Modern football kills emotion. Or at least that’s what the banner in the Bayern Munich end said. Who are they kidding? This sport may have its flaws, but for emotion, for excitement, for sheer unscripted
Could they handle the occasion? Tick. Could they do it away from home? Tick. Could they take on Bayern Munich, the mighty Bayern Munich, at their own game, in their own back yard and come out on top? Tick. Does Jurgen Klopp know what he’s doing? What do you think? Can they win the Champions League? With Klopp and Virgil van Dijk, with Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah, anything feels possible. “We shall not be moved,” sang the travelling Liverpudlians, high up in the Gods. The Allianz Arena was the Allez Allez Allez-
No wonder. What a team Klopp is building here. You can doubt them and criticise them, you can ask them questions but you can’t deny the progress being made at Anfield. Premier League contenders, Champions League contenders. This is a serious side. “Back on the landscape of European football,” Klopp said. He was spot on. For
Niko Kovac’s side
Mane was immense, Van Dijk imperious, the Dutchman’s performance good enough to get John Henry tweeting. Salah worked like a full-back and delivered the pass of the game, James Milner ran himself into the ground. Trent Alexander-Arnold, Fabinho, Joel Matip, all of them had their struggles, but all of them won their battles. Robert Lewandowski, Mats Hummels, Javi Martinez, Thiago Alcantara, Manuel Neuer, great players, they had no answer. Liverpool played with belief in the first half and a strut in the second. Before the game Franz Beckenbauer, a Bayern legend, had spoken glowingly about Klopp. He was “the one who taught the Germans how to play football quickly”. They’d love him as their manager, Beckenbauer said.
No wonder. What Klopp did at Dortmund, he is doing at Liverpool. We’re heading into the defining weeks of the season, and the big prizes are still very much in sight . They’ll take some stopping. Germany’s best couldn’t. What have the rest got? Bring them on, Klopp will say. “We are back,” he said here. He believes. So should you.