Istanbul lives long in the memory but the performance in the 2005 Champions League has arguably been surpassed by Liverpool’s display in getting to the 2019 final – a 4-0 demolition of Barcelona could go down as the greatest performance in the club’s history.
Trailing 3-0 from the first leg of the semi-final, braces from Divock Origi and Georginio Wijnaldum condemned bewildered and brittle Barcelona to a deserved defeat over the tie as Jurgen Klopp led his side into a second successive final.
They had their chances in the first half but Lionel Messi and Co looked toothless throughout as they failed to make the most of a succession of openings that came their way.
Excellent in the first half, Arturo Vidal was essentially anonymous – much like everyone else in a luminous yellow shirt – after the break as effervescent Liverpool shone.
Here we take a closer look at the Chilean’s lukewarm performance.
Anfield was jacked even before kick-off – but the hopeful crowd suddenly erupted into expectation when their beloved Reds took the lead. Jordan Henderson slalomed into the box and forced a save from Marc-Andre ter Stegen, the rebound pounced on by Origi who gleefully tapped in.
They naturally opened themselves up to Spanish scrutiny as they looked to blast their way back into the game – but Alisson stood up to everything, while woeful finishing also allowed Liverpool off the hook.
They started the second half poorly and Liverpool just kept coming. Eleven minutes into the second period, the hosts were, incredibly, level, Wijnaldum’s quickfire brace making the impossible suddenly plausible.
He swept home Trent Alexander-Arnold’s deflected cross and then towered in a header from Xherdan Shaqiri’s peach of a delivery from the other side. Quick-thinking from the young right-back then saw the hosts snatch the lead; Barca dallied at a corner and Alexander-Arnold swept low to Origi who smashed home his second. Unreal scenes.
Goals – 0
Tackles – 7
Interceptions – 2
Touches – 56
Passes – 37
Pass accuracy – 78.4%
Aerials won – 1
Fouled – 1
GOT RIGHT – SETTING THE TONE
Vidal was Barca’s best player in the first leg and he mirrored that showing in the first half, the catalyst for the visitors being able to match the home side’s heart, tenacity and passion.
Liverpool started sharply but Barca – buoyed by the fact that one goal would likely kill the Reds off – also poured forward and threatened on numerous occasions.
Vidal snapped into tackles and energised those around him, one gorgeously pinged pass was so glorious, we had to check the replay to confirm it wasn’t Messi. Not a player who usually offers much going forward, an impish back-heel on the edge of the box also led to a Messi chance.
GOT WRONG – INDUSTRY BUT NO INCISION
If Barca were hoping their lion could lead Liverpool to the slaughter like lambs, they were sadly mistaken. As good as the Chilean was in the opening 45 minutes and as incisive as Barca were against a charging Liverpool, they were both equally as timid in the second 45.
He lost Wijnaldum who proceeded to reduce the deficit to a goal – even though there was an element of luck in how the ball arrived to him – and he looked all at sea as the relentless hosts pressed and poked holes in an increasingly creaking Blaugrana XI.
As much as his energy and drive had fuelled his side in the opening half, his lack of creativity and guile in the second half was clearly evident, with Liverpool running on adrenaline and Barcelona on empty.
Vidal’s warrior spirit was needed on a night when Barcelona, seemingly on the brink, only needed one goal to kill the tie off, and initially, at least, his tenacity was a key feature as others followed his lead.
Barca required one goal – they could have had four – but a lack of killer instinct in front of Alisson let Liverpool back in it. And, as much as his bark had let Liverpool know they needed to be wary of Barcelona’s bite in the first half, a spineless second 45 saw big dogs Barca and Vidal exit with their tails firmly between their legs.
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