While Liverpool have had a multitude of issues this season, their complete lack of composure all over the pitch was the one that bit them hardest against Real Madrid.
The Reds crashed out of the Champions League this week against the most successful side in the competition’s history. A 0-0 draw at Anfield failed to overturn the 3-1 defeat at the Estadio Alfredo Di Stefano.
It wasn’t for a lack of effort, or even a lack of quality for the most part, but for a lack of a calm mind in the crucial moments.
It was clear right from the off that Liverpool were going to bring the intensity of old; a level of aggression and speed that has become all too rare this season.
Mohamed Salah got the biggest chance of the game after just two minutes, but his tame effort was saved easily by Thibaut Courtois.
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If the Egyptian was a little more relaxed, he may have been able to put it either side of the Real Madrid goalkeeper, rather than straight at him.
Salah had an additional three shots, with an xG of 0.50, yet failed to find the next.
Gini Wijnaldum was also guilty of missing a big chance, blazing his attempt over the bar shortly before half-time.
Desperation in build-up
It wasn’t solely in front of goal that Jurgen Klopp’s men lacked composure. It was also evident in their passing in the final third.
This was clearest in the 28th minute when Roberto Firmino lost possession in a vital area.
The Brazilian was in yards of space heading towards goal when he tried to play a simple pass to Trent Alexander-Arnold. Ferland Mendy simply intercepted the poor effort.
It was the pass before a potential assist and should have led to an attempt on goal. The amount of time Firmino was detrimental to a player who plays his best football on instinct.
While Wijnaldum and James Milner were superb in midfield, they lack the ability to keep possession and wait for the perfect chance to make the perfect pass.
Instead, the experienced Liverpool pair tried to force passes trying to create an opening that simply was not there.
The introduction of Thiago improved their ability to patiently build the play. However, it was too late at this stage.
All in all, Liverpool played an excellent 90 minutes of football. There was so much right, but that one key element of composure was simply missing.
It is the difference between winning and losing at the highest level.