Liverpool beat RB Leipzig 2-0 on Wednesday evening, securing progression to the UEFA Champions League Quarter-Finals. Here are five things we learned from the game.
We learned our first lesson before kick-off. Jurgen Klopp is willing to trust his centre-backs, even in the biggest games.
The boss put Fabinho back into midfield, opting to go with Nat Phillips and Ozan Kabak as a pair. It’s a big step for Liverpool.
No matter how it went, it was a sign to the players that Klopp does have faith in his options. The spots are there for people to take. Earn the boss’s trust and he’ll play you.
Hopefully, that inspires confidence for the rest of the season. Not just in the centre-back options but the rest of the team, too. Klopp believes they can do it.
Speaking of Fabinho in midfield – what a difference that makes. Liverpool’s midfield immediately looked more cohesive and everyone fit together.
Thiago and Wijnaldum spent more time doing what they’re good at, rather than trying to shield the defence. While Fabinho immediately improved the pressing game with his ability to close down space in midfield.
This must be the way forward. Liverpool look so much more composed, secure and outright better with the Brazilian in his natural position.
Oh that first half. Liverpool created several fantastic chances against a good side – and bottled every finish.
We saw the whole repertoire of bottled finishes, in fact. There was ‘passing up the shot for a pass’, ‘couldn’t keep it down’, ‘picked the wrong option’, ‘couldn’t get the ball under control’ and just plain old ‘has to hit the target’.
It’s all a sign that the confidence just isn’t there on a team level. We’re not talking about one or two players – the entire team appears to lack the belief they can score.
Phillips has a place
Nat Phillips may have a long-term Liverpool place. He was fantastic here, against one of Germany’s best sides in a Champions League knockout tie.
There’s not much more you can ask of a player.
He hasn’t yet turned 24, either – there’s genuinely good potential there. We’ve seen him improve all season and in two or three years, he could be a very useful option.
We still expect Liverpool to sign a defender this summer but if Phillips keeps performing, he’ll give them something to think about.
This team is not done
This was a fantastic performance. With a bit more confidence, it finishes 4-0 – at least.
And we couldn’t really have anything better after the terrible recent form. Liverpool are still there, even if they’re not playing well every week.
Perhaps there’s no need for an overhaul, then. Perhaps do still have a winning core and just lack confidence.
The changes tonight did them a world of good. That, coupled with the result, should inspire confidence going forward. Liverpool should take pride in comfortably beating a good RB Leipzig side 2-0.
We’re actually looking forward to the next game, for once. It’s been a little while.