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How Liverpool’s front four fared at Real Madrid as Jurgen Klopp’s brave plan falls flat

Jurgen Klopp’s plan to overturn the most daunting of first-leg deficits to Real Madrid saw him start with four recognised attackers at the Santiago Bernabeu, where Liverpool were going to have to score at least three goals if they were to turn around their Champions League last-16 tie.


But in the end they didn’t get any.



There were slight flashes of hope in the attack, and a few decent chances in the first half, but ultimately it was a Real Madrid forward who scored the only goal of the night in Karim Benzema.


Here’s how the Reds attack fared.


Cody GakpoGakpo played as the most withdrawn of the four forwards

Gakpo played as the most withdrawn of the four forwards 



Right from the off it was clear to see that if one of the four was going to drop in and help Fabinho and Milner in midfield then it would be Gakpo.
The Dutchman has shown that willingness in his fledgling Liverpool career thus far, and Reds coaches have been putting him through his paces and trying to teach him just how he can become Klopp’s Roberto Firmino 2.0.
Gakpo might not possess the natural ability of the Brazilian but he can certainly work as hard, and it was him who raced back to stop Karim Benzema at one point as Real threatened in the first half.
He would impressively switch between his midfield and attack roles for much of the first period, and tested Thibaut Courtois with one of Liverpool’s better efforts as he drove at goal from an angle.
As with the rest of his team-mates though, the Dutchman was just missing the cutting edge to turn decent opportunities into outright chances, and faded quickly in the game..

Darwin NunezNunez was probably the most likely of the four to score

Nunez was probably the most likely of the four to score 


AFP via Getty Images)

You just got the sense that if Liverpool were going to score in those tightroped minutes of the first half then it was probably going to be Nunez who was involved in it.

The Uruguayan linked up with Salah impressively and brought a save from Courtois with a low shot, while he would later cut inside from the left and curl an effort which the Belgian tipped wide of the post.

He’d have been in on goal early in the second period too had Salah found him with a better pass, and so with all of that in mind it was a surprise when he was taken off before the hour mark.

Diogo JotaJota struggled in Liverpool's attack

Jota struggled in Liverpool’s attack 


AFP via Getty Images)

The player who suffered the most in the attack was clearly the Portuguese, who appeared to be struggling to find any room given the cheer amount of numbers around him in both white and red.

As was the case at Bournemouth at the weekend, Jota just couldn’t really get involved in the game, with a mishit from a Salah cross about the most he achieved during his time on the pitch.

Unlike Nunez, it was no surprise when he went off.

Mohamed SalahSalah struggled for space as Liverpool were blunted in attack

Salah struggled for space as Liverpool were blunted in attack 


Getty Images)

How the Egyptian must hate the sight of Real Madrid.
After Kyiv in 2018 came Paris in 2022, and then the debacle of Anfield three weeks ago when Salah had put Liverpool in dreamland before their sobering, stunning plummet to earth had set up this mission improbable.
Salah tried and looked lively early on, but the verve drained from his game along with the rest of his team long before Benzema’s goal.

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Liverpool face bleak reality after uninspiring attempt at Real Madrid comeback