Coming off a pair of solid, promising results, Liverpool suffered a crushing defeat. You could be talking about October’s 1-0 victories over Manchester City and West Ham that were immediately followed up by a 1-0 loss to Nottingham Forest.
Or Liverpool coming out of the World Cup break with wins against Aston Vill and Leicester only to drop one of their worst performances of the season against Brentford. Or, of course, you could be talking about Tuesday night’s 5-2 humbling by Real Madrid.
It’s been the story of Liverpool’s terrible, horrible, no good, very bad season that sees them sat eighth in the table, out of the domestic cups, and now with one foot very solidly out of Europe after the first and home leg of their Round of 16 tie.
“I think Carlo thinks the tie is over,” was manager Jürgen Klopp’s response when asked about opposition manager Carlo Ancelotti insisting that the tie isn’t over based on last night’s results. “I think it as well in the moment. But in three weeks?
“It’s how it is in these moments, then the closer you get to the game the less likely [you think] that the tie is over. Tonight, with 5-2 and when you see the game, they are good in counter-attacking and we have to score three goals there and take risks?”
Ancelotti has been on the wrong side of Liverpool overturning a three-goal deficit before, managing the AC Milan side that famously lost on penalties in Istanbul in 2005 after letting a 3-0 lead at the half become a 3-3 draw after 90 minutes of play.
And more recently under Klopp, Liverpool overcame Real Madrid’s long-time domestic rivals Barcelona’s 3-0 advantage in 2019 in the second leg of their Champions League semi-final. There are differences, though, especially compared to 2019.
Most obviously, the second leg there was at Anfield, where a vociferous home crowd helped to crack a fragile Barcelona side. This will be on the road at the Bernabéu against a side that went down 2-0 at Anfield last night and didn’t crack.
This will also be a game played by a Liverpool that look a shadow of the side at its peak in 2019 through the end of last season before hitting a wall mentally and physically after a necessary midfield rebuild was left unaddressed for two summers.
Still, with the second leg three weeks off, there’s time for everyone to convince themselves miracles can happen. And they can, but the reality seems bleak for Liverpool this season—and without major signings it could be bleak in the long-term, too.
“It is really not even in my mind,” Klopp added on how he will approach the second leg. “We go there, I can say it now already, and try to win the game. If that is possible or not I don’t know now, but that’s what we will try and from there we will see.”