Three things we learned as Liverpool beat Chelsea on penalties to win the UEFA Super Cup.
Sadio Mane’s brace cancelled out goals from Olivier Giroud and Jorginho over 120 minutes in Istanbul. New signing Adrian would prove to be the hero, though, as Liverpool eventually saw off Chelsea.
We learned a few things in the win but here are three we picked out:
Fabinho needs rest
The Brazilian looked leggy quite quickly, even going down with cramp at the end – no surprise, given his season so far. Fabinho started all three games, something that will take its toll on any player.
It led to a performance below the standard he’s set since his £39m move from AS Monaco.
While someone like Jordan Henderson may not show it, Fabinho did. Both could probably use a rest at Southampton this weekend.
Time to test Adam Lallana in his new role?
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain needs time
We were hoping to see Oxlade-Chamberlain in a central midfield role but he started on the left-wing. Liverpool’s decision not to sign anyone for the front-three means we’ll likely see him there semi-regularly, too.
And it’s clear he needs time. He’d need that anyway, really, given the extent of his injury comeback but particularly on the wing.
It’s a position he’s never really shone in for Liverpool and if the plan is to use him there, Oxlade-Chamberlain needs time to adjust.
Roberto Firmino makes a world of difference
Okay, so this isn’t really learning as such – we know this. But still, it was quite jarring just how quickly things fell into place once Firmino arrived.
Liverpool are capable of performing without him – the win against Barcelona stands out, obviously – but he can transform things immediately.
Fact is, Liverpool don’t win the Super Cup if not for his introduction. They looked short on ideas, unable to create anything meaningful. On comes Firmino, and he creates something within minutes – and also assists Mane’s second, too.
The team was just infinitely more comfortable going forward with the Brazilian on the pitch.
He’s a wonderful player – and irreplaceable.