When thinking about this article, I was considering having a fictional discussion with a Barcelona supporter. As fun as it would have been to create and knock over the strawman, it’s too easy. And, even for me, a bit too mean-spirited (though no worse than what some, on evidence, might deserve). Onwards, then.
To arrogance. Delusion. Overblown sense of importance. Self-aggrandizement. Media darlings. Losers.
These are the common trolling rallying cries seen across social media. Not from United, Chelsea, and City fans (well, also them, but that’s not the point), but from Barcelona and Real Madrid supporters. All all, to varying degrees, are bullshit (media darlings? have you heard of The S*n?).
The truth is actually much worse, and something that they hate more than anything else they can level at us. They don’t hate our arrogance or delusion.
They hate our apathy.
Barcalona, Real Madrid. Who the fuck you trying to kid?
We don’t give a fuck about the Spanish Giants. Some teams—most teams, really—show up to Barcelona or Real Madrid, see those famous badges, colors, and players, and happily hand them three points and go home with a memory. Sorry lads, that’s not Liverpool’s game.
We might not win, but we’re not going to bow down or roll over for anyone. Not even teams who feel their names should be said in quiet, hushed tones, full of reverence and awe.
Nope, Liverpool (at least when not managed by Brendan Rogders), puts up a fight. We remain the only English side to win a knock-out round match over Barcelona in the Camp Nou—in a year when they were title holders, no less. But we did them in their place and knocked ‘em out of the competition. And we did the same to Real Madrid two years later.
We don’t give a fuck. We’re Liverpool.
Worse? We have the audacity to feel like we belong in their category of “European Royalty.” And not only do we feel like we belong, we act like it. And not only do we act like it, but we’ll give them a game when we play. They want us to “know our place,” and to their chagrin, we’ve sat down at their table, ordered a beer, and put our feet up. “This is our place, lads. European Royalty, indeed.”
Yup. Soak that in: European Royalty. Real Madrid and Barcelona might abide Bayern Munich in “their” category. The Bavarian Giants have just been too good for too long to deny it. But Liverpool? The team that was out of European competition altogether only a few years ago? No, not having it.
Of course, there’s the small matter of our 5 European Cups—same as Bayern and Barcelona. Barca might point to our triumphs as mostly being from one dominant decade. This is true. But then, what would you call 4 European Cups from 2006 to 2015? Four Cups that also happened to coincide with having the world’s best player? That sounds like one dominant decade to us.
The truth is, we don’t generally think about either of these clubs unless we’re playing them, they’re in a Champions League final, or they’re trying to poach one of our players. We don’t care which team wins La Liga (is it still decided by coinflip or...?), nor which team wins the Copa del Rey. While the rest of the world is standing in awe of these giants, we shrug our shoulders and get on supporting our team. And whether we win or lose this semifinal tie, we’ll continue supporting our club. And it drives them nuts.
This isn’t to say we don’t admire these teams, or certain players on them. Messi is like, the world’s Messi. But it’s never more than mild admiration, and they know it.
We love our team. We love our team for our history, both triumphant and tragic. Remembering the 18 league titles and 5 European Cups, as well as the disasters at Heysel and Hillsborough. Remembering the glory days of the 70’s and 80’s, when football was all Liverpool the city had though British government apathy and austerity. We love our team because we’ve been through so much together, and it has nothing to do with Real Madrid or Barcelona.
On a less emotional, and more practical level, Liverpool enter the semifinal against Barcelona on basically bang-even odds to advance. Maybe even as slight favorites. And whichever team gets through will then be favorites to lift #6. And wouldn’t that just burn if Liverpool got there first?
This is a great Liverpool side. Objectively, and regardless of what other fans say to try to knock us down. Enjoy this ride. It might not end in something big and shiny, but we’re good enough to give anyone, even the team with the world’s best player, a run for their money.
Up the Reds. Forever.
Disclaimer: Hi Barcelona fans, especially those from Barca Blaugranes. I’m sure you’ll feel the need to defend your honor or whatever (or wear that “Banned from TLO” badge of honor), but we really have no patience for you or your opinions. On the off chance that you actually want to speak in a respectful, open-minded manner, and argue in good faith, by all means, join the discussion. If not, you and your cohorts will be banned without second thought. We’re not coming to your site to troll you, and we expect the same from you on our site (a mutual respect that we have decidedly not been granted over the past two years). But if you act the way you’ve acted in the past, especially over the Coutinho saga, I’m sure this will be another Great Barca Culling. Or Cule-ing.