Liverpool stunned Barcelona with one of the greatest comebacks in Champions League history last night. Written off after a 3-0 loss at the Nou Camp last week, Liverpool somehow overturned this deficit.
Divock Origi’s early goal gave the Reds hope before a quickfire Gini Wijnaldum double levelled things up. Origi then won the game with just over 10 minutes left after Trent Alexander-Arnold’s clever corner caught the Barcelona defence sleeping.
All over the pitch, Liverpool players were inspirational. But one player certainly silenced some critics. Joel Matip arguably turned in his best performance to date in a Liverpool shirt.
The Cameroon international won two aerial duels, two tackles, three interceptions, three clearances and made one block (via Whoscored) to ensure Liverpool kept a clean sheet.
If Barcelona scored, Liverpool would have needed five so Matip’s partnership with Virgil Van Dijk needed to be flawless.
Van Dijk often gets the plaudits but Matip matched his centre-back partner’s display and justified his selection ahead of Joe Gomez and Dejan Lovren.
After all, it is no mean feat to keep Luis Suarez and Lionel Messi quiet. But Matip’s heroics helped Liverpool reach the final.
Matip has all the ingredients to be a top centre-back. Standing at 6ft 5in tall and comfortable in possession, he is built to be a ball-playing defender.
But the ex-Schalke defender has not always lived up to expectations at Anfield. Last night, however, was his coming-of-age performance.
If the 27-year-old can raise his game to that level every week, then there is no reason why he shouldn’t be Van Dijk’s regular central defensive partner.