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Alisson sends Champions League message after ‘crazy’ Liverpool reminder



Alisson sends Champions League message after ‘crazy’ Liverpool reminder

Even the most positive Liverpool supporter would admit a top-four finish now looks increasingly beyond their team this season. But if there’s one player who knows a thing or two about helping an unlikely bid for Champions League qualification, it’s Alisson Becker.

Two years ago, Jurgen Klopp’s side were in a similar predicament to the one in which they find themselves following a season hampered by a succession of serious injuries and individual losses of form.

With three games to go, they headed to an already-relegated West Bromwich Albion in need of victory and were being held 1-1 deep into injury time when goalkeeper Alisson trotted forward as Trent Alexander-Arnold prepared to deliver a corner.

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Everyone knows what happens next. And, with the anniversary of that remarkable goal – the last one to ever be scored in lockdown football in England – approaching on Tuesday, the keeper admits it’s a moment which will never be too far away.

“A lot of times when I look on Twitter for news, all the time it appears in my timeline, that goal,” says Alisson. “I don’t remember where exactly but recently, this week I watched it already. It’s good, it made me feel good. It makes me think how crazy it is that I scored a goal.”

Liverpool went on to secure third place over the final week, setting in motion a series of events that led to them almost winning the quadruple last season. And Alisson hasn’t given up hope of another unexpected intervention propelling the Reds back into the Champions League this time around.

“It was kind of a sign for us that something special was coming,” says the Brazil international. “Because I can be 100 times in the box, I don’t know if I will score again. I know now I can head a ball in a good way, but hopefully we are not going to need it again.

“I think this season we are having special moments, Jota’s goal is a really special one against Tottenham, last minute as well. Every goal, the last match (against Brentford) with Mo’s goal as well. Every goal that we are scoring now and that from now on is leading us to win games, it would be special.

“It depends on what we do the next season. That’s what makes my goal even more special. Not the goal which makes the season special but it was the season that made my goal even better.”

Liverpool, even after a run of six successive victories, are in a more difficult position at this stage of the campaign, with four points separating them from Newcastle United in third and Manchester United in fourth with just three games remaining, two of which are away, starting at relegation-threatened Leicester City on Monday night.

“It is difficult to compare one season to another but we are having similar challenges I think and maybe if you go to compare the numbers the seasons can be really similar as well,” says Alisson. “The situation we are in, we need teams in front of us to drop points to get in the Champions League. That season it was the same but we still needed to do our jobs.

“At that time we had no supporters for a long time, this season we had them so this season is better from that point of view. But I think it is never the same even if you have some similarities. This season, now we have the full team, we are playing much better. You can take away maybe one game or two but we are playing a really consistent game. The last match we were defensively really solid and this is what we need, not only for this moment of the season but next season as well.”

Alisson’s clean sheet in last weekend’s 1-0 win over Brentford was his 100th for Liverpool, making him only the seventh goalkeeper to reach such a landmark. He was given a special shirt by the Reds to commemorate the event.

“I haven’t put it on the wall yet, I haven’t had time yet, but it means a lot to me even if I don’t realise how big is 100 clean sheets now,” says the 30-year-old. “Maybe in the future I will. I am not the guy who is really obsessed with numbers.”

But do 100 clean sheets mean more than his one goal? “The goal is special but the clean sheets are better,” Alisson laughs. “I’m a goalie, so clean sheets.”

Ray Clemence leads the way with 323 shut-outs for Liverpool, with Bruce Grobbelaar the only other goalkeeper to achieve more than 200. And with four years remaining on his current contract, Alisson is already setting his sights on the next landmark.

“I definitely want to make the next step,” he says. “100 is a lot for me now but in comparison to the great goalies in Liverpool’s history it is not even 50% of what they achieved. They got over 200 clean sheets. I don’t know if I can play as many matches as them.

“I think Ray had over 600 matches for Liverpool (665) and I don’t know if I can play that amount here, but I’m already looking forward to the next 50 or 100 clean sheets, and for the next one in the next match we have. It would be special to be alongside them or to beat them. I admire a lot what the great goalies did, but I’m writing my own story here at Liverpool and I’m focused on that.”

Alisson has a strong claim to be Liverpool’s player of a testing season, such has been his consistent level of performance. But when asked for his best individual game of the campaign, his answer is perhaps unexpected.

“The Southampton game when I made three saves,” says Alisson, recalling the 3-1 win at Anfield back in November. “That was a really good one because it was three really good saves when they had a proper chance to score. And we won the game. The one away at Real Madrid was good (in the Champions League) as well even though we lost. I think I would pick Southampton because we won and it was a really tough match. They played really well, I don’t know how they are in their situation in the table, but it’s football.”

Alisson made another important stop in the recent win over Fulham when he prevented Carlos Vinicius snatching a late leveller for the visitors.

“Keeping clean sheets keeps you closer to victories,” he says. “If you keep one then at least it is one point and I know with the quality we have in the team it is rare that we will not score a goal in a match. We did that against Fulham and making that save was massive for us.

“When I make a save like that, (Liverpool goalkeeping coach) John Achterberg always says it is a match-winning save. We prepare for that in training every day. In a game I will have one or two occasions like that but in training during the week I have so many just to prepare for that moment.”

Alisson is ready. And not only in case Liverpool get a late corner at the King Power Stadium with the scores level…


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