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That corner! Why Klopp's freedom has Liverpool playing like 'f***ing giants'

COMMENT: If these Liverpool players are "f***ing giants", then what does that make their manager...?

Jose Mourinho was right. The experience on Tuesday was all Klopp. Three years ago he promised Liverpool's support "heavy metal football". And last night. Against Lionel Messi. Barcelona. The very best. He made good on that pledge.

"This is about him," said Mourinho in the aftermath, like the rest of us still trying to put to words what we'd just witnessed. "This is a reflection of his personality, don't give up, his fighting spirit.

"Everything I think today is about Jurgen's mentality."

Correct. The passion. The emotion. The fight to the end. Those on the pitch were an extension of their manager's personality. His character. But there was so, so much more which emanated from these players to reflect what Klopp has driven into them.

It's been a huge four days in the life of Divock Origi. Perhaps the greatest four days of his career. A late winner at Newcastle. Then the all important fourth goal against the mighty Barca. Two crucial, critical strikes. And both created. No. Let's try inspired. Both inspired by the approach of the manager.

Cycle back to Saturday and St James' Park. Origi would nod home a winner inside the final five minutes. A goal teed up by Xherdan Shaqiri's set-piece. But only after Virgil van Dijk's frantic intervention in the lead up.

Seeing the right-sided Trent Alexander-Arnold was due to take an outswinging free-kick, Van Dijk held everyone - and everything - up. The Dutchman gesticulated wildly. Aggressively. Demanding Shaqiri, with his wand of a left peg, take charge instead. Effectively overruling the team orders from their manager. Granted the freedom by Klopp. Urged to think for himself. Van Dijk flipped the script. And the visitors were duly rewarded.

And it was that same encouragement to back yourself. To take personal responsibility. It was the same culture that Klopp has been driving through this club which led to Trent Alexander-Arnold and that piece of "genius" last night.

The local lad is being celebrated today. And rightly so. He sunk 'em all. Rattle the names off. Gerard Pique. Sergi Busquets. Jordi Alba. Even Marc-Andre ter Stegen was clapping as Alexander-Arnold's driven, low corner reached Origi. The Belgian turning the ball home first time.

Mourinho would later brand Barca's defending as the stuff of "under 14s". Klopp described Alexander-Arnold's effort as "genius". But the player, in his own way, came closest to it's source.

"It was just instinctive," Alexander-Arnold said at the final whistle. “One of those moments where you see the opportunity."

And it was "instinctive". But something that has come from the manager. On Tyneside, Van Dijk took control. Just crowned PFA Player of the Year. Feted around the world as the best defender in the game today. The Dutchman, if he could see an advantage, was comfortable personally intervening. It's what the manager has encouraged.

Which was, at the other end of the scale, the same last night. Alexander-Arnold took the gamble. That "instinct" driven day after day. Week after week. On the Melwood training pitch by Klopp and his staff.

And it wasn't just Barca's players who were caught out. So were Alexander-Arnold's senior teammates. Even Van Dijk was still getting himself into position as the corner arrowed into the feet of Origi. At another club. In another dressing room. Such boldness from the team's youngest would be frowned upon. But not Liverpool. Alexander-Arnold, with a superb show of technique, whipped in his effort with no fear of reprisals.

Significantly, he later was eager to highlight what it took for Origi to finish as he did, "It probably came at him a bit fast but he's a top player". More accomplished strikers have fluffed such chances in the past. That the Belgian was alive to what his teammate was thinking. And reacted so well. Is great credit to him.

Turning the air blue post-match, Klopp blamed his lack of English, "these boys are f***ing mentality giants", he declared, before explaining their approach, "We had to be serious. But we needed to be cheeky as well. It was necessary".

"Cheeky?" Well, we can guess what the German meant by that. Alive. Creative. Bold. Which could all describe Alexander-Arnold's little bit of "genius" on Tuesday night.

A bit of "genius" inspired by the man who drove these "f***ing giants" to produce one of the greatest nights Liverpool FC have seen.

Chris Beattie
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Chris Beattie

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