Liverpool were given a footballing lesson by Real Madrid last night, as the Spanish giants strolled to a 3-0 victory.
The away side sealed the three points before half time, with Cristiano Ronaldo opening the scoring Madrid, followed up by a Karim Benzema double.
Liverpool need a new goalkeeper
Brendan Rodgers drafted in Simon Mignolet at the start of last season to replace Pepe Reina in the Liverpool goal. The Belgian was signed for a substantial fee of £9 million from Sunderalnd, however, he is just not doing the trick.
Mignolet made countless mistakes last term that dropped Liverpool points, and he's making errors again this season. For Madrid's second goal, a poor punch from the shot-stopper lead to the away side carrying on their attack. A problem Mignolet has is coming and collecting the ball - he looks tentative and lacks confidence when doing so, as displayed last night when his weak clearance was punished.
More frustrating was Karim Benzema's second goal. The ball was in a scramble after a corner and instead of Mignolet coming to collect with his hands, he went with his feet and miss-kicked the clearance. If you look at great goalkeepers in the past - the likes of Peter Shilton, Peter Schemiechel and Oliver Kahn - they would never duck out of a scrambling ball. They would lunge in head first, smothering the ball with their hands. Sure, they may get a knock now and again, but that is in the job description.
To be a successful goalkeeper, you need two things; the basics ie catching, claiming the ball and bravery. Mignolet has neither of these things.
Skrtel or Lovren? - drop one
After playing together for over two months now, it has become apparent that Martin Skrtel and Dejan Lovren cannot start together.
The pair have a terrible understanding for one-another's game, going for the same loose ball or not attacking the man in possession.
For Cristiano Ronaldo's goal, Lovren was caught ball watching and didn't follow the run of the Portugese star, and Skrtel was left to deal with him. The Croatian was wrong for day-dreaming, however, Skrtel should have been screaming at his counterpart to get back into position.
I don't know if it's a case of them genuinely not being able to play together, or if there's a touch of jealousy between the two. Skrtel was Liverpool's best defender last season, leading the back-four in all but two Premier League games. With Lovren coming in for £20 million to be a leader, this may have hurt the Slovakian and could be refusing to cooperate.
Either case, one needs to go. Both were in such good form last season, but they can't play together. Why not try benching one, it could not be any worse.
Balotelli has the potential
The Italian received a lot of criticism after his performance against Real Madrid, but honestly, I thought it was an improved effort.
One thing that has let Balotelli down so far at Anfield is his movement, not creating space to latch onto through balls. He was no Luis Suarez last night, however it was better than we have seen before.
What annoys the most is the 24-year-old not seriously threatening defenders. He has decieving pace, as Marcelo found out when Balotelli beat the Brazilian with ease. That is what Liverpool fans like to see, positive football being played, even if it doesn't come off all of the time.
A new system is needed for Gerrard to impact
Brendan Rodgers has played his favoured 4-3-3 formation for the most part this season, with Steven Gerrard acting as the anchorman in the midfield.
However, in practise, the formation is not 4-3-3. Rodgers' attacking-minded plan has both full backs bombing up the wing when Liverpool are on the attack, likewise the other two midfielder's.
Last night, this left Gerrard isolated with just Skrtel and Lovren, dealing with Ronaldo, James Rodriguez and Karim Benzema. When the Reds lost the ball and Madrid quickly broke on the counter-attack, Gerrard spent a lot of time chasing to win the ball back, often going from side-to-side.
For a player who oozes so much class on the ball as Gerrard, it leaves him tired and not able to impact the game as he should. Liverpool needed someone to grab the game by the scruff of the neck last night, however the Reds skipper was left tired and unable to impact the game.
Considering the 34-year-old has dropped back from a forward role because he no longer has the legs to get forward, he spent more time running after the ball than he usually would.
Rodgers is under pressure
Another heavy defeat has piled on the pressure on the Northern Irishman.
Rodgers spent over £100 million this summer on new transfers, however, they are having little impact on the team. Mario Balotelli's failure to score yet again has many people questioned whether he was he correct signing for the Reds.
Likewise, Lovren and Mignolet both were poor and when Lazar Markovic came on, he done nothing at all. These are players that Rodgers has paid big money for and they aren't showing any signs of justifying the price tags.
His Liverpool team have not gelled together and look similar to Tottenham Hotspur last season, when they signed lots of players for substantial fees. Rodgers claimed that the Reds are not going that way, but based on the evidence, they very much are.
Rodgers was criticized for letting Pepe Reina leave and replacing him with Mignolet. Reina was a fan-favourite on Merseyside and despite having a solid season at Napoli on loan last term, compared to Mignolet's poor efforts, he still persisted with the Belgian.
Likewise, Balotelli had a negative reputation and AC Milan were keen on getting rid of him. However, Rodgers still decided on signing him.
These are all of the Liverpool manager's decisions, and nobody else's. If things continue to be negative, a large percentage of the blame has to go on him.
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