Liverpool’s progression into the semi finals of the Champions League was one of the few aspects of the quarter final stages that went to plan last week. Some surprise results have given the fans, the pundits and, indeed, the bookmakers something to think about.
The nature of the draw is that the semi final against Barcelona is being talked up as a final. But when it gets to the latter stages of a knockout event, we can take nothing for granted and the outcome is like the spin of a roulette wheel. If that is your thing, check out this great online casino list for players from Ireland. But as far as the football is concerned, let’s take an impartial look at Liverpool’s prospects, as well as those of the other remaining semi finalists.
Liverpool will have learned from last year’s Champions League final, when they were denied by a flash of brilliance from Gareth Bale combined with a couple of uncharacteristic howlers by Loris Karius. This year, Alisson and Van Dijk bring a sense of calm assurance to the Liverpool defence that has been lacking in years gone by. Combined with the proven goal scoring credentials of Salah, Firmino and Mane, it is easy to see why the bookies have Liverpool at short odds for Champions League glory.
Liverpool might have short odds, but Barca’s are even shorter, and they are the team to beat according to the bookmakers. So what do they have that Liverpool lack? There is a two-word answer to that, Lionel Messi. He just seems to get better with every passing year, and in his 15th season at the top, is currently leading Europe in terms of goals, assists and through-balls. The Achilles heel for Barcelona is that Messi can’t be everywhere, and the team’s defence is average in comparison to the very best in Europe.
The Tottenham faithful are still pinching themselves following that quarter final result, particularly having done so with the talismanic Harry Kane sitting on the sidelines. Yes, the whole Spurs vs City thing played out like a soap opera, but don’t let that distract you from the fact that this is a team that won their quarter final by converting more opportunities than the opposition. The biggest problem for Spurs is that they are rapidly running out of players, with quarter final hero Heung Ming Son suspended from the first leg of the semis.
The other surprise of the quarter finals was really no surprise at all. Ajax is a team that is capable of beating anyone, and the Dutch underdogs will have plenty of support. The team is young, confident and absolutely fearless and they will go into the first leg against a depleted Tottenham team absolutely certain they can win it. Of course, they are the outside shots with the bookmakers, but 4/1 odds, along with the performances to date, show that this is a team nobody should underestimate.