Liverpool came unstuck against Red Star Belgrade in the Champions League as they lost 2-0 on Tuesday. The defeat threw a spanner in the works as we face Paris Saint-Germain and Napoli in our final group games.
A couple of goals from Milan Pavkov were enough to defeat the Reds and hand them their third away loss on the spin in the competition.
More surprisingly, we barely threatened the home side after a decent spell of around 10 minutes. A number of players didn’t seem dialled into the game and we were made to pay.
Looking back at the fixture, there weren’t many positives to bring out and here are the five talking points from the clash.
1) Liverpool taking the game lightly
The Reds didn’t travel to Serbia with Xherdan Shaqiri as Jurgen Klopp didn’t want to make a political statement against Red Star.
However, the players didn’t seem to turn up for the first half at all. The home side were chomping at the bits, and it wasn’t a great surprise when they took the lead.
Normally, the Reds would have responded and laid siege to the opposition box, but we did nothing of that sort and were made to pay by conceding another goal.
This should serve as a warning to the Reds for the remainder of the campaign. There are no freebies in the Champions League or in the Premier League, and we have to give our 100% all the time.
2) Adam Lallana and Daniel Sturridge fail to impress
It was always going to be a bit of a risk playing with Adam Lallana and Daniel Sturridge. Both haven’t started many games for us this season, and playing at a tough ground was always going to be a big ask for the pair.
The Englishmen struggled to impose themselves on the pitch with Sturridge missing a glorious chance of making it 1-0 to the Reds early on.
The smarter thing would have been to start with our best XI and then sub those players in who need minutes on the pitch.
3) Our attack has no bite
Our attack featured Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane but the pair were absolutely woeful throughout the game.
Mane was even pushed wide right in the second half but the Senegalese gave the ball away regularly while Salah was a bit part player in the game.
The Egyptian did strike the post in the second half but both players need to get back to their best if we want to make it to the knockout stages of the Champions League.
4) The missing midfield
If our attack was toothless, our midfield was non-existent. Georginio Wijnaldum, James Milner and Lallana weren’t up for the fight against the Serbian side, and the trio had no say in the game at all.
It was a big surprise seeing Wijnaldum and Milner struggle in the heart of the pitch given how good they have been this season, and they need to prepare themselves for a couple of tough games against PSG and Napoli in the coming weeks.
5) Champions League future in our own hands
Although the loss was damaging, Liverpool have their Champions League future in their own hands. A win over Paris Saint-Germain will be enough to see us through to the next round.
Anything less than a win, and we have to defeat Napoli by two clear goals to make it into the knockout phase.
Liverpool can’t seem to do things the easy way as we faced a similar scenario last season. Of course, we were up against lesser opposition last time around, however, we should perform well when we have our backs against the wall.