Real Madrid 3 Liverpool 1: It’s not over yet, lah
Be honest. What did you first think of when you laid eyes on this image?
Let me get the ball rolling. I thought it was an image of, ahem, cleavage. Well, it's not - it's just a piece of paper.
I know, I probably need to get my mind out of the longkang.
The same can be said for Liverpool fans who are wailing about the team’s loss to Real Madrid earlier this morning. Yo, get your mind out of the gutter. We’re down. But we’re certainly not out.
I’ll admit, the first thing that comes to mind when looking at this 3-1 scoreline is that the team has plunged itself into a valley that’s too deep to crawl out of.
WATCH: Klopp believes poor Liverpool performance led to TAA mistake
Indeed, Liverpool have had a season to forget, and if our current home form is anything to go by, we look destined to suffer another heavy defeat at Anfield during the return leg.
But let me remind you fellow Liverpudlians, this is the Champions League, a vacuum within which a team’s previous form usually amounts to nothing. It’s very much like the English League Cup, where a team from a town better known for its shoemaking industry than football can beat an elite outfit.
Let me refresh your memory: fourth-tier Northampton Town defeated Liverpool in the 2010/2011 League Cup.
Look at it this way: Liverpool can secure passage to the semi-finals with a 2-0 win over Real Madrid at home, courtesy of the away goal rule.
Come on, you must agree that this does seem very plausible.
Come on, Sergio Ramos isn’t going to be playing.
Besides, Liverpool do have a knack for spectacular comebacks in Europe.
Hello? Remember Istanbul 2005?
Also, do I need to remind you that it was just a year ago when Liverpool overcame its 3-0 first leg deficit to beat the almighty Barcelona 4-3 on aggregate in the Champions League semi-finals?
WATCH: Liverpool players react to epic comeback against Barcelona
The team that beat Barca isn’t even that much different to the one now.
Sure, the centre-back pairing of Nathaniel Phillips and Ozan Kabak isn’t exactly the same as a Joel Matip-Virgil Van Dijk partnership, but these two youngsters have demonstrated that they have the quality to ward off even the top teams. Their performance against Arsenal, for example, was filled with promise.
What the team needs to get right in the return leg is this: suffocate Real’s world class midfield. Of course, this will be a tall task given that Jordan Henderson will miss the second leg because of injury.
But it would be ridiculous to say that Gini Wijnaldum and Fabinho aren’t up to the task. They just need to up their game. Naby Keita, who looked absolutely lost in the first leg, needs to be replaced by Thiago Alcantara. Curtis Jones or Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain could fit in nicely too.
That being said, this defeat has again shone a light on the fact that world class reinforcements are sorely needed across the field.
Sure, a new centre-back in the form of Ibrahima Konate would be welcomed, but what the team really needs is a right back. Look, I agree that Trent Alexander-Arnold is among the best in his position in Europe, but he has been shambolic this season. I reckon he needs to face some competition for his position to, in the wise words of my NS sergeant, “wake up his idea”.
WATCH: Trent Alexander-Arnold's rise to the Liverpool first team
Liverpool will also need another exceptional box-to-box midfielder to replace Wijnaldum, who appears Barca-bound. This will be the club’s biggest challenge this summer.
Up front, I think I speak for many Liverpool fans when I say that Erling Haaland would be a magnificent signing. Seriously, forget Kylian Mbappe. Sell Mo Salah or Sadio Mane. Splash the cash on the Norwegian beast. This guy is practically Zlatan MK 2.
Okay, fine. I’ll snap back to reality and acknowledge that the club owners are annoyingly prudent.
I’ll just have to be content with Sergio Aguero then.