In Summary
  • Liverpool have amassed a club record 94 Premier League points with a match to go and are now strong favourites to win the Wanda Metropolitano final despite registering record profits. This is because Klopp makes all pennies count.

1 - Thinking game is over at half time:
Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde and his players made the mistake of thinking their 3-0 victory over Liverpool at Camp Nou was as a result of technical superiority. It was not. Jurgen Klopp’s go getters were just a tad unlucky. Valverde thus failed to react to their second half lackluster display by retaining the same line up that won 3-0. Big mistake. Nelson Semedo should have started to give Blagruana better physical/athletic balance.

2 - Gengenpress has surpassed tiki taka:
Many a football pundit must have dismissed my assertion that Liverpool’s 0-3 loss to Barcelona was a watershed moment that marked a significant shift of football power from tiki taka to gengenpress. Truth is, Liverpool’s hard running, full pitch pressing, no holds barred approach to the game is the football system of the future. Barcelona won’t go anywhere, anymore with technically gifted players who can’t run, can’t press and lack heart.

3- Visible shift of power Tto premiership:
The possibility of four English clubs contesting the finals of Europe’s two premier competitions - the Champions League and Europa League is distinct. Of Tottenham Hotspur, Chelsea, Arsenal and Liverpool; it’s the latter that had a more difficult task overhauling a first leg deficit. I want to go on record to state that no Top Six EPL side could have surrendered a 3-0 first leg lead. They all have a much better physical and athletic balance than Barcelona.

4- Ageing Barcelona need squad overhaul:
A visible difference between Barcelona and Liverpool was the Kop’s ability to make runs no end. Barcelona were the complete opposite because they are just too many over thirties. Even with an extra four days rest, Lionel Messi (31), Luis Suarez (32), Gerard Pique (32), Ivan Rakitic (31) and Arturo Vidal (32) couldn’t cope with Liverpool’s gungho approach to the game. Barcelona need to be reinvented.

5-Valverde made wrong team selection :
Barcelona boss Ernesto Valverde should have maintained the team that stemmed Liverpool’s flow towards the end of their 3-0 victory at Camp Nou. This implied Semedo starting at right back and moving Sergio Roberto into midfield to give Blagruana numbers. Instead, he chose to think Liverpool are just a running side without technical proficiency. Another big mistake. With Messi having an off day, Blagruana simply had to answers to Liverpool’s onslaught.

6- Extra rest doesn’t always translate into freshness:
I had noticed sluggishness in Barcelona’s opening 15 minutes of their quarter final victory over Manchester United despite their entire first team being rested in their previous Primera Liga game. This shows that extra days rest is not translating into match day freshness and sharpness. Inspire of playing their third game in six days, Liverpool got a lot more traction riding on adrenaline than a Blagruana side that rested an entire first eleven over the weekend.

7-Playing second leg away:
Game management is a lot easier if the second leg of a Champions League knock out match is played in front of your own fans. Three seasons ago, Barcelona overturned a 0-4 first leg deficit to Paris Saint Germain by winning 6-1 at Camp Nou. This is because PSG failed to manage the return game whereas Barca knew exactly what they needed. Liverpool handed Blagruana the exact dose of medicine they administered to PSG.

8- This is Anfield, you’ll never walk alone:
Didn’t expect a Catalan side teeming with experienced multiple Champions League and World Cup winners can be as intimidated by the Anfield crowd. But they were unnerved by 52,000 fans bellowing out You’ll Never Walk Alone. Even the great Messi couldn’t get power or direction in his shots because he was NERVOUS. On any other day, at any other ground, the great Argentine would have converted one of the four chances that fell his way in the opening stanza.

9- Jurgen Klopp Is Number One:
Football ignoramuses use Klopp’s lack of silverware in four years at Anfield to knock him. They underestimate how big a rebuilding job he inherited. Liverpool have amassed a club record 94 Premier League points with a match to go and are now strong favourites to win the Wanda Metropolitano final despite registering record profits. This is because Klopp makes all pennies count.

10- Success Is Incremental:
Many of us forget that this was Barcelona’s first Champions League semifinal since 2015 whereas Liverpool were playing in a European semi for the third consecutive season, as they also lost to Seville in the Europa League final, before succumbing to Real Madrid in last year’s final. The Kop are therefore reaping what they’ve been sowing for three solid years.