Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp says his players gave the ball away in bad positions and will need better “intensity with the ball” if it can take advantage of the “lifeline” extended by Mohamed Salah’s goal in a 3-1 loss to Real Madrid at the Bernabeu in Tuesday’s UEFA Champions League quarterfinal first leg.
“If you want to go to the semi-final, you have to earn the right to do so,” Klopp said. “We didn’t do that tonight, especially in the first half. The only good thing I can say about this game apart from the goal is it’s only the first half of the tie.”
Liverpool failed to manage a shot attempt in the first half, going down 2-0 to goals from Vinicius Junior and Marco Asensio.
The Reds then pulled one back through Salah, but allowed a too-easy goal off a throw-in to head back to England down two goals.
“We just didn’t play good enough football to cause Real Madrid more problems,” Klopp said. “We made it too easy for them. These mistakes can happen. We didn’t deserve a lot more but that one goal and the second half was okay. It gives us a lifeline.”
Klopp said all the right things in that interview, but was later asked about his badgering of the fourth official during the game and then head referee Felix Brych after the game.
The Liverpool boss said the well-respected referee had “something personal” against Liverpool, Klopp, or Sadio Mane when he gave the Senegalese a yellow card for diving.
“The situation with Sadio, what the ref did tonight I don’t understand,” Klopp said. “For me that was something personal because he dealt with the situation with Sadio, which was a clear foul, like he was a diver or whatever. From that moment on whenever Sadio went down he didn’t get anything. That is not right. That is what I told him after the game, that I thought he was unfair with Sadio. That doesn’t change anything at all. He didn’t lose the game. We were not good enough to get a better result, but in these moments you need just an ‘okay’ ref. That would have been enough.”
Brych has worked six Liverpool matches over the past four seasons, overseeing Liverpool’s 1-0 group stage win over Ajax in Amsterdam, dealing out three yellow cards, and also working the Reds’ 2-0 group stage loss to Napoli in 2019-20 as well as three matches in the 2017-18 tournament:
- 3-3 group stage draw at Sevilla
- 3-0 win over Man City in the quarterfinals
- 5-2 win over Roma in the semifinals
That City blowout also featured razor-thin offside calls going in favor of Mohamed Salah and against Leroy Sane, so we’re going to want to hear more from Klopp.
Maybe this is just deflecting from his team’s bad day, but it’s a bad look for a man who rebuilt a badly-injured, ramshackle team into a likely top four finisher in the Premier League.
Klopp on Felix Brych & the decisions against Mane: "For me it was something personal. He dealt with a clean foul like it was a dive. When he went down, it wasn’t right. I told him after I thought he was unfair with Sadio. But he didn’t lose us the game, we weren’t good enough."
— James Pearce (@JamesPearceLFC) April 6, 2021