Jurgen Klopp (Photograph by Paul Ellis/AFP)
An evening that started with a Liverpool rebel on and off the sector ended with a refrain of “Oles” from the visiting assist as Actual Madrid ran riot to win the primary leg of their Champions League final 16 tie 5-2.
A repeat of final season’s closing supplied the Reds the prospect for revenge and to avoid wasting a season to overlook.
As a substitute Liverpool’s frailties had been brutally uncovered by the Spanish giants regardless of conceding twice inside the primary quarter-hour.
There was an additional edge to Anfield’s regular noise on a giant European night time.
An unbiased investigation into the chaotic scenes surrounding the Champions League closing in Paris final Might has laid the blame clearly at UEFA’s door for endangering the protection of supporters.
The Liverpool followers had been in no temper to forgive European soccer’s governing physique because the competitors’s anthem was booed and banners aimed toward UEFA and the French authorities sprinkled over the Kop.
Jurgen Klopp’s gamers had been charged by the electrical environment that rocked Madrid again on their heels.
The choice to take a position the overwhelming majority of Liverpool’s summer season switch price range in Darwin Nunez somewhat than refreshing a drained midfield has been constantly questioned because the Reds have quickly gone backwards this season.
However the 67 million ($80 million) striker confirmed a flash of what he’s able to with an excellent backheel to open the scoring earlier than Mohamed Salah pounced on an uncharacteristic error from Thibaut Courtois to make it 2-0.
There was a time when a 2-0 deficit to Klopp’s Liverpool would have appeared insurmountable to even the European champions.
However in 2023 alone they’ve shipped three objectives to Brighton, Brentford and Wolves and suffered even better punishment when confronted with the razor sharp high quality of Madrid within the closing third.
Vincius Junior’s strike to deliver Actual again into the tie and Karim Benzema’s cool end to spherical off the scoring had been moments of particular person and collective brilliance from the Spanish champions.
However in between occasions there was loads of self-inflicted harm from Liverpool.
Not for the primary time this season, Alisson Becker’s distribution value his facet as Vinicius charged down his Brazil teammate’s clearance to equalise.
Eder Militao was then given acres of room to move in Luka Modric’s free-kick to suck the life out of Anfield firstly of the second half.
“We did not assist ourselves for positive,” mentioned Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson.
“They’ve so much high quality and we knew that. If you’re not at one hundred pc defending, they punish you. We prompted ourselves issues at occasions.”
Simply as alarming was the shortage of a response as as an alternative Madrid struck twice extra within the subsequent 20 minutes to realistically kill the tie.
“The third purpose it was a horrible purpose, however right this moment it was a game-changer,” mentioned Klopp.
“We misplaced the momentum in that second and by no means bought it again.”
Languishing in eighth within the Premier League and with their defence of each home cups additionally over, Liverpool now discover themselves as a crossroads.
Klopp has made Champions League soccer the norm once more at Anfield, however there’s a actual danger that six successive seasons within the competitors involves an finish this 12 months.
The German not less than doesn’t look like going wherever having prolonged his contract to 2026 solely final 12 months.
So too it now appears are the membership’s house owners after John Henry dominated out a sale regardless of searching for recent funding.
However a rebuild is badly wanted on the sector if Liverpool are to return to the heights Klopp has taken them in recent times.
“It is a actuality verify,” former Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard informed BT Sport.
“Liverpool had been dominated. Any staff that concedes 5 objectives, there needs to be an inquest. There’s going to be a little bit of soul-searching now.”