A wretched Liverpool were beaten 3-1 away to Real Madrid in the Champions League on Tuesday night, with far too many Reds players well short of their best.
Real Madrid 3-1 Liverpool
Champions League Quarter-Final 1st Leg, Estadio Alfredo Di Stefano
April 6, 2021
Goals: Vinicius Jr 27′ 65′, Asensio 36′; Salah 52′
Alisson (out of 10) – 5
Unfortunately, that didn’t prove to be the case, with the Brazilian powerless to do anything about Madrid’s two opening goals.
He had to do far better with Vinicius’ second of the night, though, summing up his below-par form for too much of this season.
Trent Alexander-Arnold – 4
There has been so much talk about Trent’s defensive shortcomings of late and this was a night that saw them brutally exposed.
The 22-year-old was targeted by the hosts all evening, with Vinicius Jr giving him a torrid time and his awful header backwards gifting Marco Asensio a goal.
Gareth Southgate will have been watching on feeling vindicated, sadly.
Nat Phillips – 4
Phillips has performed admirably of late, but there has always been a worry that he would eventually be exposed by a top-class attack.
That proved to be the case against Zinedine Zidane’s side, with the centre-back horribly caught for Vinicius’ opener from a routine long ball.
He tried his best, but ultimately, this is above his level and there’s not a lot he can do about it.
Ozan Kabak – 6 (Man of the Match)
Kabak has been even better than Phillips recently and he was Liverpool’s best player, albeit on an evening full of terrible displays.
He started well, looking composed, and although he almost gifted Madrid a third goal in the first half, the positives outweighed the negatives.
So easy to forget he’s only just turned 21, too.
Andy Robertson – 5
Robertson has been poor for a sustained period, but it was hard to blame him for Liverpool’s numerous issues in Spain.
Granted, his usual lung-busting runs were nowhere to be seen, but he was defensively secure compared to the rest of the back line.
Not exactly an outing to treasure, though.
Fabinho – 5
Fabinho has been exceptional throughout this season, excelling in two different positions, but he struggled on Tuesday.
Ran into trouble on one occasion and lacked his usual dominance.
Gini Wijnaldum – 4
This was a quiet night for the Reds’ No. 5, both vocally and on and off the ball, as he offered nowhere near enough drive and guile.
Naby Keita – 3
Keita was handed an enormous opportunity to shine, but instead, this ended up being a nightmare for him.
Barring one promising dribbled, the Guinean continually lost possession in dangerous areas and looked an increasingly nervous presence, as well as failing to provide enough legs.
Replaced after 42 minutes and not because of injury – is this the end for him at Liverpool?
Mohamed Salah – 6
Salah has continued to bang in the goals of late and that again applied against Madrid, as he just about kept the Reds in the tie with a second-half finish.
In truth, he never got going against a Madrid side without Sergio Ramos and Raphael Varane, but he at least looked dangerous.
The service to him was horribly lacking.
Sadio Mane – 4
This is a shadow of the footballer we saw last season – the man who dragged Liverpool through so many matches with his quality and passion.
Mane never looked like affecting matters at any point, looking extremely jaded and every bit a player who has played too much football in the last few years.
Bordering on sad to see.
Diogo Jota – 5
Jota was preferred to Roberto Firmino, looking to carry on from where he left off at the weekend, leading the line in a different way to his team-mate.
It just didn’t happen for the Portuguese, however, and he lacked Firmino’s ability to drop deep and link with the midfield.
Hindsight is a wonderful thing, but maybe another cameo from the substitutes’ bench would have been the right decision from Jurgen Klopp.
Thiago (on for Keita, 43′) – 5
Given more than a half to work his magic, Thiago started slowly in the minutes before half-time and never really stamped his world-class authority on proceedings.
Xherdan Shaqiri (on for Kabak, 81′) – 5
Didn’t do much of note, but did nothing wrong.
Roberto Firmino (on for Jota, 81′) – 5
Same as Shaqiri.
Subs not used: Adrian, H. Davies, R. Williams, B. Davies, Tsimikas, Milner, Cain, Jones, Oxlade-Chamberlain
Jurgen Klopp – 4
Put bluntly, Klopp had a stinker.
His decision to start Keita backfired badly, with the midfielder off the pace after a spell out of the team, and Firmino was also arguably missed.
On top of that, Liverpool’s performance was abysmal for a large chunk of the night and the manager has to be blamed for that, as well as the players.
This was a return to the dark ages of earlier in the season and Klopp will know his side need to produce more European heroics to stay in the Champions League.