Jurgen Klopp ushers in new era for Liverpool with change of guard against Real Madrid

Jurgen Klopp manager of Liverpool and Thiago Alcantara

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Jamie Carragher’s claim was clear after Liverpool’s 3-0 win over Arsenal this weekend and Diogo Jota’s decisive display on the bench.
“He has to be almost one of the first names on the squad sheet,” said the former Liverpool captain.

In the Reds’ biggest game of the season, Jurgen Klopp heeded that advice.

The Portugal international has returned to Liverpool’s starting lineup for the Champions League quarter-final clash with Real Madrid.

Roberto Firmino, so crucial over the past two years, so important to the team’s way of playing with his ability to create, retain possession and shut down opponents, was absent.

There is no doubt that Klopp will refer to the decision as a simple rotation. But it was a change of guard.

Jota received a nod in Madrid
(Image: Getty Images)

Firmino’s goal threat has not been so pronounced this season. Six goals in all, none in Europe.

The squad looked much more menacing when Jota, signed from Wolves this summer, was included.

“If you are looking for a club and a country this season, which he did for Portugal, he scores a goal or an assist every 90 minutes and that shows the impact he has had this season,” added Carragher.

Sometimes the two have been nominated alongside Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane; but against Real Madrid, naming the four was never an option.

Ultimately, Firmino was the fall guy. He has now been replaced by Jota, his full game is no longer enough to fall back when the goals don’t flow.

It has become increasingly clear throughout the 2020-21 season that this is the way forward for Liverpool.

Jurgen Klopp talks to Thiago during pre-match training session
(Image: Liverpool FC via Getty Images)

Nat Phillips and Ozan Kabak have retained their places in defense, a partnership that has impressed lately.

Fabinho has been remarkable protecting them in recent weeks, returning to his best at the base midfielder; The Liverpool “lighthouse” was in full force in North London.

Thiago retired with Naby Keita and Gini Wijnaldum included; the Dutchman, despite his contract problem, remains the confidence of his coach and playing him in ‘big’ games seems to be the only hope to persuade him to stay right away.

Real Madrid were also deprived of a host of their senior stars – especially in defense.

Right-back Dani Carvajal has been missing due to injury for some time, while club captain Sergio Ramos missed a meeting with Salah following the injury he sustained on international duty during the week last.

And the news of Raphael Varane’s positive coronavirus test meant the World Cup winner was also out for the first leg at the Alfredo di Stefano stadium.

With Keylor Navas left for Paris Saint-Germain, only veteran Brazilian left-back Marcelo was available among the five starting full-backs of Los Blancos’ Champions League triumphs, and he was just a replacement with Ferland Mendy. . prefer.

Marcelo is a hero in Madrid. Just like Firmino is in Liverpool. But now the two are put aside for the respective new eras of their clubs.

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