How Liverpool’s Champions League triumph makes a mockery of their rivals

Liverpool’s win over Atletico Madrid yesterday means they have won their Champions League group with two games to spare.

Liverpool dominated Diego Simeone’s side for the entire 90 minutes at Anfield and a 2-0 scoreline doesn’t represent what a brilliant performance it was from the Reds.

First half goals from Diogo Jota and Sadio Mane earned Liverpool the three points - meaning they had won all four of their Champions League fixtures so far and comfortably win the group with matches against Porto and AC Milan still to come.

Sign up to our World of Sport newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

When the Champions League draw was made in August, Group B looked particularly terrifying.

Liverpool fans had been disappointed by their team’s summer spending while their Premier League rivals had all splashed out on some of the biggest names in world football.

Now they found themselves in a very unpredictable group with a lot of pressure on their shoulders to meet the fans expectations and bounce back from a difficult previous campaign.

However, with many of last season’s absentees back in the squad, Jurgen Klopp’s side looked very much like their old selves as they put a total of 13 goals past their European opponents and cruised through the group stage as easily as Mohamed Salah cut through Manchester United’s defence.

Liverpool’s success this season hasn’t only been limited to the Champions League as they sit second in the top tier of English football - three points behind leaders Chelsea.

Meanwhile, Manchester City sit in third after slipping to defeat to both Tottenham Hotspur and Crystal Palace and Manchester United are in fifth - only a point above Wolverhampton Wanderers and Brighton & Hove Albion.

You certainly can’t take anything away from Liverpool’s exceptional start to the season. Salah has taken the temporary throne as the best player in the world right now, while the likes of Trent Alexander-Arnold, Jordan Henderson and Sadio Mane have regained the form that saw them win the Premier League two years ago.

However, Liverpool’s brilliance only makes a mockery of their Premier League rivals that felt they had to spend big and invest heavily in order to achieve their goals.

Man City spent £100 million on Jack Grealish as Pep Guardiola continued his hunt for the long awaited Champions League trophy that is missing from his crowded cabinet of accolades at the Etihad Stadium.

Manchester United brought in Raphael Varane, Jadon Sancho and Cristiano Ronaldo with the expectations of a comfortable chance of winning their first Premier League title since 2013.

The Merseyside club spent a mere £36 million over the summer with the arrival of French defender Ibrahima Konate and while there is no denying Liverpool could still do with some extra squa depth - their lack of spending in comparison to their rivals clearly hasn’t hindered them.

Each English team in this year’s Champions League competition look set to progress past the group stages - with Ole Gunnar Solskjær the only side that could slip up as they prepare to face Villarreal and Young Boys over the next month.

However, Jurgen Klopp’s side are still the only ones that look like real contenders to lift the trophy at the end of the season.

City’s acquisition of Grealish was undoubtedly a good one - albeit very expensive - but they still spent £100 million to head into the 2021/22 campaign without the world class striker they needed.

Guardiola’s main priority now - after three league titles and seven domestic cups - is to win the European tournament and he still doesn’t seem any closer to achieving his target as he did last season.

Similarly, the Red Devils were tipped to dominate after Ronaldo returned to Old Trafford, while Sancho had been one of the brightest young prospects in the whole world since he signed for Borussia Dortmund back in 2017.

However, Manchester United’s European journey so far could have been calamitous if it wasn’t for Ronaldo, while the start to their Premier League campaign was summed up in their humiliating 5-0 defeat to Liverpool last month.

Many football fans enjoy seeing the demise of Liverpool and were excited to witness them fall behind the rest of the giants given their lack of spending, however their trust in their current crop seems to have catapulted them to the top instead.

If the Reds are to eventually win the Premier League title and potentially enjoy another stellar Champions League adventure then their rivals will be nothing short of embarrassed.

Granted, their current system of not spending massive amounts while turning the likes of Andy Robertson (£8m) and Salah (£36.9m) into world beaters may not be sustainable.

However to win, or even challenge, for trophies in a season that saw the sole focus be to only renew the contracts of their stars while the rest of the ‘big six’ spent a combined total of almost £550 million is extremely impressive and rather laughable.