Rafa Benitez is unimpressed with talk that Liverpool’s victory over Barcelona was their greatest comeback in Europe, and insists that winning the Champions League final against AC Milan in 2005 was a far more impressive result.
Benitez smiled as he defended his biggest success as Liverpool manager, but he is also convinced he is right, arguing that Liverpool were at home against Barcelona when they won 4-0 and his own team were losing 3-0 with only 45 minutes left to play in the final in Istanbul.
The Spaniard still has sharp edges, and although he was full of praise for Jurgen Klopp’s team, he could not resist pointing out the fact he actually won a final and a trophy when he was in charge at Anfield, with considerably less money to spend.
“My comeback was better, it is very clear,” said Benitez. “There has been a poll [on Sky Sports]. Come on, no chance the Barcelona one was better.
“You have 45 minutes, 3-0 against AC Milan, the best team, miles away from anyone, the fans singing at half-time, the Milan fans so happy, and then you go and you score three goals in six minutes and Dudek's save, and then you go to extra time, you go to the penalties.
“Better than that? Come on. I am telling you, a Turkish friend of mine that was here said, 'Listen, for one year, we were analysing this game'.
“Now, [Liverpool] you play a very good game. One thing is the comeback and the atmosphere, the emotions: no chance, that is Istanbul.
“If you win the trophy it would be a fantastic achievement after all these things, but I really don't want to talk too much about that. They've done really well in midweek with a great performance, but Istanbul is another thing.”
Benitez believes the results in Europe this week confirm that the Premier League is the best in the world, but he does not feel the fact all four teams in this year’s finals are English will usher in a long period of dominance for clubs from this country.
“I think it was amazing,” he said. “I have to say congratulations to all the English teams, it’s a great achievement which has never happened in the past.
“The way the semi-finals went were really good games. The Premier League is the strongest league in the world now, with very good players and very good managers.
“If it is every year [that the English teams dominate] maybe it is a bad thing. If it is just one year, maybe not. I am sure the teams from the other countries will compete to be there next year.”