Take away Roberto Firmino. Take away Mohamed Salah. Give one of Europe’s best sides with the game’s all time greatest player a less than fully deserved three goal lead. Don’t bother with getting an away goal.
Laid out, Liverpool’s comeback victory over Barcelona in the Champions League seems faintly ridiculous, even after the fact. It’s also a testament to the strength and belief of this team; to this group of players.
“We can all be proud because everyone plays a part,” said Virgil van Dijk after the match when asked about the contributions of his teammates—some of whom haven’t played as often as they might have liked this year.
“Divock was unbelievable. Shaq was a different level. Obviously everyone has different qualities, but you have to use them and today we showed it a lot. You see how Gini comes on after not starting. It’s outstanding.”
Outstanding. Unexpected. And yes, even a little bit unbelievable. Even after the fact. But it really did happen, and for the second year in a row now Liverpool are heading to the final of the Champions League.
And with it, a chance for the players to put right the disappointment many of them still feel over last season’s final—just as on Tuesday they got to put right their disappointment over last week’s first leg at the Camp Nou.
“The experience will definitely help us a little bit,” Van Dijk added. “We are going to try to do everything that’s possible to win it. We know anything can happen.”