Jurgen Klopp has sprung to the defence of Naby Keita following Liverpool’s 3-1 defeat to Real Madrid in the first leg of their Champions League quarter-final tie.
It was a surprise to see the Guinea international selected in the starting line-up ahead of Thiago Alcantara, especially when you take into account that he has been on the periphery this season due to injury and illness issues.
So this rare start in his 16th appearance for the season was the perfect chance for the 26 year-old to make a significant impression in a very important game.
Instead as has so often happened in his Liverpool career to date, Keita flattered to deceive and was replaced before half time which barring a injury substitution, is a very rare move for Klopp to make.
But speaking after the game (per the Official site), the German was at pains to explain that the 2-0 deficit that the team was facing at the time was not the direct fault of the midfielder.
“It was tactical, it was tactical. That’s now things I don’t like in the job, stuff like this.
"You do that and then it’s like the one player is responsible for the performance of the first half.
“Naby was not responsible for that. He didn’t play for a while, especially not from the start, and these kind of things.
“We were not good in the game, Naby was not good in the game but we all saw the game so to be honest I could have made a few more changes in that moment.
“So it was not about Naby but I did it and I am now not happy about it because we talk about it like it was Naby’s responsibility. It was not. But it was tactical, that’s it.
“ I could have done a few more changes in that moment and thank God I didn’t."
The Reds certainly picked up their performance in the second 45 minutes with a Mo Salah strike halving the deficit six minutes after the break, but Vinicius Junior put the game to bed fourteen minutes later grabbing his second for the game and the Reds facing an almighty challenge in the second leg.
Klopp was not only disappointed by the overall performance, but that the treatment that dished out to Sadio Mane on the night was not properly dealt with by the referee.
“The situation with Sadio, what the ref did tonight I have to say I don't understand.
“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 [the referee] didn't lose the game. We were not good enough to get a better result, but in these moments you need just an 'OK' ref. That would have been enough."
Liverpool are certainly no strangers to coming back from seemingly impossible situations, however Klopp knows this will be a different challenge to what they faced two years ago against Barcelona.
“If you want to have some emotional memories, you watch the Barcelona game back and 80% of this game was the atmosphere in the stadium, I would say. We have to do without that.
“It’s not that I sit here and think comebacks are our thing and that we do that all the time.
“We have from time to time, but we always had supporters in the stadium. We don’t have that this time.
“I don’t know if we can do it, but I can promise we will give it a proper try.
"The boys really want it. Today in the first half we couldn’t and for whatever reason we didn’t, and that’s what we will look to find out, to change, and to go again."