Liverpool’s Squad Players Impress in Madrid – Who Played Their Way Into Regular Contention?

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A much improved performance from Liverpool’s inexperienced XI in the Bernabeu saw a number of players provide food for thought for Brendan Rodgers ahead of Saturday’s clash with Chelsea. Ben Twelves looks at which brave performers should be in consideration for selection for the weekend’s game.

MADRID, SPAIN - Tuesday, November 4, 2014: Liverpool's manager Brendan Rodgers during the UEFA Champions League Group B match against Real Madrid at the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Rodgers’ bold team selection on Tuesday night raised eyebrows on just about everyone in the watching world, but a surprising performance later – which saw the Reds defend much more solid and enjoy better possession of the ball –  has led to some of the fringe players forcing their way back into the Liverpool managers’ plans.

Rodgers certainly had an eye on Saturday’s tough fixture with Chelsea – hence his decision to rotate heavily – but a team tipped to be on the end of a brutal battering stood up and were counted, and as result, some of the brave performers could well keep their place for Saturday’s game – giving the Liverpool boss a real selection headache.

So who out of the battling Reds on the night should now be considered for a starting berth at the weekend?

 

Kolo Toure

The experienced Ivorian centre back was Liverpool’s Man of the Match in the Santiago Bernabeu as he produced a fantastic display leading the much improved Reds back line.

Toure’s presence proved a settling figure in amongst a usually dysfunctional defensive guard and the 34-year-old marshalled the Reds defence expertly with every ounce of his experience.

He constantly instructed and demanded players into position – best illustrated in the 60th minute when he screamed at Lucas to ensure he didn’t chase the ball, opening up space and stayed anchoring in front of himself and Martin Skrtel.

The former Man City man also demonstrated some fantastic composure in possession of the ball alongside his outstanding defensive work – which saw him make some crucial interceptions and blocks – including one on Cristiano Ronaldo when the Portuguese attacker looked nailed on to double the lead in the second half.

Such a commanding performance simply cannot be ignored ahead of the toughest domestic fixture Rodgers’ side will face this season, and the Liverpool boss should absolutely keep Toure at the heart of the back line.

 

Emre Can

The powerful German produced an excellent performance in the heart of the Liverpool midfield – with his mobility and imposing stature a real plus point for the Reds.

Can was extremely controlling, decisive in possession and he played his part in driving Rodgers’ inexperienced team forward with some bursting runs through the midfield.

MADRID, SPAIN - Tuesday, November 4, 2014: Liverpool's Emre Can in action against Real Madrid CF during the UEFA Champions League Group B match at the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

It’s easy to forget when watching the former Bayer Leverkusen man that he’s still just 20-years-old and in amongst an indifferent summer transfer window, there’s no doubt that the German giant will prove to be an exceptional piece of business at just £10 million.

Can’s dynamism, power and tenacity combined with his tidiness in possession make him a real asset for Liverpool and coming up against a physical Chelsea midfield featuring the colossal Nemanja Matic, makes the 20-year-old seems like the perfect option to battle against him in the Reds midfield.

 

Lucas Leiva

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Tuesday, September 16, 2014: Liverpool's Mario Balotelli celebrates scoring the first goal against PFC Ludogorets Razgrad with team-mates Fabio Borini, Lucas Leiva and Raheem Sterling during the UEFA Champions League Group B match at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Somewhat of an outcast this season and very much a last resort as an option for the midfield, the Brazilian anchor man grabbed his rare chance in Madrid with both hands, as he produced a superb performance shielding his back four.

Lucas snuffed out attacks from the home side on a number of occasions, was positionally aware throughout and bar a few niggly fouls and sloppy touches, did an extremely effective job in front of the Reds defence before being substituted in the 70th minute as the Reds grew in confidence that they could get something from the match.

Without question his solid performance aided the defensive line, who all looked far more settled and decisive with the Brazillian international providing a genuine protection ahead of them, and despite not being the most natural part to his game, Lucas used the ball well for the majority of the match bringing a calming composure in the middle of the park.

With Rodgers saying post-match that there’s no guarantee that he will recall those rested to the starting XI on Saturday, the 27-year-old’s display has put him in the frame to feature against Jose Mourinho’s team.

 

Lazar Markovic

 

Tuesday night brought out an improved performance from the former Benfica man, with him looking key to Liverpool producing anything going forwards on the counter attack in the first half.

Markovic clearly has pace and his ability to carry the ball made him a threat, with only the ridiculously paced Madrid defence stopping him in his tracks. Drifting in from a wider position to picking the ball up in the middle of the pitch between lines, the 20-year-old showed glimpses of what he can bring to the team going forward.

The Serbian’s display hasn’t necessarily seen him put in a strong claim for a starting shirt for Saturday as the three above have, but with a bit of confidence hopefully gained and flashes of what is possibly to come more visible, now could be a good time to show faith in the £20million man.

 

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