The 0-3 home defeat to Real Madrid in yesterday´s clash in the Champions League was a bad result. On a positive note we can include a pretty decent effort for 20 minutes in each half and the fact that Ludogorets beat Basel in the other group B match. This leaves three teams, including Liverpool, on three points in a tight battle for the second and qualifying place in the group.
Real proved last night that Liverpool is a bit behind the big guns of Europe. And this despite Liverpool came up with perhaps the best performance of the season. We started well, showed defensive aggression all over the pitch, passed the ball quick and well. The movement was also there but the final penetration was not good enough and the final ball never reached a red shirt in a scoring position. In this department Liverpool lack ideas and belief. Real´s defence is on paper not so impressive but The Reds never find a way through.
And when you don´t score against a quality side like Real at some point you will be punished. In short succession the Spaniards scored three goals and showed why they are Europe´s top dogs and not Liverpool. Okay, two of the goals was as much obligatory defensive mistakes as bravado from Real. But if they hadn´t scored them they surely would have made other chances count.
In the second half the visitors just controlled the game and let Liverpool dominate the ball for 20-25 minutes. Real counter-attacked quickly and between the forward surges they just kept the home team at bay. And if Liverpool had found the net I´m sure that Real would have raised the tempo and scored themselves.
And when Philippe Coutinho, best red player on the night, was substituted after 25 minutes all attacking play died down. From then on it was a sad journey towards the final whistle with an inevitable result. I don´t know why Coutinho had to go off, he didn´t seem tired and was the man behind the attacking ideas. It was a bad choice by manager Brendan Rodgers. The Brazilian combined well with Adam Lallana and Raheem Sterling though, and that was a good sign for the future. These three must start in the upcoming matches.
If we can produce the sort of energy and willpower as we did in the first 20 minutes then many Premier League opponents will be overturned. Sadly, Liverpool often perform sharper and quicker against better opposition and falls asleep and play really slow against lesser teams. This must be rectified, a perfect start would be on Saturday when Hull visit Anfield.
Luckily for Liverpool the defeat wasn´t so detrimental as it could have been. We can thank Ludogorets for beating Basel and leave the fight for second place open. Liverpool can probably seal their own fate now. Wins against Ludogorets away and Basel at home should be enough for progress to the knockout rounds.
Here are my ratings for the Reds who participated in the third game in the Champions League (on a scale from 1 to 10):
GK Simon Mignolet 4.
Made some good saves but was also guilty of chicken out in certain situations and being wrongly positioned in others.
RB Glen Johnson 2.
Lost possession several times due to bad decison making. Didn´t do much attack-wise and was too often out of position in defence.
CB Dejan Lovren 2.
Was all over the place and hardly never inte right one. Lost duels, missed the ball, was outpaced and Real harrassed him all night long.
CB Martin Skrtel 4.
Not a faultless performance but he minimized the mistakes. Showed self-confidence and toughness but came up against superior players.
LB Alberto Moreno 4.
Ran a lot and tried to help the attack the whole time. A decent display but just like his peers in red he was taken for a ride at times.
DM Steven Gerrard 5.
Started well and joined the attack at the start but dropped further back during the match and was completely ineffective at the end.
DM Joe Allen 4.
Passed the ball well in the beginning and moved well. Lost a few duels too easy and was left stranded when Real counter-attacked.
RM Jordan Henderson 3.
Didn´t do anything special in defence or attack. Ran around in midfield chasing the ball and was never really involved.
AM Raheem Sterling 5.
Showed a lot of will and energy and attacked left, right and centre. Nothing really came off but it was close on a couple of times. Close to top form.
LM Philippe Coutinho 6.
Always available for a pass and when he was in possession something happened. Back to his sharp and inventive best. Almost.
CF Mario Balotelli 1.
Didn´t threat the away defence during his 45 minutes and was guilty of several poor decisions. Looked uninterested and was lazy.
LM Adam Lallana 4. (Replaced Mario Balotelli after 45 mins).
Was really lively for 20 minutes but disappeared after that.
Lazar Markovic 1. (Replaced Philippe Coutinho after 67 mins).
Was on for half an hour but failed with everything and looked afraid.
DM Emre Can 3. (Replaced Jordan Henderson after 67 mins).
Quite a good effort. Won the ball and passed it well.
Before the match I had some hope that Liverpool would give Real Madrid a run for their money. And they did for a short period. But on the whole Real was in another class. But they didn´t destroy or bashed Liverpool as many papers claimed after the match. Real was better but not in a extreme way. We are not broken and soon:
We Go Again.