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25th Apr 2018

Awful Real Madrid Bayern Munich match showed that Liverpool are favourites to win the Champions League

Liverpool will never have a better chance to win their sixth European Cup

Robert Redmond

Liverpool fans are probably slightly worried that Roma will stage a miraculous comeback in the second-leg of their Champions League semi-final.

However, they shouldn’t worry too much. If Liverpool score – and Mohamed Salah always scores – then Roma will need to find the net four times to advance to the final in Kiev, after losing 5-2 on Tuesday night. When Liverpool reach the final, they shouldn’t fear their opponents either, judging by tonight’s semi-final.

Real Madrid beat Bayern Munich 2-1 in the first-leg of the tie at the Allianz Arena, but the quality wasn’t what one would expect from this stage of the Champions League. Two of the three goals were comically bad, like something you would see at a five-a-side match.

First, there was Joshua Kimmich’s opener after 28 minutes. The Bayern full-back stuck the ball past Keylor Navas after running onto a nice pass from James Rodriguez, but the defending from Madrid was embarrassing.

Real equalised before half-time after a powerful finish from Marcelo, and then took the lead thanks to more dreadful defending.

There was an individual error which led to Marco Asensio’s goal, and the defending and positioning from the Bayern team was almost laughable.

Again, this is like a scene from a five-a-side game and not what one would expect from what is supposed to be the pinnacle of the sport.

The game was also noticeably less intense than Liverpool’s win over Roma, and neither side displayed any discernible style of play.

There were plenty of world-class players on the pitch – from Cristiano Ronaldo to Luka Modric, Thomas Muller to Robert Lewandowski – but that only served to underline that having great players in a side doesn’t automatically result in having a great team.

Most of the play was off the cuff and goals came from sloppy errors rather than moments of quality or team play. It was dull and ponderous for long spells, more reminiscent of a dead rubber group stage match than the semi-final of the best club competition in the world.

Liverpool shouldn’t be worried about facing Madrid or Bayern if they complete the job against Roma next week. Klopp’s team certainly aren’t as talented as either side. Their goalkeeper Lorius Karius isn’t of Champions League standard and Dejan Lovren is always likely to have a Dejan Lovren moment. Their midfield is hard-working, but there is little craft.

Yet, Liverpool play cohesive, organised football that is well executed, overwhelms the opposition and is more than the sum of its parts. They also have the most in-form front-three in world football.

Liverpool, with their organised, collective approach and the magic of Salah, Firmino and Mane, shouldn’t fear the individualistic, incohesive football practiced by Bayern or Real Madrid. They will never have a better opportunity to win their sixth European Cup.