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Last Updated: Friday, 15 April, 2005, 16:39 GMT 17:39 UK
Coincidence - or something more?
by Julian Shea


Luis Garcia and John Arne Riise celebrate Liverpool's victory
Football fans are generally a superstitious lot, but Liverpool's Champions League win over Juventus has sent tea-leaf readers into overdrive.

After the euphoria of victory and the prospect of an all-English semi-final with Chelsea had passed, fans noticed that omens and fate seemed to be on their side.

After a 21-year gap, Europe's premier trophy could be Liverpool's once more.

After all, the signs are there, and not just in the world of football.

Rugby results, royal weddings, global events - can it all be just a coincidence?

The late 1970s and early '80s was an era of unprecedented dominance in European football by English clubs, with Liverpool leading the way.

For six years in a row, the old European Cup was won by English teams, with Liverpool doing it three times.

Hamburg ended that winning streak in 1983, before Liverpool claimed their fourth win in 1984.

Sales of souvenir tea-towels rocketed across the land in 1977 as the nation celebrated the Queen's Silver Jubilee.

HISTORY REPEATING?
Prince Charles and Camilla
1978: Pope dies, Wales win Grand Slam, Liverpool win European Cup
1981: Prince Charles marries, Liverpool win European Cup
2005: Pope dies, Wales win Grand Slam, Prince Charles marries, Liverpool reach Champions League semis

And Liverpool had their own silver celebrations, claiming their first European Cup with a 3-1 win over Borussia Moenchengladbach in the Stadio Olimpico in Rome.

A year later, the news headlines were made by the death of Pope John Paul.

In the world of sport, Wales celebrated as the rugby team secured a memorable Grand Slam triumph, and Kenny Dalglish's goal was enough to beat Bruges at Wembley as Liverpool retained the trophy.

Nottingham Forest and Aston Villa held the trophy for the next three years, and in 1981, it was Liverpool's turn again.

While the back pages were dominated by their memorable 1-0 win over Real Madrid in Paris, the front pages were divided between coverage of two weddings - one of Prince Charles, and the other of Ken and Deirdre Barlow in Coronation Street.

Fast forward to 2005 and a flick through the papers would reveal... Wales as Grand Slam champions, Prince Charles newly wed and Ken and Deirdre back together.

OK, so it is probably just coincidence, but there is one significant omen.

Rafael Benitez's first season in charge has had its fair share of ups and downs, but Liverpool fans' confidence must be sky-high after their impressive win over Juventus, and fate would suggest they have good reason to feel happy.

Every time Juventus have played an English club in the old European Cup or Champions League, one of the teams has gone on to reach the final.

In 1973 Juventus beat Derby in the semi-finals, before losing to Ajax in the final.

Their triumph over Liverpool in the 1985 final was rendered meaningless by the horrors of Heysel, but in 1997, 1998 and 1999, they came up against Manchester United.

Twice the Turin club triumphed, only to go on and lose in the final, and in 1999 United claimed a memorable victory in Turin on their way to winning the trophy.

Juventus saw off Newcastle on their way to the 2003 final, where they lost out to Italian rivals AC Milan, and in 2005 their English jinx continued with Liverpool.

And just in case runaway Premiership leaders Chelsea feel this is all rather presumptuous of a Liverpool victory, they can take heart from an omen that favours them.

In 1955, the year they won their only league title, there was a General Election - also won by the Blues of the Conservative Party. That was also the last time Newcastle won the FA Cup.

On Sunday, Newcastle play Manchester United in the FA Cup semi-final in Cardiff. If they manage to win that, you have to wonder if some things really are written in the stars.




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