Thiago showed Liverpool what they paid £20m for with his display against RB Leipzig on Tuesday. The Spaniard looked like bargain.
We hadn’t really seen the best of Thiago up until Tuesday. It had been there in spurts but as for an all-around, game-changing display, he’d struggled.
In fact, he was even labelled a ‘defensive liability’ as recently as Saturday.
Liverpool certainly didn’t expect that when they paid £20m to sign Thiago for this season. They wanted a player who could carry them in the right moments.
Well, they finally got to see that player on Tuesday.
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This is what we hoped for. We said that the RB Leipzig game was a ‘golden opportunity’ for Thiago and he took it.
Liverpool, after all, needed a solid, disciplined display where they could avoid defeat. That’s the way to progress in the Champions League – don’t allow your opponents a simple home win.
If you can do that and they can’t, you’re through.
But Liverpool’s task was a hard one. They had to compete against a top side without their first four options at centre-half.
Jordan Henderson was back in defence, too, leaving Liverpool with a make-shift midfield. The Reds, then, needed everyone to be at their best.
Thiago stepped up to deliver when he had to. He consistently offered the right passing option in midfield, picking up 53 touches despite going off on 72 minutes.
For perspective, Gini Wijnaldum had 49 over the full 90.
But how Thiago kept the ball was also outstanding. He maintained a 93% pass success rate – by far the highest of any starting player. In total, he misplaced just three.
Thiago also won two headers out of two, won two tackles out of three, and completed 100% of his dribbles. He helped control the game better than anyone.
Liverpool noticeably lost some control when he left the pitch. Without him, things just weren’t as comfortable or solid.
This is why Liverpool bought Thiago. He’s a player who can control big games like this, someone who can effortlessly control the ball and keep you ticking over.
He’s relentlessly reliable even in the biggest moments and under huge pressure. If Liverpool are to go far in this competition, they’ll want more of this from Thiago.
The Spaniard can help deliver the Champions League again.