Liverpool’s route to Paris and the Champions League final26 May 2022
Liverpool stand one game away from lifting their seventh European trophy, drawing level with second-placed AC Milan in the process, should they beat Carlo Ancelotti’s Real Madrid this weekend.
The Reds saw their hopes of a historic quadruple go up in smoke on the final day of the Premier League season, as a gripping comeback from Manchester City saw Pep Guardiola’s side successfully defend their trophy.
However, having already banked the Carabao Cup and FA Cup via penalty shoot-out wins over Chelsea, they could yet lift a cup treble should they win in Paris on Saturday night.
101 take a look at just how Liverpool have arrived on the precipice of greatness.
Group of death left lifeless
It looked to be a dismal start to proceedings in Liverpool’s chase for Champions League glory when the groups were drawn, with the Reds dropped in what looked to be the toughest group out of them all.
Jurgen Klopp’s side were pitted against Portuguese champions FC Porto, Spanish champions Atletico Madrid and AC Milan, who finished second in Serie A last season and went on to win the league this time around.
Despite this, and thanks in part to the teams around them taking points off each other, Liverpool had qualified from the group after just four games, and had won it after five, scoring 16 and conceding 5 in the process.
It meant that Klopp fielded a largely rotated XI for the final game against AC Milan, only for his side to come out with a 2-1 victory at the San Siro and keep their 100% record in the group stage, joining Ajax and Bayern Munich as the only clubs to do so.
We are the Champions
Thundering through to the last-16, Liverpool were drawn against Italian champions Inter Milan, who, despite losing Antonio Conte, Romelu Lukaku and Achraf Hakimi in the summer, remained a threat, and had qualified out of their group in second, behind Real Madrid.
And another victory at San Siro, this time by two goals to nil, was enough to see the Reds pull through despite losing 1-0 to a ten-man Inter side at Anfield in the return leg, setting up a clash with Benfica, who edged past Ajax.
Faced with perhaps the least threatening opposition left in the final-8, Liverpool ensured that the job was done thoroughly, netting six times across the two legs even if a late wobble saw them holding on to a 6-4 aggregate lead late in the second leg.
That, many expected, was enough to pit Klopp’s men against Bayern Munich, only for the Bavarian side to be ousted by then-Europa League holders Villarreal under the leadership of cup specialist Unai Emery.
While on paper an easy tie, three-quarters of the way through, the Reds were pegged back to 2-2 and were rocking. However, they regained their composure in a cauldron of noise in Spain, grabbing a further three goals to seal the tie and give it a much more comfortable look than had actually been the case.
It has, perhaps, not been the most difficult knockout run on paper, but each team deserved to be there on merit, and it is hard to begrudge Klopp’s side a place in the Paris final on Saturday.
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