With the end of our 10 day break between games clearly in sight, the anticipation for our next game increases tenfold by the hour. Since we emphatically put Bournemouth to the sword and got back to winning ways, we have had to make do with watching clips from our training camp in Marbella and watching other clubs begin their assault on the Champions League knockout stage, and aim to progress in the FA Cup. Right now, we put our League challenge on hold until the weekend, and focus 100% on this mouthwatering tie against one of Europe’s heavyweights.
I for one, cannot wait for our match against Bayern Munich and with that, the return of the Champions League to Anfield. I hate it when we have breaks between games and it worries me that you can lose momentum, but what a way to welcome us back into the footballing world. Anyone who has ever been to Anfield for a knockout European tie will know that there is just something magical that surrounds it all. There’s a feeling in the air hours before kick off. I’m not sure what does it……Playing under the lights? Knowing we are up against one of Europes finest? The increased atmosphere brought by the away fans (which then gets drowned out by the Kopites)? Knowing it’s a knockout tournament and we can beat anyone on our day? Maybe some or all of the above.
Many European heavyweights have come to Anfield with confidence and then looked like rabbits in headlights when the game begins. How many times have we seen it in the build up that the manager or a player of the opposition say that the atmosphere at Anfield will not intimidate them and will actually push them to play better? And then what happened? They were swatted aside by Liverpool at their scary best. Dries Mertens and Ancelotti laughed off the atmosphere at Anfield before the ‘do or die’ tie at the end of the group stage, and look what happened there. Last season Roma and City players insisted they could handle the atmosphere, but the 5-2 and 3-0 scorelines suggest otherwise. Didn’t John Terry admit after the 2005 semi final that even when they were just warming up that it was the loudest he’d ever heard a set of fans.
We obviously have a long love affair with the Champions League or European Cup (whichever way you want to call it) and there are many stories of amazing nights at Anfield, but these are my favourites in recent years.
2002 - Liverpool 2-0 Roma (Group Stage)
Liverpool needed to win by two clear goals to progress from the group stage against a very good Roma team managed by Fabio Capello. The atmosphere was always going to be electric but when Gerard Houllier returned to the dug-out only three months after heart surgery it just cranked it up even more. Goals from Heskey and Litmanen were enough to see us through.
2005 – Liverpool 2-1 Juventus (Quarter Final)
Quarter finals of the Champions League and drawn against the leaders of Serie A. Our squad was a mixture of quality and very average players. We were definitely punching above our weight, but early goals from Sami Hyypia and Luis Garcia put us in control and sent the stands into bedlam. A scrappy goal conceded to Cannavaro didn’t dampen the atmosphere.
2005 – Liverpool 1-0 Chelsea (Semi Final)
What more can be said about this game that was settled in the first few minutes by Luis Garcia’s ghost goal. The atmosphere was the best thing I have ever experienced, the whole stadium was rocking. I still get goosebumps thinking about it.
2007 – Liverpool 1-0 Chelsea -Liverpool win on penalties (Semi Final)
I wasn’t able to go to this game but from what I saw and heard it was close to if not equal to the atmosphere against Chelsea in 2005. Daniel Aggers early goal cancelled out Chelsea’s 1-0 lead from the first leg. Then up step Pepe Reina to be the hero in the shootout.
2008 – Liverpool 4–2 Arsenal (Quarter Final)
This game had everything. End to end football summed up in 90 minutes. One minute you think we are going out when Diaby scores, then we are back in it with goals from Hyypia and Torres . Then Adebayor thinks he’s won it making it 2-2, but goals from Gerrard and Babel won the tie and once again Anfield was rocking.
2018 – Liverpool 3-0 Man City (Quarter Final)
Make no mistake about it, City were rocked in that first 45 minutes. Whether it was the atmosphere or whether it was the way we went at them, I’m not sure, but for that first half they were made to look very average with goals from Salah, Oxlade-Chamberlain and Mane putting us in great control.
2018 – Liverpool 5-2 Roma (Semi Final)
Wow, for us to storm into a 5-0 lead with goals from Salah (x2), Mane and Firmino (x2) was beyond my wildest dream. The late goals by Roma did dampen the atmosphere slightly, but for the majority it was amazing.
The magic of Anfield on a European night has also been felt in the UEFA Cup/Europa League. Don’t forget the ties against Man United, Borrusia Dortmund and Villareal in 2016 and Barcelona in 2001.
So, can Liverpool versus Bayern Munich be another chapter in the book of amazing European nights at Anfield? I am hoping so. Bayern will be a tough cookie, but they are nowhere near the level of previous years. There are some definite weaknesses with their ageing squad and their vulnerability to counter attacks, but they will still pose a huge threat to us. Especially with us having to field a makeshift centreback pairing in Van Dijk’s absence. But with the Anfield faithful in good voice beforehand and during the game, I feel like we have got more than enough to win this game and set us up for an exhilarating tie at the Allianz Arena in the second leg.
I put together this video, as for me, just the mention of the Champions League or hearing the Champions League song makes my hair stand on end (on my arms as I’m follically challenged)
The mentality so far this season has been to take it one game at a time and that the next game is the biggest. This is the mentality we need to continue with. Forget about Man United, Watford or Everton after this. Forget about Man City’s games, and put all your focus on this one game right now.
The Champions League is back, and I want us to be in there competing right until the end. I do not agree with the mentality that us going out now will help our league campaign. Winning games breeds confidence and a winning mentality and we need that on two fronts this season.
For those lucky enough to be going to Anfield this week, sing your fucking hearts out.
ALLEZ ALLEZ ALLEZ.