Why was Darwin Nunez subbed when Liverpool needed goals? Jurgen Klopp explains decision to take striker off against Real Madrid
- Reds required big win at the Bernabeu
- German coach forced to shuffle his pack
- European exit suffered on Spanish soil
WHAT HAPPENED? The Reds headed to Santiago Bernabeu for the second leg of their Champions League last-16 encounter aware that they had to score at least three times in order to stand any chance of reaching the quarter-finals. In the end, they failed to find the target at all on Spanish soil – with a 1-0 loss condemning them to a 6-2 defeat on aggregate. Liverpool struggled to get going as an attacking force throughout a must-win encounter, with Uruguayan striker Nunez and fellow forward Diogo Jota taken off before the hour mark when the Reds were still chasing the game.
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WHAT THEY SAID: Klopp said afterwards of those substitution calls: “Darwin looked like he was not on the absolute top level and then we need to defend that side as well because conceding a goal is not helpful in that situation. We can change there, that's why we did it. We wanted to mix it a little bit, that's true. For Diogo, it was clear that he should not play now extremely long because he is still coming back from a long, long injury. You could see the game got harder and harder for him, little fouls there, one, two, three, he is not a player who is usually fouling so perhaps he comes a bit late. So, no risk with him and we have options on the bench.”
THE BIGGER PICTURE: Liverpool, who lost to Real in the 2022 Champions League final, are now destined to finish the 2022-23 campaign without major silverware having already slipped out of contention for domestic honours.
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WHAT NEXT? Liverpool’s full focus is now locked on a top-four bid in the Premier League, with Klopp’s side due to return to action after the international break with a trip to Manchester City on April 1 – before then facing Chelsea and Arsenal in what could be a decisive run of games.