Madrid-based journalist Sid Lowe reported the following from the Spanish Capital last season for the Guardian:
'Half time at the Santiago Bernabéu, Real Madrid versus Lazio, the final group game of this season's Champions League. 80,000 people reach for their tin foil sandwiches, giant batons of bread stuffed with ham, and glug from flasks of wine. High above them, at each end of the stadium, the giant screens flicker, with the highlights from the night's other games. A slim, athletic blond-haired striker in red dashes past two defenders and coolly slots the ball in the net.
The bloke next to me stirs. "Bloody hell!" he says, "was that Fernando Torres?!" Uh-huh. There is a pause. "I hope we don't get him in the next round", he adds. And, with that mixture of incredulity and fear, he had said it all.'
Unfortunately Liverpool drew Internazionale Milano F.C. in the round of 16 last season.
But the Italian champions were dispatched 3-0 on aggregate without any major hassle for the Liverpool defence.
And even if Inter did play both the legs with a man down after just half an hour of each of those ties , they hardly looked a side to give the five-time winners of Champions League a run for their "trophy".
Fast forward to a year from then and the Reds drew a side like Real Madrid that should have been played long ago when their prolific striker was firing on all cylinders.
THE SPANISH MEDIA SPEAKS !
No sooner when the Merseyside club drew the Madrid based giants, the pro-Real Spanish media started to tip Madrid (on the basis of Real's great league form) to make it through to the quarter finals.
How wrong would that prediction be ?
After the first leg at Madrid, when Liverpool scored a goal through a set piece, the same media would label Liverpool as a "cautious", defensive side playing in the most "negative" spirit of the game.
Although they failed to notice that Liverpool were without Steven Gerrard and a struggling Torres (who was substituted with half an hour of play left and Liverpool managed to score without him).
In short Liverpool's success was labelled as "Lucky" and "Undeserving".
The media ignored the fact that Madrid's best chance was when Robben's shot was tipped away by Reina and Xabi Alonso came close to scoring a sensational goal from nearly his own half that was well saved by one of the world's best stopper Iker Casillas.
After two weeks of uninterrupted criticism from the pro-Real media, during which the same media even took a potshot on European nights atmosphere at Anfield, the answers were finally delivered.
4-0. That's that.
And it could have been even more if Casillas had not made some world class saves.
So the Spanish media made not only one but many mistakes with two being the most notable ones.
Firstly , they criticized a team—that had pumped in 119 goals last season—for being too defensive.
Certainly, Rafael Benitez must have taken a note of that.
Yes, the Spanish game is of better quality when compared to it's English counterpart (which is more direct) but it's tempo has numerous breaks between its flow.
So the obvious solution (against a Spanish side) was to play at a tempo they couldn't cope up with. The result being six shots at goal in six minutes of the game.
Secondly, they forgot that Fernando Torres could feature against his former rivals.
Torres played, saw the Madrid goal, and scored.
His celebration (in front of the away stands) was a mark of what the pro-Real media had done to him during his stay at Atletico.
The pro-Real media used to scoff and gleefully berate one of Europe's finest talents. He was in short a comic figure and was always a butt of all jokes aimed at Atletico.
So in all 10 appearances the rojiblanco scored once against Real with former his team (Atletico Madrid) failing to beat their local rivals.
And here he was at Anfield having scored after just 16 minutes and liberating himself in front of the same fans who once mocked him back at home.
As one of my friends put it last night "Teams all over Europe will now be 'Torrified' ". Certainly the rise of Torres has also seen a rise in a "Torrific" Liverpool.
Scoreline Torres (and Liverpool) 1 pro-Real media (and Real Madrid) 0.
DAS IST ANFIELD !
Tony Barret of the Liverpool Echo noted in his column (which was titled 'THIS IS ANFIELD...TAKE THAT!') :
''This is Anfield – so what?” was the clarion call of Spanish newspaper and unofficial Real mouthpiece Marca on the morning of yesterday’s game.'
Sad to see Marca making a fool out of itself.
Anfield is Anfield. After even more than 100 years of it's existence the stadium still holds one finest European memories of all times for Liverpool.
The fans (and the Kop especially) make it even more memorable.
It seems they tend to forget that the mighty Blues (Chelsea FC) fell twice at the same stadium.
The great Juventus were also made to feel that they were still playing on earth.The same side that had conceded just two goals through out their campaign (before meeting Liverpool) conceded two goals in a single match.
The venue was none other than Anfield.
Maybe last night's performance was a stark reminder of what the Anfield cauldron can do to visiting teams.
Even Liverpoolfc.tv columnist Paul Tomkins noted (in his latest piece 'TOMKINS ON MADRID MAULING') that : 'Liverpool could have scored six goals in the first six minutes'.
No wonder the the plaque in the tunnel leading to the ground says 'This is Anfield'.
May be the Spanish media should have heard or read Bill Shankly's famous quote about the plaque 'This is Anfield:
"It's there to remind our lads who they're playing for, and to remind the opposition who they're playing against."
Just before the match I put emphasis on the Anfield factor by changing my Orkut profile headline (as I always do before great matches like the one before the Chelsea-Liverpool League clash my headline was 'The leaky bridge of Stamford Bridge' and we won, fortunately) to 'LO and BEHOLD. DAS IST ANFIELD !'('DAS IST ANFIELD' is 'THIS IS ANFIELD' in Deustche).
If that wasn't enough then a 'Torrific' Liverpool proved my emphatic Orkut Headline.