Football

Daniel Sturridge was left on the bench..

Michael Owen says Daniel Sturridge will be scarred by Liverpool omission

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Michael Owen believes Daniel Sturridge's omission from Thursday night's Europa League semi-final between Liverpool and Villarreal will "leave a scar".

The England international was surprisingly named on the bench by manager Jurgen Klopp and, despite an obvious bluntness in Liverpool's attack, remained there for the entire game.

Roberto Firmino was preferred as a lone striker with Klopp claiming the Brazilian brought more "balance" to his side but fans were mortified when he failed to bring Sturridge on as a substitute.

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While Firmino threatened at times, even hitting the post in the second half, he could not break through Villarreal's stubborn defence. The night was shaping up for Sturridge but Christian Benteke was instead sent on with just minutes to go.

His absence was made even clear when Adrian Lopez gifted Villarreal a crucial advantage in the two-legged tie, scoring the only goal of the game in injury time.

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Unwanted

Former Liverpool striker Owen believes that it is a decision that Sturridge is unlikely to forget and suggested that the 26-year-old won't feel "wanted" after being left out.

Owen told BT Sport: "As a centre-forward you're obviously itching to get on, you feel you can change games.

"And it's a double disappointment when you see Benteke go on. The rest of us can see Klopp has done it from a tactical point of view.

"Klopp would have been in two minds who to play, if I was Sturridge I would be really disappointed especially as they've played an attacking midfielder [Roberto Firmino] in his place.

"It's very difficult for Sturridge. Actions speak louder than words and he must be disappointed with [Divock] Origi being out. Strikers are a funny breed and you don't feel wanted when you're left out. It will leave a scar."

Klopp's reasoning

Klopp was happy to explain why Sturridge was started on the bench in the buildup to the match, claiming it was a very difficult decision.

"Yeah, very difficult decision,” Klopp admitted. "I thought about a lot of things, but in the end I decided for a little bit more stability.

"In the 4-3-3 we didn't play with Daniel until now, and so we thought for today this 4-3-3, 4-5-1, sometimes a diamond this very flexibile style, we played in a few games before.

"It makes sense that the players played it together before, that's why we decided for this line-up."

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Topics:
Steven Gerrard
Michael Owen
Football
Europa League
Liverpool
Daniel Sturridge

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