Liverpool legend Steve Nicol picked out Fabinho as a problem against Real Madrid on Tuesday. That’s despite hailing the Brazilian as arguably the Reds’ best player.
Liverpool were terrible in Spain. They could barely string passes together and struggled to cope with Real Madrid’s midfield.
Virtually everything went wrong in that first half, in fact. It was one of the worst performances of the season – and that’s saying something.
But what can Jurgen Klopp easily change? Well, according to Steve Nicol, it won’t be easy.
The Liverpool legend picked out Fabinho as an example, pointing out that the Brazilian was been brilliant this season but couldn’t get going against Real.
“Liverpool’s best player, probably for most of the season, Fabinho – [Luka] Modric just walks past him,” Nicol told ESPN.
“So I think for Klopp and all Liverpool fans, the worrying thing is ‘what can he do to change this?’.
“I don’t think he can do anything. Fabinho looks heavy-legged, I’ve never seen [Gini] Wijnaldum looking so tired from the get-go.
“Now you add the problems at the back – what are they going to do to change their backline? They can’t change their backline, so how does Klopp change this?”
What RTK has to say
There certainly isn’t any easy answer here. The backline is what it is, though – Klopp has to move away from that as he truly can’t do anything.
The fixes come in midfield and attack. He either changes shape or changes personel.
It’s clear that Naby Keita can’t start the second-leg, so a change in midfield is coming. Thiago is the obvious option but if Wijnaldum still looks tired, perhaps someone else should come in, too.
Another option is 4-2-4, with Fabinho and Thiago as a duo and then an all-out attack approach up top. It gives up a little midfield control but could, in theory, pin Real back.
But Klopp has no simple change to fix all of this. It will take a chance somewhere – and a whole lot of luck.