5 Things the Champions League Taught Us Last Week

5 Things the Champions League Taught Us Last Week

By Tijjani Abdulsalam

Virgil Van Dijk – Condemnation Is Cheaper than Commendation

The Liverpool defender was singled out for what was supposedly a ‘poor performance’ after Lionel Messi scored two goals in the first leg at Camp Nou. At some times, it bordered on pure banter while at other times, it went over the board. In not a few instances, it was made to seem like all of Barca’s three goals could be linked to direct blunders by the Dutchman. To many, it didn’t matter that the Dutchman has had a remarkable season with impressive numbers all through the campaign and was, probably the best defender in the world based on form and figures. Conversely, Van Dijk was hardly singled out for praise for playing a key role in shutting out Barcelona’s attack at Anfield.

When you get to a certain level in life, people would be more inclined to amplifying your flaws, whether real or perceived, than projecting your strengths and quality. You’ll have to deal with that too. It doesn’t necessarily mean that they hate you, you have only just become a victim of your own successes and standards. That, in itself, is a mark of success.

There is No Such Thing as an ‘Unbeatable Team’ or an Insurmountable Deficit

A difficult team, maybe, but not unbeatable. Such a team would likely exist more in imagination than reality. At least, until robots programmed to not miss chances, not misplace passes, save all shots on goal and not get injured start playing football. Until then, any team, however good, can crack with the right amount of pressure at the right spots. Barcelona were not supposed to be eliminated. Not with a healthy 3-goal lead and a player like Messi, who needs only a moment and few inches of space to alter the course of a game when things get tough. Alas, it happened.

3. A Fringe Player Can be a Key Player

Your bench-warmers can save your season. How you carry them along all season and the kind of spirit you foster within your team can make a lot of difference when the physical demands of football take its toll on your first team players. A few days to the Barca game, Liverpool lost Mo’ Salah to injury in the Premier League at Newcastle. Who saved the day and kept their hopes till the last day? Divock Origi, as he would do again three days later against Barca. Lucas Moura turned up for Tottenham with a hattrick in the absence of top striker, Harry Kane. Wise managers carry along fringe players together with the rest of the team by giving them ample game times when necessary to maintain their fitness level and more importantly confidence. This ensures that when duty calls, they can step up and deliver.

Think Outside of the ‘Box’

The ‘Box’ here may be taken figuratively or literally – as in an 18 –yard box in football, but really, the message is the same. Thinking outside of the box is a tried and tested formula that has come in handy in different spheres of life. Think of Alexander-Arnold’s corner kick that resulted in Liverpool’s winning goal. A traditional in-swinger or out-swinger may have produced a goal or even worse, led to a devastating counter-attack from Barca. Maybe, with Liverpool on higher tempo, the winning goal could have come in any other way, or it may never have. Its football and you never know. What is remarkable, however, is that the most decisive goal was the simplest of them all, thanks to a player acting on a momentary impulse to think outside of the box.

Never Give Up

Nothing much to say on this. It does not matter much what situation it is, and what the world thinks about it. If you do not give up on yourself just yet, you still have a fighting chance to pull through.

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