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Liverpool: The 73rd minute decision is evidence to all of Klopp’s issues

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So, no legendary tales were created on Wednesday night in Madrid, and Liverpool match at Santiago Bernabeu was not going to have a Hollywood-style climax.

The T-1000 is still on the loose, Hans Gruber is still stalking Nakatomi Plaza, and Real Madrid has advanced to the Champions League quarterfinals. The sworn enemies of Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool in Europe will continue to battle.

Even with Klopp’s and the team’s history of improbable continental comebacks, Mission Impossible was always going to be just that for Klopp, to continue the old action-film allusions. Thus it turned out.

The 14-time winners of the most prestigious tournament in European football simply don’t have the three-goal swing required for the Reds to merely force extra time. Even when it happens, they still manage to come out on top. Chelsea is the one to talk to about that.

There was no outburst, rally, or kitchen sink flinging for a squad that needed three goals. However, with a 1-0 loss that sealed Carlo Ancelotti’s team’s emphatic 6-2 victory over the two legs, Liverpool quietly accepted their fate and exited at the last-16 stage.

Previously, Klopp’s squad was the most feared on the continent. These days, they are anything but. Now imagine how much the Reds manager must detest seeing the La League heavyweights. They were victorious in 2021, the season that all football fans have wanted to forget, as well as in Kiev and Paris.

In order to score goals, Klopp selected an aggressive lineup that included four forwards: Cody Gakpo, Darwin Nunez, Diogo Jota, and Mohamed Salah. This was the first time that all four of these players began together. Despite their best intentions, they only momentarily threatened to disturb their illustrious hosts with their disorganised attacking performance.

Klopp’s plan fails against Real Madrid

The fact that Liverpool were left to lament the 18-year-old rookie Stefan Bajcetic’s pre-game injury luck. This said a lot about the midfield predicament, which has been the subject of much writing this season. The 37-year-old utility player James Milner must start in the middle of the park for such a crucial game. The substitution of soon-to-be free agent Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain in the 73rd minute, when goals were still needed. This was another key sign of what’s gone wrong this season. This entire Liverpool season’s shortcomings may be directly attributed to that region of the field and the club’s unwillingness to considerably enhance its roster last summer.

Los Blancos dominated play early on, and Liverpool was hurried and uneasy in possession while they missed several chances to end the match. The closest they came was when Alisson Becker, who is superb, tipped Eduardo Camavinga’s long-range shot onto the crossbar. That came after a chance for Vinicius Junior. That, had the goalie not also saved it, might have raised an offside flag.

After an ineffectual Diogo Jota’s sliced volley, Darwin Nunez had a few good opportunities. At the halfway point on, Liverpool began to gather themselves. But they were unable to break through in their quest for three goals.

Read More: Milan regrets passing on the Arsenal deal to sign Liverpool’s Divock Origi

Liverpool used a different tactic

Before the hour mark, Klopp substituted Harvey Elliott and Roberto Firmino for Nunez and Jota. And then switched back to his tried-and-true 4-3-3 system. The decision to replace 14-goal Nunez was extremely odd, while the choice to remove Jota was understandable.

The hosts scarcely broke a sweat when Karim Benzema, as he so frequently does against the Reds. He scored to break the tie with a little over 10 minutes remaining. Klopp’s team continued to swing, but their punching power had long since left them.

How long will Liverpool have to wait before hearing the renowned Champions League anthem again is the topic at hand. They can only avoid fading into obscurity with a heroic Premier League finish.

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