Liverpool progressed to the round-of-16 in the Europa League after defeating Augsburg courtesy a 5th minute James Milner penalty. The game was as much about the League Cup final on Sunday, and a win, even if it wasn’t all too convincing, would come as a massive boost for the side.
Here are three things we learnt from the game.
Liverpool attack sparkles, but misses final touch
In the opening stages of the game, and in moments later on, Liverpool’s attack genuinely looked very good. It seemed as though the side could go on to score a beautiful team goal at any time. However, all too often, the final ball or the finishing evaded the side. There seemed to be poor decision making as far as
Full-backs Clyne and Alberto Moreno, along with the front trio of Sturridge, Firmino and Coutinho impressed and all threatened to deliver the killer blow but chances continued to go begging. Jordan Henderson and Divock Origi should have put the game to bed but the net seemed to evade them as well.
Keeping Sunday in mind, Liverpool’s attack will have to deliver the final blow if they hope to win the game. Although, the fact that the side managed to create as many threatening opportunities as they did is a major positive.
Lucas Leiva – rock solid with some very bad moments
The Brazilian’s career at the Merseyside club has mostly swung in extremes. There was a year and a half where he looked like a rock in the midfield, always shielding the back with absolute confidence, and then there came a time where he looked like a liability in the squad. The performance against Augsburg kind of illustrated his stint at Liverpool.
At times, the Brazilian midfielder who was operating in defence, was very assured at the back, timing his tackles right, reading the game well leading to eye-catching interceptions and winning numerous aerial duels.
Then there was one horrible back pass, that could easily have cost the Reds the game and right at the end, à la the FA Cup replay against West Ham, the 28-year-old needlessly gave a free-kick away at a very threatening position.
Overall, it was a mixed game for Lucas, whose future at Liverpool beyond this season is not guaranteed.
Serious midfield worries
While Liverpool’s midfield which has looked devoid of any sort of energy and urgency did look more tenacious in parts of the game, once again it was a weak link.
Jordan Henderson, who has a permanent heel problem clearly affecting his game, doesn’t look like the player that got promoted to the job of taking over from Steven Gerrard. At least Henderson has an injury to pass the blame to, where does Emre Can look to pass the blame? His performances have seriously taken a dip. There was some wayward passing from the young German.
Can is still young and seemingly is part of Jurgen Klopp’s long-term plans at Liverpool so a manager like Klopp will almost certainly be able to maximise his potential. For now, however, Can needs to ensure he does better because a clinical team like Manchester City can definitely punish his mis-passes better than Augsburg did.
With Joe Allen out and Lucas Leiva not really a better option in midfield and likely to be slotted in defence. The existing midfield trio of Jordan Henderson, Emre Can and James Milner must absolutely up their game for the tough Wembley final against Pellegrini’s City.