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After an exhilarating 90 minutes in Spain, Jurgen Klopp’s men come away with just one point after their Champions League evening clash against Sevilla.
The same team that spanked the Saints featured in the starting XI against Sevilla in Liverpool’s penultimate Group E fixture. After mirroring the game against Southampton inside the first half of their Champions League game, the Reds looked sure to clinch the win. 3-0 up at half time made the Liverpool lads look untouchable.
But the Liverpool side that exploded off the blocks in the first half was not the same team that came out after half time. Play became sloppy and lacked creativity. The Reds’ defence slipped back into its poor, unsteady form and the 3-0 deficit was soon redeemed by an ecstatic Spanish side.
White hot attack – cold, dead defense
After getting the scoreline underway with Roberto Firmino’s early corner conversion, Liverpool looked deadly. The striker’s sharp header in the second minute of the game had the travelling Kop bouncing. A stellar way to open the match.
Then just twenty minutes later, Sevilla conceded in identical manner after Sadio Mané’s diving header sank into the back of the net from a second corner. Liverpool’s famous blistering attack was out for blood against Eduardo Berizzo’s men.
The match seemed dead and buried after the two goal scorers built up an amazing link on a lethal counter attack. Set up by Mané, Firmino slotted his second goal of the night home in the ultimate cool and calm fashion.
Liverpool wheeled away in celebration as they headed to the dressing room at half time. Little did the fans know though that when they returned they would be greeted with a familiar ghost of a nightmare.
Wissam Ben Yedder came back to haunt the Reds with two goals inside ten minutes. The first came, ironically from a set piece. Alberto Moreno failed to clear the free kick in and Ben Yedder sliced the ball past Loris Karius.
Moreno found himself at fault again after giving away an extremely unnecessary penalty from a lame flick of the leg inside the box. Ben Yedder went down and the flag went up. The Frenchman closed the daylight between his side and Liverpool as his penalty (which was made to be retaken due to encroachment) shot into the away team’s net.
Needless to say, Moreno was replaced by James Milner just minutes later. Extremely disappointing from the Spaniard. After months of being hailed Liverpool’s best defender, he blows it against the same team he crumbled against in the Europa League.
The sixth goal of the game came in the dying minutes of added time. Off yet another set piece, Sevilla found their way past an abysmal Liverpool defence. Guido Pizarro gave his team a point to celebrate on the cusp of full time after converting from a poorly defended corner.
Facing Spartak, and onwards
The Reds have one game to go before the group stages of the Champions League come to a close. The Liverpool side that made a mockery of Sevilla in the first 45 minutes looked set to win their group and progress to the knockout stages. Now the Reds have a big battle ahead of them.
Their sixth and final Champions League fixture will be against Spartak Moscow on 6th December. Liverpool ideally need a win to top Group E and sail through to the final sixteen. A draw would also suffice, putting them in a still healthy second place and confirming their progression. But a loss simply is not an option for Klopp and his boys.
After cooking up a storm in the Premier League against Southampton and then an electrifying first half against Sevilla, the Reds have proved that no matter how strong the attack, the defence is still around to ruin the day.
With Joel Matip out, Dejan Lovren has been given another shot at playing as first choice centre-back. But teamed up with Ragnar Klavan and an unstable Moreno, it’s a recipe for disaster.
Klopp is going to need to reevaluate his approach to keeping the ball away from his own goal. With three weak defenders, it’s simply not good enough going forward and facing the likes of Real Madrid, Barcelona and other clever, attacking teams.
The German boss needs to seriously invest and clear out in the January transfer window or give the likes of Andy Robertson his shot. The Scot hasn’t played a game for the Reds since August. Maybe a fresh player with a strong, determined mindset is just what Liverpool need ease their ongoing nightmarish defence.
Written by Georgia Goulding
Follow Georgia on Twitter @gjgoulding
Check out her excellent football blog: Football, Findings and Fiction
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