Europa League Final: Tough night ahead in Basel awaits Klopp and the boys
So, it comes down to this. The culmination of Klopp’s first (part) season, is a Europa League Final, against Sevilla, in Basel. I think the first thing to say is that, whatever the result tonight, the appointment of Klopp has been an unmitigated success, and his impact on the club, the players, the city of Liverpool, the media, and the wider English football scene, has been a positive one. He has instilled a genuine, and justified, sense of optimism amongst Liverpool fans, that next season is one to look forward to.
That said, it would be a fantastic achievement to bring home a major European trophy at the first time of asking, and provide some real tangible success from which to build on. It will also add to the feeling amongst the players, and the fans, that a Liverpool side under Jurgen Klopp can win on any given occasion, against any opposition.
But, let’s be clear. The task tonight is a very tough one indeed. Sevilla know this competition inside out, they clearly prioritise it, and they know what it feels like – and what it takes – to win the thing. They are in their third successive Europa League Final – and going for a third win. They have triumphed four times in the last ten years.
They are fresh from a respectable 7th placed finish in La Liga, and will raise themselves for this final. The fact that they failed to win any of their last nine league games, often resting key players, tells you how much they focus on the Europa League. A tense night could be in store. I wouldn’t rule out going the distance – all the way to penalties.
Final PL games a distraction, ahead of a trip to Basel for the Reds
We’re in the death throes of the 2015/16 premier league season. The last match at Anfield this season is tonight. We’re up against a dysfunctional Chelsea side that managed to rouse themselves enough to ensure Spurs couldn’t win the league, but other than that have been very ordinary this season. I expect a Liverpool win. We finish off on the ‘Superest Sunday of them ALL’ (© Sky Sports), with a trip to face West Brom. I see a second string selection by Klopp there, with one eye on the following Wednesday’s Europa League Final against Sevilla, in Basel. More to come on that match, once we’ve closed the door on the domestic league season. We obviously want to finish as high as possible in the league, but with a major European trophy on the line in a week’s time, along with qualification for next season’s Champions League, it’s hard not to look past these final two league games.
Ahead of tonight’s 3-0 win over a disinterested Chelsea, and Sunday’s tentative, 0-0 draw with West Brom, we’re pointing you in the direction of some of our favourite LFC blogs. If you’d like to be included in our future blog round-ups, or you’d like to guest blog on our site, get in touch via the contact form at the bottom of this page, or give us a shout on Twitter – @ynwablog.
Liverpool 3-0 Villarreal – Basel here we come!
It was never really in doubt was it? There was a confidence and assurance about the Liverpool performance last night, that is a tangible manifestation of ‘The Klopp Effect’. In beating Villarreal 3-0, and overturning the one-goal deficit from the first leg, Liverpool took a giant stride towards delivering silverware, in Klopp’s first part-season at the club. Whether they make that final step, and beat a very strong Sevilla side in Basel on May 18th, remains to be seen. (And it’s already pretty clear there’ll be far more 9,000 LFC fans in the city trying to see it) Whatever the outcome, what is clear is that this group of players clearly believe they can beat anyone put in front of them in the Europa League this season, and that all stems from the impact of a technically brilliant, and clearly inspirational manager.
Villarreal 1-0 Liverpool – Reds punished for late indiscipline
We’ll start with last night’s defeat in the Europa League semi-final, 1st leg, to Villarreal. The obvious thing to say is that it was very disappointing to concede a goal with almost the last kick of the game. The frustration was felt more keenly, because we had looked comfortable, controlled the game for long periods, and had our own chances to get an important away goal, especially Joe Allen, very early on. I think 0-0 is a decent enough result these days, away from home, in Europe. I think Klopp clearly thought the same. He wasn’t chasing a late winner, evidenced by his late decision to throw on Benteke to hold the ball up, and retain possession. If he was chasing a lead to take back to Anfield, I think we’d have seen Sturridge introduced.
However, Klopp didn’t account for Alberto Moreno taking things into his own hands, and charging up the pitch in injury time, ending up in the centre forward position, and blasting his shot high and wide. Now, don’t get me wrong, if that ball had smashed into the back of the net, I would be lauding Moreno as loudly as the next man. However, he didn’t. And I’m a big fan of hindsight – it’s great. So, Moreno was miles out of position, and a swift, simple, but well executed counter attack exposed Liverpool’s under-manned defence, and Lopez slotted the ball home. Game over. Or, more accurately, first half over.
Liverpool 4-0 Everton – Comprehensive derby win for the Reds
Well, that was enjoyable. One of the most one-sided Merseyside derbies for a long time, and we were on the right side of the result. It was a very good performance, against a very meek and lacklustre Everton side, and we could have had more than four goals to be fair. They clearly have problems, and there’s lots of pressure on Roberto Martinez at the moment, but well, so what? We’ve been through plenty of turmoil and problems ourselves in recent times, and although it’s far too early to make any sweeping statements about this Liverpool side, I’ll make a sweeping statement. Here it comes; LIVERPOOL ARE GOING TO WIN THE QUADRUPLE NEXT SEASON. Sorry, that was taken from someone on Twitter who had clearly been at the hard stuff after the Everton win.
Although I don’t think we’ll win the quadruple next season, I am starting to enjoy the growing sense of positivity amongst Liverpool fans. I feel it myself too. In the afterglow of putting four past Everton, it’s easy to get carried away. But, this sense of something growing, has been building for a while now, ever since Klopp really started to put his stamp on things. The 4-3 win against Dortmund has lit the touch paper somewhat, but I think we can be quietly confident about next year.
A Vintage European Night at Anfield
At 9:06pm last night, as the second half was getting under way, I sent a text to my sister – a fellow Red. It read:
“Dortmund a cut above. Too soon for Liverpool. I hope we make a game of it though.”
Her response was one word:
After the astonishing 45 minutes that unfolded, ‘believe’ could well become the watch word of the new Liverpool era under Jurgen Klopp. Now we’ve seen what can happen when it all comes together. Now we’ve witnessed the perfect storm of a team playing with fire and skill, inspired by the words and deeds of an elite manager, driven on by an almost primal roar from all sides of Anfield. We won the 2nd half 4-1 against one of the best sides in Europe. It felt amazing. There’s more of this to come – I can feel it. I believe.
The best Liverpool blogs, ahead of a big game on Sunday
Great result last night, away to Dortmund in the Europa League. It’s only half time and all that, but level terms, and an away goal in the bank to bring back to Anfield is a good position to be in. One thing is for sure – the Anfield crowd will be rocking on Thursday night, and will have a massive part to play in getting Liverpool over the line, in what will be a very tough second leg. Looking forward to it.
Right, this week, to get you in the mood for Sunday’s game with Stoke, we’re directing you to some of our favourite Liverpool bloggers. If you’d like to be included in our future blog round-ups, or you’d like to guest blog on our site, get in touch via the contact form at the bottom of this page, or give us a shout on Twitter – @ynwablog.
The unwanted distraction of international friendlies
After tonight’s round of largely pointless international friendlies, the domestic season enters the final straight. No more international fixtures to interrupt momentum, and give us horrendous football free weekends, like the one we just endured.
Don’t get me wrong; I want England to do well. I hope they win Euro 2016. No doubt if they have a good run in the tournament, I’ll get involved in the groundswell of patriotism and flag waving. Probably. But on the whole, I just can’t get excited about international friendlies any more. When I was a kid, yes. I consumed football greedily. Any football. (Although maybe that’s partly because there was a lot less on TV when I was a young ‘un. The Sky revolution means the ‘event’ of a televised football match has been diluted completely.)
Now, I just see international friendlies as chances for Liverpool players to get injured. I know, I’m an old, bitter sceptic. But that’s how I feel.
The highs and lows of being a football fan
Football, eh? Funny old game and all that. What it giveth with one hand, it cruelly taketh away with the other, as that old saying doesn’t go.
Being a Liverpool fan at the moment is, well, a bit odd. The early flirtations with Herr Klopp have been mildly exciting. New, fresh, different. Suggestive of more substantial benefits to come. But they don’t mask the fact that right now, this is a flawed squad, and there are issues to be addressed this summer, if next season is to deliver more. It’s hard to know what to expect from one game to the next at the moment. Or one half to the next, when you take the 3-2 loss to Southampton as evidence.
In the space of four days, Thursday to Sunday, we saw why supporting a football team can do weird things to your mental health.
Rumours around ‘marquee’ signing Mario Götze hotting up
We’re not usually ones to pay much attention to transfer rumours. Especially rumours that emerge during the season, which tend to amount to nothing more than hastily scribed (i.e. made up) click-bait attempts. You know the ones we mean. They tend to include phrases such as ‘war chest’, ‘£25 million pound wonderkid’, and ‘Liverpool in for 3 shock targets – click here to find out who – it will BLOW YOUR MIND!’ And so on. However, the recent slew of Mario Götze to Liverpool stories have piqued our interest.