Roberto Firmino was part of the great Liverpool side that won the Premier League and the Champions League. In his new autobiography, the striker writes: “It’s no secret to anyone. We had conquered Europe, we had conquered the world, but something was missing: we had not yet conquered England and that Premier League trophy was the one the fans wanted most. I have no doubt that we were the best until March 2020, when the world stopped because of the pandemic.”
It was at that point that Firmino mentions Atlético Madrid head coach Diego Simeone. In words picked up by Marca, he adds: “After 26 wins in 27 games, it was clear that the title was only a matter of time and the goal had already changed: we now wanted to win the league unbeaten. We discussed this among ourselves – and why not? After all, it was win after win every week, and that finish line approached with no sign or intention of slowing down.
“But then we had a dip in the season; a small one but enough to cost us dearly. And one that perhaps, in the long run, contributed to us losing our European and global dominance. In February 2020 we travelled to Madrid to face Atlético in the last 16 of the Champions League. Diego Simeone, Atlético’s coach, identified our style perfectly and found a way to nullify us.
“It was our first defeat in five months, only our second of the season and we were surprised. At that stage of the season, we felt invincible, with a strong squad. But we weren’t really invincible. Shocked by the Atlético result, we found out the hard way. After Madrid, there were three more defeats, which ended up being even more significant than we could have imagined. We lost 3-0 to Watford, which ended our run of 18 consecutive Premier League wins and a run of 44 games unbeaten.”
Kieran Quaile | GSFN