Liverpool love a Champions League miracle – will they need another to stop Messi and Guardiola in 2021-22?
Rome, Istanbul and Anfield. Bruce Grobbelaar, Steven Gerrard, Luis Garcia, Jerzy Dudek, Trent Alexander-Arnold and Divock Origi. Spaghetti legs, penalty shootouts, ghost goals and quick corners – Liverpool’s rich history of European adventures is littered with tales of places and faces that made the improbable possible.
Could more of the same be required in the 2021-22 campaign? When it comes to continental competition on the red half of Merseyside, you never quite know.
All of the components are there, though, to suggest that another run at the grandest prize in club football can be taken in by a side that often favours a scenic route to the ultimate endpoint.
Can Liverpool conquer Europe again?
Jurgen Klopp is far too humble to anoint himself as any kind of coaching Messiah, but he has often been a man with the Midas touch and shown himself to be as capable of conjuring up miracles as some of the greats that have gone before him.
The German tactician also has an enviable supporting cast at his disposal, with there few sides in world football that can claim to be as strong down their spine as Liverpool. Fancy your chances against Alisson, Virgil van Dijk, Fabinho, Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah? Good luck to you.
There are, of course, potential pitfalls waiting around every corner. Lionel Messi, Neymar, Kylian Mbappe, Romelu Lukaku, Cristiano Ronaldo, Kevin De Bruyne and Pep Guardiola are not about to back down without a fight.
Notable scalps have, however, been claimed in recent times – including those of both Messi's Barca and Guardiola's City – and there is nothing out there that should frighten ambitious Reds. Proceed with caution, but keep marching on regardless.
Ghosts of Champions Leagues past may spring up along the way, figures that still haunt the dreams of some, but nightmares tend to narrow the focus and provide opportunities for demons to be exorcised.
Karim Benzema, Gareth Bale, Diego Simeone and the Madrids of Real and Atletico are not what they once were and remain far from infallible. If said paths have to be crossed again, expect Klopp’s men to be better prepared when it comes to finding safe passages to the other side.
In the European Cup football betting markets, bet365 UK make Liverpool 13/2 shots – with early progress hinting at another serious challenge being pieced together.
The road to Saint Petersburg
The end goal for all of those looking to get back into the trophy-collecting habit is to navigate their way to Saint Petersburg and line up a date with destiny at the Gazprom Arena on May 28, 2022. Liverpool have dared to dream before, so why not again? This will be no walk in the (Stanley) park. But the Reds are not afraid of stepping off the beaten track if that is what it takes.
For them, impossible is nothing. Rivals have been sent that warning before, on more than one occasion. And they would be wise to heed it again as the scramble for major silverware intensifies and battle lines are drawn up from Liverpool to London via Lisbon and Leipzig.