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‘Let’s talk about six, baby’ was what the Kop wanted and sang about, the six is what Jurgen Klopp and his men finally delivered. After years of being thrown around on the internet like the week’s clothes before being taken to the laundry, on 1st June 2019, Liverpool finally had its date with destiny. The decade long pain of coming so close but never quite making it, of slip-ups and their optimism being made fun of endlessly, the club finally tasted silverware and it caught the biggest fish out in the wild seas of club football – the UEFA Champions League.
So now that the hangover of that famous night in Madrid has subsided with a new season of club football well and truly underway, let’s address the elephant in the room- can Liverpool make it seven?
Van Dijk and company couldn’t have asked for a better start to their Premier League season. Having played six games, they are the only English side with a one hundred percent win record and have scored 17 goals while conceding only 5. They came so close to doing the double last season, agonisingly missing out on the Premier League trophy by just one single point and it could be argued that the Reds would focus primarily on domestic success this time around. Liverpool last ended the season as champions of England in the 1989/90 season and the club must be itching to get their hands on that prestigious trophy. However, focusing on domestic success doesn’t necessarily mean it has to be mutually exclusive to continental confrontation.
The summer transfer window was rather a quiet one for the club. No significant arrivals or departures mean Liverpool will go through the season with almost the same squad that dominated European football last season. And what a spectacular squad that was.
Breaking down the Liverpool squad…
In goal, Alisson was easily the best in the world last season and his efforts saw him being recognised with the Best goalkeeper award felicitated by both FIFA and UEFA. He was immense in the big games, with his cat-like reflexes frustrating opposition forwards beyond measure and having led his nation to the Copa America in the summer, Alisson is at the peak of his career and there are absolutely no signs of slowing down. His understudy, Adrian has proved to be quite the backup as well as he has shown cat-like reflexes and some great on-the-ball bravado over the past few weeks that Alisson has missed due to his injury.
Virgil Van Dijk had the single greatest season for a defender in recent memory where his towering presence at the heart of the Liverpool defence resembled a certain Gandalf blocking the Balrog’s passage with the words, ‘You shall not pass.’ He was the best footballer in Europe in the eyes of many, going toe-to-toe against Lionel Messi against this accolade and it was Van Dijk who had the last laugh when both the sides met in the semi-final of the Champions League.
The Liverpool midfield is the engine of the side and forms the basis of much of what they do. Industrious and creative in equal measure, it deftly packs carnage and precision to the tunes of how Jurgen Klopp likes to sing. And the midfield is often complemented by the best full-back pairing in Europe in Andy Robertson and Trent Alexander-Arnold. Robertson can pace up and down the left flank all day long and Trent Alexander Arnold is just an astounding talent who is absolutely lethal on the right flank and from dead-ball situations.
Ahead of the midfield sits the glorious trio of Firmino, Salah and Mane and the more that is said about them, the lesser it is. Firmino is not your average number 9. Dropping deep to ask for the ball, he warps space and as a result, defensive rigidity. This allows Salah with acres of space to get in with his magical left foot and score multitude of goals. If Mo Salah’s football is direct and lethal, if Firmino’s is associative and tactical, then Sadio Mane is the artist on the pitch. Intelligent, explosive and as graceful as a ballerina, Mane was adjudged as the best footballer in Europe according to a certain Lionel Messi and if compliments were champagne, this one would be a Cabernet Sauvignon.
But you know what they say in football. A squad is only as great as the person managing it week in and week out and what Jurgen Klopp has done with Liverpool Football Club has been nothing short of flabbergasting. He has turned them around from a team desperate for top four continuity to on that looks like serial winners unafraid of anything and everything in its path. Klopp is petting a monster with the Reds and there is no better ringmaster than him to lead the beast he has created into battle every week.
Therefore, can Liverpool make it seven this season in Istanbul, the site of their famous heist in 2005? Yes, there’s absolutely no reason to doubt otherwise.
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