Tag Archives: champions league

Chelsea Column: Could this be the start of a Title winning season?

Football is back. The Premier League is back, which means that my monthly Chelsea columns are back.

Chelsea are the reigning European champions which means that expectations have never been higher and there will be a lot more pressure of Tuchel this season.

The Premier League seems to be the target set by the fans, and given how Chelsea have strengthened over the summer, it looks like it could be in reach.

While I have been cynical on Chelsea’s chance, the last month has given me an insight on what could be a great season for Chelsea.

Have Chelsea already proven themselves championship worthy?

Chelsea have taken seven points from their first three games, breezing past Arsenal, and getting a crucial draw at Liverpool.

Kai Havertz got his first goal of the season against Liverpool. Credit: NBC

After going down to 10 men and conceding a penalty away to Liverpool, it did look as though Liverpool would run away with the game in the second half. However, Chelsea dug deep and held on.

Liverpool threw everything they had at Chelsea and a defiant defence stopped Liverpool getting a winner. Despite being a man down, it didn’t stop Chelsea getting forward and almost winning it themselves.

That result shows how far Tuchel has brought this Chelsea in the 8 months that he has been in charge. The Chelsea of old would have failed to keep Liverpool at bay, but the discipline in the defence is going to make it incredibly difficult for any team to score against Chelsea.

This goes to show that the result against Liverpool could be the result that defines them as Championship contenders this season, more so than the cruising victory over Arsenal.

Lukaku showed in that Arsenal game just how much of a difference he is going to make. Watching Werner linger offside and miss sitters was very painful last season. Lukaku kept himself onside and bullied the defence.

He did the same against Liverpool and if it wasn’t for some poor decisions in the final third, he could have scored a couple.

Chelsea have all the ingredients to do it, but there are still 35 games remaining and anything could happen.

Another fortunate Champions League draw

Next month, Chelsea will start their defence of their Champions League title. Considering the last time they failed to get out of the group stages, I’ll be hoping for better this time around.

Trevor Chalobah has burst into the Chelsea squad with two impressive games. Credit: Getty Images

Chelsea have been drawn against Juventus, just like in 2012, as well as Malmo FF and Zenit St. Petersburg. On paper, this should be a pretty simple group, and one that Chelsea will be expected to win.

Of course, PSG will be the favourite for the Champions League, but I wouldn’t rule out Chelsea going far in the competition again. Chelsea still have a very strong side and they are capable of beating each team in the competition.

I’m not expecting Chelsea to win the Champions League, far from it. I’ll be happy with the Quarterfinals and anything beyond that will be a bonus.

My expectation of Chelsea is just to compete in cup competitions and as long as we can do ourselves proud then I’ll be happy.

I am really looing forward to playing Juventus. It has been a long time since Chelsea have played Juve in a competitive game. With the Old Lady no longer having Ronaldo, I do believe that Chelsea have a better chance of topping the group.

I expect a big step up from English teams in the Champions League this season and I think it’s going to be very competitive, so if Chelsea can get into the quarterfinals then that will be an achievement.

What should be Chelsea’s goals for this season?

In terms of the Premier League, Chelsea have to compete for the title. People seem to think that Chelsea have to win it after the Champions League victory, but I don’t think that is the case.

Marcos Alonso kicked off Chelsea’s season with a fantastic goal against Crystal Palace. Credit: Getty.

City, United and Liverpool are all going to be very competitive this season. The battle for the league could be one of the closest amongst the top four that we have seen in a long time.

Chelsea are going to have to work hard if they want to come out on top spot, but whether or not it’s possible is still yet to be seen.

September is going to be a very tough test for Chelsea and their title hopes. First up after the international break is Aston Villa, followed by Manchester City and then Spurs. If Chelsea can go through that undefeated then their stamp on the title race will have been made.

As for domestic trophies, Tuchel will want to make up for the loss against Leicester in the FA Cup final last season. It feels like it’s been forever since Chelsea won a domestic trophy, despite being in a domestic final for the last seven seasons running.

It’s about time that someone ended City’s dominance in the EFL Cup, so that would be nice for Tuchel to get another one up on Pep.

With how good the top four in England are at the moment, it’s going to be very difficult to get any kind of double, so getting a domestic trophy will be a good season. However, I do expect Chelsea to go on a good cup run in both domestic competitions.

For Chelsea, competing for trophies has been the minimum requirement. Now that Tuchel has won the Champions League in his first season, though, winning trophies now have to become the minimum requirement

Chelsea Column: How the Blues Became Champions of Europe

As you can probably imagine, I am writing this with a slight hangover, because Saturday night will live on in my memory and the memories of Chelsea fans for the rest of their lives.

I don’t think that anyone would have thought that Chelsea would be European champions, not only after the season they’ve had, but also the month they’ve had.

It’s been a season of highs and lows, but now that it is all over, it’s time to reflect on the final month of this incredible season.

We’re still the only team in London to win a European Cup!

There can be no shadow of a doubt that Chelsea are the unrivalled biggest team in London now. Chelsea now have two Champions Leagues trophies and have won four European trophies in the last 10 years.

Credit: Getty images

Arsenal may have the history and have gone a Premier League season unbeaten, but that was 17 years ago now, and no amount of FA Cups can keep them at that top position.

We need to remember that this Chelsea team is still so young, and they are at the start of their footballing careers. There is still so much to see from these players and winning a champions League so early is great signs of things to come.

Under Thomas Tuchel, Chelsea have the potential to dominate English football, and there is no doubt that Chelsea have to be seen as title contenders for next season.

While I do have my own reservations about Chelsea’s ability to win the league, we have seen a shift under Tuchel that could see Chelsea have a much easier time in the league compared to the last couple of seasons.

But for now, it’s time to let this feeling sink in that we are European Champions. I was only 11 when Chelsea won the Champions League against Bayern Munich and while it was an amazing, I was a bit too young to fully understand the significance.

If Chelsea can beat City, why not Leicester?

Two weeks before European glory, Chelsea put in a woeful performance against Leicester City in the FA Cup final.

You could tell from minute one that Leicester wanted it more, and for Chelsea it looked like an inconvenience.

Credit: The Irish Sun

It wasn’t until Leicester went a goal ahead that Chelsea finally decide to go for it. Kasper Schmeichel made some glorious saves, before Chelsea were cruelly denied an equaliser as Ben Chilwell was only inches offside.

It was Leicester’s day and I imagine Tuchel took a lot away from that game which did help Chelsea’s preparations for the Champions League final. It was disappointing that Chelsea didn’t win the FA Cup as well, as shown a few days later, Chelsea had the ability to beat Leicester fair and square.

I had hoped that this season would be the repeat of the 2011/12 season with Chelsea getting a new manager during the season and then going on to win the FA Cup and Champions League double, but it just wasn’t to be.

However, I have to say fair play to Leicester in that game. Youri Tielemans’ goal was sensational and one that was deserving to be the match winning goal.

Chelsea have to thanks Spurs for top four

While Spurs may have not been able to finish in the top 4 this season, Chelsea fans owe them a debt of gratitude.

While it may not have mattered in the end, it did look like Chelsea would not get into the top four on the final day when Leicester went 2-1 up against Spurs.

Credit: The irish sun

Chelsea were playing Aston Villa and were losing 2-1, meaning that Chelsea would miss out by a single point and Leicester would get Champions League football.

After a Schmeichel own-goal and then two goals by Gareth Bale, Chelsea would retain their spot in the top 4 and Leicester drop down into 5th.

This season felt like a long fight to get 4th place. When Tuchel took charge, Chelsea were in 10th place. It would have been made clear to Tuchel that getting top 4 would be the highest priority.

After Lampard managed to get top four with a transfer ban, it would seem like getting top four would be easy given Chelsea spent over £200 million in the summer transfer window.

Tuchel started on the back foot and needed to turn things quickly and that’s exactly what he did. Straight away, Chelsea started to climb the table and were able to take full advantage when West Ham and Leicester started to drop off at the end of the season.

In football, you need a bit of luck and Chelsea got that in the league, but you can’t say that Chelsea didn’t deserve it.

Is Tuchel already one of the Chelsea’s best managers?

Despite the fact Di Matteo was sacked months after winning the Champions League with Chelsea, his achievements will live on in Chelsea history forever.

Credit: Getty Images

Tuchel has been in charge for only four months and yet his record as Chelsea manager is better than most that we have seen come through the revolving door at Stamford Bridge.

The impact that Tuchel has had since coming to Chelsea is up there with Jose Mourinho, yet Tuchel has managed to actually win a European trophy.

Tuchel does have a poor record with falling out with clubs and Chelsea have a poor record of falling out with managers, so it doesn’t look like a match made in heaven.

But after the game Tuchel looked so happy and it was great to see when Tuchel and Abramovich met for the very first time. Hopefully Tuchel will sign a long-term contract at Chelsea and keep building on this success.

It really is about time that Chelsea got a long-term manager and Tuchel is one of the best managers in the world. If the club can make this work then this could be the start of something great at Chelsea.

Let’s not forget about Frank Lampard

While Lampard was sacked by Chelsea four months ago, the club and the fans still need to thank him for the success that Chelsea have seen this season.

Credit: CNN

I think it goes without saying that if we had carried on with Frank this season then we would not have got top four, or got to the FA Cup final, or have won the Champions League.

But at the end of the day, Frank guided Chelsea through the Group stages in great fashion and put us in a good spot for the knock-outs.

Frank was also responsible for Chelsea’s amazing summer transfer window. The new additions to the Chelsea’s squad this season have made it easier for Tuchel to hit the ground running.

The likes of Ben Chilwell, Kai Havertz and Thiago Silva have shone under Thomas Tuchel. Werner has been getting better, but his failing are his own and nothing Tuchel can really do anything about it.

It was Frank who was able to bring in those players and also we must not forget the young talent that Frank brought in the fold which have also been a huge part of Tuchel’s success.

I was annoyed when Lampard was sacked, and I did think that he should have been given more time and it’s easy for me to say now that I am thankful that I was wrong.

I was forced to eat my words and hopefully Tuchel will continue to make those comments look foolish. This night was Tuchel’s night, and I was happy to witness his brilliance beat one of the greatest managers of all time on the biggest stage in world football.

Majestic Mane scores as a jubilant Anfield roars. Liverpool claim their territory amongst Europe’s elite.

What’s a journey without obstacles?

Well, definitely not a thrilling one. Ask Jurgen Klopp and he will vehemently agree.

Injuries, loss of form, Super League distractions, Liverpool were all but challenged with obstacles galore this season.

Yet despite being faced with adversity that every obstacle orchestrated, The Reds came out stronger each time and never lost sight of the eventual goal, the light at the end of the tunnel, a spot in the 2021-22 Champions League.

Its no surprise, some detractors would have felt there was a time not too long back, Liverpool were in shambles and stood at a point of not even making it to Europa, let alone The Champions League.

In truth I was one among them, but guess what, The Merseyside Club have overcome criticism, lack of form and injuries to rightfully be where they belong, playing amongst the European elite.

This after securing a whopping 26 points from the available 30 in the last ten games, winning eight and drawing two.

Yes, let that sink in!

The latest and last conquest of the season being Crystal Palace, who were beaten 2-0 in front of 10,000 Kopites who flocked Anfield to support Liverpool’s march into Europe.

A brace from Sadio Mane was the key ingredient for the perfect recipe that saw The Reds in their new crimson red jersey get the better of The Eagles on an eighth successive occasion.

So, as Europe is now our calling, lets dive into this historical evening that saw a rampaging performance from The Reds:

An attacking first 45 sees both teams go at it

Liverpool started the game knowing nothing less than a win would see them play European top-flight football next season. They had to be ready.

Well, against expectation the readiness came from the opposite end as Crystal Palace made the first move of the game. Yes, in the 6th minute Andros Townsend curled a free kick over the far top corner as Alisson had to backtrack to tip it over the crossbar.

Liverpool were saved early.

Moments later, Townsend seized on another opportunity, asserting towards the Liverpool goal with his shot going inches wide.

The Reds had to score to stay relevant for Europe, though as things stood, The Eagles looked the more likely side to draw first blood.

I was flabbergasted!

After the initial scare, normalcy would return as The Reds started mounting attacks with Salah hitting his first shot wide.

In the 19th minute, Liverpool almost opened the scoring as Rhys Williams’s header went just inches above the post after the Englishman made no mistake in latching onto Andrew Robertson’s corner.

The Reds would continue to attack as Salah and Robertson created more chances albeit the goal was still not to be found.

Credit – Reuters

As they say hard work has to pay-off and so it did when The Merseyside Club finally got their first in the 36th minute courtesy Sadio Mane who scrambled a Robertson cross in the back of the Crystal Palace net.

Wasn’t pretty but who cared, till the time Liverpool were well on their way to Europe.

With no further drama, the first half drew to a close.

Liverpool dominate the second half

When other matches also have a consequence on your team’s fortunes, its not the best space to be in.

Yes, was more than keeping a track on what Leicester and Chelsea were up to, and in truth was hoping we could get a second to keep all external forces at bay!

Well, thousand of miles away, The Reds would pay heed to my call.

Liverpool would dominate the second half and the second goal to seal the deal would come in the 74th minute as Salah made the run to the Palace D and fed a mouth-watering pass to an open Mane who made no mistake in slotting it in.

Credit – Reuters

The brace from the Senegalese had all but confirmed Liverpool’s chances to play European top-flight football.

Jurgen Klopp was ecstatic, so was a jubilant Anfield and most importantly so was I.

The seemingly impossible had just been done!

Liverpool had secured the number three position in the league table as a place in the Champions League 2021-22 was more than assured.

So long Gini!

Yes, one of Liverpool’s most reliable, versatile and resourceful midfielders has decided to make the long walk into the setting sun.

Credit – Reuters

No, Georginio Wijnaldum is not retiring from club football, but leaving Anfield after spending five magical years with Liverpool, winning the Premier League and the Champions League.

Respect to the complete team man who selflessly and untiringly always put the team first in every endeavor he undertook with captaining his side to victory in yesterday’s game, his last outing for The Reds.

Once the European debate was all but settled in the 90, it was so heartwarming to see this dedicated Dutchman get a rising ovation from the Anfield crowd and a guard of honour from his team mates. Emotions soared and rightfully so!

A well-deserved tribute paid to the hardworking and loyal servant for Liverpool.

So long Gini, you truly will be missed!

As I end this article, the last for the season, in this journey filled with obstacles, a team extraordinaire has overcome them all to inspire millions as we bask in the glory amid expectations galore for times to come.

 ‘Unity is strength – Let’s Go Reds – You’ll Never Walk Alone!’

Phenomenal Liverpool put Burnley to the Sword to march into the top 4!

Liverpool 2 – 0 Southampton

Manchester United 2 – 4 Liverpool

West Brom 1 – 2 Liverpool

Burnley 0 – 3 Liverpool

Talk about peaking at the right time and making it count when it matters.

The mighty Reds have certainly done that with four victories in their last four outings as they marched into the top 4 last evening, overtaking Leicester City.

An achievement worthy of every praise!

In truth, the performance on display from Liverpool in the last few games reminds me of the champions last season for whom losing was akin to making a carnivore build an appetite for grass. Simply non-existent.

Yes, such has been their desire to cement a place in elite European football with the latest showing against Burnley at Turf Moor amid some spectators’ being more than just a spectacle. It was their sheer determination to succeed at all costs.

So as Liverpool conquered yet another team in The Clarets, lets dissect this fruitful evening for every Kopite:

An attack-minded Liverpool finds a hero in Roberto Firmino

The Reds were on the offensive from the word go. In just the 3rd minute, they almost opened the scoring through Sadio Mane who unfortunately slid the ball wide after being fed with a brilliant cross from Trent Alexander-Arnold.

Minutes later, Roberto Firmino skewed one wide as well after he was given a brilliant backheel pass from Mane. Liverpool were building ever so close to registering on the score sheet.

At the opposite end, Burnley would have their first big chance of the game in the 26th minute when Lowton played a wonderful long ball for Wood who shot the ball wide of the Liverpool goal.

Thiago and Salah also came close albeit the all-important goal still deserted The Reds.

Credit – Reuters

As the clock was ticking towards the close of the first 45, an alert Bobby Firmino would finally put Liverpool in front as he made no mistake in converting a mouth-watering pass from Andrew Robertson. I was so glad for my team and more importantly for Bobby who finally had found some goal scoring form with a brace against Manchester United and now this one. A much-needed end to his dearth of goals.

The half-time score read Burnley 0 – 1 Liverpool.

Phillips and Chamberlain escalate Burnley’s plight

Minutes into the second 45 and Liverpool would go two to the good, this time through Nat Phillips who scored his maiden goal for the club with an excellent header after he was fed with a more than apt cross from Mane.

Credit – Liverpool FC Official Twitter Handle

Burnley with this brace were deflated. Little did they know then; their plight would be escalated further.

Before that would happen, The Clarets managed another attempt on the Liverpool goal through a hard header which was saved by the tightest of margins from their maiden goal scorer Phillips on the goal line. The Reds were lucky not to concede.

As was the case in the first half, minutes before the close, Liverpool would seal the game with a third from Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain who dribbled past Taylor, wrongfooting the Burnley defender twice and drilled a low short past keeper Norris at his near post.

Credit – Liverpool FC Official Twitter Handle

The Clarets were all but out of the contest with this third bolt as the referee called time.

Liverpool had earned a well-deserved 3-0 win, boosting their goal difference knowing this would be key ammunition in their qualification arsenal come the final matchday.

An enthralling final matchday awaits

The excitement in the Premier League never ceases to amaze me. On the last matchday come this Sunday, we still only have two sureties for the Champions League from Manchester.

Three sides in Liverpool, Chelsea and Leicester are battling it out for the bottom two spots in the top 4.

Anything is possible, though Chelsea are best placed among the three with a second shot to qualify for Europe if they win the Champions League this season. Yes, need I remind you they are contesting the final against Manchester City.

For a neutral, does it get more enthralling? I surely think not.

Having said this, if you’re a Reds fan, the task at hand is win against Crystal Palace amid a sea of cheering Kopites at Anfield and hope either Leicester falter against Tottenham or Chelsea against Aston Villa. The former seems a bigger possibility as the Lilly Whites have big motivation to play in Europa come the next season.

As simple as that to have an equation totally in our control avoiding unnecessary bothers like goal difference.

Well, as a die-hard Liverpool fan, I believe with much positivity European football next season will be ours to conquer.

‘Unity is strength – Let’s Go Reds – You’ll Never Walk Alone!’

The Foxes outfox Chelsea to win their maiden FA Cup title

When you have the will to succeed, failing is never an option!

Ask Youri Tielemans and Kasper Schmeichel, the two pillars key to Leicester City’s maiden FA Cup triumph and they will say a resounding yes.

After a wait of 52 years amid the last of the four finals of misfortune and a history going back to 137 years, Brendan Rodgers’ team nailed the unconquerable and more importantly made ‘impossible’ just a word by finally bringing home the oldest trophy in English football.

Yes, Chelsea were conquered 1 nil.

Leicester’s long-awaited hurrah amid wallowing in the desolation of four previous attempts was much akin to Batman a.k.a Bruce Wayne finally climbing out of Bane’s pit of slow-death despite repeated efforts resulting in a lonely walk into the setting sun.

But make no mistake when the sun sets, it has to rise again and so did the fortunes of the Bat and The Foxes.

All one needs is their mind and heart to be in the right place!

Well, The Foxes certainly had that in front of 22,000 fans filling the mecca of English football, Wembley. The highest turnout since the inception of the pandemic.

So, without further ado lets dissect this match as polar opposite emotions engulfed the two camps of blue:

A first half of chances aplenty amid no goals

Chelsea entered the final hoping to win their ninth FA cup after being part of four out of the last five finals, coming up second best to Arsenal last year.

Well, they surely started with much intent creating their first opportunity in less than a minute after Timo Werner got a rather simple save out of The Foxes keeper, Kasper Schmeichel.

Credit – Getty Images

Fifteen minutes later, Leicester had an attempt of their own when Jamie Vardy fired a shot on target and his attempt was blocked by Blues’ defender Reece James.

In the 23rd minute, Chelsea’s rising sensation Mason Mount was in the thick of things hitting a shot that took a deflection off a Leicester play to earn the Blues a corner that was comfortably grabbed by Schmeichel in his first attempt.

Timo Werner minutes before the end of the first 45, came really close to opening the scoring yet again albeit his attempt being deflected wide for a corner which unfortunately resulted in nothing.

Surely chances were being created albeit the all-important goal was nowhere in sight.

Tielemans and Schmeichel, the heroes in the second 45

Fifty-Three minutes in and Chelsea had yet another chance on goal, with Marcus Alonso’s header being comfortably grabbed by Schmeichel.

Truly whatever Chelsea threw at the Leicester captain, he was more than up to the task though the mountain of difficulty was yet to come.

Well before that would happen, Youri Tielemans showed why he is one of the most prized possessions for The Foxes as the Belgian fired a stunning long-range effort that ripped into the top-left corner of the Chelsea net giving keeper Kepa absolutely no chance.

Credit – Getty Images

Sixty-Three minutes in, Leicester led Chelsea 1-0.

Leicester and Schmeichel’s mountain of difficulty would start in the 78th minute when the Danish would make his first extraordinary save of the match as he dived to keep Ben Chilwell’s header out with just his fingertips.

Minutes later his second effort of mammoth proportions would again save the day for The Foxes as captain courageous this time dived the other way to keep a bolt from Mason Mount at bay.

Minutes before the close, after repeated attempts of not being able to beat the Danish wall in the Leicester goal, Chelsea finally equalised or they thought they did as Chilwell’s effort found the back of The Foxes net albeit VAR ruling the Englishman and ex Leicester defender off-side by the tightest of margins.

The result was a no goal and this was just the luck Leicester needed as the full-time whistle blew and the FA trophy was theirs to hoist amid a sea of emotions galore.

Truly a momentous occasion for a brave English club.

A proud Leicester might have more to celebrate in the coming week

The Premier League winners in 2015-16 under the brilliant Claudio Ranieri

The all elusive FA Cup conquered in 2021 with the gritty Brendan Rodgers at the helm.

In the coming week, European celebrations might take shape with more than a chance to seal a Champions League berth after a wait of 5 long years.

If these accolades won’t make a team proud, one truly wonders what would?

I salute this team that believes in never giving up, never surrendering, always fighting till the end, possibly that’s why their fans say ‘Foxes Never Quit’!

Well done Leicester, you truly are a beacon of light in English football!

Manchester City enjoy the perfect night in Paris

In football or for that matter any sport there are good teams and then there are great teams, the ones who accomplish accolades of what dreams are made of through sheer hard work.

For me, it’s not surprising that a team from Manchester, a town which rightfully rewards hard work, certainly fits the latter.

Four successive Carabao Cup titles in the last four seasons, two successive Premier League titles in 2017-18 and 2018-19 with another well within reach this season and now only two steps away from achieving European glory.

Yes, Manchester City with the 2-1 away win over Paris Saint Germain in the first leg of the Champions League semi-final are just two games away from the title that has never been theirs to own.

Surprising as it may sound, but its true. Manchester City have never been in a Champions League final, let alone winning the tournament.

Would this be their first?

Well, I would certainly think so with the rich vein of form they have shown this season by winning their last 18 away matches on the trot in all competitions amid scoring a whopping 46 goals and conceding just 9.

A statistic worthy of cheers galore!

So, let’s dive into how The Sky Blues continued their domination amid the home team’s surrender in their own backyard:

PSG strike early

The game last night wasn’t only about arguably the two best teams in Europe but also about the two best Managers in Pep Guardiola and the ex-Spurs boss Mauricio Pochettino.

Considering these big forces at play, one could expect nothing short of high-octane football and the contest certainly started in a pulsating fashion. In just the 13th minute PSG’s Brazilian superstar Neymar was in the thick of things as he fired a shot on goal only to be saved by his Brazilian team mate and City’s keeper Ederson, who did well to glove it over the crossbar.

PSG’s intent to take the game by the horns was much evident and a minute later they had their first goal through a Marquinhos header after he was fed with a sumptuous cross from Angel Di Maria.

Credit – Goal

City were rocked early!

The only other chance of notable proportion in the first 45 came for The Sky Blues as their young midfielder, Phil Foden fired a powerful shot straight at The Parisians’ keeper Navas who did well to make the save.

As time was called on the first half, the score read PSG 1 – 0 Manchester City.

Manchester City shine in the second 45

While watching the game, in only the second half did I realise Manchester City were without an out and out striker with the front three being all midfielders’ in De Bruyne, Mahrez and Foden.

Well, that wouldn’t dent their chances as in the 61st minute arguably the best midfielder in world football today, Kevin De Bruyne almost equalised through a spectacular effort with an over head kick that bounced on to the roof of the PSG net.

Credit – BBC

City were surely pressing for the equaliser which would finally come courtesy a second effort from Kevin De Bruyne minutes later as the Belgian puts a cross inside the D for a City player to touch which never happened. The ball as a result, nestled inside the net even before Navas could react. Shocker for PSG and a lucky break for City.

In a matter of moments, City surged with a second strike through a Riyad Mahrez free kick that beat two PSG defenders to find the bottom corner of the net.

Credit – Sky Sports

The complexion of the game had completely changed thanks to a confident Manchester City who left the home side reeling.

As the 90 drew to a close, a dejected Pochettino and his team were faced with a mountainous task of chasing the game in the return leg in five days’ time at the Etihad.

Can we see an all English final?

Well, why not?

Chelsea looked good in the away fixture to grab the all-important away goal at Madrid.

Manchester City have grabbed two and a victory at Paris.

I would certainly want the English teams to get the better of their European rivals in the home leg to set a mouth-watering all English final.

The likes we witnessed when my favourite Reds beat Tottenham in the 2018-19 showpiece.

Amid hope galore, can the teams in blue make their rivals feel the blues in the return leg? Can we see an all blues final?

Well, in less than a week we will have the answers!

Uninspiring Liverpool squander yet another lead

Uninspiring, a word that would get me crucified had I used it for the current champions enroute to them marching towards the title at this time last season. The title by now in 2019-20 was pretty much in our grasp!

Well, as things stand in the 2020-21 campaign, our fortunes have taken a 180 degree turn, as we continue to loiter in sixth, with a chance at Europe’s premier tournament next season looking all but over.

This thanks to a disappointing 1-1 excursion against yet another lower ranked team in Newcastle.

This also after squandering the lead like we did in the previous game against Leeds United.

So, amid games that should be conquests but result in despair, I would have to call our performance all but uninspiring.

What further fuels my wrath is the fact that Liverpool have squandered 13 points from winning positions this season, two more than they had done in their last two campaigns combined.

Yes, you read this right!

So amid sinking hearts, lets dive into another Liverpool performance that was anything but inspiring at Anfield:

Amid chances aplenty, The Reds only manage a solitary goal

In just the 3rd minute, Liverpool drew first blood courtesy a brilliant strike by Mohamed Salah who took his tally to 20 goals in the Premier League this season. He adeptly controlled a cross from Sadio Mane that deflected off a Newcastle defender and made no mistake in slotting it in.

Credit – Reuters

I was thrilled with the opening hurrah and felt this was just the start in a game in which the Reds would inflict misery galore on their opponents. Well, little did I know then, that misery would eventually beset itself upon me!

The signs started immediately after as Liverpool managed four clear chances on goal amid not converting even one. It seemed the finishing just wasn’t there by the fabulous four in Salah, Mane, Firmino and Jota, as Jurgen Klopp started with this offensive quartet in the need to mount goals.

As the referee called time on the first 45, the score should have been much more in Liverpool’s favour than just 1-nil.

VAR or not, The Magpies salvage a point

Newcastle almost got the equaliser in no time in the second half. Joelinton was played though on goal and tried to flick the ball past Alisson, but the Brazilian made a great save to keep Liverpool afloat.

Credit – Reuters

The Reds on the opposite end had two great chances to go two the good, but Firmino and Salah weren’t able to convert. Much like the first 45, the story of Liverpool’s failure to not capitalise on great opportunities continued.

Well, this wasn’t the case with the Magpies as they got the equalizer in injury time courtesy Wilson’s effort albeit VAR ruling it differently when the striker had hand-balled attempting to convert the rebound off Alisson.

A profound sense of deflation engulfed Newcastle though they immediately made amends through Willock who slotted the ball into the back of the net after he was ably supported by a Gayle cross.

Credit – Reuters

Newcastle had turned their deflation into ecstasy by grabbing the all-important point at Anfield.

Liverpool on the other hand were robbed of the much-needed win yet again.

With no Super League, Liverpool still look determined to miss next year’s European showpiece

John W Henry, the owner of Liverpool might still have his wish albeit not in a happy way.

Why do I say this?

Well, almost a week to date, when he gave his nod to the demonic Super League, he knew as a result his team would have to let go on their participation in the Champions League next season.

Money over football and fans!

Well, Thank God, that didn’t happen albeit what’s happening right now isn’t any better. Currently, as things stand, Liverpool still look determined to be all but out of the European showpiece, not basis his decision but their deteriorating form.

That’s right, with performances against lower ranked teams in Leeds and Newcastle, that were anything but triumphs who would expect them to be in the Top 4?

I certainly don’t. And I say this with a sinking heart that’s filled with wrath and tears.

Though, this season looks all but over, I would still urge you Liverpool to show some metal in what remains as ‘Unity is strength – Let’s Go Reds – You’ll Never Walk Alone!’

Liverpool bid goodbye to Europe courtesy missed opportunities at Anfield

To say I was shattered last evening would surely be a case of underplaying my emotions!

My two teams that are more important to me than life itself failed rather miserably to make any sort of mark yesterday.

Yes, the Proteas a.k.a the South African cricket team were ruthlessly annihilated by Pakistan, largely due to the efforts of a certain Babar Azam.

And as I was internalizing this disappointment, a mountain of misery further descended on me, when my beloved Reds were ousted from the Champions League after an uninspiring 0-0 outing at Anfield.

That’s right, Real Madrid’s strong defensive display and excellent goal-keeping to protect the 3-1 score-line from the first leg saw them soar into the semifinals for the 30th time, 10 more than any other team in Europe.

This after I was more than sure that Liverpool will beat the Los Blancos 2-0 at home as I had mentioned in my previous piece.

Truly, I was so wrong!

Words can’t express my dejection on the winless Wednesday as sentimentally speaking I had all but drowned in a sea of sorrow.

So, without further ado, lets dissect our performance in a game that surely should have been more than a 0-0 debacle for the Merseyside Club:

Liverpool start the game with much confidence

In just the 2nd minute, Mohamad Salah almost reduced the 1-3 first leg deficit as the Egyptian was fed with a beautiful cross from Sadio Mane and took the shot at goal albeit straight at keeper Courtois who made a decent save.

Credit – Liverpool FC Official Twitter Handle

Minutes later the Belgian star in the Madrid goal was again more than up to the task in making an excellent diving save this time to keep a James Milner bolt out from just outside the D.

On the opposite end, Madrid created two shots on target in the 20th minute though a goal was not to be found.

In the 42nd minute, the Reds through Salah had another chance to go one up albeit the Egyptian hitting the ball wide.

As the first 45 ended, this half was all about Liverpool’s offensive play amid no goals.

The rock called Thibaut Courtois keeps Reds at bay

A minute into the second half and Liverpool had yet another chance on target as Roberto Firmino’s strike was beautifully smothered away by Courtois.

Credit – Liverpool FC Official Twitter Handle

The Brazilian minutes later had another chance at the Madrid goal albeit this time crushing the shot over.

Los Blancos had their own opportunity to close the game in the 81st minute as Karim Benzema’s header bounced on the top of the Liverpool goal after the unmarked Frenchmen was fed with a mouth-watering cross from Odriozola.

In injury time Courtois one again showed his metal by thwarting Liverpool’s one final play at goal as Salah’s shot was kept out when he was aided by a fine through ball from Thiago who did well to intercept Mendy’s pass.

In truth, the tale of the 90 was Courtois brilliance vs Liverpool’s unrelenting offensive assault with the man from Belgium and the team from Spain having the last hurrah.

The Reds are now freed to only concentrate on a top 4 finish

Despite being shattered by last evening’s sequence of events, a part of me feels, Europe just wasn’t in our destiny and it’s pointless fussing and crying over spilt milk.

Why not see a positive from this misadventure?

That’s right, with the Reds now being all but out of the Champions League, we can have our undivided focus on finishing in the top 4 in England to challenge for the coveted prize in Europe next season.

Yes, I certainly feel we have more than a realistic chance to still finish in the top 4 like I mentioned in one of my earlier pieces. Our remaining games barring the United clash are against lower ranked teams which by God’s blessing and our might we should win.

Also, if West Ham and Chelsea who are on fourth and fifth respectively in the league table, falter and I seriously hope they do, our path to the top 4 will surely be aided from sixth where we sit currently.

Until then let’s trust in our team and continue to support them in unison as ‘Unity is strength – Let’s Go Reds – You’ll Never Walk Alone!’