Player ratings: Barcelona 3-0 Liverpool

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A hugely disappointing result at the Nou Camp last night then, leaving us an absolute mountain to climb in the return leg at Anfield. Let’s see how the lads got on.

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Alisson (6) - Not much he could have done about the goals and didn’t have too much else to do. Even had time to have an argument with Suarez, although who doesn’t. Let’s hope he can witness a second leg comeback similar to what his Roma team of last season managed against Barca.

Gomez (5) - I was shocked to see Gomez starting, given he’s not played since the early stages of the season and he clearly wasn’t fit. Struggled badly offensively and defensively all night. Starting Gomez was one of a number of things Klopp got wrong last night.

Matip (8) - Comfortably our best player last night I thought. Was solid throughout and made one particularly brilliant challenge second half. Matip’s stature in this team continues to grow and there’s little doubt for me now, who our first choice partner for Van Dijk is.

Van Dijk (7) - Steady enough game from Virgil although he could arguably have done better tracking runners for the first two goals, although that’s possibly a bit harsh. I’d hoped he’d have been more of a threat at set pieces but we wasted every one we had, with poor delivery and decision making.

Robertson (7) - I thought Robbo had a decent game, he was very good defensively including an excellent piece of one on one defending in the second half, to thwart a Barca counter attack. Got in some good positions offensively but final ball wasn’t up to his usual standard. We should have looked to attack more up our left side, especially in the first half when Robbo and Mane were threatening to overrun Vidal and Roberto.

Fabinho (6) - Another who had a good game defensively, used his long legs to nick the ball time and again however (as always with our midfield) sloppy passing and giving the ball away we’re features of his game all night. Ball retention has to improve moving forward.

Keita (6) - Started brightly but went off injured, just as the game was warming up. Looks like that’s the last we’ll see if Naby this season, which is a shame just as he was starting to find a bit of form. Needs a strong start to next season or he’s in danger of taking Lallana’s role as ‘forgotten man’ in this squad.

Milner (6.5) - Our best midfielder on the night, although the standard wasn’t particularly high. A bit unlucky not to score with an effort that ended up going straight at Ter Stegen. He probably caught it too well, slight change of direction on the ball either way and it likely ends in a goal. Still probably should have done better however. At least he noised Messi up by bumping him off the pitch, leading to an Oscar winning piece of rolling around from the Argentinian.

Salah (5.5) - Passing absolutely horrendous for the whole game, he literally can’t complete a three yard pass at times. Had to score that chance at the end as well, where he hit the post when it was harder to miss. For all the goals he scores, he misses far too many sitters. I’ve possibly been a little harsh with his score but incidents like that miss decide ties at this level and he simply had to score that. If he had, we would still have a chance. As it is, that miss was probably the end for this season’s Champion’s League campaign.

Wijnaldum (5) - Looked completely lost as a false nine and I don’t really blame him. Starting Gini in that role is probably Klopp’s most bizarre decision since taking the reins at Liverpool and safe to say, the gamble didn’t pay off. Tried hard but it was obvious he didn’t know what he was doing in that position. Poor.

Mane (6) - Looked the most likely to do something in an attacking sense I thought, especially in the first half. Another who was guilty of missing a gilt edged chance but at least gave Barca something to think about, bringing about a Barca substitution to try and shore up that side. A substitution that worked unfortunately, as Mane faded as the game wore on.

Subs:

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Henderson (6) - Given the unenviable task of coming on unexpectedly after about 20 minutes, for the injured Keita but struggled to impose himself on the game. Didn’t get near the level he has in recent weeks, although that may have been down to quality of opposition. Should have started in my opinion.

Firmino (6) - Brought on far too late, tried to make an impact but the game was gone by the time Bobby was introduced.

Origi (N/A) - Pointless substitution.

Klopp-watch (2) - Sorry but that was an absolute howler from Klopp. Gini as a false nine while Shaqiri and Origi sit on the bench? Gomez, first start in six months and clearly not match fit so he starts him at the Nou Camp? Even if Trent had a knock, we should have started Milner at right back. Gomez was set up to fail last night, which he promptly did. Henderson on the bench despite being in the form of his life, substitutions way too late... I could go on and on. I love Klopp but he got wrong pretty much every decision he had to make last night. Seriously needs to have a word with himself after that. Very poor.

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Summary:

So, as I said, a seriously disappointing result. There were some positives to take from the game - we pretty much matched Barca for possession, which is almost unheard of and we had our chances but last night highlighted our deficiencies once again.

For all the goals our forwards score, they are far from clinical and that was further demonstrated last night as both Mane and Salah missed chances that you simply have to bury, away at Barca. We were never going to create a glut of chances throughout the game, so when they do come along, you have to take at least one of them. Combine that with a midfield that offers very little apart from hard work and a whole load of huff and puff and it’s always going to be difficult to get a result at the Nou Camp.

The lineup really annoyed me last night though. We badly needed Trent and Bobby out there, they’re either fit or they’re not. If they’re not, they shouldn’t be on the bench, if they are then they should be able to play at least 45 minutes. Then we’ve got Gini as a false nine... In last season’s final, Klopp lamented his lack of options off the bench after Salah went off injured. The signing of Shaqiri and Origi returning from his loan spell should have provided us that cover but Klopp clearly doesn’t think either are up to it. To that end, on the back of his decision last night, both players should be moved on in the summer, as clearly Klopp doesn’t feel they can contribute in the biggest games.

A bit of a harsh lesson then that has brought us back down to earth somewhat. For as much as we matched Barca in many ways, we still lack the cutting edge the Barca have and it further demonstrated that our squad is not the finished article yet. If an injury to Bobby means we resort to playing Gini as a false nine, then there’s no prizes for guessing what area of the squad needs investment this summer.

Anyway, I’m bloody depressed today and feel I shall stay that way now unless a miracle occurs in the league. Over to you Brendan... Walk on.
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