Liverpool crashed out of the Champions League with a whimper as they lost 1-0 to Real Madrid in Spain. The Reds had to overcome a 5-2 first leg defeat to go through to the quarter-finals, but scarcely troubled the La Liga giants.
Here are five takeaways from Liverpool’s underwhelming display.
Van Dijk criticised
Virgil van Dijk faced criticism from Liverpool hero Steve McManaman for appearing to stop and expecting an offside flag. Vinicius Jnr was eventually ruled offside after his first-half effort was saved by Alisson, but it was a lucky escape for Van Dijk who appeared to stop.
Speaking over a replay of the incident, McManaman said: “That’s tight, that, you can’t be taking chances. Alright, he’s offside eventually, but you have to get across and close him down. You can’t let him shoot and hope the flag is going to go up!”
And it was Van Dijk whose weak and hesitant defending allowed a floored Vinicius to get to a loose ball first and tee up Benzema for the only goal. Two losses of concentration from someone who was once so dependable sums up Liverpool’s season. Klopp needs more from the experienced Dutchman.
Alisson turns up again
If Liverpool were to complete a remarkable comeback, they were relying on Alisson keeping out Madrid. The Brazilian – Liverpool’s player of the season so far – turned up yet again.
Alisson made two stunning saves in the first half, keeping out Vinicius Jnr from close range and a Luka Modric piledriver. The goalkeeper did the job required of him and was let down by those in front.
Salah and Alexander-Arnold struggle
While Mohamed Salah and Trent Alexander-Arnold were once so key to Liverpool’s success, their underwhelming performances this season have epitomised the club’s struggles. Both players were poor at the Bernabeu.
Salah failed to get in the game while Alexander-Arnold made a couple of near-costly errors. The right-back’s clumsy tackle conceded an early dangerous free-kick, before his poor pass set up a chance for Vinicius Jnr.
Liverpool let down Ferdinand
After a goalless first half, BT pundit Rio Ferdinand demanded to see Klopp’s infamous ‘heavy metal’ style of football.
Speaking over images of Klopp emerging for the second half, the former defender said: “We need that man’s fast and furious, heavy metal football now. Shackles off if ever there was a time for that, take risks, they have to take chances. They could get hit on the break and sucker-punched but if ever there was a game, this is the game to do it. Go on, go out on your sword.”
But Liverpool let Ferdinand down with a surprisingly tepid second-half display. If any team looked like scoring, it was Madrid.