Liverpool triumph in 13-goal Roman epic

Hot streak: Sadio Mané scored his ninth goal of the 2018 Champions League on Wednesday. ©Getty

Is football the greatest sport? Liverpool has thrilled the world with its full-blooded football — with a bruised Roma the latest victim of the team’s march to the Champions League final.

“Wild.”

That was Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp’s assessment of his team’s thrilling performance in Rome on Wednesday night.

Liverpool lost a chaotic match against Roma 4-2, but qualified for the Champions League final with a remarkable aggregate score of 7-6.

Klopp’s team have thrilled onlookers this year with an entertaining mix of attacking flair and defensive frailty — summed up perfectly by the opening phase of Wednesday’s match.

After just eight minutes, Sadio Mané smashed the ball into Roma’s net after a fluid and devastating counter-attack. Soon after, the ball was in Liverpool’s goal, courtesy of a comical own goal.

Klopp’s team scored again, but three more Roma goals set up a frenetic finish with the Italians threatening a miraculous comeback.

But the final whistle came too soon, sending Liverpool players and fans into raptures. They now look forward to a Champions League final showdown with Spanish titans Real Madrid.

Liverpool will start the game as underdogs. But it is this potential for teams to upset the odds which makes football so exciting.

Researchers analysed over 300,000 hockey, football, basketball, baseball and American football matches over a 100-year period, and found that football had the highest “upset frequency”.

Is football the world’s greatest sport?

Beautiful game

There is no other contender, some argue. From city streets to open fields, anywhere is a potential pitch. Furthermore, because it is so globally popular, the game has a unique power to unite people of all backgrounds.

But there is so much more out there, others respond. And focusing all our attention on one sport means others get neglected. Fundamentally, it is not about what game is the “greatest”, but about what brings joy to each individual.

You Decide

  1. What is the world’s greatest sport?

Activities

  1. What do you think is the world’s greatest sport? Write down three arguments in favour of your opinion. In a short speech, deliver your arguments to the class — try to be as convincing as possible. How many people agree with you?

Some People Say...

“Some people think football is a matter of life and death. It’s much more serious than that.”

Bill Shankly

What do you think?

Q & A

What do we know?
Football is the most watched sport in the world. For example, the 2014 FIFA World Cup was watched by 3.2 billion people, with a billion viewers watching the final alone.
What do we not know?
It is difficult to determine the world’s second most popular sport. Cricket has over a billion fans, but these are concentrated in a handful of countries — mostly India and Pakistan.

Word Watch

7-6
Liverpool won the first leg of that match 5-2. However, the team was leading 5-0 at one stage, before Roma scored two late goals of its own.
Champions League final
The match will be played in Kiev on May 26.
Researchers
Study lead by Eli Ben-Naim. Findings published in the 2006 paper “Parity and Predictability of Competitions”.
Upset frequency
How often a team with a worse record beats a supposedly superior team.

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