Unsurprisingly, Thiago Alcantara was one of the standout performers of Wednesday night’s clash against Villarreal in the first leg of the Champions League semi-final. With something to the tune of 96% pass completion, he went home with the UEFA Player of the Match award to boot.
The midfielder, of course, says it’s all down to being themselves.
“We have to recognize that we are playing a semi-final of the Champions League against a tough team like Villarreal,” Thiago said in his post-match press conference.
“We have to have patience but at the end to be ourselves, that’s the key.
“I really enjoyed the team performance, that for me is the best thing, because we put our level as high as possible and we delivered today.
“It’s not just about patience, we try to figure out where the gaps [are]. We tried in the first half, we created a lot of chances [and] created a lot of opportunities and in the second half it came.”
The Reds played with composure aplenty against a team expected to give them a bit of a fight, and the fact that two goals came within minutes of each other - in the second half - shows that Villarreal did not come to be rolled over. It is only the first leg of two, though, and the Yellow Submarine of Spain has a stellar home record.
“It will be hard there,” Thiago added.
“I know this stadium before because of my time at Barcelona but we don’t have time to think about the game there, we have to think about our game at the weekend [against Newcastle United], so that’s all for us.”
Taking it one match at a time is all any of us can do - the lads can only play one at a time and get those three points or each win as they go.