Liverpool played out a bore 0-0 draw against FC Sion in the Europa League this evening, that sees them top the group and qualify for the Last 32, where they’ll originally miss the Champions League 3rd placed teams.
Jurgen Klopp clearly wanted to win the game, and he picked a strong XI including Milner, Can and Henderson in midfield. The skipper was making his first start since the German’s appointment, playing ahead of Emre Can in the anchorman role. And although Coutinho came off the bench, Liverpool severely lacked quality in the final third – with Roberto Firmino the biggest culprit.
In truth, the first-half was abysmal. Neither side showed spark or creativity. Sion were happy to play for a draw which also sees them through, while Liverpool lacked cutting edge. How do we score goals without Daniel Sturridge or a fully fit Coutinho, we ask? The 6-1 Southampton result is looking increasingly like an anomaly…
Liverpool were comfortable in possession early on as the Swiss sat deep. Origi and Firmino had long-range efforts, but we didn’t test the opposition keeper in a game which lacked urgency.
On the half-hour mark, Lallana played Origi through on goal, but the Belgian lacked the clinical finishing he displayed a week back.
Brad Smith made his full debut at left-back and the young Aussie did well, although the host’s defensive outlook made it easier for him. It’ll take more than tonight to prove he’ll be a realistic rotation option for Alberto Moreno, but he was one of the more positive aspects of a drab evening.
The second-half was much the same, with both sides picking up needless bookings – Smith and Clyne putting in especially reckless challenges.
Our best moment came when Emre Can threaded Origi through on goal, but instead of attempting to finish first time, the Belgian dallied, and eventually the chance was gone.
In reality though, a winner would have been undeserved.
Liverpool lacked rhythm and couldn’t transition from defence, through midfield, into attack. This was partly due to sloppiness, but more worryingly, a lack of ideas. There was little sign of the manic press that has characterised away days under Klopp – such as at Stamford Bridge, the Etihad and St. Mary’s.
Still, we got the result we needed, if not the performance the fans wanted to see. Importantly, no injuries were picked up and Coutinho returned from the bench.
Roll on West Brom at the weekend!