Jürgen Klopp’s Liverpool side is better than that which pulled off the famous miracle of Istanbul in 2005 according to Rafa Benitez and Jack Hallows agrees.
That Liverpool side of 2005 achieved something that genuinely bordered on miraculous when they won the Champions League in Istanbul.
Overturning a 3-0 deficit against that AC Milan team was a feat that has arguably not been seen since in Europe’s elite competition. From Gerrard’s header that kickstarted the comeback to Jerzy Dudek’s incredible reaction save to deny Shevchenko from point-blank range – every single one of that XI played their part in the creation of footballing history.
In all honesty, to have even made it to that final was an accomplishment in itself.
The Reds scraped through to the knockout rounds on goal difference with a 3-1 victory over Olympiacos in the final group game inspired by that Steven Gerrard strike.
They would in fairness go on to beat Leverkusen convincingly in the Round of 16, putting three past them in both legs.
The next four matches were anything but straightforward, however, as the Reds came up against one of Europe’s best in Juventus before giving everything to knock out Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea in the semi-final stage through the infamous ‘ghost goal.’
In short, that entire campaign was draining but heroic.
Man for man though, how does that side stack up against Jürgen Klopp’s current Red Arrows?
For me, they don’t even come close and even the main man himself, Rafa Benitez, agrees with that statement.
Rafa’s 2005 side were tactical, calculated and driven but ultimately, there was a heavy reliance on Steven ‘Captain Fantastic’ Gerrard to deliver when a moment of magic was needed. In fairness to Gerrard, there’s a reason he’s a club legend and he delivered every time but Klopp’s current squad is a relentless machine, boasting numerous players capable of making the difference.
Mohamed Salah has rightfully taken up a large percentage of the headlines this season due to his incredible performances but would the Reds be in the final without James Milner’s record-breaking nine Champions League assists?
How about Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mané’s combined 19 goals?
Where would we be without Trent and Robbo’s superb showings at fullback – especially against our biggest opponents yet, Manchester City?
From front to back, Klopp has built a very special team that is more than capable of hurting you from anywhere on the pitch.
They’ll press the life out of you from the front, asphyxiate the desired space in midfield and now, with the introduction of the Karius/VVD/Robertson trifecta on the left-hand side, keep you frustrated even if you do break through to the defence.
Like Rafa’s 2005 team, Klopp’s side is regularly viewed as the underdogs and while the narrative changes with every match that the Reds win – we’ve gone from “Porto shouldn’t be underestimated,” to “it was only Porto,” and “Roma beat Barcelona, they’ll love playing Liverpool,” to “Roma was the easy draw, Madrid had Bayern,” – it’s clear that many still refuse to acknowledge just how good this side is.
40 goals scored in the competition, five goals or more scored over two legs against every opponent so far, six clean sheets, one loss from twelve fixtures… that’s how good this side is.
Rafa’s Liverpool team of 2005 pulled off something that was deemed ‘impossible’ by a high percentage of the footballing world, so why can’t Klopp’s?
Remember that next time someone tells you that Real Madrid will walk all over us on Saturday night.