If Liverpool's Europa League tie against Manchester United in an earlier round demonstrated just how grotesque rivalry can be in sport, then their two legs against Borussia Dortmund have proven that rivalry doesn't have to equal ugliness and that a hotly contexted fixure — arguably the tie in all of Europe last week — can still be an opportunity for fans to come together in camaraderie.
The travelling Dortmund support plan on taking that genuine relationship one step further when they take up their place in the Anfield Road end on Thursday for the deciding match of the round. Though many travelling fanbases have paid their respects to the 96 fans who lost their lives in the Hillsborough disaster in 1989, the Dortmund faithful plan on raising a black and yellow mosaic that will read 96 in honour of the victims.
It's a beautiful gesture on the best of days, but the timing of it couldn't be more appropriate. Liverpool have invited the Dortmund fans to attend the annual Hillsborough memorial service the following day at Anfield, which is set to be the last ever service held at the stadium. With the new inquests into the disaster wrapping up and justice likely to have been found by the end of them, the club and the Hillsborough Justice Committee decided several months ago that this would be the last ceremony.
It's fitting, then, that a rival club who share an anthem with Liverpool should be the ones to play the Reds in their match closest to the Hillsborough anniversary. Anfield will echo with "You'll Never Walk Alone" from literally all corners of the ground for once, and no matter what the final result, the tribute in song will be a clear reminder that sometimes there are things more important than football.