Shellshocked Klopp labels Liverpool player ‘slapstick’; fumes at moment in Real Madrid demolition that’s ‘obviously not okay’

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp Credit: Alamy
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp Credit: Alamy

Jurgen Klopp offered a rambling assessment of another humiliating night for Liverpool that included calling one of his players “slapstick” for his part in one of five Real Madrid goals.

Liverpool gave themselves an almighty mountain to climb after falling to a chastening 5-2 defeat in the first leg of their Champions League Round of 16 tie at Anfield.

The Reds raced into a two-goal lead through goals from Darwin Nunez and Mohamed Salah. The Egyptian surpassed Steven Gerrard as Liverpool’s all-time leading goalscorer in Europe upon pouncing in Thibaut Courtois’ error.

However, Liverpool have been their own worst enemies at times this season and their penchant for imploding reared its ugly head once again.

Real Madrid proceeded to score five unanswered goals between the 21st and 67th minutes. Many of the goals had their roots in individual errors from Liverpool players including the usually unflappable Alisson Becker.

The Brazilian passed the ball straight into Vinicius’ legs and could only look on helplessly as it looped over his head and into the net.

The third goal was another notable disappointment, with Eder Militao casually strolling into an unmarked pocket of space six yards out at a free kick and heading home under no pressure whatsoever.

Liverpool have overturned big deficits in this competition in the past. Indeed, the Reds famously overcame a three-goal deficit to oust Barcelona on route to their sixth European Cup in 2019.

However, the current Reds crop are a pale imitation of that side and with the second leg at the Bernabeu, Liverpool have almost certainly ended their European dream for this season at least.

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Alisson error was “slapstick” – Klopp

Speaking to BT Sport after the match, Klopp said: “In the beginning it was outstanding. It was us in a nutshell.

“Perfect, exactly how we wanted to play, causing problems all over the place, really in the game, super intense start.

“I think the whole first half was good besides the goals [against]. After the first [Real] goal we became slightly passive higher up the pitch. We were not chasing them when you have to chase them because this is a team that when you get passive you get punished.

“We realised in that moment, but the second goal [Alisson error] was slapstick. Should not happen and it’s 2-2.

“The feeling at half time was ‘[Real] probably think we cannot do it again’, but we can and we can make five changes and we can keep the rhythm, but the first situation after the break [Real’s set piece goal] is obviously not okay how we defended it.

“That doesn’t help against a team that is obviously outstanding. We played their cards and could not get back on track.

“You need to play like we played in the first half for a full 95 minutes. It’s possible, but you need to get the momentum back and after we conceded the two goals, they scored a third and became more confident.

“It’s a strange one, we lost 5-2, we know that, but there’s a lot for me to take as well to be honest.”

Klopp offers rambling assessment of Real demolition

When picked up specifically about his claim Liverpool became passive, Klopp added: “Of course it can happen.

“We had five or six players around [Vinicius for his first goal]… and no challenge.

“That obviously cannot happen. We were passive until the ball arrived there and then [it continued after that]. Should obviously not happen.

“The only way you can slow the game down is to keep possession of the ball. But second half especially we lost balls in strange moments.

“First half we played in the half spaces very well. In the second half the wrong players were in the half spaces, we played a ball in and their players could win it.

“It’s a massive challenge to organise the protection because it then leaves Vinicius and Benzema up. The centre-halves have to step into the pitch to block or defend Benzema and Vinicius is then difficult to defend because of his speed.”

On the subject of the second leg, Klopp continued: “We will go there and play a football game.

“It’s not the best start and we saw tonight how good they are on the counterattack. If we have to score goals there each single counterattack can be the decider.

“Will be a massive challenge but until then we have to play in the Premier League. We have to recover, to make sure we take the right things from this game, to rest and to make sure we learn.”

The return leg at the Bernabeu will take place on Wednesday, 15 March.

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