liverpool’s attack lacks depth. Even though the absence of Firmino cost them huge in the first leg, the loss of Salah is a death blow. Liverpool’s goals have been coming from their attacking trident of Salah, Mane and Firmino. The argument is that goals come in plenty when the trident plays as a cohesive unit. With the absence of Firmino, Klopp overcame the problem with a frontal attack of Salah and Mane. But now with only Mane left, Klopp has to look in the direction of Sturridge and Origi for attacking options. Both have the potential to score, but the experience during a high pressure knockout fixture is what they lack. In midfield, Naby Keita is injured, and Henderson is expected to replace him in the starting squad.
Expectations from Tonight’s fixture
Barcelona will be weary of their quarter-final exit last UCL season, when they were knocked out by AS Roma in similar fashion. Ernesto Valverde, Barcelona’s manager, fielded none of their players who featured in the UCL first leg in the La Liga game against Celta Vigo. Having already been crowned champions, he decided to rest his regular eleven, fielding a second string side and losing 2-0 against Celta Vigo. On the contrary, Liverpool is riding high with a hard earned victory against Newcastle, last Saturday. The highlighting factor is that only on three instances has a team been eliminated in UCL knockout ties, having scored three or more goals in the first leg. Liverpool did it in Istanbul. Can they repeat the miracle at Anfield?