Remembering Liverpool's famous win at Barcelona's Camp Nou 10 years on
LIVERPOOL, England -- It is 10 years to the day since Rafael Benitez's Liverpool side became the last English team to down Barcelona at their Camp Nou fortress.
Preparations were far from ideal, however. Benitez's team-bonding trip to the Algarve in Portugal before the match was overshadowed by a fracas involving Craig Bellamy, John Arne Riise and a golf club following a sanctioned night out.
As fate would have it, the two players involved would, ultimately, be the heroes as they scored the goals that put Liverpool on their way to a 2-1 victory over Barcelona in the first leg of their Champions League round-of-16 tie.
Deco opened the scoring 14 minutes into the encounter before Bellamy netted an equaliser prior to half-time and proceeded to celebrate with a golf swing, with Riise scoring the winner in the 74th minute. Although Liverpool would lose the second leg at Anfield 1-0, Riise's goal would be enough to send them through on away goals -- and they would go on to lose to AC Milan in the final.
Glenn Price talks to then-assistant manager Pako Ayestaran, midfielder Boudewijn Zenden and first-team coach Alex Miller about their memories of that night.
In the week before the game
Ayestaran: "We had no game at the weekend. We thought it was a good opportunity to go somewhere and freshen it up a little bit. It was to make our relationship stronger -- take three, four and five days to mix some training and free time for the players."
Zenden, who replaced Momo Sissoko after 83 minutes: "We went on a trip before the game. We went to Portugal. It was a get together but also to train and work on tactics and be able to get used to the heat."
Miller: "We trained really hard in Portugal, with a couple of games of golf. We never went through our tactical team shape, though, because you never know who was watching. It wasn't private training, anybody could have watched. We worked hard and the guys were ready."
The incident in Portugal
Miller: "I knew in the early hours of the morning. We heard the commotion and the staff knew, but we got it cleared up and got the players to bed. Rafa dealt with it in the morning. Steven Gerrard, the captain, knew what was happening, Rafa spoke with him. The players were fined and they paid the money."
Ayestaran: "It was a quite difficult moment because the relationship between a few players could have been damaged after that incident. We should put the team's interest in front of anything and make players realise we should be close together and put this incident aside to confront a big challenge. To be honest, I think it was positive for the friendship of the team."
Zenden: "What happened? What went on? Ha!... At the time it was awkward, but afterwards it wasn't. We all know how Bellamy celebrated his goal, didn't we? That was that. There and then it was over with. I guess if we would have lost the game then it would have been a much bigger issue. But because we won and Bellamy even scored, everything was fine."
The game plan
Zenden: "A few teammates were asking for advice about playing at the Camp Nou. I had obviously played in big occasions in big stadiums. The only thing you can say is that you have to look forward to these occasions and don't get terrified by the idea of playing in such a big stadium. It's a privilege, isn't it?
"We got the lineup in the dressing room before the game. You're always gutted when you're not starting.
"Rafa put Alvaro Arbeloa [on his first start for Liverpool], on the left-hand side because Lionel Messi was playing on the right and always came on his left foot. That was a big play."
Miller: "Arbeloa is a good defender so he wasn't asked to do any attacking as such. He was there to basically defend that side."
Ayestaran: "We knew the strength of Barcelona was in the middle of the park, especially with Messi playing on the right-hand side. We played Arbeloa and Riise on the left to try to control the right wing. It was the area we were worrying about and in that game it worked."
Miller: "The players were up for it, but also very apprehensive. You don't go there with great confidence, let's be honest, with the way they had been playing and their results.
"Our psyche at that stage in all the Champions League games was: 'Can we score an away goal?' We knew that we could match anyone at Anfield with the crowd behind us."
The opening 45 minutes
Ayestaran: "The first half we were not in the game. They were controlling the game, especially after a cross from Gianluca Zambrotta which was headed in by Deco. They were really dominant in the game, but I think it was crucial to score before half-time. At this level you know if you concede an early goal then it's a difficult task to win."
Zenden: "It was a game that went two ways. If you play at the Camp Nou, you know that most of the time is spent with your backs on the wall. That's what happened.
"When you play Barca, what you always do is try to hold on for as long as you can, which means don't concede. The longer it goes on, the better it is because the fans start moaning. If you're convinced about your game plan then you probably just have to stick with it."
Ayestaran: "The first flashback that came to me was the equalising goal and the celebration. I think all the frustration and all the sadness from everything that happened in the training camp in Portugal was released in that celebration. It was the feeling that everybody realised how important togetherness was in one team to achieve anything."
Zenden: "The celebration was off the cuff, I guess."
Miller: "Nobody had planned it but they came up with this celebration as if they're playing golf. We were sitting on the bench going: 'I don't believe what they're doing here!' We've just sorted them out a week previously and then they're kidding on that they're playing golf."
The message at half-time
Zenden: "Rafa was always calm at the break. It was a good thing to get the equaliser early. If you have a chance [to win] then you have to take it. We had the belief that we could win the game.
"The other thing with Barcelona is that you always know you're going to get chances because they played so wide and open. The message was: 'Don't worry, chances will come. You have to try and take them when they come along.'"
The second half
Ayestaran: "In the second half we had a few chances. You cannot expect to go to the Nou Camp and not have difficulties, especially because they had players in the middle that were able to set the tempo of the game. But we knew that if we stuck to the game plan then we would have opportunities."
Miller: "We sort of controlled it and I think they threw caution to the wind a wee bit. They started to throw more men forward. The second goal was a complete breakaway because we were under pressure at the time."
Zenden: "Riise scored with his right foot. It was a stunning goal because it was a drop-kick volley with his right. That's the only one he's ever made I guess!
"I got a warm welcome when I came on. People were good to me because I had played there for three years. When it was 2-1, it was vital not to concede and to play compact, close the lines and don't let them get through easily."
Ayestaran: "Deco hit the post from a free kick four or five minutes before the end. Football changes in one play. There are key moments in the game that you know could change the history, but we were lucky that Deco hit the crossbar.
"I think people say that luck in football is around 40 percent. In this case, this 40 percent should be on your side in these key moments. It's true that the more you work, the more you prepare for games and the more focused you are, then the more luck you normally get."
Miller: "We survived a few scares that night, don't get me wrong. Barcelona had a lot of possession, but in saying that, with the amount of possession they had, they weren't really hurting us too many times."
Ayestaran: "The mood in the dressing room afterwards was the same after we beat Juventus at home [en route to winning the Champions League in 2004-05]. We won 2-1 and I think that was the game where everybody started to believe that there could be an opportunity for us.
"After this win in Barcelona, the feeling was the same. We were able to win in a difficult stadium against a magnificent team and having had a difficult first half. There was this feeling that there could be another opportunity of making history again."
Zenden: "You know you had a great result and you did a great job, but it's only halfway through. You were very satisfied and we had a laugh. When you're winning it's something pleasant, but you still have to face them at home.
"There was always a few fans hanging around, but there's also the stewards that are trying to get them away as quick as they can. People were coming down pitchside asking for shirts, shoes and shin pads and stuff."
Miller: "They would say Liverpool would have a 5,000 gate but you find that they would have 25,000. They get the tickets from all over the place. The fans all seem to know Carra [Liverpool defender Jamie Carragher]! When we went to play any game away from home, in the hotel Carra would seem to know everybody."
Zenden: "It was just a memorable night. As a player when you are involved in something like that, of course it sticks with you although a lot of it also fades away. It's just bits and bobs that stay. You experience so many things that it's hard to remember everything."
Glenn is ESPN FC's Liverpool correspondent. You can follow him on Twitter: @GlennPrice94.