Examining The Liverpool 2005 Champions League Squad – What Made It So Special?

Examining The Liverpool 2005 Champions League Squad – What Made It So Special?

In 2005, Liverpool pulled off perhaps the greatest comeback in football history, as they pulled back from 3-0 down to defeat AC Milan on penalties in the Champions League final.

It was a moment that people are still talking about to this day – it is unlikely that it will ever be forgotten, especially by Reds fans. But how did it happen?

In the 2004/05 Premier League season, Liverpool arguably underperformed, as they finished 5th in the table. Had they not won the Champions League that year, they would not have qualified for the 2005/06 iteration of the tournament.

As such, this raises questions as to how Liverpool won the Champions League – today, we’ll be examining how the Reds accomplished football’s greatest underdog achievement.

The Liverpool players

The first player we must mention is the captain – none other than Steven Gerrard, arguably one of the greatest players to have ever worn a Liverpool shirt.

He was a warrior that night, flying into challenges and always presenting himself as a passing option. He led by example – but others, such as Xabi Alonso, Sami Hyypia and Luis Garcia also played a major role.

Of course, the squad wasn’t perfect. It included below-par players such as Djimi Traoré, Josemi and Igor Bišćan, but the quality of the superstars within the team more than made up for their deficiencies.

Despite being widely panned by Liverpool fans, Traore made a crucial clearance off the line in the Champions League final when the scores were tied at 3-3.

The manager

There is one part of the Liverpool 2005 squad that we have yet to mention – none other than Rafa Benitez. Without the Spaniard’s guidance, it is likely that the famous night in Istanbul would not have panned out quite so dramatically.

One can only imagine the tongue-lashing that Benitez gave the players when they entered the break 3-0 down – whatever he said, it certainly worked.

He made an adroit tactical adjustment, too. Benitez opted to bring off Steve Finnan, who was struggling to deal with Andriy Shevchenko out wide and brought on Dietmar Hamann in his place. This switch allowed Liverpool to move to a 3-4-2-1 formation and gave them more options going forward.