-Liverpool left with “what ifs” to mull over
While the statistics clearly show that Real Madrid were indeed the better team at the Bernabeu (the Spanish side had 27 shots at goal with nine of them on target in contrast to Liverpool’s 4 efforts at goal which yielded just one shot on target), the Champions League holders were in fact not quite at their fluent best given the likes of the superstars they had on the pitch. The benching of the likes of Sterling, Henderson, Balotelli and Steven Gerrard became a huge point of debate from the moment the line-ups were announced with Rodgers’ team selection drawing sharp criticism from fans and neutrals alike who were hoping that Liverpool big name stars could somehow turn in a stellar performance at the Bernabeu after their disappointing weekend defeat to Newcastle. What if Sterling and Gerrard had been given the start from the beginning? Could the Liverpool captain have managed to inspire his team and add another golden moment to his already illustrious Liverpool career?
-Is Toure the unlikely answer to the leadership void of Liverpool’s backline?
After so much talk of Liverpool’s poor defence which remained largely unfixed despite the £20million signing of Dejan Lovren, it seemed somewhat befitting that Kolo Toure, the free transfer of last season, should step up with a terrific performance against the likes of Karim Benzema and Cristiano Ronaldo. The veteran Toure, who was down the pecking order at Anfield after some not so pleasant errors last season, exhibited surprising calmness as he held his illustrious opponents at bay – an attribute that has been largely missing from the performances of Skrtel and Lovren this season. While it’s true that Toure isn’t getting any younger with every game and could be a possible liability at times, the sort of composure he showcased as a leader of the backline at the Bernabeu yesterday could well be an immediate answer to Liverpool’s fragile defence.
-Pressure mounts on Chelsea clash
For all the heated debate over Rodgers’ team selection yesterday, once the dust fully settles over the slender loss in Madrid, all eyes will invariably turn to the upcoming clash with top of the table Chelsea, who are unbeaten and cruising comfortably on all fronts. Chelsea will enter the game with high confidence and a solid team while for the Reds, pressure will be heaped onto this fixture following yesterday’s game in Spain, for expectations have inevitably risen after yesterday’s “resting” of key players. While Rodgers’ team selection in Spain yesterday may have dismayed us, it is still early to criticize his move before the second phase of his plan has rolled out. Whether the move at the Bernabeu will turn out to be the masterstroke to revive Liverpool’s form in the Premier League or simply turn into a disaster of sorts is yet to be seen.