Was anyone left disappointed by Bayern Munich and Real Madrid last night?
The two European giants clashed at the Allianz Arena in the Champions League semi-final first leg and while it was tense and engaging, it certainly seemed to lack quality.
Only relatively of course, the game still featured some elite moments.
Marcelo’s trap that nearly stopped time for example…
Overall though, the game fell flat given the quality of players on display.
Barring the persistent Franck Ribery, Bayern were unusually impotent in the final third.
Robert Lewandowski missed a one-on-one opportunity as he chipped wide having been put through by Corentin Tolisso, a chance he would usual bury with his eyes closed.
Raphael Varane and Sergio Ramos can take a lot of credit for nullifying the threat of the Polish No9, but it wasn’t a defensive masterclass by any means.
Mats Hummels missed a glorious chance from a corner as the visitors looked vulnerable at set-pieces in the first half.
Bayern finished with an xG (expected goals) of 2.5 and Joshua Kimmich’s opener came from an angle that rarely results in a goal — tut tut, Keylor Navas.
As for Real, the visitors will be ecstatic with their smash-and-grab heist.
Marcelo once again saved a moment of class for a high-profile European knockout game.
The 29-year-old Brazilian exhibited expert technique and composure for his goal — there aren’t many other left-backs in the world who would known what to do in that situation.
David Alaba would have though.
The Austrian missed out with injury and the hosts missed him dearly as replacement Rafinha was directly responsible for Real’s second goal.
Marco Asensio proved once again he is perhaps the best substitute in the world with a calm finish but Bayern’s left-back gifted the chance to him on a silver platter.
Such an individual error may prove decisive in determining which team progresses to the final.
Zinedine Zidane’s men will be confident of completing the job at home next week, it’s what they do.
Injuries to Arjen Robben and Jerome Boateng have dented Bayern’s comeback hopes as well.
But what does this all mean for Liverpool?
Jurgen Klopp wouldn’t have seen anything to worry him from either side last night.
He will certainly back Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino’s pace and fluidity to cause problems regardless of the opponent.
However, is the fact Real ultimately won the game the most ominous omen of all?
When it comes to the Champions League, Los Blancos have the psychological edge over everyone.
They’re now short odds to win the tournament three times in a row — an achievement that would cast a cold shadow over Barcelona’s potential invincible season.
Real beat Bayern through street smarts more than anything else.
They rode their luck as they always do, but at this stage it can’t be coincidence that lady luck flirts with them more than her other suitors.
Liverpool lost to Sevilla in the Europa League final in 2016 and while they have improved dramatically since then, a Champions League final against Real Madrid is as daunting as it gets.
For the La Liga side though, the final is part of their annual fixture list — they probably booked their hotel in Kiev months ago.
Ahead of the final, they will play up their incredible recent European record in hope of inducing the same inferiority complex that hindered Bayern at the Allianz, in Liverpool (or Roma if you’re being diplomatic).
However, Liverpool have the Salah factor.
The Egyptian’s form may be the kryptonite capable of rendering Real’s aura useless.
The PFA Player of the Year will have been licking his lips watching on last night but he is yet to summit a monutain as imposing as Real Madrid in the Champions League.
Patience, friends, patience…