Liverpool defender reflects on 'that' night against Barcelona
Liverpool’s Joël Matip says the team “needed everyone” to perform to the highest standard the night The Reds turned Barcelona over at Anfield 12 months ago.
In case you have forgotten – as if that’s possible – Liverpool were beaten 3-0 at Camp Nou in the first leg of that Champions League semi-final. Luis Suarez and a Lionel Messi double all but finished the tie that night. However, Jürgen Klopp’s Redmen had played very, very well in Spain and were unlucky to lose at all.
Klopp knew his side could beat Barcelona in the return fixture at Anfield six days later. But could they win by a four-goal margin? Oh yeah, don’t forget that Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino – two of Liverpool’s first-choice front three – were both missing for the second leg.
Speaking to Liverpoolfc.com about that night, Matip confirmed that despite the 3-0 defeat in Barcelona, the performance in that game gave The Reds some confidence for the second game.
“It was crazy. It was like a whole machine working together.
“We could not perform at even one per cent less… we needed everyone.
“… the game in Camp Nou was not bad but they scored three goals and we knew it would be a really tough, tough game at Anfield – we knew we’d need something special to happen if we were to reach the final.
“We thought, ‘Let’s win this game’ but we never could have imagined how it would turn out in the end.
“Of course, we’d played so well there, in Camp Nou, against Barcelona, against one of the strongest sides in the world at home, so there was something to be positive about – but they scored the goals and we didn’t.
“We knew if we repeated that performance, make a few adaptations and use our chances, then for sure then everyone was confident we could beat them on the night, but we didn’t think about the result in the end.
“Of course, if you miss some players with the quality of Bobby and Mo… every team would miss them and it’s not perfect. We still had enough players and a lot of quality, and the team together can achieve a lot of things. Obviously, it doesn’t make the day better if you hear ‘he is missing and he is missing’, but you have to use the depth of the squad and make the best out of it.”
The rest, as they say, is history. Divock Origi stepped up to the plate with two goals on the night. Gini Wijnaldum came off the bench to fire in a second-half double. Trent Alexander-Arnold and a ballboy combined to take the smartest corner-kick you’ll ever see.
Liverpool won 4-0 and went on to lift their sixth European Cup in Madrid on June 1st 2019.
That night against Barcelona, though? Probably the best European night the ground has ever experienced. It’s right up there with Saint Etienne in 1977, if not more impressive.
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