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Steve Nicol explains where and why Liverpool failed vs Real Madrid

Steve Nicol believes Liverpool simply didn’t do what was required against Real Madrid. The Reds slumped to an awful 3-1 defeat.

Steve Nicol feels it’s quite easy to explain why Liverpool failed against Real Madrid. Specifically, they failed to take advantage of the Spaniards’ injuries.

“To take advantage of [missing defenders], you have to keep the ball,” he told ESPN. “You have to get through the middle of the park and supply your forward line with balls.

“That didn’t happen. Whether it was the three in the middle or the three up front, Liverpool couldn’t get hold of the ball.

“So when it kept breaking down, that’s when [Real] kept getting all of their space.”

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Nicol went on to explain how Liverpool’s middle three also didn’t shield the back four well enough. Those two things together do explain the team’s awful showing.

Liverpool didn’t dominate the ball properly until the final 10 minutes. Until then, Real weren’t pushed back for any sustained period.

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It meant Los Blancos were always countering through midfield and through Luka Modric and Toni Kroos. The midfield never did a good job of pressing those two, either – a perfect storm for defeat, really.

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But they made life harder for themselves through an inability to keep the ball and progress with it. Your only chance of nullifying Real is pushing them all the way back to their own box, after all.

It’s why Jurgen Klopp’s decision to pick Naby Keita looks so poor. The Guinean struggled more than anyone and it was no great surprise that he was off before half-time.

Thiago simply must start the second leg, then. He excels at incisive passes and pushing teams back. We saw the immediate improvement once he was on, in fact.

Liverpool have some lessons to learn, then. Making the best of that is the only way they’ll progress from this.

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