Jurgen Klopp decision vs Real Madrid "backfired" for Liverpool

Liverpool midfielder Naby Keita

Journalist James Pearce has indicated that it was the wrong decision to start Naby Keita against Real Madrid ahead of Thiago.  

On Tuesday evening, Jurgen Klopp’s side travelled to the Spanish capital for the quarter-final first leg of their Champions League tie. 

Liverpool suffered a 3-1 defeat at the hands of Zinedine Zidane’s Real Madrid. However, Mohamed Salah managed to grab an important away goal ahead of the second leg at Anfield. 

The Athletic’s Liverpool correspondent Pearce questioned Klopp’s decision to bench Thiago and start Keita, who is currently taking home £120,000 a week.

What did Pearce say about Keita? 

The journalist responded to some fans’ concerns following the game and said on The Athletic’s discussion thread: “Picking Keita ahead of Thiago backfired.”

He added: “Starting Keita just didn’t work. Improved the second Thiago came on.”

How did Keita perform against Madrid? 

Based upon WhoScored statistics, it’s clear to see that Keita evidently struggled in his latest outing against the Spanish side. 

Operating on the right-hand side of a midfield three, Keita failed to stamp his mark on the fixture. 

The 26-year-old recorded the lowest pass completion rate of 85% out of the Liverpool midfielders and was also dispossessed on one occasion. 

Klopp was forced to make an early change, as Thiago replaced the Guinean prior to half-time. 

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Who is this former Liverpool man?

How did Liverpool perform in the second half? 

When Keita departed the pitch, the Reds were two goals down and a huge change was needed to turn the tie on its head. 

According to WhoScored, throughout the first half Madrid unleashed ten shots on goal, while Liverpool failed to record a single effort. However, in the second 45, it was a different story. 

The Reds had seven shots on goal in the second half, which was one more than Zidane’s side. This substitution appeared to work a treat for the Reds, as Thiago made a huge impact on the game. 

After coming on in the 42nd minute, Thiago recorded more touches and passes than Keita. The Spaniard also had an effort at goal and managed to create a key chance for the Reds, according to WhoScored

So far this season, Keita has started just nine games for Klopp’s side and his recent contribution in the Champions League won’t have helped his situation on Merseyside.  

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