Neil Humphreys: Reds can win Champions League
Real Madrid and Bayern Munich both look tired, brittle and beatable
With the second leg still to play, dull people often feel the need to state the bleeding obvious.
It's only half-time in the Champions League semi-finals. There are still 90 minutes left to play. The ball is round, they cry, churning out one banality after other, as if unveiling the secrets of the universe.
Well, forget all that piffle. Liverpool can win this thing.
Yesterday's lethargic contest between Bayern Munich and Real Madrid achieved little beyond convincing giddy Merseysiders to book flights to Kiev.
That's the venue for the Champions League Final on May 26, a date for the Anfield faithful to pencil in, a chance to ponder a Hollywood ending.
Liverpool have long lived off their European heritage of course, usually to mask their domestic shortcomings. Bob Paisley's serial winners, Joe Fagan's indomitable warriors and the miracle in Istanbul are ingrained in the psyche. The Reds believe the jug-eared trophy is practically their birthright.
It's a rather quaint sense of self-importance considering their Premier League struggles.
But on this occasion, the expectations seem warranted. Liverpool dare to dream not only because they currently boast the finest front three in world football, but because their opponents are flagging.
Real stumbled to a 2-1 victory in the Allianz Arena against an injury-hit Bayern side, but neither team justified their elevated reputation.
Cristiano Ronaldo has done more than enough this season to earn an off-night, but Toni Kroos, Luka Modric, Robert Lewandowski, Thomas Mueller and Javi Martinez came together in a battle of the fading bands, stumbling around on stage after one encore too many.
Compared to Sadio Mane, Roberto Firmino and Mo Salah, they looked distinctly second best.
Perhaps the Germans have already overachieved this season. Jupp Heynckes has wrapped up the title and a domestic double still seems likely, despite their European exertions.
But their dominance in a one-team Bundesliga arguably drew attention away from an ageing, overworked squad.
Arjen Robben, now 34, went off injured after eight minutes. On the other flank, Franck Ribery soldiered on admirably, but his 35-year-old legs eventually betrayed him. By the final whistle, he was dead on his feet.
Like Robben, Jerome Boateng also departed before the break and Heynckes must now find replacements from a depleted squad.
But then, the stuttering Madridistas shouldn't cause too many sleepless nights for the electrifying Reds either.
Liverpool's inflated confidence should always be liberally sprinkled with the usual ifs, buts and maybes, particularly when Ronaldo may potentially stand between them and the trophy.
But Salah's astonishing reliability in the penalty box is currently a match for Ronaldo. Whether the Egyptian emulates the Real striker and sustains his form over many seasons is neither here nor there. He's delivering now.
All other comparisons are futile. Their careers can be compared in years to come.
Even at 33, Ronaldo remains the predictable, unpredictable one for Real in Europe, consistently confounding the odds. He's got no choice. His team-mates have picked the wrong month to start treading water.
Marcelo's spectacular strike barely concealed his reluctance to track back against Bayern, granting the Germans the freedom of their right flank (which allowed Joshua Kimmich to score).
Between the absent Marcelo and Sergio Ramos, Real left an ugly, gaping hole in the same space where AS Roma were annihilated. It's a territory currently controlled by the principality of Mo Salah.
Zinedine Zidane addressed his lopsided line-up at the interval, removing Isco and strengthening his left flank with Marco Asensio, but Zidane's 4-1-4-1 approach still feels like an open invitation for Salah.
If anything, the first leg in the Allianz Arena represented a gutsy scrap between exhausted heavyweights. For their age, history and experience, they didn't do a lot wrong.
Unfortunately, there just happens to be a rising contender doing a whole lot right elsewhere.
Real and Bayern plodded. Liverpool plundered. In the end, it's a question of scale.
The victorious men of Madrid and Merseyside essentially did the same job. But the Reds did their job bigger, better, slicker and quicker.
Liverpool's name isn't on the trophy just yet, but the smart money must be on them.
- Catch Neil Humphreys as he gives his satirical take on the English Premier League and football every Saturday, 10am to 12 noon, on Money FM 89.3.