In the increasingly improbable scenario that Virgil van Dijk is having a one in 1000 off performance then Liverpool’s defensive quartet would seemingly be on the verge of collapse.
Lucky enough for Jurgen Klopp and Van Dijk himself, the Dutchman’s central defensive padawan Joe Gomez became the master at the Wanda Metropolitano Stadium as the Englishman showcased his growing consistency to deliver a performance of resounding maturity.
Gomez not only was the Reds’ best performer defensively but the former Charlton Athletic star also showcased a different element to his game following his desire to burst forward with the ball and create opportunities with the attacking aspect of Liverpool’s game seemingly lifeless.
The 22-year-old even created the best opening of the match for Klopp’s team after he spotted the run of teammate Mohamed Salah and exquisitely delivered an inch-perfect cross towards the back post which unfortunately went begging after the Egyptian connected poorly and sent his header wide.
It was only a second defeat of the season for Liverpool’s senior stars and just the second occasion in Gomez’s previous 12 appearances in which the Reds have conceded.
While there was no clean sheet, Gomez’s impressive display was one of few performances that merited any credibility after Liverpool failed to muster a single shot on target for the first time since September 2018.
Gomez is beginning to showcase that he not only has the ability to learn and thrive under the tutelage of UEFA Player of the Year Van Dijk but also to exceed the devestating performance levels of Liverpool’s irreplaceable Dutchman on the rare occasions he isn’t up to his usual standards.
Following the defeat, many Liverpool supporters took to Twitter to highlight their admiration for Liverpool’s star-man in what was a small silver-lining during an ultimately disappointing return to the Spanish capital for Kopites.
Here is a look at some of the reactions following another impressive Gomez performance…
I think Joe Gomez was a monster again, really starting to come into a top top CB. #LFC
— Connor (@CMT17LFC) February 18, 2020
We can blame that league two level referee all we want but the reality is, not enough players turned up tonight. Joe Gomez probably our only decent player. Trent absolutely hopeless 🤦♂️🤦♂️🔴 #LFC #AtletiLFC
— Jamie Howard (@jayhoward95) February 18, 2020
Joe Gomez of all people puts in an incredible cross from deep perfectly on the head of Salah but he puts it wide. #LFC yet to have a shot on target. Atletico have only had 1 on target. Not exactly a great game for neutrals.
— tdyerwestfield #JFT96 (@DyerThomas) February 18, 2020
I don’t think we were poor by any means. We just couldn’t score nor break Atletico Madrid down. That’s it. I thought our football was good overall. Atletico Madrid are extremely difficult to beat. No surprises there. Man Of The Match? Joe Gomez! He was brilliant! #LFC
— Timmy Robson (@WaveyTimz277) February 18, 2020
Warm winter breaks should be banned. Joe gomez alison and hendo are the only players that can hold their head high, maybe robertson. Substitutes were shocking and the fact he didn't change shape is truely baffling. Origi literally slowed down every attack. Embarrassing display.
— name cannot be blank (@443344444hhh) February 18, 2020
— Liverpool FC news (@ClickLFC) February 18, 2020