Liverpool and Chelsea had an intense rivalry for several seasons over a decade ago.
From the fans to the players on the pitch, both sides seemed to dislike each other and this hostility extended to the two managers – Rafa Benitez and Jose Mourinho. The teams regularly met in cup competitions and took part in two memorable Champions League semi-finals.
Mourinho’s first trophy in England was won at Liverpool’s expense in the 2005 League Cup final, and Chelsea won the league in 2005 and 2006, but Liverpool got the better of them in the most famous game between the pair.
In May 2005, Liverpool beat Chelsea 1-0 in the second-leg of their Champions League semi-final, thanks to Luis Garcia’s goal which may or may not have crossed the line.
Benitez’s side went to the final in Istanbul and came from three goals down to beat a brilliant AC Milan team.
Two years later, Mourinho’s team once again lost in the Champions League semi-finals to Liverpool, this time on penalties. The current Manchester United manager twice missed out on a place in the final of the European Cup because of Benitez’s side, and the relationship between the pair was often strained.
Mourinho has insulted Benitez in the past, and the current Newcastle United manager credited Chelsea’s success to their owner, rather than the man in the dugout during the mid-2000s.
“It is very simple: they have spent more money than any other club on players,” Benitez said in 2006 about Chelsea.
“Abramovich has done a fantastic job with this team because, after 50 years without a title, they’re about to win the league twice in a row. The manager has done a good job but, for me, the owner is the key. John Terry, Frank Lampard, Jose Mourinho are all important, but they wouldn’t have anything like they do without Abramovich. He started the revolution.”
The topic of Liverpool’s rivalry with Chelsea was discussed by Jamie Carragher and John Terry on Monday Night Football. The former Chelsea captain said that there was “hatred” but also respect between the two clubs at the time, and that the atmosphere at Anfield in May 2005 was one of the best he experienced in his career. While Carragher said that his dislike of Chelsea at the time meant he often wanted Liverpool’s bitter rivals Manchester United to beat the London club.
They also spoke about what Benitez thought of Mourinho, and how the Chelsea manager viewed Liverpool.
Benitez and Mourinho both arrived in English football in 2004, and Carragher claimed that his former manager felt that the only difference between the pair was the money available to them at their respective clubs.
“When Mourinho came, he lit up the Premier League didn’t he with his press conferences, and Rafa was completely different,” Carragher said on Sky Sports.
“He didn’t say much in press conferences. I think his quote was, ‘Abramovich is the special one’. He saw Mourinho as his equal. Mourinho came in having won the Champions League, and obviously the league and the UEFA Cup at Porto.
“Rafa had come in having won two Spanish leagues at Valencia, which was a huge achievement, and the UEFA Cup, so Rafa didn’t see himself as looking up at Mourinho. It was all a bit, ‘you’re only doing this because of Abramovich’s money’. So he would say that to us, and he had this sort of ego to him. I don’t think they ever got on, did they?”
Terry also spoke about his manager’s team talk ahead of the Champions League semi-final in 2005.
“That was one of Mourinho’s team talks before going into the game,” the former England defender said.
“‘They’re 21 points behind us, don’t give them a chance. It’s impossible that we can go and lose to these’. But going to Anfield was horrible. The atmosphere… you drive from the hotel, just a 30-minute bus ride, they’re all on the streets winding you up, throwing stuff at the bus – it was a nightmare.”
Chelsea had actually finished 37 points ahead of Liverpool in the Premier League that season, rather than 21, but the Merseyside club went on to win the Champions League.
You can watch the discussion between Terry and Carragher here: