This has been an incredible and glorious season for Liverpool Football Club and its fans. From the historic run in the Premier League that took Manchester City to the brink, to the wild and windy campaign in the Champions League, Liverpool FC brought the drama, class, and good vibes all season long.
So it all comes down this: one final match to place a fully deserved capstone on what’s been a terrific season. Two figures who have already put a stamp on this year and will undoubtedly be key to tomorrow’s proceedings are the young fullbacks tasked with manning the flanks and providing Liverpool’s attacking width.
Local hero Trent Alexander-Arnold and Scottish heart throb Andrew Robertson have held the starting places over right and left back respectfully with iron grips. Both being as young as they are - TAA isn’t old enough to legally purchase beer in the US and Robbo would have just been allowed to rent a car on his own - the duo are often paired together when discussing the highlights of this Liverpool squad.
Their age and positions aren’t the only similarities, though: both are among the funniest members on the squad and are also among the Premier League’s leaders in assist. When people discuss the things that are going right at Liverpool, they necessarily have to include these two high up on the list.
To that end, both players addressed the media ahead of the Champions League Final in Madrid. And, in classic BFF fashion, both players managed to share rather similar outlooks in response to the questions.
On the fans and pressure
TAA: “I don’t think it’s extra pressure at all. That’s part and parcel of playing at a massive club like Liverpool. Last season we experienced a lot of stuff and this season we’ve experienced it as well. All the lads are prepared to put everything on the line for the fans and hopefully everyone who’s out here and everyone back home and all around the world will be able to celebrate tomorrow night.”
Robbo: “It’s always a good thing to see your fans having a good time. We obviously hope they continue that. But like Trent said, we feel the pressure of playing for this club every day because we know the fanbase we’ve got is worldwide.”
On last year’s experience and its lingering effects
Robbo: “For me, the last finals are irrelevant because we can’t go back and change them. As a squad, this new squad, then it’s our first time being in the final. Of course there were a lot of us that played last season and we can use that experience. We have used it already - going far in the tournament and dealing with the pressure of playing Saturday-Tuesday every single week. But we can’t focus on Kiev or Basel because their finals are done.”
TAA: “I think they’re past us. On behalf of me and Robbo, we weren’t at Basel, we weren’t playing then. Last season, the experience has helped us this season. We learned a lot from the game, it would be daft of us to just completely forget what happened last season and try and start fresh. I think we’ve used things throughout the season that we learnt in Kiev from [Real] Madrid - the way they won the game, the way they went about things and how they beat us. I think we’ve matured as a team.”
On their personal connection to each other
TAA: “Me and Robbo have got a really good relationship on and off the pitch. It’s not so much us talking about that, we both know each other’s qualities and where we can improve. It’s about in training pushing each other every single day and I think it’s about the lads who push us every single day to keep us going, to test us and take us to our limits.”
Robbo: “You can look at what each other are doing, especially the good things. That’s why we have private competitions that drive each other on because we enjoy seeing each other doing well. I get as much buzz at seeing him assist a goal or making a goalline challenge than I do for myself because I know we’re part of a good defence, but we’re kind of a duo in the full-back positions. We both want each other to do as well as we can do.”
And there you have it: two friends embarking on the final leg of a long journey. I don’t know which is which, but I like this version of the Frodo-Sam dynamic working between the two of them. It looks like there’s 100% real affection between TAA and Robbo and that is a wonderful thing.
The common thread in so much of the coverage of the team this year is how united the squad are. And, sure, winning makes it easier to be friends, but there does seem to be a true devotion to each other as a unit and to the greater cause of the team in general. TAA and Robbo being good friends isn’t a surprise as much as it is a reflection of the environment created at LFC via Jurgen Klopp.
And if I’m being honest, it’s perhaps the biggest reason that makes me want to see success for this particular group of Reds: there hasn’t been a more unselfish and united crew plying their trade at Anfield in my time as a supporter. They deserve all of the shiny things.
So here’s hoping that these guys get over this last final hump and get to see the Promised Land. There’d be nothing more fitting than seeing Robbo and TAA lift the trophy together, as a unit, as brothers.