He stands one game from a Champions League winners’ medal in Madrid this evening but the Brazilian midfielder Fabinho also takes to the field against Tottenham as exhibit A for the argument that there may be no better man manager in the modern game than Jurgen Klopp.
Lost, amid the sublime composure of £75 million Virgil van Dijk, the fan-pleasing marauding runs of full-backs Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andrew Robertson and the promise of Joe Gomez, stands Joel Matip, the forgotten centre-half who may have as big a say in tomorrow’s Champions League Final as any Liverpool star.
In a title race which has been billed as the heavy metal football of Liverpool against the melodious harmonies of Manchester City, Pep Guardiola’s side proved they can crank up the amps when they really need to - and the Etihad maestros must surely now be favourites to be crowned champions.
It wasn’t as exhilarating as many of this season’s remarkable last 16 ties and it certainly didn’t have the quality of football that’s been on show over the last fortnight; but Liverpool’s wonderful victory in Munich, inspired by two-goal Sadio Mane, has nevertheless put down a marker that is hugely significant.
As acts of vindication go, Jordan Pickford’s game-saving block to deny Mohamed Salah as the prolific Liverpool forward looked poised to open the scoring in the first half of a tense Merseyside derby was up there with the best of the Premier League this season.
Luckily for Manchester City, the bloated Champions League format means that opening group games can hardly be regarded as critically important, never mind ‘must win’, but even if the competition couldn’t ever hope to hit the ground running the way the World Cup did in Russia, this week’s action did see some of football’s global superstars exhibiting varying degrees of luminosity — from dull to blinding — in their attempts to twist again like they did last summer.
Sic Transit Gloria Mundi. So it would appear that swathes of empty seats and the prospect of the financial pain of a desolate prawn circle, after the installation of more Club Level seats this summer, has finally forced a response to the interminable outcry for change at the Arsenal, signalling the end of a glorious era.