Liverpool suffered back-to-back losses to Real Madrid in the Champions League, as they were defeated 1-0 in the Spanish capital.
Karim Benzema, who struck twice in Merseyside two weeks ago, netted the only game of the game after 27 minutes, when he latched onto Marcelo’s cross to easily guide his effort past Simon Mignolet.
Here are five things we learned from Liverpool's defeat at the Bernabeu...
Lazar Markovic does have potential
For the most part since moving to Anfield, Markovic has been poor. Many fans have questioned the £20 million Brendan Rodgers paid for the Serbian international and prior to the Madrid game, he was showing little signs he would justify that price-tag.
However, the 20-year-old put in a very good performance on the big stage. Brought in to play on the right-hand side, Markovic’s efforts were encouraging he will come good and justify the hefty price-tag Liverpool forked out.
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He’s blessed with blistering pace and highlighted that when going on runs down the right-hand side, and looked a threat when he had the ball. It has annoyed Kopites that the former Benfica fan hasn’t been showing his true potential, but his Anfield career was given a lifeline on Tuesday and fans will want to see more of him when he plays positvely.
Unfortunately, Markovic couldn’t have met a better full-back than Raphael Varane who was outstanding for the Spanish giants. Nonetheless, the youngster still did give him trouble and has leading claims to start against Chelsea at the weekend.
Kolo Toure is fierce competition for Lovren
The Ivory Coast international has saw himself very much out of favour this season and was making just his fourth appearance.
But what a performance it was.
Toure was one of few Liverpool players with European experience and used it to his benefit. His positioning was excellent for the most part, and read the Real Madrid attacks very well. He put his body on the line, throwing in drastic blocks and tackles to deny Cristiano Ronaldo and co. to keep his side in the game.
In fact, he recorded a competition-high six blocks.
Dejan Lovren has been partnering Martin Skrtel at centre-back for the most part this term. However, the Croatian is yet to settle in fully at Anfield and on Saturday against Newcastle, he was giving the ball away needlessly – something that infuriated his manager.
Both Lovren and Skrtel seemingly do not enjoy playing with one-another as they have little communication and try and play the ball too often.
Nonetheless, Skrtel looked comfortable with Toure and the Liverpool defence looked much more settled.
Mignolet is a superb shot-stopper
It’s not the first time that Mignolet has made top class saves that have kept his side in games. In the reverse meeting against Madrid at Anfield, he smartly denied Ronaldo in the second half and on Saturday against Newcastle, the Belgian international made two superb stops in the second half.
From the word go on Tuesday, Migolet was under pressure from the phenomenal Madrid attack and was forced to be at his best. Shot after shot came his way, but the 26-year-old was there on all but one occasion to keep the score-line down.
There’s no question that his reaction saves are some of the best in football. However, it is when he comes to collect the ball that the ‘keeper looks uneasy and has to improve in that area that really guarantee him the number one spot in the Reds goal.
Selection problems for Rodgers
The Liverpool boss played a weakened team against Madrid, resting key players such as captain Steven Gerrard and Raheem Sterling for Saturday’s game against Chelsea.
However, the fringe players, in general, put in a credible performance.
The afore mentioned Markovic and Toure had a very good game, as well as Javier Manquillo and Lucas.
The Northern Irishman has had so many problems on deciding who will line-up in his starting XI all of this campaign – not a game has passed without Rodgers tweaking the Liverpool side one way or the other.
With fringe players putting in a decent shift, it will give the former Swansea City manager further problems.
Jordan Henderson has fell out of form in recent weeks and Sterling has not had the same impact when playing wide on the right-hand side. This could possibly see Markovic and Lucas start against Chelsea.
Likewise, Glen Johnson has not been favoured by Kopites for a long time and if Manquillo can deal with the threat of Ronaldo and co. he can defend against anyone.
Rodgers could have egg on his face
Given that Rodgers is prioritising the league match against Chelsea, he has to hope that his side get a point at the very least.
Liverpool fans were furious to see that top players were not involved in the Spanish capital, seeing how important the European cup is to Kopites.
There have been so many clashes that have went down in Anfield folklore – one of them was away at Real Madrid in 2009 when Rafa Benitez lead the Reds to a famous 1-0 victory.
Group B is so tight at the moment, with Liverpool, Basel and Ludogorets still able to gain second place. Given how well the weakened side done against Real, a better starting eleven could have grasped a point or even three.
One point could be all that knocks Liverpool out of the Champions League.
I know Liverpool are a long way off grasping fourth place, however Rodgers still has time to save the Reds' league form. However, he may have just threw away a spot in the knock-out stages of the European competition
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