It was certainly a gloriously auspicious day that would long be remembered in the distant future when Liverpool actually rose to the occasion and exceeded most if not all expectations in delivering one of the most crushing blows ever to Barcelona, possibly adding a dent to Lionel Messi’s star-spangled career in last year’s epochal Champions League.
Barcelona looked in all likelihood to have all but sealed a spot in the final by securing a significant 3-0 victory in the first leg of their last-four clash. Yet unexpectedly to say the least, the table was totally overturned convincingly by the Reds in the return fixture with stunning braces from Georginio Wijnaldum and Divock Origi that rocked the stadium, securing Jurgen Klopp’s men a 4-0 victory to seal their place in the penultimate final.
Yet despite that, the living legend that has been held in the highest esteem as arguably one of the greatest, if not the greatest, footballer ever is nonetheless gracious and resolute in his profound admiration for Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool team. The Barcelona superstar has stoically included four Anfield aces in his top-25 Champions League talents in a distinctive set of trading cards he has designed in collaboration with Topps wherein he judiciously singled out top talents and the rising stars of the game, together in conjunction with his own moments of greatness.
Dutch dynamo Virgil van Dijk was the towering skipper who led Liverpool’s magnificent, bold charge on that fateful day to eventual Champions League glory and Messi is forthright in heaping praise on van Dijk, openly lauding the Liverpool ace as “a very tough opponent” and “one of the best in the world” on his Topps card. Most fittingly too as the flying Dutchman Argentine subsequently lost to the mercurial Argentine in last year’s Ballon d’Or awards by a narrow margin in what had been deemed by some as a controversial decision.
Three more Reds players have also elicited praise from Messi as Van Dijk has been joined by team-mates Alisson, Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah in making the 25-man list. With regards to Liverpool’s goalkeeper, Messi has this to say: “He is very calm. He seems to have more time than most goalkeepers.”
Next is Sadio Mane, whom Messi hails for his ability to cover the length and breadth of the pitch. “He is like a midfielder, winger, striker. He is everywhere,” Messi notes on the Sengalese star’s Topps card.
As for the fourth Reds ace that caught his eye, Mohamed Salah, Leo has this to say: “He has been amazing for Liverpool FC. I like his style.”
Apart from the Liverpool stalwarts, Messi has also made the prediction that up and coming Chelsea star, Mason Mount, is destined for future greatness at the top of the game with the statement, “Having watched him play he has the potential to be one of the best” inscribed on Mount’s rising star Topps card.