View from the stands: What it was like to witness Liverpool’s demolition of Barcelona

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By Matthew Ramirez – @Matt_J_Ramirez

I was there, that is what I will say for the rest of my life.

It’s now the next day, and I still struggle to put into words what I saw, what I experienced, but I’m going to try. All I can say is that I – very literally – am struggling to speak. My voice is gone, and my throat is wrecked, but I couldn’t care less because we did it!

For me it all started Monday morning. I wake up, look down at my phone and there’s a text from my dad: “Matt, need to talk to you urgently!”. I call up and before I can get a word in, I hear, “Do you want to go watch the match tomorrow, there’s two tickets if you want them”. That was the quickest yes of my life, and so it began.

Anyone who listens to our podcast will know that I had doubts, but for some reason or another, as soon as I woke up on Tuesday, I had a funny feeling. No Mo, no Bobby, no Naby, but there was just something telling me that this tie wasn’t over.

As soon as we got to Anfield, I turned to my girlfriend Skippy – it’s a nickname not her actual name, she isn’t a bush kangaroo – and said, “If we get an early goal, we just might do this”.

Before the match kicked off though I was just trying to sink it all in. We got in early, found our seats and took in some vital breaths before what ended up being an exhausting (for the right reasons) 90 minutes of bouncing, chanting and ultimately celebrating.

‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’ hits and all of a sudden, the ground erupts, and all I could see was a sea of scarves and flags – like an endless wave of Red. I have never seen Anfield so pumped up before a ball was kicked, I’m getting goose-bumps now just thinking back.

Barca win the toss and as quick as you like, the ground goes from songs of support to jeers, whistles and boos as Luis Suarez steps up to kick off. This man received some abuse, I mean we absolutely slaughtered the guy. Chants of “f**k off Suarez” filled the ground throughout the game – glorious.

Sixth Minute – Skip forward to Divock’s first goal of the night, and I honestly can’t tell you what I was feeling, or what I was thinking. I was in a blind wave of passion and celebration. All I know is that when the roaring stopped, I had lost my voice, and I loved it.

The chanting continued all through the half, “Allez Allez Allez” was a particular favourite of mine, and we got to half-time 1-0 up. As Gini looks set to come on, I turned to Skippy, this time I said, “If we get one goal in the second half it’s going to be juicy”.

54th minute – Again, I don’t know what was going through my head, I can’t remember the goal, all I remember was seeing the net ripple and everything getting louder. I know I lost the plot, everyone did, suddenly it seemed real, like we were going to actually do this.

The only thing I can vividly remember from the second goal celebrations was jumping around with the rest of the ground belting out “DA DA DA DA DA DA GINI WIJNALDUM!!!!”. To put into context the absurdity of what last night was, I can honestly tell you that we all genuinely hadn’t finished celebrating the second goal before Gini nodded in the third.

56th Minute – Never in my life had I heard a louder roar than when that third goal went in. The two previous we were happy, but there was an underlying tone of “we’re not there yet”. When we went 3-0 up, the roof exploded because we’d done it, we’d come back from the dead. I was hugging everyone within range, it went off. I don’t know how we all didn’t tumble out of the stands it was ridiculous.

Pure, unbridled, child-like joy. We were all beaming. I had to sit down for a moment, I had to let it sink in. I started tearing up – a lot of us did – but there was something in the air saying, ‘not just yet, it gets better’.

WATCH: Fans celebrate Georginio Wijnaldum’s equaliser at Anfield

For me, before the match I was thinking something along the lines of, lets win 3-0 (which is hard enough) and take it to extra-time. Then it’s up to the footballing Gods to decide who takes it. But, when we found ourselves 3-0 up with over 30 minutes to play, extra-time didn’t feel necessary.

We all kind of looked at each other for a minute – I remember faces, old and young, all looking in disbelief, as if we didn’t know what we were watching, and then as we have so many times before, we all rallied together again as if to say “go for the throat, finish them”.

Between the third and fourth goal Anfield took it up another level. There is no doubt that this club is special, the supporters proved it last night. Constant support and cheering couple with constant harassment towards the opposition – I mean we didn’t shut up all game, it was mental in the best possible way, and then it got better.

79th Minute – I have a massive headache today, not because of alcohol, but because everytime we got a corner I turned to Skippy, slapped the holy hell out of my forehead and said “Big Virg”. I was in the process of doing this when Trent took THAT corner. I turned around just in time to see the ball hit the back of the net, but I or the rest of the ground kind of took a second to celebrate.

I think we all expected it to be ruled out for some reason. It wouldn’t have shocked me if it had been ruled out, the referee had been s**t all game, wouldn’t surprise me one bit if he was flying back with the Barcelona players right now – I mean we were cheering free-kicks just as loud as goals because this whistle blowing idiot seemed determine to do everything in his power to have us not come through – he was that bad. But the goal stood.

Again, I can’t put the celebrations into words, but I bawled – fully tears streaming bawled. I turned around and there were others bawling too. Apart from the noise, which was deafening, and I’ll get to that in a minute.

You know that you are part of something special when men and woman of all ages, colour, religion and background come together under one banner and all react in the same way – there wasn’t a dry eye in sight, maybe I was sat with all the soppy bastards but I didn’t care.

The noise though. OMG. You know when you hear a jet go by, and the sonic boom isn’t exactly pleasant. This was louder but wow it sounded like music. I can’t exactly remember how I celebrated, I know I hugged Skippy, I know I hugged the old Scouse bloke next to me, and I know I high-fived the five American lads behind me but, in terms of reaction, I don’t think I will ever be able to explain the noises that came out of me – I’m tearing up now thinking about it, just unreal.

What followed were the tensest 10/15 minutes of my life. But we backed them, and we chanted, and we shouted, and we fought with them. I ended this match feeling like I’d been running around on that pitch.

Origi came off to some reception, not only because he scored, but the shift he put in. That’s what we love to see, he physically couldn’t give anymore, and we lapped it up. “DIVOCK ORIGI! DIVOCK ORIGI!”.

“You’ll Never Walk Alone” started up again, we belted that, we absolute sang the shit out of it. Milner took it to the corner and when that scummy referee blew the whistle, it was delirium followed by pure shock and disbelief. We kept singing, we didn’t stop.

We sang and jumped and embraced and cried and sang some more. We were all looking around at each other as if to say, “WTF have we just seen, we’ve done it”. I will never be able to put that night into proper descriptive words, but I was there.

I still don’t know what I saw, I can’t believe it. I’ve watched the highlights and I still can’t believe it. I was there. I was there from the first whistle to the last and I didn’t leave until the stewards chucked me out.

When the players went back into the tunnel I finally sat down and tried to let it all sink in. It hasn’t, I still don’t believe it, I’m never going to see anything like that again. I don’t think anything other than the birth of my child (in the very distant future) will ever make me feel that amount of delirious joy again, and I’m naming him Jürgen!

UP THE F*****G REDS!!!!!!

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