Rio Ferdinand was ‘baffled’ by the way Ibrahima Konate and Virgil van Dijk attempted to defend Karim Benzema against Real Madrid tonight.
The current Ballon d’Or holder got the only goal of the game as Real knocked the Reds out of the Champions League. And analysing the game’s only goal for BT Sport, Ferdinand questioned the Liverpool centre-backs.
“I’m a centre-back. That distance between one centre back to the other with one of the most deadly strikers on the planet, with the midfield facing play, I’m baffled as to why one of those centre-backs doesn’t go I’m going to attach myself straight to him and I’m going to mark him, and the other one goes to cover,” he said.
Madrid profit from another lucky bounce
Watching the goal back, you can see where Ferdinand is coming from. Konate and Van Dijk allow Benzema to simply walk into the gap between them.
In fairness, it wasn’t necessarily a big gap, and Van Dijk was able to get across and stop the Frenchman in his tracks initially. But with a lucky bounce falling the way of Vinicius Jnr, Konate and Van Dijk couldn’t readjust in time.
Quick-thinking by Vinicius laid the ball on a plate for Benzema to tap home. It was an untidy goal and – like so many of Madrid’s over the two legs – a pretty fortunate one. But it could certainly have been defended better.
Reinforcements needed at the back
Without question, Konate and Van Dijk is Liverpool’s best centre-half pairing. Despite their relative lack of anticipation here, they did relatively well against Madrid this evening.
You can’t help but feel that had Ibou played the first-leg at Anfield things might have turned out differently.
As it was, Liverpool were shown how costly having below-par players in a key position can be. Joe Gomez is no longer an elite-level player and the Reds must address this at the end of the season. With Konate unreliable in terms of fitness, bringing in a top centre-back needs to be on the agenda.
In the meantime, it’s vital that Jurgen Klopp gets this pair together as often as he can between now and then. They may not have shown their best in this specific instance, but Liverpool are a better team with them both in it.
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