Ben Morgan looks into Tuesdays 3-3 draw away to Sevilla, with some of the positives and negatives from the encounter.
For those who had not watched or seen any commentary on the game, a 3-3 draw against Sevilla, who are a decent side, on the face of it, may not seem like such a bad result. But, it is a result which many Liverpool fans, the players, and manager alike will feel like it is a loss. The Reds had a stunning opening 45 minutes, the ‘fab four’ was in full force. Roberto Firmino opened the scoring after just 1 minute 28 seconds, reacting fast from a Gini Wijnaldum flick-on from a corner, to rifle it into the top of the net, past the helpless Rico in goal. Sadio Mane then got his name on the scoresheet, from another corner, it was a flick on from Firmino this time, and Mane’s diving header flew past Rico. Firmino then added a third, finishing off a scintillating Liverpool move. 3-0. Job done most would have thought at halftime. But what we were about to witness was a half of horror for Liverpool. The Reds hadn’t let a 3-0 lead slip since the famous title-deciding loss to Crystal Palace back in 2014 when the Reds caved in under pressure; the same thing was about to happen.
Sevilla manager Eduardo Berizzo decided this would be the perfect time to inform his players, about his immensely sad secret. He had been diagnosed with Prostate Cancer. This motivated the Sevilla dressing room, they wanted a result for their manager, and they got one. Wissam Ben Yedder pulled one back for the hosts on the 51st minute, after Alberto Moreno gave away a needless foul, and the Frenchman converted from the resultant Ever Banega free kick. Ben Yedder then converted from the spot, after another silly foul from Alberto Moreno gifted the hosts a penalty. The comeback was complete, in the 93rd minute when Guido Pizarro netted the equalizer.
Let’s look into this further, starting with the positives.
There’s one main positive from this game, and that is the attack. The Reds are blessed with a wealth of attacking talent to choose from. The ‘Fab Four’, is arguably one of the most exciting attacking forces in European football. The pace and flair each player has on that front four causes opposing defenses to have nightmares. Mo Salah wasn’t at his outright best on Tuesday, but still could have scored, Roberto Firmino put in another fantastic shift leading the line. His industrious nature is pivotal to how Klopp sets his attack up, and those two goals can hopefully give him that extra bit of confidence he needed in front of goal. The same for Sadio Mane, the unpredictability, and pace of the Senegalese is frightening for defenders, he is always a handful, and with him back amongst the goals, hopefully, he can again kick on from it. Coutinho wasn’t at his magic best last night, but the quality the Brazilian maestro has is evident for all to see especially Barcelona.
So, what was the cause of this fall from grace for Liverpool? At 3-0 at halftime, the Reds looked comfortable and were all set to be cruising through the Champions League Round of 16, topping the group. But now they need to put up a fight against Spartak Moscow, to even qualify out of the group. Alberto Moreno was the main culprit. Whilst he has been on a good spell of form this season, the same mistakes and incapability’s are always going to be there for Moreno. The second half was evidence for that statement, making rash challenges, two of which both leading to goals scored from them, by Ben Yedder. The Spaniard has flattered to deceive this season, but now, with the spotlight firmly place on the fullback, how will he react to it? Most importantly, how will the Liverpool manager react to it? The midfield also needs to be in this part, as they simply were not at the races in the second half. The captain, Jordan Henderson, had a torrid half; the Sevilla team were allowed to walk through the midfield o many times, with Ever Banega the real spark in the Spanish side. Jurgen Klopp will need to ensure his midfielders are tighter, and more compact, at the weekend against a Chelsea side, which is very much in form.
What the Manager Thought:
Jurgen Klopp understandably was bemused with how his side threw away their lead, saying they were too ‘passive’ in the second half. “The description is easy – two different halves. A fantastic first half of my team and in the second ha, f we made the mistake that we didn’t carry on playing football. It’s normal that you try to control the game then, but a team like we are, we have to control the game with the ball – and we didn’t play football anymore. We became a little bit passive, they scored the first one and it was obvious the atmosphere changed immediately. It gave them a big boost. Until the second goal, we were reacting but after the second goal, I think it was an open game again. We could have scored off counter attacks, but we didn’t. We opened the door for them and didn’t close it anymore, so they could score in the last minute and that was the story of the game”.
The boss was also quizzed on whether he was happy with a point, and understandably thins was not the case. “No. Before the game, and that’s maybe a strange thing, if you told me it would be a draw I would say ‘ OK, let me see the game first but it is not the worst result’ – but then when you play the first half then you want to win, of course.”
What next for Liverpool?
Next for Liverpool is a home game against Champions Chelsea, in the Premier League, on Saturday night. Conte’s blues have hit a purple patch, putting four past West Brom at the weekend, and then another 4 against Qarabag yesterday evening.
It will be a tough game for the Reds, but one thing is for certain. There should be plenty of goals in this always entertaining fixture.