Premier League leaders, and now Champions League semi-finalists. Liverpool have reached levels a generation of their supporters are not accustomed to, but will want to get used to, writes Michael Hincks from the Estadio do Dragao.
Liverpool secured a last-four meeting with La Liga leaders Barcelona after comfortably beating Porto 4-1 on Wednesday night, sealing a 6-1 win on aggregate.
Sadio Mane, Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino and Virgil van Dijk were all on target as Liverpool became the first English side to reach back-to-back Champions League semi-finals since Manchester United and Chelsea made it three in a row from 2006-07 to 2008-09.
It means a mouth-watering two-legged tie against Lionel Messi and former players Luis Suarez and Philippe Coutinho awaits, but before Liverpool head to the Nou Camp and then play host to Barca at Anfield, their attentions will be directed solely on the Premier League.
Thank God I don’t have to think about [Messi] tonight and I have a few more nights to think about it, Klopp said afterwards, because everybody has tried it and nobody can really do it. We will try.
I am looking forward to it but we have so many jobs to do before we meet Barcelona, so let’s first play these games first.
First up is a Super Sunday trip to a Cardiff side buoyed by their midweek win at Brighton, and by that point Manchester City will have sought to avenge their stunning Champions League defeat to Tottenham when hosting Spurs once more at Saturday lunchtime, live on Sky Sports.
With City’s quadruple dreams dashed, the importance of winning the Premier League will not be lost on Pep Guardiola, who must rally his side against Spurs and then neighbours Manchester United next week with Liverpool looking to pounce on any potential dropped points.
The Premier League may be out of Liverpool’s hands with City having played a game less, but the fact they are pushing City to the edge in The Run In and competing in the semis in Europe harks back to an era many of their supporters will not have been alive for.
Liverpool may have won the Champions League in 2005 and finished runners-up in 2007 and 2018, while they fell just short in the Premier League in 2008-09 and 2013-14, but not for a generation have Liverpool fans witnessed their side compete on both fronts at this stage of the season.
It is uncharted territory for a new wave of supporters. There has not been this much to win, or potentially lose, at Liverpool in mid-April since the 1980s, and it is from this golden era where their current side can draw inspiration.
There were seasons where this fabled Liverpool side won both the First Division and European Cup, years where they won the league and came close in Europe, and vice versa, but there was also one season, in 1984-85, where they finished runners-up in both.
Herein lies the lesson Liverpool must take – great sides do not always win trophies every year, but they do challenge for honours season after season.
Of course, Liverpool are yet to lift a trophy under Klopp, while it is foolhardy to make comparisons to Liverpool’s side of the late ’70s and early ’80s, but what is clear is that his current side are on the brink of an historic campaign.
Klopp and Liverpool are potentially seven games from the first league and European double in England since Manchester United in 2008, or perhaps they are six or seven games away from double disappointment.
Regardless, the strides they have made this season in challenging City domestically and reaching another Champions League semi-final shows they are doing their utmost to not just break this trophy duck under Klopp, but to kick-start something special.
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(c) Sky News 2019: Liverpool enter uncharted territory under Jurgen Klopp