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5 talking points as Liverpool quit Champions League – No momentum & odd substitution




Liverpool were knocked out of the Champions League after the club’s heaviest aggregate defeat in European competition.

Real Madrid 1-0 Liverpool

A bold approach or just necessary?

Three goals behind a team that had only lost once at home all season and conceded more than once in a game at the Bernabeu – did Jurgen Klopp have no choice but to play with four attackers in the formation?

Maybe so, but those options have been further limited by absences in midfield, with Jordan Henderson and Stefan Bajcetic both out since the weekend loss.

He looked bold, he looked attacking – but he didn’t look too attacking when the game started. Once again, the Reds’ problem has been control and construction in midfield, as well as stopping Real’s main men at the other end.

Cody Gakpo’s role was a hybrid one, not quite a number 10 in terms of link-up play, but a true quarter forward in possession and presumably asked to return to midfield with no possession – albeit in an odd 15-minute opening , his actual play on the pitch was as much alongside Van Dijk as James Milner.

Ultimately, regardless of attacking numbers, Liverpool still lacked a connection between the midfield and forward lines, still lacked creativity and still lacked a consistently impressive press.

A game of two legs and arms

The first leg at Anfield was notable for two things: the sheer carnage that resulted in goals and the calamity of the goalkeepers that resulted in goals.

Thibaut Courtois and Alisson Becker are two of the best number 1s in the world, but both were atrocious and fouled in the opening draw, both guilty of some of the seven goals on display. Within the first 45 minutes at the Bernabeu, he was back to the more usual form of their affairs, especially when it came to our Brazilian.

TV commentators seemed adamant in praising the more spectacular of the two as the better, who was pricked on the crossbar with his fingertip and while he was excellent, his precedent – ​​a massive spread and lockout with the upper arm at point-blank range – was just amazing.

A second-half one-on-one save from Valverde continued his strong performance, while Courtois also made an odd save, the choice of which could have been a Nunez save.
Ali couldn’t do anything against the goal as the Reds’ centre-backs chose to ignore Benzema completely.

Underperformers on the big stage

Lots of good players, lots of bad performances. Liverpool have often had long men for big occasions in recent years, but this season they have been few and far between.
At the Bernabeu, too many of the potential match winners were downright poor.

Trent Alexander-Arnold’s pass was once again well short of his best as defensively he pushed Vinicius Jr. never stopped.

Diogo Jota’s goalless run continued with a wild swing and error, Darwin Nunez not offering enough that night and behind them Fabinho’s distribution was often wayward too.

Individual achievements aside, the team is still not functioning well as a unit. On one half of the pitch it’s not constant enough and dangerous enough, on the other half it remains much too open.

Dark options and questions from Klopp’s subs

Luis Diaz, Thiago Alcantara, maybe Bajcetic now if we really have to classify the young signing as such: such is the extent of even vaguely attacking absences Liverpool had that night.

But if we needed goals and impulses, who could we turn to?

A still unfit Jota started goalless in 11 months. Firmino, who is leaving in a few months, has joined. And so was Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, who is also out of contract and hasn’t played in Europe all season. He had, in fact, played just five minutes in the Premier League in the last two months.

How is this the condition and scarcity of the plow?

The alternatives offered no more cause for optimism than a random roll of the ox-shaped dice: Curtis Jones has played about 320 minutes this season. Naby Keita was effectively banned from the Wolves debacle. Fabio Carvalho is a kid, with five minutes of the championship under his belt since 22 October. Arthur is not even signed up for the Champions League squad.

Overhaul doesn’t even describe the depth of work needed this summer at the park’s center, even if no actual attackers are added – and that’s far from an entirely sensible course of action as things stand.

Even though recruiting is only part of it, there are valid questions Jurgen Klopp can ask about his use (or non-use) of certain team members during different parts of the campaign.
Add to that the choice to eliminate Nunez on stage that he made and it was a white flag waving.

Liverpool needed goals and the club’s (potential) record signing, the centre-forward signed to score those goals in the biggest games, was removed. This is tough news for fans, and it raises questions – again – about whether the manager really brings out the best in some of these people.

Long wait and big rush

With the game against Fulham postponed this weekend, there are now 17 days until our next game. This dry run includes an international break, so it’s not just training and recovery time, but it’s still a big part of training and preparation.

And Liverpool will need it.

Long wait and big rush

With the match against Fulham postponed for the weekend, there are 17 days left until the next match. That empty run includes an international break, so it’s not just training and recovery time, it’s still an important part of your practice and preparation.
And Liverpool will need it.

After so many false dawns even after the World Cup, we can now accept that this year is just awful and won’t be consistent in terms of the level of performance, but Klopp has yet to find a way to get more consistent results.

We will return to Man City, then we will face Chelsea away and Arsenal at home. Three great games in every season, but three this time that could determine if we can really attack in the final for the top four.

It goes without saying that the Reds cannot afford exits with the mentality and quality shown against Bournemouth.

This game was almost a gift after the horror of the first leg, a game to try and restore certain ways of playing or defending that could come in handy at the end of the season.

In the end we didn’t even get a clean sheet let alone one of the three goals we needed to have a chance to progress. Four very bad days for Liverpool in a season full of terrible days.


Real Madrid 1-0 Liverpool: Reds players performance ratings

here was no miraculous return to Madrid when a flabby Liverpool left the Champions League in the Spanish capital.

Real Madrid 1-0 Liverpool

Champions League round of 16 second leg; Bernabéu
March 15, 2023

Goals: Benzema 78′

Alisson (out of 10) – 9 – Man of the Match

Real Madrid were likely to have chances so the Brazilian’s performance was as important as any heroics at the other end and he excelled when challenged.

He made a great save for Vinicius Junior from close range and showed good positioning as he came out to block the shot with a strong arm.
Went on to make another kind of superb save when he fingertiped a deflected long-range shot from Eduardo Camavinga onto the crossbar.

He made another good block from Vinicius at the near post and a good save with the feet of Fede Valverde – the kind of miss that can often beat a goalkeeper. Although the team needed a good performance from Alisson, one of the outfield players needed to be the man of the match if they were to make a comeback.

In the end, Alisson was the best player on the pitch and it was a comeback that went too far for Klopp’s side.

Trent Alexander Arnold – 5

Defending against Vinicius is an impossible task and Trent, predictably, struggled.

He remained an outlet in attack and the thinking was probably that there was no point in focusing too much on Vinicius because even if you come back he will face most defenders anyway.

That task was left to Konate’s support as Trent was a regular on the right side in the final third, delivering crosses, one of which was a good chance which was missed by Gakpo. Had they collected stats for overhit passes, Trent would have been out of the league. That and bad set pieces.

Ibrahim Konaat 8

A key player in such a match supporting Trent against one of the best dribblers in the world.

For the most part, Konate was where Vinicius’ progress stopped and the fuller’s best chance came from a more opportunistic try at the other end.
Konate is currently Liverpool’s best central defender and has been solid in difficult circumstances

Virgil van Dyke – 5

Not much done or much to do. Won a few aerial duels and made some decent passes from behind.
When asked to face something he hadn’t done, he failed to clear after having two chances to do so and scored Madrid.

Andy Robertson-5

Was less involved than Trent at the other end and it might have been interesting to see the full-backs change, but Klopp is not one to experience such things.
Another player who wasn’t calm enough in the final third and didn’t look as dangerous as he could have looked.


His passes in attack were not very good, often going over things that could have put the team in a good position if they had been more measured. Recovered some of his form, especially defensively, but didn’t offer enough possession as one of Madrid’s two inferior midfielders.

James Milner—6

Did a decent job and looked more useful in the position than others who have played there at times this season. Did what was required in the circumstances.

Cody Gakpo – 6th

Was asked to play the attacking midfielder role in midfield three which Elliott has played on several occasions this season.

He was ahead of Salah at times and at times further than Trent, but his most impressive moments came in defence, including a tackle on Benzema after a Real counterattack and a block on Vinicius in the second half. Heading wide at the far post, Courtois saved a well-placed shot quite easily.

Switched to the left wing after Nunez’s departure, he didn’t offer much from the position, but served little.

Mohammed Salah – 6

He had some really good runs and it looked like he could get into position to create chances, although the shot was more often from others.

But the moment he had the chance to create Liverpool’s biggest chance, he undermined a pass to Nunez.
There were a few similar sloppy passes which meant he never really posed a goal threat for Real Madrid.

Diogo Iota – 5

He converted a typically laborious serve with the ball, but wasn’t dynamic enough to contribute to the offense.
He missed half a chance after being placed by Salah, but it was a difficult technique.

Let’s hope the minutes, 57, have done him good, but he has work to do to get back to his best.

Darwin Nunez–6

He made some shots in the first half and was the most advanced player in the team, despite playing from the left. As always the most dangerous striker of the Reds. There were some distractions from the Uruguayan, some slow passes and unnecessary fouls.
He was replaced before the hour while Klopp looked for something else, presumably that other creature has no attack threat.

See what he’s carrying and how potentially dangerous he is in attack when he’s not there.


Roberto Firmino (enters Nunez, 57′) – 6

Defensively well and showed signs of fantasy up front that the others lacked, especially with a nice heel on Salah who created a good opening.

Harvey Elliott (in place of Jota, 57′) – 6

Technically, he doesn’t look out of place on any level and that was the case at this stage, but he didn’t come into this game from the bench.
Had a good shot but instead fed Robertson into a worse position.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (for Milner, 73′) – N/A

It’s kind of crazy that he’s still playing for Liverpool in the Champions League, isn’t it. Had some great runs.
Kostas Tsimikas (for Andy Robertson, 91′) – N/A

Fabio Carvalho (for Gakpo, 91′) – N/A

Unused substitutes: Adrian, Caoimhin Kelleher, Joe Gomez, Naby Keita, Curtis Jones, Fabio Carvalho, Joel Matip, Rhys Williams. Jurgen Klopp – 5th

Probably the most enthusiastic of Liverpool’s group, but that didn’t carry over to the pitch. He probably challenged the officials more than his Madrid players.

The Subs were little changed and the withdrawal of Nunez ended Liverpool’s attacking threat for the evening.

A few substitutions late in stoppage time seemed pointless.
Reserve. You need to look closely at this season’s problems and the reasons behind it. Including his.

Player Rating Definitions: 10 = Flawless | 9 = Excellent | 8 = Very good | 7 = Good | 6 = Average | 5 = Below Par | 4 = Bad | 3 = Very bad | 2 Terrible | 1 = Absolutely not

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