Jurgen Klopp has no regrets regarding his team selection on Thursday night against Villarreal.
The Liverpool boss went with Roberto Firmino up top and benched Daniel Sturridge, not using him at all during the 90, much to the surprise of many fans and pundits.
The decision would have been more easily defended had we secured a 0-0 draw, but the team foolishly conceded a goal at the death – meaning we’re heading to Anfield with a deficit.
Klopp believes his decision was verified by the overall performance, and if he had the chance, he’d keep Sturridge, our best striker, on the bench again.
“It is about finding a stability. With decisions like this it is always two questions: was it the right decision to choose this line-up? With a 1-0 defeat you cannot be sure it was 100% right,” Liverpool’s manager told the Echo.
“The next question is: would I do it again? Yes. Then it is finished. Then I don’t have to think about it again.
“At the end we can all think about what could have happened, Daniel from the beginning or changing it at half-time when we had to bring Phil (Coutinho) off.
“We could have put Roberto on the wing and put Daniel as a striker. I don’t know and so it is not too important. That is my life – making decisions and in the end accepting the result.
“With Daniel in particular it is not about how it is always, it was a decision for this line-up. That is very important. It was not against Daniel.
“Daniel came back from injury and now he is fit for the longest period since he came from Chelsea. That’s very important,” he said.
“The Premier League, the Europa League, everything is too intense. The mentality of Daniel is really good, very confident, because he has all these qualities and he knows about these qualities.
“My job is not to do what you the media want, what the player wants, it is to try to help the player and help the team in this moment.
“It was the first game where he could have started and we decided from each point of view, physical status and shape, for another line up.
“It is not about Divock Origi, he came in the moment and found new stability in his game and his performance. If I then bring Daniel in every game then you ask me: ‘what about Divock Origi? And it worked really well with Roberto Firmino at Manchester City, he was the best player….’
“That is not what I should think about and I don’t. I always try to do my best and because I am not perfect maybe it sometimes does not work. But next time I will try it again.”
It’s important that we now do not focus too much on the issue, with Sturridge himself moaning about it in the press today.
He’s sure to be back in the lineup for the return leg next week, with Liverpool having to score at least two goals to secure victory in normal time.
We outplayed Villarreal at El Madrigal, and with a fit and firing Sturridge at Anfield, have a good chance of progressing to the final despite our first leg defeat.
It’ll be interesting to see whether Klopp uses Sturridge on Sunday against Swansea, or chooses to keep him ready for next Thursday instead.