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Liverpool have it all to do at Anfield after losing the first-leg of their Champions League quarter final 3-1 against Real Madrid.
The Reds would have hoped to carry the kind of form they showed in the win over Arsenal, but their first half display was a stark contrast to that showing.
Jurgen Klopp’s men struggled to retain possession and when Real opened the scoring it was richly deserved.
Just before the half-hour mark Toni Kroos picked out Vinicius Jr. who ran through on goal and fired past Alisson.
It was 2-0 ten minutes later when a Trent Alexander-Arnold error allowed Marco Asensio to dink the ball over the Liverpool keeper before poking into an empty net.
However, the visitors came out a different side after the break and Mohamed Salah netted an away goal after latching onto a scuffed Diogo Jota shot.
But minutes later Real re-established their two-goal lead when a Vinicius shot squeezed under Allison.
And that's how it stayed, meaning Liverpool will need to win well next week in order to secure a place in the final four.
While all hope is not lost, there will be a few regrets for Klopp as his squad jet back to England.
Thiago over Keita
When Liverpool’s teamsheet included no Thiago Alcantara it raised more than a few eyebrows.
The Spaniard enjoyed, arguably his most accomplished performance in a Liverpool shirt during the win over Arsenal.
However, Klopp opted to bring Keita into the midfield alongside Fabinho and Gini Wijnaldum. But right from the off that looked a poor choice, with the Reds unable to string passes together.
Thiago and Fabinho look as if they are starting to build an understanding of how to use the ball and how they can link the team together.
In his absence, there appeared little fluidity in the centre of the park and Klopp’s decision to bring him on before the break showed he recognised his mistake.
A telling absence
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As Kroos stood with the ball at his feet, surveyed the field in front of him and played an inch-perfect pass, the lack of press was clear to see.
It’s easy to say in hindsight, but it’s hard to imagine Roberto Firmino allowing the German the kind of time to play such a ball.
Kroos dominated the midfield, dropping slightly deeper and had ample time to play switch after switch, continually stretching the Liverpool shape.
While Firmino's attacking numbers have come under fire, what can never be questioned is what he offers his side defensively.
The high line issues return
Prior to the game in Madrid, Ozan Kabak’s most difficult afternoon came in the defeat to Leicester City at the King Power.
Many of those issues stemmed from Liverpool playing a high line and Jamie Vardy and Co. running beyond them.
And it was much of the same against Real with Vinicius and Asensio running in behind time after time.
There were points in the second half where it appeared Liverpool had forgot this was a two-legged encounter, such was the amount of bodies being thrown forward.
Against this kind of forward line, it was a grave mistake.
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- Champions League
- Jurgen Klopp
- Liverpool FC
- Real Madrid FC
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