Liverpool got their Champions League campaign off to a bang with a 3-2 victory over PSG and Jack Hallows has all the big talking points for you!
ALLEZ ALLEZ ALLEZ!
The Champions League is back and with it, came the continuation of Liverpool’s incredible record in the competition under Jürgen Klopp.
The Reds’ home fixture against Paris Saint Germain was billed the premier tie of the first game week of Europe’s biggest footballing competition and for good reason.
With the likes of Neymar, Mohamed Salah, Kylian Mbappé and Sadio Mané on show, this was always going to be a thrilling spectacle and it’s fair to say that it did not disappoint.
Sturridge shines as Salah struggles
It was a very different 90 minutes for two of Liverpool’s starting attackers on Tuesday night, with Daniel Sturridge impressing on his return to the starting line-up.
The forward had hardly featured prior to his inclusion against the French juggernauts but had, in fairness, already grabbed a goal this season when he turned one in off a corner against West Ham on the opening day.
The striker looks notably leaner and fresher this season, something that was clearly evident during the summer and while the Englishman doesn’t provide as much energy or pressing up front as Firmino, he proved that he does still have something to offer.
A constant nuisance in the box for the French side, Sturridge was rewarded for some clever movement on the half-hour mark when he ghosted between Thiago Silva and Kimpembe to get on the end of a pin-point Robertson cross and make it 1-0.
The finish was effortless and was almost replicated in the second half when Sturridge once again found himself in space but the striker just couldn’t quite time his header properly.
If Sturridge shone though, our usual spark – Mo Salah – struggled once again.
The Egyptian has looked a little off the pace so far this campaign, still managing to carve out opportunities both for himself and teammates but his finishing and overall use of the ball has left a lot to be desired thus far.
The former Roma and Chelsea winger endured another difficult night, this time culminating in his conceding of possession in the build-up to PSG’s late second goal.
Whether Salah is simply taking a little while to get going, or is struggling under external pressures such as the situation with the Egyptian FA or still feeling the effects of Ramos’ challenge from the Champions League final, remains to be seen but whatever it is, Klopp will hope he’s back to his usual self soon!
In fairness to the Egyptian, he did have the ball in the net but it was ruled out due to an alleged foul in the buildup by Sturridge.
A solid – if unpopular – midfield trio
This Henderson-Milner-Wijnaldum midfield is bizarre, isn’t it?
In certain games, it simply doesn’t work due to a lack of penetration and inability of any of the trio to really set the tempo of a game.
In a game like Tuesday night, however, where it’s all action, high-tempo and heavy metal football to the max, the trio seems to thrive.
Milner was once again in his usual top form against the Parisians, chasing down everything within a 20-yard radius, flying into challenges and covering every blade of grass on the pitch.
He also added the bonus of another converted penalty to his record when he beat Areola with a beautifully struck effort from the spot, right into the bottom corner.
Wijnaldum – who has been brilliant in a deeper role this season – also looked comfortable against the PSG midfield, in part due to their lack of pressing but also it seems, in part due to the shackles being removed.
The Dutchman was heavily involved in Liverpool’s attacking play and it was his burst into the box during the first half that won the penalty for his team’s second goal.
At the base, of course, was this squad’s most divisive player, captain Jordan Henderson.
Say what you want about Henderson, he was phenomenal against PSG.
The captain didn’t put a single foot wrong during the game, reading the play well and making important tackles deep in the first half and further up the field during the second as he got more involved in the press.
Of course, we all want to see a lot of Naby Keïta and at some point, Fabinho but for now, in games where counter-attacking and utilising the wide areas will be key, this midfield trio may just have a place yet.
Another game, another goal for ‘Deadeye’ Firmino
There were complaints after Liverpool’s 1-0 victory over Brighton last month about Roberto Firmino’s performances simply because the Brazilian was yet to get off the mark.
I myself wasn’t concerned, with Firmino generally a slow starter and of course, being a striker whose all-round game is about a lot more than goals but others were frustrated that the no.9 wasn’t showing the same form he had at the end of last campaign.
A goal against Leicester was followed by another on international duty with Brazil just days later and the forward is now showing no signs of slowing down!
Despite having an early goal ruled out for offside against Tottenham, Firmino carried on as he always does, his hard work eventually paying off as he was on hand to turn in one of the easier goals he’ll ever score in his career and on Tuesday night, against Paris Saint Germain, ‘Bobby’ was once again the saviour.
Starting from the bench after the grim eye injury he’d suffered on the weekend, the Brazilian was introduced in the 72nd minute for Daniel Sturridge.
However, despite his introduction giving Liverpool extra buoyancy, it was PSG who struck next, levelling the scores through Mbappé.
Just when it looked as if the Reds would have to settle for only the one point, Firmino found himself in space on the edge of the box, weaved his way past two PSG defenders and fired home a finish that R9 Ronaldo would’ve been proud of.
Firmino has now scored or assisted the eventual winning goal in all of Liverpool’s last four games and it was his 11th strike in the Champions League.
Who says Bobby doesn’t score goals?
A flying start to the season continues!
Liverpool’s record under Klopp in the Champions League really ain’t bad, is it?
Goals scored: A lot (41)
The Reds proved once again on Tuesday night that this club and European football are a match made in heaven.
From the rocking atmosphere to the heavy metal football on display, to the passion of our manager, this is what it’s all about.
In the wider scope, it’s also looking pretty rosy for Liverpool.
The Reds are yet to draw or lose a single fixture out of six and the “nightmare run” they were meant to undergo during the time separating the last international break from the next, has started with two victories out of two.
Of course, there are still huge tests on the horizon with a doubleheader against Chelsea across two competitions, a visit from Guardiola’s Man City side and a trip to Napoli no easy feats but the way things have started for Jürgen’s mighty reds, how can you be anything but positive?