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Tuesday, March 21, 2023

Liverpool debacle: Klopp and the “rubble of his Anfield empire”

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Liverpool and Real Madrid will meet at eye level in the 2022 Champions League final. When they meet again, a class difference becomes clear. Jürgen Klopp does not want to be unsettled by this.

After the worst European home defeat in the club’s history, the spirit of optimism at Liverpool FC has already evaporated. The devastating 2: 5 (2: 2) against Real Madrid destroyed the faint hope of a turnaround in the Reds, which had arisen after two Premier League victories.

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After the debacle against feared opponents Real, the British media hardly gave a good hair to Jürgen Klopp’s team. But the coach himself was spared the criticism. The newspaper “Guardian” saw “an absolute destruction” of Liverpool. The team “simply fell apart at times”. Klopp is standing before “the ruins of his Anfield empire,” summed up the tabloid “The Sun”. Many media spoke of the end of an era, but not for the coach, but for his current team. “Jürgen Klopp’s first big Liverpool phase is over,” said the “Telegraph”, “now he has to build a new one.”

Liverpool’s squad lacks breadth

After Liverpool – compared to other Premier League clubs like Chelsea or Manchester United – which was also in crisis – recently acted cautiously on the transfer market, the club has to become active in the summer. The roster is not broad enough to be competitive in multiple competitions. In midfield and on the defensive, Klopp lacks alternatives.

Almost a year ago, the teams in the Champions League final (1-0 for Madrid) met on an equal footing. Now a class difference became clear. Klopp tried to get something good out of the swatter in his own stadium. After all, his team was 2-0 up after a quarter of an hour. “How we started the game – and in our current situation – it’s really important that we see the positive steps,” said the 55-year-old. “I think apart from the two goals conceded, the first half was the best we’ve played all season.”

Darwin Nunez (4′) and Mohamed Salah (14′) scored early for the hosts at Anfield before Vinicius Junior (21’/36′) equalized with a brace. In the half-time break, the game seemed completely open. “You think to yourself: OK, that happened. Now we have to play like this and if we do that, Real will have problems,” said the Liverpool coach. It turned out differently.

After the restart, things went very quickly for his team. Too fast. Within ten minutes Eder Militao (47′) and Karim Benzema (55′) put Liverpool down before Benzema (67′) finally made everything clear for the defending champions. Klopp saw the turning point in Militao’s goal. “In that moment we lost our momentum and we didn’t regain it.”

Klopp team needs a miracle in Madrid

In the second leg at the Bernabeu, Liverpool need another miracle to reach the quarter-finals. Like in the 2019 semifinals, when the team went 4-0 at home after losing 3-0 at FC Barcelona in the second leg. It’s just hard to imagine that at Liverpool 2023 at the moment. “We’re going there, I can already say that, and we’ll try to win the game,” emphasized Klopp – and sounded a little trying. “I don’t know if that’s possible or not. But we’ll try it and then we’ll see.”

Much more important now is the league game on Saturday evening in London at Crystal Palace. After victories against FC Everton (2-0) and Newcastle United (2-0), the current bottom of the table needs to collect more points in order to find a place in the Champions League again soon. The fact that the 2: 5 affects the self-confidence of his players is “not allowed,” Klopp made clear. “If we let that one game affect us, well, then we’re really stupid.”

Source: Stern

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