Villareal v Liverpool – Match Review

Villareal v Liverpool – Match Review
Apr 29, 2016

Europa League Liverpool

After the performance last night, which ended cruelly with an injury time winner from Villareal, here are my thoughts on the result and my ratings for each respective Liverpool player on their performance on the night.

If you read social media last night after the game, and had not seen the match you would of thought a disaster had happened, you would think that Liverpool are out of the tie and indeed out of Europe.  I can assure those people that this is not the case.  Klopp set the team out to be disciplined, to keep possession when we get the ball, and a side built on putting pressure on the opposition.  For 92 minutes that plan worked to the latter.

Twitter was set alight with people criticising Klopp for not starting Sturridge firstly, then not bringing him on when Coutinho had to leave the game half time due to sickness, and then lastly, why Benteke was brought on with 2 minutes left of normal time rather than Sturridge.  Klopp’s first priority last night was not to lose, not to be to open in how we played and to pick players who are used to playing in a more subdued defensive manner where workrate is the key.  Therefore he went Firmino up top with Lallana and Coutinho just withdrawn from him, the same trio that worked perfectly well against Manchester City in the League and Chelsea, both of those matches were away games.  In terms of Benteke substitution, Klopp clearly felt that Benteke was a better option to hold the ball up for last few minutes, keep defenders occupied, and if there was to be an attacking or defensive set piece, Benteke was the better option.

In terms of the game itself, I felt overall Liverpool did well, limited the chances that Villareal had, and if Joe Allen had put away the chance in the first half, then this game by many, would be viewed very differently.  Football is a game of small margins as we all should know.

Match Ratings

Simon Mignolet 7/10 – Had little to do, but pulled off an excellent save from Bakumbu late in the game.  Who knows we may look back on that save as critical to the outcome of this tie.

Nathaniel Clyne 6/10 – Was a good outlet down the right, but I thought his passing and crossing was pretty poor.  Had a good individual battle with Denis Suarez, until Suarez swapped flanks, which caused Liverpool even more of a worry.

Dejan Lovren 7/10 – Solid performance from the Croatian on the night. Was quick to spot and snuff out danger.  Found it interesting that Lovren mainly played left side of two central defenders for Lyon, Southampton and Croatia, but after a shaky start for the club on the left side, now plays on the right, even when as last night Toure has always played right side.

Kolo Toure 8/10 – Cut out a number of crosses and was comfortable in possession.  Rarely isolated until that final attack.  My fears over Toure on the night were put to bed by the veteran. Excellent performance.

Alberto Moreno 5/10 – Always provides you on outlet on the left side with his pace going forward, but he is so naive as a defender at times it is untrue.  His positional play is awful, has the ball played inside him so many times and makes bad decisions.  Someone explain to me in an away semi final first leg tie, why Moreno goes into a central midfield position to close a player down, leaving their most dangerous attacking player Suarez alone, and then to compound the issue, Moreno when running back (not at full pace) is completely unaware of Lopez who scores?

Lucas Leiva 7/10 – Sat in front of defence and made some timely interceptions.  Often went back into the defence to build up play with Lovren and Toure splitting as Gerrard did in his twilight years.  Fair to say Lucas range of passing is not similar.

Joe Allen 8/10 – As usual tidy in possession and rarely loses the ball.  Allen this season has added running and pressing ability to his game.  Had a great opportunity in the first half, which Asenjo saved. His outstanding through ball for Lallana who was wrongly given as offside.  Very good performance from the Welshman.

James Milner 7/10 – Never stopped working (seem to say that every time), and last night his passing was a lot sharper overall.  Was vital in that midfield with his energy alongside Allen and Lucas, and will be needed next week as well.  Him or Lallana need to be closely attached to Bruno Soriano, who all play goes through for Villareal.

Adam Lallana 5/10 – Plenty of effort, but game seemed to pass him by.  Could not create any opportunities, but in his defence attacking options he had to pass the ball were very limited.

Philipe Coutinho 5/10 – Was off his game and out of sorts.  Went off half time, and it transpired was unwell, which explains his low key performance.

Roberto Firmino 5/10 – Tried to link the play up, but his passing on the night was very poor.  Retrieved the ball back a few times and could not fault his workrate, but just not his night.  Hit the post in the second half.


Jordan Ibe 5/10 – Made a few promising runs, but needs to be more alive to options around him, can switch off.  An example of this is when after taking a corner, he then did not get himself back onside to take the return pass.  Only had to see Klopp’s reaction to see what he thought of that.

Christian Benteke n/a – Not on long enough to fairly give a rating.

In closing Liverpool are right in this tie, Villareal have some decent players but if Liverpool play well on the night, no reason why they cannot book a place in The Europa League Final.



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