Barcelona 3-0 Liverpool : I’m a Joel Man

It hurts.

My God it hurts. But we go again. The world is round, everything is round. Everything goes on and similarly the footy must continue, somehow. It’s a hard result for everyone to come back from, never mind the Reds. It’s a harsh reminder that you can work as hard as you like, sometimes you don’t get what you deserve. The Reds will recover, no doubt, can’t speak for the rest of us though.

They got the class, mainly in the form of one man, and they got the luck as well. It doesn’t seem fair, it isn’t fair. But it is what it is. The same could happen next week but in our favour, it’s not likely but neither is Messi scoring from there or Salah hitting the post from there. We don’t need probability on our side, when has it ever been in our biggest triumphs.

As you know, we were largely brilliant. Klopp says it’s our best away Champions League performance, a bit of a stretch, but he has a point. It’s so difficult to get a result there, probably the hardest away in the sport. Barca are unbeaten at that place in Europe for 6 years. It is a ludicrous record and yet we dominated the game for large spells and arguably left the pitch the better team.

Barca are top quality and are capable of both collective and individual brilliance. The ref doesn’t give you any favours either. There’s a reason for the record, yet our boys matched them with Gini up top and Naby coming off early which had a big impact on us.

All this doesn’t change the result, but it grants perspective. It means there is plenty of hope to still latch on to. Virge and the boys can keep a clean sheet, the lads at the other end can bag a hatful on any day and now we are due a slice of fortune as well. If that doesn’t work for you then at the very least, it is a lesson learned.

A great batch of experience in fear, pain, hardship and toil for the players in our ranks, both young and old. It’s another huge European away under their belt that they can use as a reference point for seasons to come. But don’t you dare lose hope on this season yet. These Reds have given you loads, they deserve your undying love till the bitter end and more.

FC Barcelona v Liverpool - UEFA Champions League : News Photo
Lionel Messi of FC Barcelona, Joel Matip of Liverpool FC during the UEFA Champions League match between FC Barcelona v Liverpool at the Camp Nou on May 1, 2019 in Barcelona Spain (Photo by David S. Bustamante/Soccrates/Getty Images)

One such Red is the big and lanky Joelly Matip. The clunky, awkward defender that for 75 mins, strutted about the Nou Camp like he owned the joint. Fair play to him. Yet another great story for the team, the manager and us as a fanbase. He’s had his critics and he’s been written off, entering the season as Liverpool’s 4th choice centre back.

But he has been excellent recently and showing the presence and confidence of a defender in a 90+ point team. For a player to put in the best performance of their career at the Nou Camp, is something special, regardless of who you are. He was up for the challenge from the very start.

In the past I have been very critical of his abilities, mainly the ones he excelled in on Wednesday night. He was brave, aggressive and incredibly focused and alive to all danger. He was patient and composed when he needed to be, being very clever not to dive in against the best player ever and concede a pen in the first half. And he stuck his leg in when it was needed as well, being aggressive in the right moments to let Suarez and Messi know they were in a game and that he wasn’t going to be rolled over.

It was a fantastic centre back display, exactly what is needed at a place like that. He made 12 ball recoveries, unsurprisingly, more than any other player on the pitch. Huge plaudits have to go to the manager for trusting him and convincing him that he can play to that high a standard against the very best the game has to offer. This game could act as a catalyst for Matip’s continued revival for Liverpool and maybe him becoming our first-choice partner to Van Dijk for next season. At the very least, it shows we have a fantastic squad player on our hands that would get into any team outside the top 3 in the Premier League.

The result is a dampener on Matip’s and the team’s performance but they will no doubt be made aware of the positives by Jurgen and his staff over the next few days. We take all our frustration out on Newcastle and go from there. The task is crystal clear at this stage of proceedings, but also rock hard. We have but two choices, back these reds for the next 3 or 4 games and see what we can get out if this astonishing season or turn our backs and walk away. I know which one I’m choosing.

Another miracle awaits…

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