Fabinho “transformative” as Reds show “European knowhow” – Media on Liverpool 2-0 RB Leipzig

The media assessed Fabinho’s midfield return as key to Liverpool’s 2-0 win against Leipzig and feel future success this season hinges on the Brazilian staying there.

That’s the Liverpool we all know and love!

Another excellent, clinical team performance in Budapest ensured the Reds cruised into the quarter-finals of the Champions League.

The same two goalscorers from the first leg did the business again, as Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane sealed a comfortable passage to the next stage.

It was a brilliant collective effort from Jurgen Klopp’s side, and it keeps the season and dreams of a magnificent seventh European Cup alive and kicking.

The media were impressed with Liverpool’s work, and here’s all the key analysis from the post-match reports on a victorious night in Hungary.


Reporters praised Liverpool for stepping up to save the season and felt the Reds showed signs of rediscovering themselves…

2F26NR0 Liverpool players celebrates the opening goal scored by Mohamed Salah during the UEFA Champions League round of sixteen, second leg match at the Puskas Arena, Budapest. Picture date: Wednesday March 10, 2021.

The Guardian’s Andy Hunter praised Klopp’s team for delivering when it mattered most:

The Champions League offers salvation and this was a gradual return of Liverpool’s form when it mattered most.

This was the Reds’ best performance of 2021, in the view of the Liverpool Echo’s Ian Doyle, who also praised Klopp’s men for displaying their “European know-how”:

And how it was needed, the Reds delivering their best performance since the turn of the year to ensure their pursuit of silverware remains alive.


What wasn’t in question, however, was the determined, composed fashion in which Jurgen Klopp’s side highlighted their European knowhow to deal comfortably with the young upstarts of RB Leipzig.

The Independent’s Melissa Reddy saw the welcome comeback of several aspects of Liverpool’s best play, as the Reds “looked like themselves”:

It was peculiar watching Liverpool be so many shades of the side we remember: gegenpressing, countering with credence and even looking dangerous from dead-ball situations.


They, quite significantly, looked like themselves.

The Mirror’s Andy Dunn thought the big positives were Liverpool rediscovering their attacking threat and the fact that a full functioning and “competitive” midfield was available again:

But at least the 2019 champions looked a real threat throughout, at least they looked like they had a midfield that looked seriously competitive.

Liverpool’s next challenge is to reproduce this level of performance at Anfield to get back on track on home soil, as stated by the Telegraph’s Jason Burt:

Where has this Liverpool been? This was a home tie – albeit played in Hungary – but how they need a performance like this the next time they return to Anfield.


The media explained how Fabinho’s midfield return was key and feel Liverpool’s success from here hinges on the Brazilian’s role…

BUDAPEST, HUNGARY - Wednesday, March 10, 2021: Liverpool's Sadio Mané (R) celebrates with team-mate Fabio Henrique Tavares 'Fabinho' after scoring the second goal during the UEFA Champions League Round of 16 2nd Leg game between Liverpool FC and RB Leipzig at the Puskás Aréna. (Pic by Propaganda)

Writing for Goal.com, Neil Jones praised the No.3 for an “immense” performance and explained it was Fabinho’s comeback that “enabled Klopp’s team to dominate”:

The most significant selection, though, was that of Fabinho at the base of the Reds’ midfield. It was that which enabled Klopp’s team to dominate proceedings, pretty much from the first whistle.

Back in his favoured position, the Brazilian was immense; strong, aggressive, positive, aware and trustworthy. No player won possession more times, no player made more interceptions. No player had a bigger impact.

Reddy noted the impact that Fabinho had not only on midfield, but the defence too:

Liverpool clearly have specific tactical issues to solve in the Premier League, but shifting Fabinho back into midfield – which occurred for the first time since October – can be part of that puzzle.

He provided greater protection for the raw centre-back partnership of Ozan Kabak and Nathaniel Phillips, while affording Thiago the chance to be more offensive.

Press Association reporter Carl Markham noted how Fabinho’s quality on the ball in deep areas allowed the centre-back to focus on defending, which was key to the solid defensive display:

The effect on the team was a marked improvement with the Brazil international providing essential cover in front of the back four, allowing the centre-backs to concentrate on defending.


The other positive from Fabinho’s midfield presence was it allowed full-backs Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andy Robertson to play higher and with Thiago Alcantara freed from defensive responsibilities he could focus on the creative side of his game.

The Telegraph’s Jonathan Liew assessed that it was Thiago who benefited most from Fabinho’s midfield comeback:

The real revelation, though, was the transformative effect on Thiago Alcântara.


But with Fabinho alongside him, the Spaniard could get further forward and simply create: bursting through on goal, winning the ball off Marcel Sabitzer high up the pitch, setting Mo Salah clear with an arresting taekwondo-kick pass.

And Jones feels it is vital that Klopp does all he can to keep the Brazilian anchorman in his natural position for the rest of the campaign:

He simply has to stay there, as the No.6, between now and the end of the season. Liverpool need him.

Following that was ESPN’s Mark Ogden, who reckons Fabinho being played in midfield could prove actually the difference to Liverpool winning the Champions League or not:

The Brazilian has been outstanding as a makeshift centre-half this season, but his energy and tenacity has been missed in midfield. If Klopp is able to keep Fabinho in his best position, then Liverpool may just be able to keep the best teams at bay.

If they can do that, Salah and Mane have shown they can score against any opposition in Europe, so Liverpool can still cling to the hope that they can go all way in the competition.

Elsewhere, Burt thought Diogo Jota did well back in the front three and thinks the Portuguese should become “the third pillar” ahead of Roberto Firmino:

There was encouragement all over the pitch and not least with Fabinho back in midfield where he surely has to say and – dare it be said – Diogo Jota showing that maybe he deserves to be the third pillar of that attacking trio ahead of the injured Roberto Firmino.

Jota could – should – have scored but was a threat throughout.


Journalists feel Liverpool remain serious contenders in the competition and don’t bet against Klopp’s side going all the way…

BUDAPEST, HUNGARY - Wednesday, March 10, 2021: Liverpool's players line-up for a team group photograph before the UEFA Champions League Round of 16 2nd Leg game between Liverpool FC and RB Leipzig at the Puskás Aréna. Back row L-R: goalkeeper Alisson Becker, Nathaniel Phillips, Ozan Kabak, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Sadio Mané. Front row L-R: Fabio Henrique Tavares 'Fabinho', Andy Robertson, Georginio Wijnaldum, Thiago Alcantara, Diogo Jota, Mohamed Salah. (Pic ©UEFA)

Jones says that Klopp’s side gave a reminder that they remain a “formidable side” in this competition:

Whatever their struggles at home, the manner of this victory suggests Klopp’s side remain formidable foes in this competition.

The Mail’s Martin Samuel believes that Liverpool will be the team all quarter-finalists will want to avoid when the draw is made:

Wednesday night served as a reminder, then: there is still a very good Liverpool side here. There is still a team of immense potential, and nobody will want them in the draw on March 19.

The Mirror’s Sam Reade says that you can’t rule the Reds out of going all the way, as they have the quality and know-how to win the competition:

Many of their top players are not firing on all cylinders, but their quality remains.


The German has always been good at raising his team for the big occasion and this tournament could suit them perfectly.

Ogden is less convinced of Liverpool’s ability to win the competition again, citing injuries and the inexperience in defence as problems too big to overcome on the elite stage:

But the injuries that have de-railed the defence of their Premier League title threaten to also compromise their Champions League bid.


Whether they can manage that against one of Europe’s more fearsome attacking sides remains to be seen, though.

Finally, Burt feels the frustration of this nightmare season could now actually prove useful, as the frustration built up could provide the inspiration needed for the Reds to go all the way:

Wounded, angry, upset, bewildered with a point to prove Liverpool should now be dangerous opponents in the last eight and, who knows, in this craziest of all seasons will there be a return to Istanbul where the final will be played?

It would be in keeping with Liverpool’s defiance to do just that. European Cup number seven is still a possibility. Will they have more players back by then? Probably. Will they be determined to save the campaign and show the world what they can do? Certainly.