Liverpool’s season is suddenly under a strange sort of scrutiny after they were bundled out of the Champions League by Diego Simeone and his Atletico Madrid side’s last-gasp raid.
Within a week, Jurgen Klopp’s team have been KOed in the FA Cup at Chelsea and now their European crown has been taken from their heads in the Anfield arena that has been a fortress under manager Jurgen Klopp.
After a frustratingly painful night where the Reds laid siege to the Atletico goal, hitting the woodwork twice, an error by stand-in goalkeeper Adrian put the skids under them after they finally held the lead in a tie that lived on a knife edge.
Ask any European team who have encountered Diego Simeone’s side this season that give them an inch and a mile is the least they will take. Simeone’s men were ruthless once they had a sniff of a win, leaving Liverpool to ponder on their second big disappointment in just a few days.
Once Spaniard Marcos Llorente sealed two extra time goals for the Los Rojiblancos the talk resurfaced of Liverpool and whether their season may end as something of an anti-climax as what looked like a perfect season, comparable to the Arsenal ‘Invicibles’ of 2004, is now down to completing the formalities of their first league title in 30 years.
In reality Liverpool, before Adrian’s error, were outstanding.
They had 71% possession and 34 shots – and yet Simeone’s side ran out 3-2 winners.
But Atletico’s players, fans and their talismanic coach, who has always been the villain amongst English supporters after his involvement in the sending off of David Beckham in the France 98 World Cup, seemed happy enough with their gameplan as they celebrated wildly at the Anfield Road end at the conclusion of extra time. Their celebrations justified after executing their gameplan in typical Iberian lethal style.
The result summed up the feeling at Anfield of late, where Liverpool have not quite had that relentless intensity that carried all before them since they returned from the winter break in mid-February. And the club will carry any disappointment after winning the Champions League last season vs Tottenham In Madrid.
However, this should still seen as a remarkable season. Liverpool haven’t won the English top tier’s cup since Kenny Dalglish’s 1989/1990 team, and have never won the Premier League since it’s inclusion in 1992.
To suggest this bitter loss in the Champions League quarter final takes a heavy layer of gloss off Liverpool’s campaign when it does eventually end is a nonsense – and it may actually be a tribute to the performances Klopp’s Liverpool have produced in recent years that there was a growing expectation they would add another Champions League to the domestic title.
The Red’s 25 point lead in March at the top of the Premier League, ahead of the likes of Manchester City and Chelsea, tells the tale.
They are an outstanding side and this can be reflected upon as an outstanding season.