Going into Tuesday night’s clash against Real Madrid, Liverpool had shown some green shoots in their successive 2-0 wins over Everton and Newcastle. Those green shoots were seemingly uprooted and exposed by Madrid with 5 unanswered goals following an early flurry from the Reds.
So what do we make of it?
Although Real Madrid were probably deserved winners on balance, the Reds would be correct in feeling unlucky, both at the 2-2 halftime scoreline, and the 5-2 fulltime result. This is not the first time the Reds have come up against Real’s devil magic.
xG map for Liverpool - Real Madrid— Caley Graphics (@Caley_graphics) February 21, 2023
devil magic pic.twitter.com/0u1P0wfVN5
Of course xG isn’t everything, but it is generally a decent indication of how things should have gone. Essentially, Liverpool outplayed Real Madrid, especially during the first half, but a couple of defensive lapses, and a touch of bad luck, and the Reds were punished by one of the best clubs in Europe.
As Liverpool supporters, we should be concerned about how quickly their heads dropped after Militao’s early second half header that made it 3-2. These are not Jurgen Klopp’s mentality monsters of seasons gone by. Football is often a game of luck, and the best clubs respond positively to going a goal or two down, just as Real did on Tuesday night.
However, I do not believe that the result was indicative of something deeply flawed about the team, the way many results in January were. Those two mature and composed performances against Everton and Newcastle still happened. And key players returning from injury, including Roberto Firmino and Diogo Jota is still underway, with Konate and Luis Diaz to come.
All four trophies may be effectively gone, but Champions League qualification—no small prize after this season’s struggles—is still on.
A win against Crystal Palace would put the Reds just 4 points behind 4th placed Spurs, with a game in hand.
On Tuesday, we saw the negative side of “form is temporary” but tonight, it can be a positive. Form is only as good as your next result. Form didn’t help us against Real Madrid, but if we can shake off the defeat, and show signs of returning to Jurgen’s mentality monsters, the Reds can make it three on the trot in the League, just in time to make a late season march up the table.