Liverpool: Klopp admits past comebacks count for little
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With Liverpool’s Champions League aspirations now over, their attention must turn to booking their place in the Premier League top four come the end of the season. However, Jurgen Klopp has plenty of issues to ponder, not least Roberto Firmino’s lack of goals or assists, but another forward who has been off the pace for months.
Liverpool were sent crashing out of the Champions League by Real Madrid on Wednesday night as they completed a 3-1 win on aggregate.
There was no repeat of the Barcelona heroics that still live on in the memories of the Anfield faithful as both sides battled to an underwhelming goalless draw.
But the lack of fight from Jurgen Klopp’s side shows just how far his squad have fallen since that incredible night.
Roberto Firmino has drawn much of the criticism in recent months, with his dismal goal contribution tally genuinely hurting the Reds these days.
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There was a time when the Brazilian’s lack of goals was made up for by assists, and even the assist to the assist.
But those days are long gone – and that is because he no longer has the same level of player banging in the goals he is helping to create.
Mohamed Salah still looks lively much of the time, but Sadio Mane is a shadow of the player that was the Klopp’s most important attacker last season.
Lining up against usual-midfielder Federico Valverde at right-back, Mane barely sprung a threat on a night when his side needed him most.
The reigning joint-Golden Boot winner showed glimpses of his former self in the first half, setting up a golden chance after just two minutes that was put straight at Thibaut Courtois by Salah.
But as the game wore on and it became more and important for him to deliver, Mane grew more and more disappointing.
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The near-obsession to be on the ball and take players on the Senegal international used to show has disappeared.
And it’s been replaced by a caution that put all the pressure on Salah and Firmino, along with Jota in the second half, to score.
In the end Mane and Firmino were brought off with Liverpool still two late goals away from winning the tie. And that says it all.
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