Tonight, we witnessed a match that encapsulated why football supporters exist.
Liverpool, facing a 3-0 deficit, took on a Barcelona side, possessing two of their former players who left in their prime, not to mention the world’s best player – and triumphed 4-0 and in doing so, progressed to the Champions League final.
It was perhaps the greatest result that has been seen in recent years on the biggest of stages.
The atmosphere in the famous, yet ancient, stadium, was positively frothing with excitement, with noise. With every goal that went in, the decibels rose, the expectation rose with it.
As the final result rolled in, and the Barca players jaws hit the floor, I cast my mind back to our most famous results – and they pale into comparison.
We have our ‘against-all-odds’ win against Parma in 1994 to lift the Cup Winners Cup. It was a fantastic result, we were by far the ‘odds-against’ team and it lives long in our memory for good reason.
We have our Semi-Final win in 1970 against an Ajax side that was resplendent with the finest footballers in Europe. We defeated them and went on to win the Fairs Cup.
In more recent times, we have our win at the Bernabeu, thanks to a truly world-class goal from Thierry Henry. We also fondly remember our 2-1 win over Barca, given to us by the better version of Arshavin (rather than the player who eventually limped out of Arsenal).
All of these results are amongst our best ever games, examples we hold up when harking back to halcyon times.
Yet we have nothing that can hold a candle to what Liverpool have just achieved.
Even more disconcertingly, we are absolutely miles away from being on that level.
If we manage to avoid defeat at Valencia on Thursday, we will be in the Europa League final and be in with a chance to win a trophy that we have never won – arguably our biggest European achievement. We would rightfully lap it up, it would be huge for us. It would also give us entry into the Champions League – and on current levels we would be ripped apart.
Unless serious money is invested into the next window, the gulf will still be there next season.
Liverpool in Jurgen Klopp’s first season finished eighth. In recent years though, they have spent a then world record fee for a goalkeeper. They broke the record for the most expensive defender. They spent upwards of £50m on Naby Keita. Plenty of money on Mo Salah, Sadio Mane.
They spent big, and if it weren’t for a superhuman effort from Manchester City (fourteen consecutive wins and counting) then the Scousers would be Premier League champions and also in the CL final.
I have no love for Liverpool, and I was desperately rooting for City against Leicester on Monday.
Yet I’m not so ignorant that I can’t recognise an achievement – and a gap in level.
We’ve got a mountain to climb if we don’t spend big.