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  1. Jamie Carragher believes that the fans across the country have the power to stop the plan that threatens the heart of the game that we all love. Many individuals associated with the game was unanimous in their horror and anger as it was revealed that six of the biggest clubs in the country will join forces with three clubs in Italy and Spain for the European Super League. While it blindsided many, plans had been taking place under the cloak of darkness with the FSG group reportedly at the heart of the plan along with their counterparts from Man United. UEFA have made it clear that the ramifications for joining any such rebel league are severe and include players being banned from the European Championship and the World Cup. Gary Neville made global headlines yesterday in his strong condemnation for the two most successful clubs in English Football and ahead of Liverpool’s 1-1 draw with Leeds, it was his fellow Sky Sports pundit who took the baton. The Echo reported Carragher as saying: “(I feel) no different to Gary and every supporter up and down the country. "What I would say is this is not Liverpool, Man United, Chelsea, Spurs, Arsenal, Man City involved, this is John Henry and FSG, this is the Glazers, this is Roman Abramovich, Sheikh Mansour, Stan Kroenke, Daniel Levy - these are the people to blame for this. “What they’re doing right now is dragging institutions we’ve seen in this country for over 100 years basically through the mud, burning the history of what those clubs are about because from your own club’s point of view, the only reason Liverpool are in this or have a chance of being in the Super League is because they’ve won six European Cups or 20 league titles. “So, they’ve used what Liverpool have done in their history, going back to Bill Shankly and even before that, to get into some league and line their own pockets. The biggest thing for me is certainly the football world in terms of everyone being against it tonight. Despite the influx of overseas billionaires coming into the game in the last 10-15 years, Carragher has been around the game long enough to know how important fans are and how they can sway decisions. He says the time is now for fans to make their presence felt. “My message to everyone is I think these clubs think this is a done deal, it’s done, I don’t think it is, I think supporters up and down this country can stop this - I really do believe this and I think at the forefront of that will be Liverpool because I’ve seen it before. “We have tribalism in this country, we have rivalry, that’s what makes the game we love. Football fans get together, all of us, in TV, pundits, players, managers, get together and stop this because it can be stopped. I’m convinced of it. “Going forward, I think that’s what we need, marches on stadiums, supporters getting together, this cannot be allowed to happen." The Reds received a hostile reception from home fans outside the gates at Elland Road, and the club itself left no one in any doubt over their thoughts by wearing warm-up shirts with the words 'Earn it' next to the Champions League logo and 'Football is for the fans' and also left the shirts in Liverpool's dressing room in case they wanted to join the protest. It was a ‘stunt’ which did not leave Klopp in the best of moods. “We were not involved in the process. "We are the team, we wear the shirts with pride. Somebody has made a decision with the owners in world football that we don't know exactly why. "We are here, we are the face of the club and arrived here and Leeds fans shouted at us as though we made the decision but we didn't. Someone who came through the ranks at the Yorkshire club was James Milner. Never one to hold back in an opinion, the veteran midfielder left no-one in any doubt about where he sat on this issue “I don't like it one bit and hopefully it doesn't happen. "It [the current system] has worked well for a long time. What has made it special, what we have done over the last few years, is we have earned the right to win the Champions League and the Premier League. The product we have currently is very good. "It is difficult. Coming into the game today Leeds fans were making their feelings shown. As players we don't really have a say so it feels a bit unjust."
  2. Jamie Carragher believes that the fans across the country have the power to stop the plan that threatens the heart of the game that we all love. Many individuals associated with the game was unanimous in their horror and anger as it was revealed that six of the biggest clubs in the country will join forces with three clubs in Italy and Spain for the European Super League. While it blindsided many, plans had been taking place under the cloak of darkness with the FSG group reportedly at the heart of the plan along with their counterparts from Man United. UEFA have made it clear that the ramifications for joining any such rebel league are severe and include players being banned from the European Championship and the World Cup. Gary Neville made global headlines yesterday in his strong condemnation for the two most successful clubs in English Football and ahead of Liverpool’s 1-1 draw with Leeds, it was his fellow Sky Sports pundit who took the baton. The Echo reported Carragher as saying: “(I feel) no different to Gary and every supporter up and down the country. "What I would say is this is not Liverpool, Man United, Chelsea, Spurs, Arsenal, Man City involved, this is John Henry and FSG, this is the Glazers, this is Roman Abramovich, Sheikh Mansour, Stan Kroenke, Daniel Levy - these are the people to blame for this. “What they’re doing right now is dragging institutions we’ve seen in this country for over 100 years basically through the mud, burning the history of what those clubs are about because from your own club’s point of view, the only reason Liverpool are in this or have a chance of being in the Super League is because they’ve won six European Cups or 20 league titles. “So, they’ve used what Liverpool have done in their history, going back to Bill Shankly and even before that, to get into some league and line their own pockets. The biggest thing for me is certainly the football world in terms of everyone being against it tonight. Despite the influx of overseas billionaires coming into the game in the last 10-15 years, Carragher has been around the game long enough to know how important fans are and how they can sway decisions. He says the time is now for fans to make their presence felt. “My message to everyone is I think these clubs think this is a done deal, it’s done, I don’t think it is, I think supporters up and down this country can stop this - I really do believe this and I think at the forefront of that will be Liverpool because I’ve seen it before. “We have tribalism in this country, we have rivalry, that’s what makes the game we love. Football fans get together, all of us, in TV, pundits, players, managers, get together and stop this because it can be stopped. I’m convinced of it. “Going forward, I think that’s what we need, marches on stadiums, supporters getting together, this cannot be allowed to happen." The Reds received a hostile reception from home fans outside the gates at Elland Road, and the club itself left no one in any doubt over their thoughts by wearing warm-up shirts with the words 'Earn it' next to the Champions League logo and 'Football is for the fans' and also left the shirts in Liverpool's dressing room in case they wanted to join the protest. It was a ‘stunt’ which did not leave Klopp in the best of moods. “We were not involved in the process. "We are the team, we wear the shirts with pride. Somebody has made a decision with the owners in world football that we don't know exactly why. "We are here, we are the face of the club and arrived here and Leeds fans shouted at us as though we made the decision but we didn't. Someone who came through the ranks at the Yorkshire club was James Milner. Never one to hold back in an opinion, the veteran midfielder left no-one in any doubt about where he sat on this issue “I don't like it one bit and hopefully it doesn't happen. "It [the current system] has worked well for a long time. What has made it special, what we have done over the last few years, is we have earned the right to win the Champions League and the Premier League. The product we have currently is very good. "It is difficult. Coming into the game today Leeds fans were making their feelings shown. As players we don't really have a say so it feels a bit unjust." View full article
  3. Jurgen Klopp has the praised the emerging partnership between Ozan Kabak and Nat Phillips saying they both deserve a lot a of credit for their personal development. The pair have played together on eight occasions in the league and Europe since the arrival of Kabak in the January transfer window. For a couple of young and inexperienced defenders who never in their wildest dreams would have thought they would be starting key games for the reigning Premier League champions, their record in that period is quite impressive to say the least. They have conceded just one league goal in four completed league games and another one when Phillips came on as first half sub for Jordan Henderson in the Derby. In the Champions League, the only blot on the copy book is the three goals conceded in the first leg of the quarter final tie against Real Madrid. On either side of that has been two highly commendable clean sheets against RB Leipzig and the second leg against Real on Wednesday evening. Speaking ahead of the clash against Leeds on Monday night (per the Mirror), Klopp said that both players have not had the most straight career paths to this point but have taken to this challenge in fine fashion. “It's good. How we always said – things have to develop, players have to get used to each other, there was never a question about quality or whatever, the boys have quality but then you have to bring it together and then it works. “Especially in defending it is like this and Ozan and Nat do really well, and hopefully it will stay like this. “They could play a lot of games [together]. Klopp touched on the challenges of coming to a new leqgue in the middle of a season. “Ozan is a 21-year-old boy, came from Germany here [as] a big prospect. “He was not lucky with the last two teams he was playing with, one went down and the other will probably go down. “Nobody in world football really doubted his quality but coming then and making this big step and winning more games than before, it's really good for him that he can show that. We were convinced but in the end you never know, and he really proved that point. “And Nat Phillips is just an exceptional career so far, with all the things he did in the past and what he thought about and where he was and all these things. “Now playing for Liverpool in the Champions League, Premier League, winning games, winning challenges. “Probably the best heading statistics in the history of the Premier League I could imagine at least, it is unbelievable what the boy is doing there, and on top of that playing good football. “So, it's really nice. Obviously the start, or the restart for one, and the start of a proper career for both – that's really nice." What Klopp was alluding to was the successful clearance rate of Phillips. In his 12 appearances in the league, the former Bolton junior has averaged a outstanding 4.25 clearances per game along with 2.66 tackles and 1.25 interceptions. In his three Champions League games, the 23 year-old has averaged 3.66 successful clearances, two interceptions and 1.25 tackles. Kabak has also taken to the challenge well with averaging 2.57 clearances, 1.71 tackles and 1.14 interceptions in seven league games and two tackles and interceptions in three Champions League appearances. While it is clear that the impact and general aura of Virgil Van Dijk along with the quality of Joel Matip and Joe Gomez is impossible to replace, those stats and performances show that Phillips and Kabak have more than held their own in a difficult and unique situation. And in the long run, they will be all the better for it. · ·
  4. Jurgen Klopp has the praised the emerging partnership between Ozan Kabak and Nat Phillips saying they both deserve a lot a of credit for their personal development. The pair have played together on eight occasions in the league and Europe since the arrival of Kabak in the January transfer window. For a couple of young and inexperienced defenders who never in their wildest dreams would have thought they would be starting key games for the reigning Premier League champions, their record in that period is quite impressive to say the least. They have conceded just one league goal in four completed league games and another one when Phillips came on as first half sub for Jordan Henderson in the Derby. In the Champions League, the only blot on the copy book is the three goals conceded in the first leg of the quarter final tie against Real Madrid. On either side of that has been two highly commendable clean sheets against RB Leipzig and the second leg against Real on Wednesday evening. Speaking ahead of the clash against Leeds on Monday night (per the Mirror), Klopp said that both players have not had the most straight career paths to this point but have taken to this challenge in fine fashion. “It's good. How we always said – things have to develop, players have to get used to each other, there was never a question about quality or whatever, the boys have quality but then you have to bring it together and then it works. “Especially in defending it is like this and Ozan and Nat do really well, and hopefully it will stay like this. “They could play a lot of games [together]. Klopp touched on the challenges of coming to a new leqgue in the middle of a season. “Ozan is a 21-year-old boy, came from Germany here [as] a big prospect. “He was not lucky with the last two teams he was playing with, one went down and the other will probably go down. “Nobody in world football really doubted his quality but coming then and making this big step and winning more games than before, it's really good for him that he can show that. We were convinced but in the end you never know, and he really proved that point. “And Nat Phillips is just an exceptional career so far, with all the things he did in the past and what he thought about and where he was and all these things. “Now playing for Liverpool in the Champions League, Premier League, winning games, winning challenges. “Probably the best heading statistics in the history of the Premier League I could imagine at least, it is unbelievable what the boy is doing there, and on top of that playing good football. “So, it's really nice. Obviously the start, or the restart for one, and the start of a proper career for both – that's really nice." What Klopp was alluding to was the successful clearance rate of Phillips. In his 12 appearances in the league, the former Bolton junior has averaged a outstanding 4.25 clearances per game along with 2.66 tackles and 1.25 interceptions. In his three Champions League games, the 23 year-old has averaged 3.66 successful clearances, two interceptions and 1.25 tackles. Kabak has also taken to the challenge well with averaging 2.57 clearances, 1.71 tackles and 1.14 interceptions in seven league games and two tackles and interceptions in three Champions League appearances. While it is clear that the impact and general aura of Virgil Van Dijk along with the quality of Joel Matip and Joe Gomez is impossible to replace, those stats and performances show that Phillips and Kabak have more than held their own in a difficult and unique situation. And in the long run, they will be all the better for it. · · View full article
  5. Virgil Van Dijk should scrap any thoughts of playing for the Netherlands in the upcoming European Championships according to his countryman Khalid Boulahrouz. The imperious defender has been making steady progress from a knee injury which has seen him out of action since the middle of October. The impact of Van Dijk's absence who is widely seen as Liverpool’s most important player has been there for all to see and started a domino affect with other central defenders falling by the wayside and Jurgen Klopp having to turn to stop-gap measures to keep Liverpool’s season afloat. There was a theory that if Liverpool were in contention in the Champions League latter stages that Van Dijk could make a late season return, but that was swiftly put to bed by Klopp who would not risk his prime asset under any circumstances. Dutch National boss Frank De Boer would love to see the 29 year-old in his squad but is leaving the ball in Van Dijk’s court. “Ultimately, he must have a good feeling himself. I’m glad he’s on the right track. “We will see. I’m not putting any pressure on him at all. He must do it himself and must have confidence in it himself. The choice mainly lies with him.” But one person who thinks it is not worth the risk is Boulahrouz. The retired 39 year-old was a defender who could play across the back four, was renowned as a tough tackler and given the nickname 'Cannibal” from a young age. Boulahrouz had a 14-year professional career which saw him play in many countries across Europe including two stints in Germany and a short spell at Chelsea under Jose Mourinho in the 2006-7 season. He also played 35 times for the Netherlands including in two World Cups (2006,2010) and a European Championship (2008) and therefore knows the pride that Van Dijk will feel in playing in a major tournament. However he says Van Dijk needs to balance that with the thought of his long term future. The Mirror via (Voetbal Primeur) reported Boulahrouz as saying: “I don’t think he should be preoccupied with the European Championship. “He shouldn’t put that pressure on himself. His career lasts longer than the tournament. “Sure, such a tournament is great, but he still has many beautiful things to do in his career. “He first has to go and see: okay, will I be able to get fit in time? And how far along am I when I can get back on the pitch? “Then he has to see if it’s worth considering. But I wouldn’t be thinking about the European Championships.” Fair to say that many Liverpool fans along with the manager would concur with those thoughts.
  6. Virgil Van Dijk should scrap any thoughts of playing for the Netherlands in the upcoming European Championships according to his countryman Khalid Boulahrouz. The imperious defender has been making steady progress from a knee injury which has seen him out of action since the middle of October. The impact of Van Dijk's absence who is widely seen as Liverpool’s most important player has been there for all to see and started a domino affect with other central defenders falling by the wayside and Jurgen Klopp having to turn to stop-gap measures to keep Liverpool’s season afloat. There was a theory that if Liverpool were in contention in the Champions League latter stages that Van Dijk could make a late season return, but that was swiftly put to bed by Klopp who would not risk his prime asset under any circumstances. Dutch National boss Frank De Boer would love to see the 29 year-old in his squad but is leaving the ball in Van Dijk’s court. “Ultimately, he must have a good feeling himself. I’m glad he’s on the right track. “We will see. I’m not putting any pressure on him at all. He must do it himself and must have confidence in it himself. The choice mainly lies with him.” But one person who thinks it is not worth the risk is Boulahrouz. The retired 39 year-old was a defender who could play across the back four, was renowned as a tough tackler and given the nickname 'Cannibal” from a young age. Boulahrouz had a 14-year professional career which saw him play in many countries across Europe including two stints in Germany and a short spell at Chelsea under Jose Mourinho in the 2006-7 season. He also played 35 times for the Netherlands including in two World Cups (2006,2010) and a European Championship (2008) and therefore knows the pride that Van Dijk will feel in playing in a major tournament. However he says Van Dijk needs to balance that with the thought of his long term future. The Mirror via (Voetbal Primeur) reported Boulahrouz as saying: “I don’t think he should be preoccupied with the European Championship. “He shouldn’t put that pressure on himself. His career lasts longer than the tournament. “Sure, such a tournament is great, but he still has many beautiful things to do in his career. “He first has to go and see: okay, will I be able to get fit in time? And how far along am I when I can get back on the pitch? “Then he has to see if it’s worth considering. But I wouldn’t be thinking about the European Championships.” Fair to say that many Liverpool fans along with the manager would concur with those thoughts. View full article
  7. Andy Robertson feels that Trent -Alexander Arnold will be stronger for the scrutiny that he has faced this season. With the drop-off in form by the Reds compared to their exceptionally high levels in recent years, there barely seems to be a week that goes by when a pundit looks for key reasons other than the long-term injuries to Virgil Van Dijk, Joe Gomez and Joel Matip. That has led to the Liverpool and England Right-back being put under the spotlight and the fact that he was not picked for the national team for the two World Cup qualifiers last month only added to the scrutiny. It was only last year that the 22 year-old was rightly seen as one of the best full-backs in Europe. But as a professional footballer knows, you have to take the good with the bad and while this analysis can be difficult to hear for a player, in many ways it is a sign of how far Alexander-Arnold has come in such a short space of time. Speaking ahead of the Champions League quarter-final second leg against Real Madrid, teammate and close friend Andy Robertson put it in eloquent terms as the Official site reported. “For me, I know it’s hard for Trent but he should take it as some sort of compliment, the fact that so much noise has been made about him. “But for me and the teammates and for somebody that’s close to him and that cares for him, it’s just about trying to keep his confidence at the highest level because when it’s like that, you know, nobody touches him. “I thought on Saturday he put in a very good performance, I thought against Arsenal he was excellent. “Of course he struggled against Madrid in midweek but we all did, not one of us played well but more gets said about Trent’s performance than anyone else’s. For me, he’s a strong character, he’s always been that since he’s been a young age and that’s why he is where he is – that’s why he’s at the top of the game at a very early age and he’ll come over all the criticism. “But it's just about trying to not let it affect him and trying to do what he does on the pitch, because when he does that then I don’t think anyone can touch him.” Speaking of the task that faces Liverpool this evening, the straight-talking left-back knows there is a sizeable mountain to climb, but the confidence and relief of winning a game at home for the first time since the middle of December will be of benefit to the team. “Our run at home has not been good enough since Boxing Day in terms of the points that we’ve dropped [and] the defeats that we’ve came to. “It’s simply not been good enough and to then get our first win of the new year there, it always makes a difference and then when you walk on that pitch tomorrow you get good feelings instead of negative ones, which have maybe been the case the last couple of weeks [with] the performances and the results we’ve had here. But we’ll go into tomorrow full of confidence. “Of course Real Madrid are hot favourites and so they should be with the aggregate [lead] they’ve got. "But it’s up to us to leave everything on the pitch, give a better performance than we did last week and give ourselves the best possible chance to progress because we don’t want to give up on our chances of getting through and we won’t do that until the last whistle has been blown. "We know how hard a task it’s going to be and we know we probably need an as-close-to-perfect performance as we can." Parallels have been drawn between the task that Liverpool face tonight and the miracle at Anfield against Barcelona two years ago. While the Reds are better placed in terms of how the tie is placed with an away goal to their name, the lack of fanatical home fans helping push the team over the line makes this an incredibly difficult task to overcome as Robertson conceded. “Barcelona that night obviously was an incredible night and it wouldn't have been possible without the 55,000 fans in there, that's a fact. The noise at the start, the noise they made when we scored the first, it just carried on and they got louder and louder as the night went on. “Unfortunately, tomorrow night we won't have that. But we're coming up against the team that's the most experienced in this tournament, won it the most times in the short history and the long history. “They're a fantastic team full of quality and it's a big task for us. It's not the same as the Barcelona game and we can't rely [on] the fact that we came back from that game, [and] that we're going to come back from this one. “We've got to aim to win the game, first and foremost, and once we do that then let's see what the aggregate score is and let's see what we need to do. Our determination is to take our chances, to keep a clean sheet and hopefully make it as uncomfortable a night for them as possible.”
  8. Andy Robertson feels that Trent -Alexander Arnold will be stronger for the scrutiny that he has faced this season. With the drop-off in form by the Reds compared to their exceptionally high levels in recent years, there barely seems to be a week that goes by when a pundit looks for key reasons other than the long-term injuries to Virgil Van Dijk, Joe Gomez and Joel Matip. That has led to the Liverpool and England Right-back being put under the spotlight and the fact that he was not picked for the national team for the two World Cup qualifiers last month only added to the scrutiny. It was only last year that the 22 year-old was rightly seen as one of the best full-backs in Europe. But as a professional footballer knows, you have to take the good with the bad and while this analysis can be difficult to hear for a player, in many ways it is a sign of how far Alexander-Arnold has come in such a short space of time. Speaking ahead of the Champions League quarter-final second leg against Real Madrid, teammate and close friend Andy Robertson put it in eloquent terms as the Official site reported. “For me, I know it’s hard for Trent but he should take it as some sort of compliment, the fact that so much noise has been made about him. “But for me and the teammates and for somebody that’s close to him and that cares for him, it’s just about trying to keep his confidence at the highest level because when it’s like that, you know, nobody touches him. “I thought on Saturday he put in a very good performance, I thought against Arsenal he was excellent. “Of course he struggled against Madrid in midweek but we all did, not one of us played well but more gets said about Trent’s performance than anyone else’s. For me, he’s a strong character, he’s always been that since he’s been a young age and that’s why he is where he is – that’s why he’s at the top of the game at a very early age and he’ll come over all the criticism. “But it's just about trying to not let it affect him and trying to do what he does on the pitch, because when he does that then I don’t think anyone can touch him.” Speaking of the task that faces Liverpool this evening, the straight-talking left-back knows there is a sizeable mountain to climb, but the confidence and relief of winning a game at home for the first time since the middle of December will be of benefit to the team. “Our run at home has not been good enough since Boxing Day in terms of the points that we’ve dropped [and] the defeats that we’ve came to. “It’s simply not been good enough and to then get our first win of the new year there, it always makes a difference and then when you walk on that pitch tomorrow you get good feelings instead of negative ones, which have maybe been the case the last couple of weeks [with] the performances and the results we’ve had here. But we’ll go into tomorrow full of confidence. “Of course Real Madrid are hot favourites and so they should be with the aggregate [lead] they’ve got. "But it’s up to us to leave everything on the pitch, give a better performance than we did last week and give ourselves the best possible chance to progress because we don’t want to give up on our chances of getting through and we won’t do that until the last whistle has been blown. "We know how hard a task it’s going to be and we know we probably need an as-close-to-perfect performance as we can." Parallels have been drawn between the task that Liverpool face tonight and the miracle at Anfield against Barcelona two years ago. While the Reds are better placed in terms of how the tie is placed with an away goal to their name, the lack of fanatical home fans helping push the team over the line makes this an incredibly difficult task to overcome as Robertson conceded. “Barcelona that night obviously was an incredible night and it wouldn't have been possible without the 55,000 fans in there, that's a fact. The noise at the start, the noise they made when we scored the first, it just carried on and they got louder and louder as the night went on. “Unfortunately, tomorrow night we won't have that. But we're coming up against the team that's the most experienced in this tournament, won it the most times in the short history and the long history. “They're a fantastic team full of quality and it's a big task for us. It's not the same as the Barcelona game and we can't rely [on] the fact that we came back from that game, [and] that we're going to come back from this one. “We've got to aim to win the game, first and foremost, and once we do that then let's see what the aggregate score is and let's see what we need to do. Our determination is to take our chances, to keep a clean sheet and hopefully make it as uncomfortable a night for them as possible.” View full article
  9. Rafa Benitez says that Liverpool should not panic despite being down 3-1 after the first leg of their Champions League quarter-final tie with Real Madrid. While the Reds will not have the benefit of the usual passionate Anfield crowd to help them get over the line on this European night, they received a much needed confidence boost by recording a first win on home soil since the middle of December after defeating Aston Villa 2-1 on Saturday. Madrid come into the game also full of confidence after claiming a 2-1 victory over arch-rival Barcelona which saw them move to the top of the La Liga table ahead of Atletico playing their game in hand on Sunday. Benitez who is currently on the lookout for his next managerial job is one of the most astute minds when it comes to planning for a two-legged European cup-tie having tasted success in the Champions League with Liverpool and the UEFA Cup/Europa League with Valencia and Chelsea respectively. The vastly experienced manager documented his thoughts-per the Mirror: "The way the tie is, if you score once, you are back in it. Even if that takes an hour, so be it. “For me, the key will be not to get too anxious – for them to manage that anxiety – don’t rush it. Maintain concentration levels and keep focused. “With quality players, a goal will come. “But Liverpool have to be in a position where they can keep a clean sheet – and they will have to be more aggressive at Anfield and play with greater intensity over 90 minutes than they did in Madrid. “Sadly, they cannot rely on the crowd to provide the spark for that. “In my experience, the supporters at Anfield have been a huge factor in those European nights. I don’t think you can dispute that. It has been one reason for their success. One hundred per cent. “Now, that drive will have to come from within.” Benitez says despite the widely held view that Madrid are on the decline, they have a number of excellent individual talents that are worthy of respect, but there are vulnerabilities that the Reds can attack more than they did in the first leg. “Real Madrid are a balanced side. Casimero does that really well for them. He allows Toni Kroos and Luca Modric to move around. And to win football matches, you need a balance. “He also allows the full-backs to move forward. But the reality is that they weren’t exposed too much. “Nacho is a very good team player. “I don’t have any doubts about his quality in the absence of Sergio Ramos and Raphael Varane but Liverpool didn’t put him under too much pressure, either. “I would also include the full-backs in that and Mo Salah and Sadio Mane have it in them to cause problems in the return leg if they can find that intensity to their play.”
  10. Rafa Benitez says that Liverpool should not panic despite being down 3-1 after the first leg of their Champions League quarter-final tie with Real Madrid. While the Reds will not have the benefit of the usual passionate Anfield crowd to help them get over the line on this European night, they received a much needed confidence boost by recording a first win on home soil since the middle of December after defeating Aston Villa 2-1 on Saturday. Madrid come into the game also full of confidence after claiming a 2-1 victory over arch-rival Barcelona which saw them move to the top of the La Liga table ahead of Atletico playing their game in hand on Sunday. Benitez who is currently on the lookout for his next managerial job is one of the most astute minds when it comes to planning for a two-legged European cup-tie having tasted success in the Champions League with Liverpool and the UEFA Cup/Europa League with Valencia and Chelsea respectively. The vastly experienced manager documented his thoughts-per the Mirror: "The way the tie is, if you score once, you are back in it. Even if that takes an hour, so be it. “For me, the key will be not to get too anxious – for them to manage that anxiety – don’t rush it. Maintain concentration levels and keep focused. “With quality players, a goal will come. “But Liverpool have to be in a position where they can keep a clean sheet – and they will have to be more aggressive at Anfield and play with greater intensity over 90 minutes than they did in Madrid. “Sadly, they cannot rely on the crowd to provide the spark for that. “In my experience, the supporters at Anfield have been a huge factor in those European nights. I don’t think you can dispute that. It has been one reason for their success. One hundred per cent. “Now, that drive will have to come from within.” Benitez says despite the widely held view that Madrid are on the decline, they have a number of excellent individual talents that are worthy of respect, but there are vulnerabilities that the Reds can attack more than they did in the first leg. “Real Madrid are a balanced side. Casimero does that really well for them. He allows Toni Kroos and Luca Modric to move around. And to win football matches, you need a balance. “He also allows the full-backs to move forward. But the reality is that they weren’t exposed too much. “Nacho is a very good team player. “I don’t have any doubts about his quality in the absence of Sergio Ramos and Raphael Varane but Liverpool didn’t put him under too much pressure, either. “I would also include the full-backs in that and Mo Salah and Sadio Mane have it in them to cause problems in the return leg if they can find that intensity to their play.” View full article
  11. Jurgen Klopp says that Sadio Mane is going through a phase that all top forwards go through in their career and there is no physical hinderance affecting his game. While Mo Salah has often taken the headlines due to his goalscoring exploits throughout his Reds career, the all-round game of Mane has been greatly underrated. Those who see the Senegalese star play on a regular basis will say that he is the individual that gels the front three together. But just like many of his teammates, this campaign has been a significant struggle for the 29 year-old. After starting the season in his customary style scoring three goals in as many league games, Mane tested positive for COVID-19 after the Arsenal game which saw him have to serve the customary two weeks of self-isolation and saw him miss the 7-2 humbling at Villa Park, his next game for the Reds against Everton saw a return to the scoresheet. Since that fixture in the middle of October, Mane has scored just three league goals with his last coming against Tottenham at the end of January. While it is worth noting that he did score in both fixtures against RB Leipzig, Mane is well below near his usual strike rate (12 goals in 39 games) and faces a significant challenge to reach the 20 goal mark (in all competitions) for the fourth consecutive season. As research steadily increases into the lasting impacts of COVID-19, more and more individuals who have had the illness say that they continue to have lingering symptoms many months down the track. We may never know how much this has been a major factor for Sadio, or if it is a matter of wear and tear beginning to show after a extremely heavy workload over the last couple of seasons and a compressed schedule during this season. According to his manager, it is nothing different to what most elite players in his position have had to deal with and he is not duly concerned as the Official site reported: “We all know how good Sadio Mane is, what a player he is. “And what he did for us. Obviously the numbers, scoring-wise now, are obviously not great at the moment – he knows that. It’s always for a player and for a player with the mindset of Sadio, he wants to do extremely well then in these moments and that’s the situation he is in. “Each striker in the world knows these kinds of situations. But I’m not concerned, but I see it as well. That’s clear. We work on it – that’s the only answer I can give. Klopp conceded that the schedule may well have played a role, but the more likely reason would be a lack of confidence in front of goal which is something that is only natural. “The schedule of the last three years was for a lot of players in world football a tough one – for him as well, that’s true. But I don’t think that’s the reason, there’s no physical problem for Sadio, not a real one. “We all need breaks from time to time, that’s clear, but it’s not a general problem or whatever. It’s just a situation. “If you don’t score for a while then strikers start thinking and there is a moment when you start thinking exactly the right things again and then it will be fine again. We have to make sure this time is not too far away.”
  12. Jurgen Klopp says that Sadio Mane is going through a phase that all top forwards go through in their career and there is no physical hinderance affecting his game. While Mo Salah has often taken the headlines due to his goalscoring exploits throughout his Reds career, the all-round game of Mane has been greatly underrated. Those who see the Senegalese star play on a regular basis will say that he is the individual that gels the front three together. But just like many of his teammates, this campaign has been a significant struggle for the 29 year-old. After starting the season in his customary style scoring three goals in as many league games, Mane tested positive for COVID-19 after the Arsenal game which saw him have to serve the customary two weeks of self-isolation and saw him miss the 7-2 humbling at Villa Park, his next game for the Reds against Everton saw a return to the scoresheet. Since that fixture in the middle of October, Mane has scored just three league goals with his last coming against Tottenham at the end of January. While it is worth noting that he did score in both fixtures against RB Leipzig, Mane is well below near his usual strike rate (12 goals in 39 games) and faces a significant challenge to reach the 20 goal mark (in all competitions) for the fourth consecutive season. As research steadily increases into the lasting impacts of COVID-19, more and more individuals who have had the illness say that they continue to have lingering symptoms many months down the track. We may never know how much this has been a major factor for Sadio, or if it is a matter of wear and tear beginning to show after a extremely heavy workload over the last couple of seasons and a compressed schedule during this season. According to his manager, it is nothing different to what most elite players in his position have had to deal with and he is not duly concerned as the Official site reported: “We all know how good Sadio Mane is, what a player he is. “And what he did for us. Obviously the numbers, scoring-wise now, are obviously not great at the moment – he knows that. It’s always for a player and for a player with the mindset of Sadio, he wants to do extremely well then in these moments and that’s the situation he is in. “Each striker in the world knows these kinds of situations. But I’m not concerned, but I see it as well. That’s clear. We work on it – that’s the only answer I can give. Klopp conceded that the schedule may well have played a role, but the more likely reason would be a lack of confidence in front of goal which is something that is only natural. “The schedule of the last three years was for a lot of players in world football a tough one – for him as well, that’s true. But I don’t think that’s the reason, there’s no physical problem for Sadio, not a real one. “We all need breaks from time to time, that’s clear, but it’s not a general problem or whatever. It’s just a situation. “If you don’t score for a while then strikers start thinking and there is a moment when you start thinking exactly the right things again and then it will be fine again. We have to make sure this time is not too far away.” View full article
  13. Ryan Gravenberch is the latest name being touted as a possible replacement for Gini Wijnaldum according to reports. The ever-dependable 30 year-old is keeping his cards very close to his chest regarding where he will be playing next season. But the longer that there is no news regarding a re-signing with the Reds, the reality increases that he will depart the club with Barcelona the likely destination. There is little doubt that the club would be prepared for both scenarios and therefore would have a number of alternatives on the table if the popular Dutchman does depart. Gravenberch is seen as one of the brightest young talents on the Dutch footballing scene. Coming through the famed Ajax academy, he started his senior career with Jong Ajax, which is the Dutch giants’ reserve team which play in the second division. His talent from a young age was clearly evident and so much so that he was quickly, promoted to the senior squad and broke the record for the youngest Ajax player to ever play in the Eredivisie at just 16 years and 130 days, breaking the 26 year club record set by Clarence Seedorf. The 18 year-old starlet has represented his country at every level from the U/16 to the senior squad. Gravenberch claimed his first first senior cap just last month in the World Cup qualifier against Turkey. Former Ajax legend Ronald De Boer gave the youngster incredibly high praise recently saying “(Mattias) De Ligt might have been an exception at that age, but Gravenberch has unrivalled qualities.” The midfielder made two appearances against the Reds this season in the Champions League group stage where he certainly did not look out of place. The Express via Italian outlet Gazzetta dello Sport say Liverpool and Chelsea are two of the favourites to sign the midfielder. The transfer fee is speculated to be around £30million (€35m). Standing at a imposing 6 ft.3, Gravenberch is seen as versatile, initially as a attacking midfielder, but has developed his game to such a extent where he is now seen as very dependable in the holding role. He has averaged 1.52 interceptions and 1.16 successful tackles in 25 league games this season while his performances in the Champions League (5 tackles/ 1.83 interceptions) and Europa League (3 tackles/3 interceptions per game) are even more impressive. On the creative side, Gravenberch has scored three goals in the league and recorded five assists with a successful passing percentage of 86.12%. Whether Liverpool sign Gravenberch or not, it seems like he will be an emerging star of the game in the years to come.
  14. Ryan Gravenberch is the latest name being touted as a possible replacement for Gini Wijnaldum according to reports. The ever-dependable 30 year-old is keeping his cards very close to his chest regarding where he will be playing next season. But the longer that there is no news regarding a re-signing with the Reds, the reality increases that he will depart the club with Barcelona the likely destination. There is little doubt that the club would be prepared for both scenarios and therefore would have a number of alternatives on the table if the popular Dutchman does depart. Gravenberch is seen as one of the brightest young talents on the Dutch footballing scene. Coming through the famed Ajax academy, he started his senior career with Jong Ajax, which is the Dutch giants’ reserve team which play in the second division. His talent from a young age was clearly evident and so much so that he was quickly, promoted to the senior squad and broke the record for the youngest Ajax player to ever play in the Eredivisie at just 16 years and 130 days, breaking the 26 year club record set by Clarence Seedorf. The 18 year-old starlet has represented his country at every level from the U/16 to the senior squad. Gravenberch claimed his first first senior cap just last month in the World Cup qualifier against Turkey. Former Ajax legend Ronald De Boer gave the youngster incredibly high praise recently saying “(Mattias) De Ligt might have been an exception at that age, but Gravenberch has unrivalled qualities.” The midfielder made two appearances against the Reds this season in the Champions League group stage where he certainly did not look out of place. The Express via Italian outlet Gazzetta dello Sport say Liverpool and Chelsea are two of the favourites to sign the midfielder. The transfer fee is speculated to be around £30million (€35m). Standing at a imposing 6 ft.3, Gravenberch is seen as versatile, initially as a attacking midfielder, but has developed his game to such a extent where he is now seen as very dependable in the holding role. He has averaged 1.52 interceptions and 1.16 successful tackles in 25 league games this season while his performances in the Champions League (5 tackles/ 1.83 interceptions) and Europa League (3 tackles/3 interceptions per game) are even more impressive. On the creative side, Gravenberch has scored three goals in the league and recorded five assists with a successful passing percentage of 86.12%. Whether Liverpool sign Gravenberch or not, it seems like he will be an emerging star of the game in the years to come. View full article
  15. 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."
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