BORUSSIA DORTMUND 1-1 LIVERPOOL
Liverpool have started their Europa League Quarter Finals with a draw.
Our opponents were no pushovers, something we’d known to be true before the kickoff even. The Bundesliga side Borussia Dortmund were formerly managed by Jürgen Klopp and he spent years forming a succesful squad that still partially exists, even if he’s not in charge of them any more. His hard work continues to exist, even in his absence at the German club.
When Klopp came out to the German crowd before the game began, home fans all chanted his name. He’s clearly still fondly remembered, to the delight of the Liverpool fans. It felt like a reunion party, fun for everyone. Football doesn’t always have to be about fierce rivalries. Sometimes it’s nice to just have a friendly experience and share the joy of football with all the fans involved, from both sides. It doesn’t happen a lot sadly, but I’ve met some friendly fans this season.
The Leicester fans who travelled to Liverpool were nice to talk with and I still hope their side wins the league this season. I told them that, which pleased them. It was all smiles and laughter between us, even though we follow different clubs. No animosity or hate at all. If there’s such a thing as “friendly rivalry”, that’s what we had. I did joke that Jamie Vardy wasn’t going to score in the game that was about to happen at Anfield. That was just laughed off by their fans. They were quite confident he would score. He didn’t, by the way! I was right.
Try telling Manchester United, Manchester City, Chelsea, Everton or maybe even Arsenal fans that their star players wouldn’t be scoring in a game and they’re likely to get very angry, start a fight with you. Maybe a verbal fight, or maybe more than an argument – it could get physical. That’s the difference, right there. Some fans are comfortable with a little banter. Some friendly rivalry is possible. Other times, it’s not. Knowing when it’s the right time to have these jokes with rival fans takes first hand experience. You don’t want to be on the wrong end of a comment that provokes hostility. You’ll regret having started a fight almost instantly. The experience with the Dortmund fans was one that would not be regretted by travelling Liverpool fans. One really cool thing about their club is that they also sing “You’ll Never Walk Alone” at their home games. It’s the exact same tradition Liverpool have had for many years. Our fans would have relished the opportunity to sing along with that, in Germany. These common interests are the kind of thing that can bring fans together, rather than driving them apart.
Jürgen Klopp made some interesting choices in the lineup. Divock Origi would be put straight into the starting 11, rather than only being a substitute as has happened in previous fixtures he was a part of. It seems he’s earned the manager’s respect and Origi did not let his manager down. Firmino and Sturridge both sat on the substitute bench, only to be used in the second half.
Play was interesting and open and offensive from the start to the end. Though only two goals were scored in total, it was credit to the defenders and goalkeepers that we didn’t end up seeing a more high scoring game. Best players of the game included our defence, for sure. Dejan Lovren and Mamadou Sakho were first class, with Sakho literally saving goals from being scored on the goal line. We couldn’t complain at their performances, even when Dortmund scored. It was not “defensive error” or bad performances that led to our opponents goal, they’re just good at what they do which includes scoring.
A goal was not seen until late in the first half and it would be Liverpool’s, we’d manage to create a lead and keep it until half time. The first half hour had seen chances on goal from both sides and fans couldn’t really be sure who would be getting the first goal, it could have gone to either side. Just after the 35th minute though, recently returned to action Alberto Moreno gave a vital pass forwards which got a flick on from James Milner. Milner found Origi on the edge of the penalty area, where he would turn and make enough space for his shot. Origi had defenders around him but he just kept cool, found the space he needed and put the ball past defenders and goalkeeper to make it Borussia Dortmund 0-1 Liverpool. Thoughts at half time were very happy ones of “maybe we can win this”, though there would be another 45 minutes to play and a single goal was all that was needed to make the scores equal again.
Jürgen Klopp wouldn’t need to have said much to his team during the break, just a little “more of the same please, lads” to keep them doing what they had been doing already. One change he decided he needed to make was bringing off the injured Jordan Henderson for Joe Allen, who’d start the second half. Fair enough, we didn’t want Hendo’s injury that he’d picked up just before the break getting any worse and not being available for playing at Anfield in the return leg. It didn’t look incredibly serious and he can surely recover in a week’s time.
So, it began again. Early in the second half, a corner was won by Dortmund. It was taken short and quickly and Mkhitaryan put the ball to Mats Hummels, who managed to jump into the air at the near post and head a powerful shot into the net. Mignolet or any defender would not be able to keep it out, though we can’t blame them for that. It was claimed by Hummels and nobody else had a chance of stopping this. It was unstoppable, a goal from the moment the ball came off Hummel’s head and went towards the net. I’ve seen Liverpool score those kind of goals, too. There’s usually nothing that can be done about them. The goalkeeper can’t reach it (too fast and too powerful, too far to reach it even if they dive to save it) and unless you have a defender standing right on the goal line at the place the headed shot goes to, it won’t be cleared – it’ll go straight in the net.
So, after the 48th minute the score was Borussia Dortmund 1-1 Liverpool.
The rest of the game was a test, to see if both teams could stop the other from getting a winner. If one more goal was scored, the result would likely end up as 2-1 (or 1-2). It really didn’t look like anyone would get more than a single goal, though. Defence was tight at both ends, chances made from offensive plays were blocked or saved. The goalkeepers did very well, credit to Simon Mignolet for his contribution. He had to make saves against players like Marco Reus and Marcel Schmelzer.
Liverpool made it to the final whistle, after all the chances that had come and gone. We didn’t score another goal, but neither did Dortmund. Our goal was also an “away goal” so we can be happy that for now, we have an advantage even in a game that wasn’t won – it was drawn. A 0-0 draw at Anfield would see Liverpool qualify for the next round, but it’d be terribly risky to try and attempt to get a goalless draw with a side that knows how to score goals and has done so already against us. We’ll take any advantage we can get, though. What we don’t want is Dortmund to score any away goals, too. If we draw 1-1 at Anfield, there’d be extra time and maybe even penalties. If we draw 2-2 (or any other level scoreline) at Anfield, the away goal advantage would turn in Dortmund’s favour and we’d not qualify even though we’d not lost. The only draw that would benefit Liverpool is the 0-0 scoreline, although the 1-1 wouldn’t be terrible and we’re not afraid of (extra time and) a penalty shoot out. Otherwise, we’ll just have to score more goals than Dortmund do (if they get two, we need three goals etc).
Man of the Match? DIVOCK ORIGI was really on top form.
He gave us that all-important away goal that we can use in this European competition if we really need to. At the right place and the right time to receive that ball from Milner and make it count, as he squeezed past defenders to get his shot off and direct it into the net. That takes skill, great skill. Plenty of attackers not showing such skill would have had their shot blocked or saved. Origi timed it all perfectly to make it all go the way he wanted and gave Liverpool a lead.
Some fans were saying things like “Origi’s better than Benteke” and you know what? I agree. Our £32M striker (Benteke) did well earlier in the season but hasn’t been performing well enough lately and even was giving interviews about how he regretted joining Liverpool quite recently. Well, if you’re not happy you often don’t perform as well on the pitch as you could. I’d take Origi over Benteke in any fixture at the moment. Origi is happy and confident and that will bring great performances to the Reds fans every time we see him play. If you’re a gambler, put your money on Origi to score if he’s part of the team. It’s a good bet.
What’s next then? Well, we can’t sit back and wait for the Germans to come to Liverpool. We will play them again next Thursday but before then, we’ll have to play a Premier League game against Stoke – who are just above us in the league table. We’ll need to win against them to take their position and make our way from 9th to 8th at least (possibly 7th but Southampton would have to lose their game also).
So, walk on with hope in your hearts, Anfield Family. You’ll Never Walk Alone.
[written by] Stuart Drewery.
I’m an Englishman (born and raised in Liverpool in the 80s). My whole family including my parents and grandparents were Liverpool fans so I was born into being a red.
I’ve seen Liverpool win the league (more than 25 years ago) and I’ve been 100% loyal and committed while supporting the Reds through all the good times AND the bad times since the 80s.