Liverpool 1-1 FC Basel: Five things we learned

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Liverpool crashed out of the Champions League on Tuesday night with a 1-1 draw to FC Basel, sending the Merseyside club into the Europa League.

Brendan Rodgers' men had to grasp all three points at Anfield to leapfrog the Swiss champions, however, Fabian Frei's 23rd minute strike gave the away outfit the lead in the first-half and made the Reds' task even more difficult.

Lazar Markovic saw red in the 60th minute making the comeback almost impossible but Steven Gerrard's free-kick in the second-period gave Liverpool a glimpse of hope that they did not capitalise on.

There were several talking points from the game, as the Merseyside club prepare for a tough clash with Manchester United on Sunday at Old Trafford.

What was Brendan Rodgers Thinking?

The Liverpool boss stated his side were not good enough after the game and said there has to be improvement in the future. It's true, the side were not good enough and created little opportunities throughout the game. However, the majority of the blame has to go towards Rodgers.

There was little creativity from the Reds' and it didn't come as a surprise to anyone as there was nobody to make things happen. Adam Lallana and Philippe Coutinho sat on the substitutes bench, with the former not even getting on the pitch in the second-half.

Both are play-maker's who make things happen and create openings. It would have came as no surprise if only one started from the first whistle, as the two have displayed on previous showings that they cannot play together.

The Northern Irishman started with four central-midfielder's, with three of them in the form of Lucas, Joe Allen and Jordan Henderson not being the most attacking-minded. That gave Gerrard a role to play just behind Rickie Lambert, but, the 34-year-old made little impact as he did not have the service.

It was a must-win game for the Merseyside outfit to reach the last 16 of the competition, yet, Rodgers lined-up with a team that was never going to grasp three points.

Allen was virtually non-existent for the 90 minutes, not doing anything for his team and failed to track his man for Basel's goal and looked like a lost boy at times. The Welshman has proved this season he has to improve dramatically to make it at Liverpool, after putting in mediocre shifts time and time again.

Yet, Rodgers pursue's with him in the club's biggest game for the last half-a-decade.

Alberto Moreno has shown his attacking capabilities since joining in the summer and would have proved a dangerous threat from the beginning.

But, Jose Enrique was given the nod, despite not playing too much football of late and was terrible, always looking to avoid the ball, which lead to his countryman replacing him at half-time.

To substitute a left-back, unless for an injury, is usually unusual. Moreno loves to attack and it would have been his type of game to start in, but, Rodgers' move to play Enrique is baffling.

Lazar Markovic's Was Impressive

Markovic is one player who I've been worried about in terms of talent this campaign.

He moved to Anfield for £20 million in the summer at just 20-years-old and his talents he showed at Benfica excited Kopites.

However, it's been quite the opposite for the Serbian. He's been badly out-of-form, rarely being selected by Rodgers and when he has been given time, he's done little.

In fact, he's been frighteningly bad and fans have pondered why such a large fee was paid for his services.

It was a surprise when he came off the bench at half-time, replacing Rickie Lambert and showed his potential.

Markovic was told to be aggressive, run at defenders and ask plenty of questions of the away side's defence and excited the Anfield crowd, who showed their encouragement for the youngster. When he was on the ball, it looked like a goal could come from one of his skipping runs and there was genuine belief Liverpool could get something from the game.

Unfortunately, his night ended early when he received a red card with half-an-hour to play, raising his arm to the chasing Behrang Safari.

There was minimal contact on the Swiss-man, yet, he went down like a sniper had shot him. 

There may have been no need for Safari's antics, but, it was a sending off. 

It's common to put you're hand on a pursuing players' hip to keep him away but there was no need to raise his arm so high. The intent was there and you can't really complain.

It was a stupid thing to do, however, it will give him plenty of confidence for the future.

Running at players' is Markovic's strong points he displayed to aid Benfica to the Europa League final last season, being aggressive and not scared to take people on. 

He hasn't done that enough for Liverpool but hopefully from now on in, Rodgers will recognise how to get the best out of him.

Problems At The Back Remain

Fabian Frei gave the Swiss side the lead in the 23 minute and the goal was far too easy.

Liverpool had almost every player back when the strike went past Simon Mignolet and it was painful to watch.

The marking of Frei and Luca Zaffi who set the goal up was terrible. Frei was allowed plenty of space on the edge of the box and easily was able to play a one-two with his team-mate and had no pressure on him when allowed to shoot.

Allen should have tracked him, but, the situation should never have happened.

Lovren should have been much tighter earlier on not letting 25-year-old have any space to manoevre and his poor marking almost saw Marco Strellar double Basel's lead minutes later.

Enrique made a few early mistakes and that saw him shy away from everything for the half. The ex-Newcastle United man failed to get involved in Liverpool attacks and even at the back when on the ball, he got rid as quick as possible.

Glen Johnson gave the ball away far too easily in the build-up for Basel's goal and his defending once again was poor throughout and Martin Skrtel was bullied by Strellar from the first to the final whistle.

It's clear that there is a problem at the back, with a lack of confidence stemming from terrible performances.

This is something Rodgers needs to work on and should consider bringing in a defensive coach.

The Kop Has Lost It's Touch

The connotations that go with Liverpool FC are its famous European Cup clashes under the floodlights, with the crowd making noise comparable to no other stadium.

Rodgers and other players expected the Kop act as a 12th man, like against Olympiakos ten years ago and inspired the Reds to a famous victory.

'You'll Never Walk Alone' was belted out prior to the start of the game and you got the impression spectators would never stop singing except at half-time.

However, things were quite the opposite. It was silent for much of the game, but, for groans of the crowd when Liverpool were defending.

When Mignolet was on the ball, the stadium was flooded with noiseless, as many watched with one eye looking away waiting for the Belgian to make a mistake similar against Leicester City.

Markovic brought atmosphere during his cameo, but, it was only in appreciation of when the Serb done well, not song's being belted out.

Gerrard's free-kick brought the Kop to really get going, however, it was too little, too late.

Say what you wish, but, the famous Anfield crowd is slowly disappearing. Some fans will no longer pay the hefty ticket fees and it brings in irregular supporters who are unfamiliar with the lyrics to chants such as 'Fields of Anfield Road' and 'We Are Liverpool.' 

This isn't the first time this has happened this season and even last term such as the 2-0 loss to Chelsea, the viewers were making little noise.

Europa League Is A Grim Prospect

Liverpool now have to get used to playing Thursday/ Sunday football now contesting in the Champions League's uglier younger sibling.

If you asked fans, there may very much be a tie if they'd rather not contest in the competition at all.

It's not as bad entering the competition at this stage as many of the weak teams from Eastern Europe have crashed out and the rest of the third placed teams now contest.

However, it is not lucrative at all.

'We're back where we belong' was said when qualifying for Europe's elite club competition, but, Liverpool have fell at the first hurdle.

Thursday football is something that nobody wants. It gets in the way with the domestic schedule and gives plays less recovery time in between games.

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