Support our independent LFC content & go advert-free.
Support our independent Liverpool FC content and go advert-free with This Is Anfield Premium.

“Greatest season ever” still possible for Liverpool despite “uncomfortable pattern”

Liverpool made it through to the Champions League semi-finals in frenetic fashion, as the watching media reacted to the 3-3 draw with Benfica.

The Reds hosted the Portuguese giants on Wednesday night, looking to progress in routine fashion after winning 3-1 in the first leg.

That didn’t quite happen, in truth, even though Jurgen Klopp‘s side always had a cushion, as Benfica breached Alisson‘s goal three times.

Ibrahima Konate‘s header and a Roberto Firmino brace helped Liverpool make it into the semis, however, with Villarreal awaiting later this month.

Here’s a look at how the media reacted to Liverpool’s progress.

 

It’s yet another last-four appearance for the Reds, but it wasn’t all positive…

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Wednesday, April 13, 2022: Liverpool's Roberto Firmino (R) celebrates after scoring the third goal during the UEFA Champions League Quarter-Final 2nd Leg game between Liverpool FC and SL Benfica at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

The Guardian‘s Andy Hunter assessed a balmy night at Anfield:

“Benfica salvaged pride at Anfield but Liverpool preserved their dreams of a seventh European crown and unprecedented quadruple.

Jurgen Klopp’s side advanced into the Champions League semi-finals, where they will meet Villarreal, on a fluctuating night when VAR had a hand in all three Benfica goals and Liverpool were made to fight to the finish.

[…]

“A 12th European Cup/Champions League semi-final awaits Liverpool, who have equalled Manchester United’s record for an English club, and they remain in sight of a third Champions League final appearance in five seasons under Klopp.

“On the two previous occasions Liverpool defeated Benfica in the quarter-finals – in 1978 and 1984 – they went on to lift the trophy.”

Jason Burt of the Telegraph didn’t feel the outcome was ever in doubt:

“In the end, in truth, Liverpool made it comfortably enough and there will be rich satisfaction for Klopp as he begins to navigate the final phase of what could be the greatest season ever.

“There are a maximum of 12 games to go; 12 games to immortality as Liverpool dream of an unprecedented quadruple.

[…]

“It was too easy for Liverpool. They came into this encounter 3-1 from the first leg in Lisbon and, at one point, were 6-2 up on aggregate with Roberto Firmino scoring twice to become only the fourth Liverpool player (after Steven Gerrard, Mohammed Salah and Sadio Mane) to claim 20 goals in the European Cup competition.”

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Wednesday, April 13, 2022: Benfica's Gonc?alo Ramos celebrates after scoring his side's first equalising goal during the UEFA Champions League Quarter-Final 2nd Leg game between Liverpool FC and SL Benfica at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Ian Ladyman of the Mail is concerned about Liverpool’s defending, though:

“This was a different Liverpool team from the one that collided so spectacularly with Manchester City at the weekend but for Jurgen Klopp an uncomfortable pattern continues to emerge.

“It seems strange for a team that has lost one game since late December and is now on the threshold of yet another Champions League Final, but Liverpool’s defending is threatening to undermine them at just the wrong moment.

“Problems were evident against City at the Etihad Stadium at the weekend, just as they had been when Liverpool won the Carabao Cup final on penalties against Chelsea in late February. And, despite new personnel across the back line and in central midfield, they were evident again here.

[…]

“Each time Benfica scored they did so by feeding players through and beyond the Liverpool defensive line. That is how it was at the Etihad on Sunday and if this trend continues it is not hard to see where it may end.”

The Mirror‘s Ben Husband echoed those thoughts:

“This may have been a vastly different back four, but it was a Liverpool defence struggling with the same issue that City managed to exploit in Sunday’s titanic title clash.

“Caught offside on a couple of occasions, Benfica regularly played on Liverpool’s high line and got in on a number of occasions, particularly in the second half.

“It is a part of Klopp’s style which won’t be shelved for the foreseeable future, but Benfica at least showed there was a way to hurt the Reds. Unai Emery and Villarreal will have been taking notes.”

 

Attention understandably switched to Man City and Villarreal…

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Wednesday, April 13, 2022: Liverpool's Roberto Firmino celebrates after scoring the third goal during the UEFA Champions League Quarter-Final 2nd Leg game between Liverpool FC and SL Benfica at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

The Independent‘s Richard Jolly was positive about Liverpool’s upcoming games:

“From Bayern Munich to Barcelona, Paris Saint-Germain to Manchester United, Europe abounds with clubs who would love to advance into the last four of the Champions League with a full-strength team.

“Liverpool did it with a weakened side, setting up a semi-final date with Villarreal and eliminating Benfica while diverting their attentions to Manchester City.

“They will be favourites to reach a third Champions League final in five seasons. They should be the fresher team at Wembley on Saturday as they seek to beat Pep Guardiola’s men and progress to a first FA Cup final in a decade.”

Husband fancies the Reds’ chances against City:

“With 51 games down of this mammoth season, Liverpool have a maximum of just 11 between them and sporting immortality. In the Premier League, they still remain firmly in the hunt for the title, although they will be relying on Manchester City dropping points.

“And with their Champions League progression in the bag, all eyes return to the FA Cup where they will face City in a Wembley semi-final on Saturday.

“Klopp’s side should be a touch fresher, with Pep Guardiola forced to start both bruising encounters with Atletico Madrid.”

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Wednesday, April 13, 2022: Liverpool's Roberto Firmino celebrates after scoring the third goal during the UEFA Champions League Quarter-Final 2nd Leg game between Liverpool FC and SL Benfica at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Finally, This Is Anfield‘s Mark Delgado continued to dream:

“So it’s back to the future and another Pep battle to look forward to, this time at Wembley.

“This time, too, a draw won’t be an acceptable outcome for either side or the regulations of the competition – we go the distance, and we’ll go through to the final or we go out and talk of the quadruple no doubt becomes an irrelevant argument of who has more chance of a treble.

[…]

“We can’t afford to look much further ahead, given it’s Man City, but Liverpool already know it’s Villarreal in the Champions League semis. They’ve beaten Juve and Bayern to get this far, so cannot be ignored or underestimated, clearly.

“But they’re also miles away from being Europe’s absolute elite, and the entire fanbase know that the Reds have been handed a massive opportunity to fly straight into the European Cup final again.

“It is all still on.”

Fan Comments