The Champions League returns but it was a poor start for British teams in the knockout stages as both Liverpool and Spurs lost 1-0.

I WOULD rather have a smear test done by Edward Scissorhands than have Diego Simeone manage my team.

Too much? Maybe – but being a supporter of Atletico Madrid must be equally as painful.

To see genuinely good – even great players like Jan Oblak and Koke – resort to the dark arts so beloved of their manager must hurt.

Grown men were flashing imaginary cards and throwing themselves to the floor whenever an opposing player breathed on them.

They were rolling around in fake agony and time-wasting at every opportunity but you have to grudgingly admire – if not like – their general sh*thousery. It was of the highest order and got the job done.

Liverpool made a terrible start when the ball ricocheted off Fabinho in the fourth-minute; fell to the feet of Saul Niguez and the Madrid man could not miss from two yards out. 

The referee was abysmal but the Reds ended up running out of ideas against a horribly defensive side who dived, moaned and whined their way through the 90 minutes. 

But it is only half-time in the tie and Anfield awaits Simeone and his sly crew. The last Spanish side to go there had a three-goal lead and the best player on the planet and we all know what happened there . . . ‘corner taken quickly, Origiiiiiii!’

Those people who were saying Liverpool were lucky to be playing a ‘rubbish’ Atletico side are probably the same people quipping ‘oooh look what happens when they play a decent side’. The very same belittling their achievements at home this season by saying it’s the weakest Premier League ever.

I say to all those rival fans piping up – get your head out of your arse – it needs some air to think straight. 

Jurgen Klopp’s side are not one-season wonders, and this is not a fly-by-night improvement. You do not get 97 points over a campaign because you got lucky.  The Reds finished 25 points ahead of Chelsea, got 26 points more than Spurs, 27 more than Arsenal and 31 points more than United last time around.

It’s only February and they’re already 22 points clear of Man City, a ludicrous 36 ahead of vanquished fellow Champions League finalists Tottenham and a frankly ridiculous 38 ahead of bitter rivals Manchester United.

The current European and World champions aren’t a bad side. I mean is it even the Champions League if Liverpool don’t mess up in the beginning and come back in an epic, ludicrous manner?

JOSE MOURINHO’S Tottenham (still sounds weird) also lost 1-0 except they were at home and were extremely lucky it was not more.

The Portuguese is fast looking like he has too many cobwebs in the attic – yesterday’s man-ager with out-dated ideas.

Yes they have injuries but against Red Bull Leipzig – a club that was not even formed the last time that Spurs won a trophy (2008) – they were second best all over the pitch for long periods.

The lively and fit German side did not give Spurs any time on the ball and could have scored three in the first 10 minutes.

The problem the Londoners have is they can’t go long as they have nobody there that can hold up the ball. It was a huge mistake to let Fernando Llorente go in the summer as he played well in Champions League last season.

Those who have knowledge don’t predict. Those who predict don’t have knowledge so I’m saying nothing about what will happen in Leipzig in three weeks’ time other than Mourinho’s hopes of silverware are looking as likely as Boris Johnson donning his wellies and helping out the flood victims of Storm Dennis.

 AND finally there was another headline-grabbing display by powerful, young Norwegian striker Erling Haaland.

The fledging superstar, 19, who Ole Gunnar Solksjaer desperately wanted to put the ‘man’ in to Manchester United snubbed Old Trafford for Borussia Dortmund last month.

He’s averaging a goal every 41 minutes since moving to Germany with 11 in seven games including the brace that saw off Paris Saint-Germain 2-1.

Haaland put Neymar and Kylian Mbappe in the shade to set up a second leg as tasty as anything on offer in the famed Parisian restaurants that boast Michelin stars.

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