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Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Everything seems to be falling in place for Liverpool and Klopp, but can they dethrone City?

26th May 2018. On the date which marked the 13th Champions League title for Real Madrid, arguably the most expressive manager in present-day world football was again at the wrong end of it all.

J├╝rgen Klopp. A man driven by passion. A man driven by sheer emotions. A man so close to the elusive trophy, yet so far.

Liverpool were on a dream run. The highly rated front three were scoring for fun, with 10 goals from each of Roberto Firmino, Sadio Mane and Mo Salah in the tournament. This created a record for most goals scored by any team in a single Champions League campaign i.e. 47 (with an avg. of 3.13 per game).

Everything was going according to the script until the 28th minute of the final. Klopp’s main talisman, in the midst of the season of his life, having already broken the Premier League’s goalscoring record, was brought down by Sergio Ramos. Mo Salah eventually left the field in tears, and it made for a sorry picture.

Many argue about Liverpool’s goalkeeper handing the goals to Real Madrid by committing two ridiculous mistakes, but in truth Liverpool lost the match in that 28th minute. Having dominated the defending champions up to that point, the entire mental edge got shifted to those wearing ‘whites’ from then on.

Yes, football is a team game, so there's no point lingering over an individual. As they say, it’s all about the survival of the fittest. The Red’s boss Klopp was the first one to deliver a recovering speech in the dressing room after that 1-3 loss. He was even seen sharing a drink with fellow Liverpool supporters the next morning.

But little did everyone see what he did in the aftermath of the loss.

In came Alisson with an exorbitant price tag. Roma were in no mood to let Alisson leave cheap, having seen how Salah after performed being sold for less than 40m dollars. So Klopp just gave them whatever they were demanding.

In came Shaqiri, along with Keita and Fabinho. Big business was done, and finally it was time for Klopp to keep his promise to the Liverpool faithful.

On that Champions League final night in Kiev, he realized that the fire was just building. And that burning fire can make his team achieve the immense.

Klopp made his players believe…Klopp has made the fans believe… “From doubters to believers” as he always used to say. Liverpool has started to dream again.

Having started the Premier League 2018-19 campaign in the most gallant way, Liverpool met the defending champions Manchester City at Anfield on 7 October 2018. It was the battle of the challengers against the defending champions.

Mahrez skied a spot kick in the more or less lacklustre of a match which even forced Pep Guardiola to take a defensive approach, pointing towards a mouth-watering Premier League season up ahead. After Matchweek 8, three teams were still unbeaten, three teams were at 20 points each, three teams were not ready to give up an inch: the mighty Manchester City along with challengers Liverpool and Sarri’s Chelsea.

Arguably the best league on the planet, where on a given day a match can belong to anybody, is surely going to be extra special this term around. The bottom half (of the points table) teams are not mere pushovers. But to ensure that the title charge is ON, three points is a must game in, game out.

Burnout from the Champions League and Europa League will have its effect, but so far so good. Four months in, and having secured 30 points from a possible 36 and remaining unbeaten for 12 games, Liverpool still find themselves close to the top, second only to City.

But as they say, it’s a marathon and not a sprint. Klopp’s men have started to grind out victories, which is an attribute typical of champions. Having kept seven clean sheets in 12 matches, the defense looks firm and tight. Their strikes are finding the back of the net again. The Reds are in the hunt.

There's still a long way to go, but indications are that Klopp has finally found what he craved for: a squad worthy of not only a title challenge, but also one that can uproot Guardiola’s men from their throne. A season where anything less than a trophy will be termed a failure, a season that promises to be history-revoking, is solely resting on Klopp’s shoulders.

The positives are plenty, and so are the challenges, in the league of uncertainty. Klopp must ensure that his team are up for it the entire 38-game campaign.

Until now, everything has followed his script. And this time finally, maybe, it’s his turn to lift the elusive trophy aloft.

Klopp should continue ticking, until he strikes the golden hour of success. Until Liverpool make history… a part of their present again.

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