The old saying goes: There is no one as dangerous as he or she who has nothing to lose.
And make no mistake about it, Liverpool might be considered as a long-shot by the media, but they’re as dangerous as Champions League opposition come. Unbeaten; the top goal-scorers (28-goals); playing with such intensity, commitment and selflessness – and arguably the most in-form attack in world football. I’d want to avoid us too.
The ruthless manner in which Liverpool disposed of Porto last week has left fans in a state of euphoria; as belief that the Reds’ can pull off the unthinkable begins to gather momentum. The free-scoring system has the feeling of a team playing with complete freedom to express themselves, without fear, and with nothing but experience to gain – a trait compatible with Jürgen Klopp’s Champions League exploits.
Plenty will attempt to depreciate the victories, simply due to the level of opponent, though the pre-match routines for Hoffenheim, Spartak Moscow, Sevilla and Porto were all about unbeaten runs; their fine form, and the tough challenge that lay ahead. Still, we can only beat what’s in front of us, and until we conquer a top team (in the eyes of others), we still have it all to prove.
I use the term ‘nothing to lose’ loosely, because we have standards to upkeep and I genuinely think there’s an in-house belief that they can have a real go at this competition – but in reality, who’d have thought Liverpool would be as good as in the quarter finals and leading the pack in terms of scoring goals.
Look at the vastly invested teams, or what’s considered to be Europe’s elite football clubs; the tried-and-tested, billionaire-owned teams such as Paris Saint-Germain, Real Madrid, Bayern Munich, Juventus, both Manchester Clubs and Barcelona – they’re under pressure, they have it all to lose; year after year they attempt to leave as the victor, if/when they don’t, it’s back to the drawing board. The expectations weigh heavier and heavier the longer it goes for a team that’s sole purpose of spending copious amounts is the lift the illustrious trophy.
It’s different for us, though they’ll always be high expectations due to our past – but it’s about looking at the progress, and acknowledging our forward strides – finally battling it out with the best in the world and even reaching the quarter finals after such a long absence could be deemed as successful (though I’m hopeful for more). Liverpool aren’t playing with pressure upon their shoulders (not visibly anyway) and it shows on the pitch.
Remember Klopp’s Borussia Dortmund team that reached the Champions League Final in 2012-13, after being drawn the ‘group of death’ and dumping Real Madrid out in the semi finals – a team that feared no one. A team that took five-seasons to construct. A team not too reminiscent from Liverpool’s. The eradication of fear/utilisation of fear, and the total cohesion within the squad – that, to me, is the Klopp effect.
Togetherness. It’s not about individuals (like other teams); everyone has a job to do – all of equal importance – and the total camaraderie solidifies the focus to help each other.
Even if I take the biased tin hat off, and analyse the potential future opponents in the Champions League; I still can’t find much to be overly concerned about. One of the odds on favourites will be exiting as Real Madrid play PSG; Sevilla, United, Roma and Shakhtar don’t exactly fill me with fright. Then there’s Spurs/Juventus, Chelsea/Barça and both City and Bayern seemingly through. Is there teams that could beat us? Yes. Could we beat any of the above over two-legs? Yes. We don’t need a miracle; we can match any team on our day – and with Sadio Mané, Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Salah on the attack, I’ll forever be optimistic.
It’s all about moments; the right moment, and grasping that moment – and at this current moment, we’re in a very good moment. Take that how you will.
Worth reminiscing back a few years to losing to Anji and Udinese, and drawing games against Young Boys and Hearts in the Europa. Or last time we delved into the Champions League; winning a single game, scoring a mere 5-goals and back home after the group stage. That’s a monumental shift in levels.
Never. Ever. Forget.
Hopefully Jürgen Klopp’s motley crew can continue making waves across Europe? Sink a few more too with a bit of luck……
‘It is the man that has nothing to lose or is willing to lose everything to beat you that I am afraid of. If a man is willing to lose his life to bite off my nose then I don’t care how good I am or what I do to him – he’s gonna get my nose’ – Bruce Lee.
Up the Reds!