Liverpool lost 3-1 to Real Madrid on Tuesday evening after a very poor performance. Here’s what we learned from the UEFA Champions League first leg.
Jurgen Klopp’s starting XI suggested he wanted runners in midfield – it wasn’t what we hoped for. It made sense, though- both Luka Modric and Toni Kroos are veteran players.
So Liverpool started with both Gini Wijnaldum and Naby Keita in their midfield three. Two high-energy, athletic players.
It did not work. Klopp corrected his gameplan before half-time, subbing off Keita for Thiago. The Spaniard offered far more control once he was on.
Liverpool didn’t defend well in the first-half but then, they didn’t do anything well. Their lack of any threat whatsoever in the first 45 allowed Real to consistently attack them.
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Vinicius Jr, to name one, never fell back. He knew he could afford to hang up the field as Liverpool never forced Real backwards.
The result was a constant out-ball in the left-hand channel that created two goals.
We’re not sure what was up with Liverpool in that first-half. They didn’t run much, didn’t press, were slow in transition and never got going.
Things changed after half-time. Liverpool woke up and looking far more ready to challenge Real.
It has been a problem with the Reds this season – slow to start and playing themselves out of it before they get going. It has to change quickly.
A few players were embarrassing out there tonight. There’s no reason to pick on names or individuals but it goes without saying that the return leg needs to be completely different.
The real worry is that Liverpool reverted back to type after three consecutive positive results. We thought we were over the hump and on the right track.
This suggested there’s far more to come and a ways to go.
Still in it
A two-goal deficit with an away goal isn’t the end of the world. Liverpool’s home form is awful, of course, but on paper, they can still progress.
It’ll take a very different showing, though. A complete flip of what we’ve just seen and a special performance from some.
Losing 3-1 to Real Madrid was a a very heavy blow but one Liverpool can recover from.