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Liverpool played too… As the only person not to switch over from the Liverpool match to City v Tottenham (regretted it), I thought I would share my delight at Liverpool easing through a potentially tricky match.
Porto started the best they could, but Liverpool restricted a good attacking side to half chances, at no point in the first half an hour was I really worried. They ended up spending their time taking pot shots in hope that something would happen. It didn’t. It was all very comfortable and maybe it’s biased but you could always tell that Liverpool we’re going to grab one and all but end the tie with ease.
More positives – Defence and Fabinho great as usual, front three all put one away, Gomez came on which was lovely to see, and Henderson continued his fine attacking form when he came on. Plus, VAR VAR VAR!!
Bring on Barca. And Cardiff. Rob (LFC)
Progress into the semi-finals for the second year running and it’s not nearly the biggest story of the day. It’s a great time to be a Liverpool fan. Niall, Denver
Klopp a load of that There are four ways that this season can now pan out for Liverpool and for Jurgen Klopp.
1) A Champions League and League double, putting Klopp in an elite group of managers to have won the domestic title and European Cup in the same season. 2) Liverpool win their first league title for 29 years, securing legend status for Klopp. 3) Liverpool win the Champions League, Liverpool’s sixth, again securing legend status for Klopp. 4) Liverpool win nothing.
Let’s be clear, the last option is the most likely. Liverpool are the favourites in neither competition. City have the game in hand in the league, and now have a less congested schedule than Liverpool. The Red’s may have an easier run in, but City are still favourites for every game they play. In the Champions League, Liverpool may have improved but Barcelona is a daunting task, and the Catalans will be odds on with any bookie you care to visit.
If Klopp does win nothing, the usual accusations will be made. Bottler, not a great manager etc. This is, of course, nonsense and I think it’s important to emphasise just what an unbelievable job Jurgen Klopp has done.
The mailbox this morning said it all. Barely a peep from Liverpool fans. Hardly a comment, despite Liverpool making it through to the semi-finals of the Champions League. Admittedly, the City Spurs game had something to do with that, but there is a more pressing reason. It was expected. It was routine. Job done, move on. 4 Years ago, that situation was unthinkable.
For 8 seasons, Liverpool were in the competition once, an embarrassing group stage exit where they were so outclasses they rested players against Real Madrid because they knew they couldn’t win. Now, they are breezing into the semi-finals, swatting away teams along the way. Liverpool have had five two-legged champions league ties in the past 2 years. They have scored 26 goals across those matches. At no point were they behind in any of those ties. That is a remarkable turnaround.
In the league, the results speak for themselves. This season Liverpool will either win the league, or finish with the highest ever second place total. That’s Liverpool who finished 7th before Klopp took over, along the way losing 6-1 to Stoke City. Now they are title challengers.
For those still maintaining that there is an expectation on him to win, well why should there be? Liverpool have won one of the major trophies and a few FA cups and league cups in the past 29 years. They are not in the top 2 spenders in England. Yet somehow Klopp ‘must’ win something to have done a good job? Madness.
Finally, many will argue as well that Liverpool have spent big, therefore should expect success. If it were that simple, it would be Man United challenging for the league and enjoying consecutive Champions League semi-finals, not Liverpool.
Liverpool may end the season successful, they may not. Either way it doesn’t change the phenomenal job that Klopp has done. Mike, LFC, London
Is it time? So, now that City is out of CL, if they manage to lose the EPL title race as well, are we allowed to call him Fraudiola? José M (Pitchforks out)
<Ross from Friends>I’m fine!</Ross from Friends> I don’t think any City fans wrote in this morning so I will.
You might expect I’d be sick with rage, heartbreak, or some such dark mood. The truth is, on balance I’m really not. Let do a couple of lists.
Reasons to feel bad: -We lost a match in one of the most dramatic and heart-wrenching fashions imaginable. To have the euphoria of that last gasp winner from the lovable Sterling, only to have it cruelly taken away by the fun police (VAR) is like a shotgun blast to the soul.
-Pep got this horribly wrong with the 1st leg approach. A win should have been enough, simple as. Frustrating.
-The handball goal. I’ll come back to this, but since we are on the neg list, it did hit his arm for me. It hit his arm and ended up in the net.
-There will be no quadruple. Lose the league and our season will look considerably less impressive.
OK enough of that. Reasons to be upbeat:
-What a game! It was exhilarating! It was another City-Spurs classic to add to what would be some DVD compilation. If it was even half as entertaining it still would have been a classic. Best CL match ever maybe?
-Yes we lost, but we were part of it, and not just to be laughed at or humiliated. It’s hard to explain. It’s that feeling that you were in such a classic match, that it outweighs the pain of losing. The best comparison is Apollo Creed vs Rocky Balboa over the two films. Despite being dominated, Rocky stays in it and snatches the win at the last. Creed loses but he respects Rocky and they both know they have been part of something special. Note the City fans applauding at the final whistle. They get it.
-Experiencing these moments is part of the ride as a top team.You don’t enjoy them but you do in a weird way. It feels almost like a right of passage. Until now we have been mainly on the other end of these kind of results. It had to happen at some point.
-Let’s say for argument’s sake it was definitely a handball. The rules are weird, complicated and due to change. It’s a mess. You could argue that goal involving a handball should always be discounted. I would however also argue that it would have gone in anyway minus the arm. For me, this is the point where you need to put down your magnifying glass and get on with the game.
-It was Tottenham. They are on the whole a likeable and humble lot who, make defeat easier to stomach and I wouldn’t begrudge them going on to win the lot. They deserve a break.
-Winning trophies is great and another amazing chance to win the CL has gone down the pan, but enjoying the ride (Hello spurs fans) means more to me than counting trophies and that was fun so hey ho.
Between that and choosing to watch Ajax beautifully take apart Juve over the United match, It has been the most exciting 2 days of CL football I have seen in a long time. Looking forward to the semi-finals.
Well done Spurs. Nic MCFC
As a City fan, we have got to have clear heads today.
In six games against Monaco, Liverpool and Spurs, we conceded 15 goals. Some were unfortunate, but many of them were shambolic. 8 of those 15 were conceded at the Etihad, while we only scored 1 away goal. It’s hardly a surprise then that two of those defeats were on away goals.
Additionally, Guardiola is mortal and all three away selections were strange and wrong. The last two were massive overthinks. There’s an observable pattern of conceding goals in batches and we missed a penalty in London last week. Laporte chose a fine time to have by far his worst game for City and Ederson will look back on the first and third goals and think he could do better. Both have been magnificent for us and will continue to be so, but this sort of thing happens in cup ties.
Yes, Liverpool were extremely lucky with a number of refereeing decisions. Yes, the Monaco match with severely influenced by a comically bad refereeing decision (the Aguero “dive”). And last night, the Llorente goal was, at best, hugely marginal. The injury time goal, was, sadly, correctly ruled out. But we are entitled to be seriously galled that the Sane disallowed goal against Liverpool, which involved as astonishingly similar incident, was ruled out when it should have stood. You’ve got be in the Continuity wing of the Emptihad brigade or an Anfield bus-bottler not to acknowledge that. I personally blame Bernardo Silva for doing too much running in the 93rd minute. Had he been lazier, then you never know.
Let’s learn the lessons, congratulate Spurs (it was an extraordinary effort from them even if they’re probably not sure themselves how they got over the line), revel in being part of and winning an all-time great European Cup match (if not tie), focus on the match on Saturday, win the league and then win the cup. Next season, we need to concede goals at a lower rate than 2.5 a match in Champions League knockouts. Let’s win that treble. There’s history to be made. Mark Meadowcroft
City’s Michael Thomas moment I came across a new phenomenon in the pub last night. One I hadn’t seen before. Culture changed before my eyes and ears. We heard them in the mad first twenty minutes, sensed their confidence when Aguero scored the fourth and beheld their delirium curdle to despair in injury time.
City fans. Drinking age Irish City fans. There they were. A group of lads. United by City. Normally a City goal was celebrated by whomever of the assembled United/Arsenal/Liverpool fans it benefitted more. I remember dancing a jig in front of a group of United fans when Aguero added fourteen ‘o’s to his surname.
But their own numbers are maturing. And heartaches like last night are the ones that really nail your colours to the mast, the moments that make it impossible to leave your tribe. Shared grief in the face of taunting schadenfreude. When you become an ‘us’ versus ‘them’.
They thought they had their own Istanbul. Instead they had their Michael Thomas at the Annie Road end moment. Their Wimbledon in the cup final moment. The scars that no victories can ever remove from your soul. John Mac.
Destined to fail Do you want a theory on why City were never likely to make the Champions League final?
The intensity of competing at the top of the Premier League means English teams are hampered in European competition. This has been said before, and dismissed before, but here are the stats to back it up.
Since 1999, 8 English team have been in Champions League finals. Only 4 of these teams finished in the top three of the Premier League that season (50%).
The comparable stats for our main competitors in the same period are:
Spain – 14 finalists, 12 of them finishing in La Liga top 3 (86%) Germany – 7 finalists, 7 of them finishing in Bundesliga top 3 (100%) Italy – 4 finalists, 3 of them finishing in Serie A top 3 (75%)
Clearly, it is more difficult for English teams to go far in the Champions League when they are competing domestically. It works the other way too – if you’re going the distance in Europe, it’s harder in England to keep performing in the league. The more competitive nature of the Premier League is surely behind this – possibly other factors such as the number of games or lack of winter break.
Obviously both Liverpool and Spurs have the chance to buck the trend and improve England’s stats this year. But with regards to last night’s game, it surely shouldn’t be a surprise that Spurs have prospered in Europe as their title challenge has fallen away. This is almost an exact replica of what happened with Liverpool last year. I would bet good money Spurs end up dropping to 4th or even lower if they beat Ajax in the semis. Richard, MCFC
Pretty much 4 mins – we’re going to extra time 7 mins – we’re going through if it stays like this, which it probably won’t 10 mins – actually, we might go through here 11 mins – we’re going through, if it stays like this, which it probably won’t 45 mins – WHAT THE FUCK JUST HAPPENED 59 mins – we’re going out, I knew this would happen 73 mins – we’re going through, if it stays like this, which it probably won’t 74 mins – it’s going to be disallowed isn’t it, nothing good ever happens to Tottenham 75 mins – we’re going through, if it stays like this, which it probably won’t 92 mins – we’re going out, I knew this would happen 93 mins – we’re going through, if it stays like this, which it probably won’t 96 mins – WHAT THE FUCK JUST HAPPENED Exhausted, mentally and physically, but it was worth the five hour drive home Simon Deen (Tottenham, obviously)
Poor Raheem As a spurs fan, last night was one of the most memorable matches I’ve ever seen, a match when every possible element of drama was wheeled out and squeezed for all its worth.
When the drama of the disallowed goal had subsided a little though, I found myself feeling a bit sorry for Raheem Sterling. There’s nothing like the sheer joy of the 93rd minute winner in a huge match (and a hat trick too), and this is a player that has endured all manner of shit from the media for his ongoing crimes against humanity. I went into the match expecting a pasting, and when the inevitable happened and City scored, I genuinely felt that if it had to be anyone, I was pleased it was Sterling.
Football is a funny thing isn’t it? Andy
Eurgh Dear MC,
It really pains me to say this. I. was. Happy. For. Spurs… phew, got that out.
Genuinely, fair play that was amazing last night. Really quite jealous now.
Also, what no one seems to be saying is that that wasn’t actually a hand ball. I looked at that replay several times and it never even touched Llorente’s hand or arm. It only touched his hip. Fair goal. JazGooner (I’ve just been a bit sick in my mouth)
They can still Spurs this up Hold on now, let’s not crown this lot the most resilient team in the land just yet. Fast forward 6 weeks and play this out…
City win at the weekend and they drop out the top 4. Suddenly the league games before and after the games with Ajax take on more importance. Poch can’t / doesn’t rest anyone, but they still struggle in one (Bournemouth away in between the semi’s won’t be fun) and drop more points. Couple that with Ajax doing their now standard demolition job and boom! Suddenly, Spurs are fighting for 5th and have, yet again, won nothing.
If St Totteringham’s day is celebrated this year, it could be the most spursy of spursy achievements to date!! Alex, don’t give up hope on them ballsing this all up just yet, Ayr
Football imitating life What a game! First off, in my opinion, VAR enhanced the spectacle for those of us not in the stadium at least. I watched the game at a sports bar here in Abuja and with all the sublime goals scored at both ends, the loudest cheer of the night was reserved for a VAR goal cancellation. I mean, there was hugging and running and screaming and jumping and dancing. It was beautiful. Schadenfreude in a green dress. I can’t say I particularly like Tottenham, but sometimes you’ve got to love an under dog. Spurs vs Ajax has got to be the ultimate under dog UCL semi final.
A word on Raheem Sterling please. Seeing as no one has bothered to define it for me, I think of a world class player as one who can get into the starting eleven of one of Barca, Real or Bayern in his position at a particular point in time (stop laughing at the back). Sterling would start for all three at the moment. The confidence and ability to first cut-in so easily like a guy with bad manners, then find the back of the net with his supposedly weaker foot, in one of the most high stakes moments of his career… wow. That goal would have been good enough to win any match but unluckily for him and city, this wasn’t just any match.
Credit first to Sterling but considering there were doubts about his ability to control a football not too long ago, he really is one of Guardiola’s greatest feats.
I think what makes knockout games of this magnitude a step above league games is the emotion it conjures up in the players and managers. They are hardly ever able to keep it in check and most times no matter how much quality and tactical prowess is involved, the emotions take over and it makes for brilliant, frantic spectacles. Long may it continue. Experience – and with it calmer heads – is overrated. Doing this week in week out in front of millions makes many pros stifle or at least hide their emotions. But it’s good even if only once in a while to see that they want it even more than the fans.
Immediately after Sterling’s goal was chopped off, Guardiola took off his cardigan as if the temperatures around him had risen dramatically. He then paced along the technical area with his hands on his head. It was sad, some would say cruel. It was euphoric for many others. It was football imitating life. Lawrence, CFC, Abuja.
Ten conclusions 1. So that’s why Laporte doesn’t get picked for France. A performance so bad that it genuinely baffles me that City have only dropped points in six league games this season. It wasn’t just the fact that he assisted one of the Tottenham goals and set up the second with the worst touch I’ve seen from a football player at this level, but it was the way he constantly passed the ball out for a throw in. I lost count the number of times a simple pass went behind Mendy and out of play. There was also a cross-field ball in the first half which was diabolical. Stats will say something silly about how great his pass percentage was, but looking at the actual game he made 100s of short passes he couldn’t possibly miss and he failed 10-20 short passes he couldn’t possibly miss.
2. But was he the most a fault for the three Tottenham goals? I was going to say no, but then I remembered that touch, so Laporte can share the (dis)honour with Ederson. I’ll start by saying that since he made a mistake in a pre-season friendly against Manchester United when he first joined Manchester City, and I thought, ‘Oh good, another Bravo,’ I can’t remember him making a big mistake. I was shocked to not see him top of your Top 10 Goalkeepers of the season for that very reason (I can remember Alisson making a few despite his undoubted calming influence on the Liverpool defence). Then last night happened…For the first goal he should never have needed to make a save (see point 1), but once Son decided to roll the ball at him rather than shoot, that should have been problem over. I can see why he went with his feet, and it is precisely De Gea’s use of his feet to save shots that made him the best goalkeeper in the world, just not in the manner he did. Watch the goal from the viewpoint of behind Son and you see him plant his feet after the ball has been kicked. There was no need to dive. Even once he’d committed to the dive, just kick the ball away.
3. And then the third Tottenham goal…Llorente scores from 2 yards out, with the ball at hip height, in front of the goal. If that cross could shout it would have yelled ‘Keepers!’ The reasons he hasn’t come and collected it? 1) He flapped at the previous corner that led to the one the goal was scored from. And 2) he trusted a defender to do his job. As a keeper in that situation with the opposition needing a goal to knock you out of the Champions League, DO NOT TRUST YOUR DEFENDERS. He could have taken the ball and cleared through Kompany as he did it. Instead he trusted him, Kompany ducked/missed the ball and it bounced in off of Llorente. Poor.
4. A quick word on the Llorente goal. I can see it hit his arm. It clearly touches his arm first and then his hip, you can even see his bicep ripple after the contact. How the referee couldn’t see that I’m not so sure – as his shrug after consulting VAR suggested that he had no idea why he’d been even asked to look at the incident. I think if he had seen it, it would have been ruled out. But is it a handball? For me (Jeff), no. His arm is by his side, he’s not moved it in the direction of the ball, it’s just popped over Kompany’s head and it doesn’t change the direction of the ball. It’s one of those where if it’s against your team you go mental, and if it’s for your team you would be aghast if it was disallowed.
5. But the issue for me is that poor refereeing led to the possibility of the Tottenham winner in the first place. Man City are dominant, Tottenham pegged back in their own half, Man City looking for what would surely be a decisive fifth. Guardiola brings on Fernandinho to pick up loose balls and recycle the attack even quicker than before, Fernandinho makes an unbelievably brilliant tackle on the half way line without even a hint of a foul, the referee gives a free kick to Tottenham. From there Tottenham advance into the Man City half for the first time, sustain some pressure by winning a few niggly free kicks and win a corner. We all know what happened next.
6. Moving on from the winner to the faux winner – and in turn the faux loser, Raheem Sterling. My god what a player. The first goal is sumptuous. Once he’s cut in past the defenders he has made look futile, there was as little doubt in my mind he’d score as when Messi had nutmegged Fred a day earlier. He’s in the kind of form when you expect the net to bulge, just as I did with City’s third and his second goal after that lovely De Bruyne (a genius) pass. It was a harder finish than he was given credit for too. The ball across is firm and the angle was tight. He knew Lloris would be scrambling across to the near post so the shot had to go back across goal. It also had to be slightly lifted to avoid a sprawling Lloris leg but lower than where a flailing hand might linger. Have another look exactly where the ball ended up and tell me that you can find a better place for it to end up (and that it didn’t take extraordinary skill in placing it there). Back to the faux winner…the composure shown was astounding. Most players there hit the ball first time and Alderweireld blocks the shot, chance over. The dummy was beautiful and then once again you just knew the ball was destined for the back of the net. Scoring that winning goal was truly what he deserved and that he doesn’t progress is a real shame.
7. But that’s what VAR is for! I don’t think anybody thought it was offside. City fans had no doubt, nobody tapping their mate telling them to calm down because ‘the lino’s got his flag up’. Tottenham weren’t protesting and the commentators hadn’t given the possibility one second of thought. And then the decision was overturned, we were shown one quick replay showing Aguero offside and the atmosphere flipped. Game over.
8. But this game should never have been so important, enthralling and ultimately heart breaking for City fans and the rest of us alike for the night. Guardiola completely messed up the first leg of the tie yet again. I won’t go into already drawn out details but one minute for De Bruyne was a crime and their least important forward player of the season became the focal point for slow, laborious and predictable attacks. Do not be surprised to see Mahrez shifted on in the summer for £30 million – a Bernardo Silva type renaissance is not on the cards.
9. Away from this competition, what does this mean for the Premier League? Will Manchester City be so deflated by this result that they drop points against the same opposition on Saturday? Will they then succumb to sadness and lose to Manchester United too? Probably not that one to be fair. Will Liverpool slip up against Newcastle in the middle of their two semi-finals against Barcelona? Will Tottenham’s euphoria carry them through against City? Or will they have a hangover? Do they have the squad to rest players against West Ham and Bournemouth in the games before each semi-final? I can’t wait to see what happens.
10. I feel like ten trumps sixteen conclusions so I won’t go on, and to remove any doubt of bias I will use this conclusion to discuss Tottenham’s performance…Son’s a bloody good player and I hope somebody buys him in the summer. G (checking flight prices to Outer Mongolia) AFC
Silva lining Dear F365,
Cool your jets, everyone. I don’t understand why nobody is talking about the maddest moment of the match – David Silva’s corner on 33mins.
And generally, he was a bit of a passenger, wasn’t he? Jonno McSchmonno
Llore work to do What on earth is happening here? I feel like I’m sat on a rock rotating around a star rotating around a black hole with ~6 billion blind people that cannot see that the football clearly hit Llorente on the arm!
As a lifelong Birmingham City fan I unfortunately have no dog in this seasons champions league quarters, so I don’t care who wins. It was a great game. I also think the goal should have stood. However! And a fairly big however. The referee clearly pointed to his hip after reviewing the footage, demonstrating that even if he made the right decision, he made it entirely erroneously. And if VAR can still lead to the right decision being made incorrectly then it is fundamentally flawed. Liam, brummie in pompey
A solution I know this is far fetched, but reading the article about players teams would be happy to let go i have to say i would absolutely love to see Alonso given a go up top in behind the striker. I know it would probably be a disaster but he is tall and strong as pointed out by Sarri and we know he’s well able to bang a goal in. Plus he has that bit of that Diego Costa b@stard streak about him which puts defenders on edge. It would be teaching an old dog new tricks and never going to happen but I would still love to see it. Aaron. CFC. Ireland.
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