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“Vintage” European display a big step to “reigniting” campaign – Media on Leipzig 0-2 Liverpool

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The media were impressed by a “vintage Liverpool” European performance in the 2-0 win over Leipzig, and feel this victory can “reignite” the season.

Clinical finishes from Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane punished Leipzig defensive howlers to put the Reds in full control of the Champions League last-16 tie.

It was a brilliant night’s work from Jurgen Klopp and his team, and one that will provide a huge confidence boost – hopefully it can be the springboard to get the season back on track.

Here’s all the key analysis from the media on a great night in Budapest – it certainly makes for much nicer reading!

 

Reporters felt this win was a crucial step forward for Liverpool and has the power to ‘reignite’ the season…

BUDAPEST, HUNGARY - Tuesday, February 16, 2021: Liverpool's Sadio Mané celebrates with team-mates after scoring the second goal during the UEFA Champions League Round of 16 1st Leg game between RB Leipzig and Liverpool FC at the Puskás Aréna. (Pic by Propaganda)

BBC Sport’s Phil Dawkes described the victory as the “first step” to reigniting the campaign, with this a reminder of the quality that the Reds still possess:

“[This] was a much-needed reminder of the qualities that drove them to that league win and the Champions League trophy the season before it.

[…]

“It represents a big foot forward towards the quarter-finals for the Reds and a first step on the road to potentially reigniting their flagging season.”

ESPN’s Nick Judd was hugely impressed with the Reds and assessed that this was a “vintage Liverpool” European performance:

“This was vintage Liverpool.”

The Liverpool Echo’s Paul Gorst felt it was “perfect” preparation for the Merseyside derby, and said the Reds must use this European success to get back on track on the domestic front:

“With Everton next up, this was the perfect way to warm up for Liverpool, as they filled up the coffers with an abundance of confidence that has largely deserted them over the last two months.

[…]

“The Champions League scenery, it seems, was the change Liverpool needed, but they must now use this as the springboard to a return to loftier heights at home too.”

 

Members of the media thought the Reds looked much more like themselves again, with “hunger” and “focus” rediscovered…

BUDAPEST, HUNGARY - Tuesday, February 16, 2021: Liverpool's Mohamed Salah celebrates after scoring the first goal during the UEFA Champions League Round of 16 1st Leg game between RB Leipzig and Liverpool FC at the Puskás Aréna. (Pic by Propaganda)

The Mirror’s David Maddock wrote that the Reds “looked like the real Liverpool again”:

“After a shaky opening, when the midfield was far too open given the gravity of the situation – this is the only trophy they can now win – suddenly, they looked like the real Liverpool again.

“All the verve, all the energy, all the zeal in the pressing was there, and with Leipzig’s central defenders, and particularly the Bayern-bound Dayot Upamecano, looking shockingly uncomfortable on the ball, they had real chances to take the tie by the throat.”

The Guardian’s David Hytner wrote how the key for Liverpool’s improvement was rediscovering their “focus and precision”:

“This was a performance more in keeping with the ones that had made them such feared opposition prior to their shock downturn; the hustle was there and so was the focus and precision.

“Importantly, the errors that have undermined them of late were not.”

The Mirror’s Darren Wells thought Klopp’s team “had their hunger back,” as displayed by the Reds’ relentless pressing display:

“After several matches of sub-par performances, Liverpool finally had their hunger back in Hungary. From the first whistle they looked up for it, and closed Leipzig down with that extra bit of purpose they’ve been missing, almost with a point to prove.

Jordan Henderson was constantly looking to get the ball moving quickly, and Liverpool did a good job of evading Leipzig’s high press while applying their own pressure in the right areas.”

Judd thought Liverpool were much the better side and noted how the Reds’ confidence levels visibly grew as the game went on:

“The visitors started the game well and, after surviving an early scare, Liverpool then dominated possession and had the best chances. You could see them grow in confidence with every minute.”

Writing for Goal, Neil Jones was impressed by the organisation in the performance and commented on how the Reds certainly did not look like a team low on confidence:

“From pretty much the first whistle to the last, they were at it.

[…]

“They pressed and they passed, they concentrated and they worked, they were cohesive and organised, solid and dangerous. If confidence is low, then it didn’t show.”

 

Liverpool’s superior pressing game was the catalyst to earning the victory, in the view of several journalists…

BUDAPEST, HUNGARY - Tuesday, February 16, 2021: Liverpool's Mohamed Salah during the UEFA Champions League Round of 16 1st Leg game between RB Leipzig and Liverpool FC at the Puskás Aréna. (Pic by Propaganda)

First off, the Mail’s Martin Samuel thought Leipzig’s style played right into Liverpool’s hands:

“If Jurgen Klopp could have cherry-picked an opponent, it may well have been this one. Leipzig’s style allowed Liverpool to play to their strengths, pressing and exploiting their cavalier high line.”

The Telegraph’s Sam Wallace thought the Reds beat the German side at their own game, with Liverpool’s superior pressing game forcing Leipzig’s game-changing errors:

“Even with Jordan Henderson holding the defence together this felt more like the Klopp Liverpool with a relentless approach that made their opposition doubt themselves.

[…]

“The spaces between the lines of RB Leipzig, nominally the team at home on neutral turf, felt disrupted and pressed hard by Klopp’s men. There was a more frantic mood to the German side when chased down by Liverpool which is just the way that Klopp likes it.”

The Guardian’s Jonathan Liew explained how it was simply Leipzig’s own ambition and their desire to take the game to Liverpool that proved their undoing:

“In a way, Leipzig’s willingness to go toe-to-toe was probably the key to Liverpool’s triumph.

[…]

“Liverpool enjoy it when teams try to play against them, which is probably why so few bother.”

Elsewhere, the Independent’s Melissa Reddy was impressed by how the Reds showed the required “character” to manage the game after building the 2-0 cushion:

“Nagelsmann’s men pushed to find a route back into the encounter, but Liverpool were equal to every attempt.

“An evening of quality was capped off with a flood of character from England’s champions.”

 

Liverpool’s local lads led the way in the assessments of the standout individual performers…

BUDAPEST, HUNGARY - Tuesday, February 16, 2021: Liverpool's Mohamed Salah (R) celebrates with team-mates Curtis Jones (L) and Roberto Firmino (C) after scoring the first goal during the UEFA Champions League Round of 16 1st Leg game between RB Leipzig and Liverpool FC at the Puskás Aréna. (Pic by Propaganda)

Wallace labelled Curtis Jones’ performance “outstanding”:

“In midfield there was another outstanding performance from the 20-year-old Curtis Jones who has not been affected by the team’s downturn in fortunes of late.”

Karl Matchett, writing for the Independent, was impressed with Trent Alexander-Arnold’s display – particularly the right-back’s “excellent” defensive work:

“Salah and Mane might have been among the goals, but there were two others who produced big showings on the night for the Reds.

[…]

“At right-back Trent Alexander-Arnold has had a really tough season, well below his best, but here he was excellent defensively for the most part and played a big role going forward, playing early passes, delivering from deep and always in support of Salah.”

Wells thought Alisson produced a good response to recent struggles and felt the Brazilian’s simplified game was key to that:

“But Alisson grew more composed as he got more into the game, and he was a constant out-ball for his teammates when Leipzig threatened to steal possession.

[…]

“He didn’t take any risks – probably after a warning from his manager – but it was the first step to putting his blip behind him.”

And Wells thought the same approach worked just as well for the impressive Ozan Kabak:

“The youngster passed his Champions League test with flying colours. It was a no thrills, back to basics defensive display, alongside Henderson who was simply superb.

“Kabak was more than happy to build play from the back and rarely looked troubled. Positive signs for his team.”

 

Certain reporters looked ahead to the second leg and feel the Reds have a chance of winning No. 7…

BUDAPEST, HUNGARY - Tuesday, February 16, 2021: Liverpool's manager Jürgen Klopp reacts during the UEFA Champions League Round of 16 1st Leg game between RB Leipzig and Liverpool FC at the Puskás Aréna. (Pic by Propaganda)

Gorst believes no team will want to face a resurgent Reds side in the last eight – should Liverpool finish the job at Anfield first, obviously:

“Instead, what should be reflected on is how this performance could bring about a long overdue return to form for a team whose star on the continent remains undimmed.

“Peeking ahead towards the last eight, no-one will want to come up against Klopp’s Liverpool with a new-found spring in their step.”

And finally, Liew thinks a seventh European Cup success is “certainly not beyond” Liverpool, especially if some absent players return and the Reds find consistency in performances:

“But a seventh European Cup is certainly not beyond them from this point.

“If they can get a few players back, grind out some results, and above all bottle the sense of purpose and occasion and intensity that was on evidence here, then they may yet be able to bring this most peculiar of seasons to a time-honoured conclusion.”

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