Rio Ferdinand disagreed with Michael Owen’s assessment that Liverpool are still the best team in Europe following Saturday night’s Champions League final.
Liverpool, who were in contention to win a historic quadruple one week ago, end the 2021-22 campaign with the Carabao Cup and FA Cup after losing 1-0 to Real Madrid at the Stade de France.
Pipped to the Premier League title by Manchester City six days earlier, Liverpool’s season promised so much more than it ultimately delivered.
That’s not to say that Jurgen Klopp’s side have had a poor season. Far from it. But everyone associated with Liverpool will be disappointed after failing to win either the Premier League or Champions League at the end of an extremely demanding and otherwise impressive campaign.
Despite coming up short against Real Madrid, who have been crowned European champions for a record-breaking 14th time, Owen believes that Liverpool are still the continent’s best team.
Speaking live on BT Sport as Madrid’s players lifted the trophy, Owen said: “I don’t think it’ll change much about how [Klopp] will approach the game, that just happens sometimes in football. I still think they’re the best team in Europe, I really do. On other occasions they’d be getting their name etched in the trophy.”
Ferdinand, however, was having none of it.
The Manchester United legend responded: “How can you say they’re the best team in Europe? They’ve just lost the league and the Champions League final.”
Owen replied: “The season they’ve had, I still think they’re the team to beat.
“Real Madrid have got past them today, but you know as well as anyone that a one-off game is a one-off game. I still think they’re the most fearsome team in Europe and they’ve not got any of the big two trophies to show for it, that’ll be the biggest pill to swallow.”
Ferdinand then said: “I don’t think they’re the best team in Europe, I think you’ve got to win the biggest trophies to be considered the best.
“They’re an unbelievably exciting team, the points tally they’ve got in the league, the consistency in which they’ve played, they’ve competed in every single game available to them, but you’ve got to get your hands on the big trophies to be called outright the best team in Europe.
“I don’t think they’ll be considered that and it would be disrespectful to Real Madrid to say that. They’ve just beaten all our top three teams in our league, they’ve got rid of them and got their hands on that trophy.
“Finally the argument is over for the Ballon d’Or. If Karim Benzema doesn’t get the Ballon d’Or along with this trophy it’ll be a travesty.”
Owen, however, was still to be entirely convinced by the newly-crowned Spanish and European champions.
“If you want to qualify who is the best team in Europe then yeah they’ve got the trophy,” he added, “but can you watch the two games against Man City and say ‘they were the better team’? Can you say the same against Chelsea?
“Possibly today they’ve ground it out, but just cos you win the trophy I think there’s a lot more to be said over who’s the best team. Nobody is taking away from how they’ve won this trophy, it’s phenomenal.”
Ferdinand concluded: “They’ve not won the league, though. If they’d won the league I could understand, but if they haven’t won the league and they haven’t won this, I don’t think they can be in the shake-up to be the best team in the world right now.”
Listen to their debate here:
There’s absolutely no doubt that Liverpool are one of Europe’s best teams.
But after losing out on the Premier League and Champions League titles, can Owen’s assessment about the Reds really be correct?
It’ll be fascinating to see how Klopp’s side bounce back next season.