The season-long theme of one step forward, two steps back continued for Liverpool in the Bernabeu on Tuesday. They headed into the Champions League quarter-final first leg with Real Madrid in relatively positive fashion after a series of good results, however their shortcomings were exposed for all to see in a 1-3 defeat to the Galacticos.
They say that a change is as good as a rest, but a rest has worked out pretty well for Liverpool as it goes.
The Reds were in sparkling form as they swept aside Arsenal 3-0 on Saturday evening, and there was a snap and a spark in their play that suggested some time away from domestic duty has served them well.
It seems almost a lifetime ago when Liverpool last played a game. It was March 15, to be precise, when the Reds defeated Wolves courtesy of a Diogo Jota goal, and after success against RB Leipzig in the Champions League as well there was the tiniest slither of momentum being gathered in a season wholly lacking in it. And then along came the international break to spoil everything.
Not playing in the Premier League and not playing at Anfield. It’s a strange recipe for success, but once again Liverpool showed that their bizarre season can have its upsides with an excellent win over RBB Leipzig on Wednesday.
So, this is it then. The final hurrah of a wretched season comes in the Champions League, which ahs provided some sanctuary from an abysmal title defence while on domestic duty.
They say that home is where the heart is, but nothing could be further from the truth for Liverpool right now. They have suffered five straight defeats at Anfield, capped by the 0-1 reverse at the hands of Chelsea on Thursday evening.
Let’s be honest: amid the abject misery that has been Liverpool’s 2020/21 campaign, there have been occasional improvements that have proven, ultimately, to be false dawns. So whether the 2-0 win over Sheffield United on Sunday proves to be anything more than that we shall have to see, but there was a vitality and an intensity about the Reds that was born about by a handful of tactical tweaks from Jurgen Klopp.
It has been the template for this derisory 2020/21 season – one step forward, two emphatically backwards. After the win over RB Leipzig in the Champions League, you could forgive Reds fans for feeling a tad more positive about their club – but such feelings were extinguished in dramatic fashion by the 0-2 defeat to Everton in the Merseyside derby last weekend.
Now that was more like it.
Trying to predict how Liverpool are going to play from game-to-game is proving to be a fool’s errand right now, and in midweek the Reds once again confounded expectations by comfortably defeating a very handy RB Leipzig outfit in the Champions League.
There was a moment during the 1-3 defeat to Leicester City on Saturday where the TV cameras panned to Jurgen Klopp on the sidelines, and he was shown head down chuckling to himself. It was the sort of chuckle you seen in films just before a character then bursts into tears.