Curtis Jones put in exactly the performance needed as Liverpool beat RB Leipzig 2-0. Jurgen Klopp must be thrilled.
No one went into this season believing Curtis Jones would start a Champions League knockout game against a side as good as RB Leipzig. They were semi-finalists last year, after all – it’s a huge game.
Whereas Jones started the campaign as a squad player at best. He was still unproven as a first-team option.
Well, there are no doubts now. Jones showed against RB Leipzig that he’s a complete midfielder.
You need a solid defensive performance in games like this. Yes, goals are fantastic but the trick to progression is in avoiding defeat.
That ay, you immediately have the advantage in the tie with the home leg.
Yet, Klopp couldn’t call on a robust midfield. Fabinho is out, Jordan Henderson was in defence and James Milner went off against Leicester City.
That left him with Gini Wijnaldum – a box-to-box player – as his holding midfielder. Thiago started, too, but he’s had questions about his defensive fit.
The other player? 20-year-old Jones who has never played a game like this.
But despite his lack of experience, Jones delivered exactly the performance Liverpool needed.
The Scouser attempted one tackle and won it but more importantly, Leipzig didn’t dribble past him once (per Whoscored). Jones also led the game in interceptions with three.
He got himself heavily involved, too, as he had more touches than any other Liverpool midfielder or forward. Add Jones’s assist for Sadio Mane’s goal and you’ve got the complete performance.
The 20-year-old is undoubtedly known more for his ability on the ball going forward. In Budapest, however, Jones showed that he’s perfectly capable of delivering a disciplined performance when required.
That’s quite incredible for such an inexperienced 20-year-old.