The media were unimpressed by Liverpool’s freestyle mentality and defending in the 4-3 win over Salzburg, but lauded the Reds’ attacking brilliance.
Jurgen Klopp’s European champions edged a thriller at Anfield to get the defence of the trophy up and running.
It was a night that saw Liverpool’s blistering attack bail out the defence in contrast to the Sheffield United win, and Klopp will have to find a better balance for Saturday’s tough test against Leicester.
Before the focus turns to that game, here’s how the media assessed a crazy night at Anfield.
The media thought Liverpool’s showoff approach was problematic but also commended Salzburg’s bravery…
The Telegraph’s Chris Bascombe felt the Reds were “unusually arrogant” and thought this contributed to a loss of concentration while also riling Salzburg up to fight back:
“Twenty-two minutes later they were level, admirably benefiting what can only be described as unusual arrogance from the European champions who sacrificed their usual endeavour to mimic the Harlem Globetrotters.”
The Mirror’s David Maddock praised the visitors for going toe-to-toe with the Reds and particularly admired the way Salzburg did not change their approach:
“We must thank the wonderfully innocent tactics of Salzburg.
“They decided the only way to counter the threat of possibly the most dangerous pair of full backs in Europe…was to give them acres of space to operate in.
“They were prepared to slug end to end with the Champions of Europe and one of the most potent teams on the planet. It almost worked too, as somehow they turned the game on its head by dragging back all three goals either side of half time.”
For Goal, Neil Jones commended the Austrian side for a fearless performance and sticking to their attacking principles:
“Salzburg deserve credit—Jesse March’s side are young and fearless, and few sides will commit as many men to attack on this ground this season—but it will worry Klopp how easily his side collapsed from 3-0.”
Meanwhile, Bascombe made an interesting observation on how the Galactico-like feeling around the Reds and the touristic atmosphere led to premature exhibition football and a loss of focus:
“Indeed, there are moments when Anfield treads a fine line during the early group games between legendary venue and tourist attraction, as many visitors holding mobile phone cameras and directing them towards the scarves as joining in the songs.
“On occasion it seemed too much, as if Liverpool were starting to play to the gallery rather than always pick the right pass. Liverpool’s players contributed to the sense of theatre.”
While criticising Liverpool’s showboating, reporters did praise the Reds for responding well when pegged back…
ESPN’s Liam Wheeler was impressed by the way Liverpool held their nerve and carved out a vital winner:
“Despite a near-colossal slip-up, Jurgen Klopp‘s side showed huge character to hold their nerve and carve out a winner with the scores level at 3-3.”
“This time, it was the defence that ultimately benefited, Milner joining the over-worked Fabinho at the base of the midfield and providing extra cover for a teetering back line.”
Wheeler also praised Klopp’s in-game management, assessing that the German’s formation change to 4-2-3-1 worked well once again:
“That blend of experience and energy proved vital and helped Liverpool to regain a foothold in the game when they were really up against it.”
Members of the media were in awe of the “ideological” Klopp attacking performance…
Jones thought the Reds looked “every inch the champions of Europe” in the stunning first-half blitz:
“They played with verve and a healthy arrogance, scored three wonderful goals and looked every inch the champions of Europe.”
The Evening Standard‘s David Lynch assessed Robertson’s strike as the conceptual Klopp goal and explained how it showed the Reds are nearing “full realisation” of the German’s ideology:
“If you had pulled Klopp to one side on his first day at Anfield and asked him to describe what one of his team’s goals would ideally look like, he might have described Liverpool’s second here.
“Almost four years since his arrival on Merseyside, Klopp is presiding over a team that is as close to a perfect realisation of his attacking philosophy as you’re likely to see. And it is absolutely thrilling to watch.”
Following that, the Mirror’s Simon Mullock heaped praise on Liverpool’s full-back duo and argued they are the best full-back pairing in world football:
“Liverpool surely boast the best full-back partnership in the world in the form of Alexander-Arnold and Robertson. There is certainly no-one to touch them when they get on the front foot.”
There was lots of criticism for the defensive display but not all the blame was put on the back line…
Jones wrote how this was a defensive performance to remind of flimsy side at the beginning of Klopp’s reign:
“For a spell, fans were reminded of the team they’d forgotten; you know, the one with the soft centre and the glass jaw, the one that couldn’t be trusted to hold on to any kind of advantage?
“Were they tired? Complacent, maybe? Had they taken their foot off the gas, or underestimated a Salzburg side that has been scoring goals for fun this season.”
Wheeler thought Virgil van Dijk delivered his weakest performance of the season:
“This will probably be his weakest display of the season. Turned inside out by Hee-chan as the striker unleashed a ruthless strike past a helpless Adrian.”
Jones assessed Joe Gomez as “rusty” on his comeback but also rightly noted how there was a distinct lack of protection from midfield:
“Gomez and Van Dijk would argue that they were left exposed by their midfield, with neither Gini Wijnaldum nor Jordan Henderson covering themselves in glory on the night, either. Fabinho, at times, was left fighting the tide alone. The Brazilian was good, but he can’t do everything.”
Mullock also thought it wasn’t entirely the defence’s fault, assessing that Liverpool were punished for being needlessly gung-ho:
“Liverpool switched off after going 3-0 up and Salzburg have shown this season that they are no mugs when it comes to scoring goals.
“Instead of keeping things tight to ride out the riposte, the home side kept piling forward – and were ruthlessly punished.”
“Van Dijk has undoubtedly been a rock for Liverpool but this game perhaps underlined the importance of Joel Matip to their defence as well—the Cameroon international missed the match through injury.”
On a similar train of thought, Lynch thinks Matip will come straight back into the team once he regains full fitness:
“Once Matip is fit again, it will be all too easy for Klopp to go back to the tried and tested formula that has resulted in such a strong start to the season.”
With the second round of games complete, certain journalists analysed the current state of Group E…
The Mail’s Dominic King thinks the Reds now have the perfect platform to take control of the group:
“They found a way to win and Mohamed Salah‘s goals—much-needed on a personal level following a sluggish run of form—have given them a platform to build for the remainder of the Group E campaign.”
And Lynch said that by drawing with Genk, Napoli surrendered control of the group and have handed the initiative to Liverpool:
“Belgian outfit Genk were already being touted as the group whipping boys after matchday one, but showed they are much more than that by holding Napoli to a 0-0 draw on their own patch.
“Now, they face back-to-back games against the latter, while Klopp’s men have a chance to open up a gap when they face Genk twice during that period.”