Liverpool v Villarreal Semi Final Leg One - UEFA Champions League


99 passes, five tackles: One Liverpool player was world-class tonight, Crouch says he's 'gone up a few levels'

Peter Crouch raved about Thiago on Wednesday evening after his wonderful performance for Liverpool against Villarreal. The Spaniard was in fantastic form once again.

Liverpool took a giant step towards the Champions League final on Wednesday as they won 2-0 against Villarreal at Anfield. Jordan Henderson forced an own goal for the first (though, he’s claiming it) before Sadio Mané slotted home a second shortly afterwards.

The goals and scoreline only tell half the story, however. Liverpool were utterly dominant here, controlling the ball expertly and pinning Villarreal back. It’s difficult to see how Unai Emery’s side counter that, in fact, when the tie heads to El Madrigal next week.

And Liverpool really have one player to thank above all others for that dominance. This was yet another genius display from Thiago, who has been exceptional in recent weeks. Peter Crouch, offering punditry for BT Sport, had a series of nice things to say about the Liverpool midfielder.

“I think sometimes those stats can be misleading – 95, 96 per cent [pass completion],” said Crouch. “It’s from players who give it five, ten yards. Players who win the ball and give it to someone who can play.

“[Thiago] wins the ball he’s hitting 30 and 40 yard passes! He’s playing short or he’s playing through the lines with the eyes and he’s still got that percentage of pass completion.

“He’s not someone who passes sideways and backwards – he creates things but the passes are completed every time.”

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Thiago for Liverpool

It’s a sentiment shared by Jamie Carragher, who said the same in the Telegraph recently. Thiago is playing at the top of his game and at a level we hadn’t yet seen at Liverpool.

Photo by Pedro Salado/Quality Sport Images/Getty Images

Now, we actually believe Thiago has been exceptional all season long. We were raving about him ourselves back in December after a couple of fine displays.

But there’s little doubt that we’re seeing a whole other level right now. Thiago was incredible at Wembley, incredible against Manchester United and once again incredible tonight. He’s a simply sensational player who can control massive matches all on his own.

Finally, everyone is realising just how good he can be for Liverpool.

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