Liverpool fan turns to tattoos and Cheryl Cole to inspire Madrid miracle
In the space of a week, I have progressed from a state of pressing pessimism, to flamboyant fantasist.
The horoscope has been checked, cracks in the pavement have been dodged and if I could find a rabbit, it would be left with only one leg more than this Champions League tie.
Like Liverpool fans everywhere, I’m clutching at straws with a vice-like grip, clinging to just about any shred of hope that I can muster up. Omens, jinxes, past glories, you name it and I’ve googled it.
I used to laugh at people who shared inspirational posts on their Instagram pages, wondering why on earth a phrase coined by Cheryl Cole could ever be helpful to anyone, but now they’re suddenly resonating with me.
As Tony Robbins said “If you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always gotten” and I didn’t share quotes before the first leg against Real Madrid, so now my social media is filled with phrases often found tattooed on a teenager’s leg.
Is there any way I can transmit the quote “Hope is being able to see that there is light, despite all of the darkness” straight into Sadio Mane’s brain? That goal drought is merely a bump on the road less travelled after all.
Historical events are granting me the most comfort however. For instance, the last time Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo weren’t involved in a European quarter final was 2005, and we all know who won it then! Not to mention the fact that in 2005 Liverpool met Chelsea in the semi-final; a carbon copy of the instance we would find ourselves in this year if Madrid were to be beaten.
Trent Alexander-Arnold has been in the papers for good and bad reasons this month, but his legacy will always be that ‘corner taken quickly’ on a magical Anfield night, where his right foot conceived the birth of a miracle in beating Barcelona 4-0.
So one Spanish dragon has already been slayed by the scouse sword of hope and it’s being sharpened for another.
Madrid are also enduring something of an injury crisis at present. Neither of their starting centre backs are fit to play, which includes their iconic captain and serial winner Sergio Ramos. Eden Hazard, the Frenchman who was tasked to replace Ronaldo, is also sidelined for the tie.
Now, you may be thinking that these injuries didn’t stop Liverpool defenders demonstrating an almost perfect example of social distancing between themselves and the Madrid midfielders last week. However, the list of ailments continues to grow as Lucas Vazquez, who performed valiantly at right-back against Klopp’s side, is now ruled out with a knee injury.
Perhaps more subtly, Toni Kroos, who orchestrated much of the destruction inflicted on Liverpool, picked up a knock against Barcelona at the weekend and although he is still likely to start, he may not be 100%.
The most significant ray of hope shines through Mohammad Salah and his crucial away goal at the Alfredo Di Stefano. The striker's sparkling form this season has been the only thing more consistent than the Reds’ dreadful Anfield run - a run which has now been brought to an end after a huge victory against Aston Villa at the weekend.
So put on your lucky underwear, light a candle and if you find a penny, then for the love of God, please pick it up. As the old song goes, “At the end of the storm, there’s a golden sky” and it seems like the sun is shining today.