| 9°C Dublin

exclusive Liverpool will fear no one in the Champions League, they must believe they can reach another finalb

Reds must end their Anfield misery to have any chance of European silverware


Liverpool's strikers Diogo Jota and Roberto Firmino will have a huge role to play in the end-of-season run-in

Liverpool's strikers Diogo Jota and Roberto Firmino will have a huge role to play in the end-of-season run-in

Liverpool's strikers Diogo Jota and Roberto Firmino will have a huge role to play in the end-of-season run-in

THE path is open for Liverpool to reach a third Champions League final in four years and, to be honest, I’m struggling to believe I’m writing those words.

Real Madrid lie in wait for Jurgen Klopp’s side in the first leg of the quarter-finals on Tuesday night – and after all that has gone on this season, it seems impossible to imagine the biggest prize in football could still be waiting at the end of Liverpool’s rainbow.

The absence of fans, the incredible bad luck with injuries to key players, the abject loss of self-belief at Anfield and a run of results that should never have been allowed to happen, on a number of levels, can all be parked to one side now.

The way I see it, this tie against Real Madrid is a 50-50 contest that is there to be won between two sides who have suffered similarly over the course of this strange season.

Injuries have also been a big part of Real Madrid’s story in recent months, with Sergio Ramos among the star names missing on Tuesday night.

Yet all four sides in Liverpool’s section of the Champions League draw know that opportunity is knocking after challenging seasons domestically.

The other tie in this half sees a Chelsea side that had to change their manager in January after a poor run of form take on a Porto side struggling in their domestic title race this season.

So there is no team Liverpool should fear in the quarter-final or semi-final – and that’s why I say they have to believe they can reach another final.

Manchester City, Bayern Munich and Paris Saint-Germain are the teams to beat in the competition this season, but all of those are in the other half of the draw.

So while Liverpool might not be favourites if they were to get to the final, the negative mood around the team will change if they make it through to the Champions League showpiece.

Klopp’s team has a fantastic record in Europe over the last four years, and their 4-0 aggregate win against a strong RB Leipzig side in the last round suggested they can banish their Premier League woes when they play in Europe.

Yet the big factor that worked in their favour in the last round was playing both matches away in Budapest, as that took out the Anfield problem.

If you had said a year ago that Liverpool’s biggest issue would be playing matches at a stadium that has been so crucial to their European glories down the years, I’d have thought you had gone mad.

Champions League nights at Anfield are the stuff of legend, with The Kop blowing the opposition away before a ball is kicked and Liverpool’s players drawing on that emotion to pull off incredible victories.


Liverpool have had incredible bad luck with injuries to key players

Liverpool have had incredible bad luck with injuries to key players

Liverpool have had incredible bad luck with injuries to key players

The Barcelona win in 2019 was probably the best of all time, as they came back from 3-0 down to beat Lionel Messi and the rest, but Anfield has a very different vibe around it right now.

There is no way Klopp and his players should have lost six games in a row on home soil for the first time in Liverpool’s history, but that horrible record is etched into the record books now and they have to end their Anfield misery to have any chance in the Champions League.

Away form is not a problem and Liverpool will always score goals against sides that come at them, so I can see a scenario where they score away goals against Real Madrid on Tuesday night and possibly against Chelsea in a semi-final.

The big question is what happens at Anfield, because we have seen the same story played out time and again in home matches over the last couple of months – and, clearly, Klopp’s players have a psychological problem playing there now.

They could get out of that problem by winning a couple of big matches and getting on a roll, and the fact that they have not played at Anfield since the horrible 1-0 defeat against Fulham on March 7th means they have had time to reboot.

Two other big factors that have also changed since their last home match is the return of Fabinho in midfield and Diogo Jota making a welcome return to the forward line.

Roberto Firmino now has to be back-up striker for the rest of this season, as Jota needs to play every game, with his goals for Portugal in recent days confirming his return to fitness.

Two clean sheets at Anfield could be enough to take Liverpool back to Istanbul for another Champions League final and by then, Virgil van Dijk may be fit to play, and captain Jordan Henderson would also be back from injury.

Given everything that has happened to Liverpool this season, the prospect of Henderson getting his hands on the Champions League trophy and the club adding a seventh European title to their proud list seems hard to envisage.

Yet Klopp would take the scenario he finds himself in against a depleted Real Madrid, as he knows he has the tools to have a real go at winning this competition.

Download the Sunday World app

Now download the free app for all the latest Sunday World News, Crime, Irish Showbiz and Sport. Available on Apple and Android devices

Online Editors

Top Videos