Goals, upsets, statements made: Liverpool’s 5 biggest winners from the international break – opinion

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The March international break has now concluded, with club action resuming this weekend and going full throttle for two solid months to the end of the season.

Liverpool once again had plenty of first team stars flying across Europe, and in some cases further afield, in the two-week period following on from their last match, the 1-0 defeat away to Real Madrid in the Champions League.

Ahead of a hectic period which sees them play 12 matches in eight weeks, each one a pivotal fixture with a top-four finish on the line, Jurgen Klopp will be glad to have the international window out of the way without too much collateral damage, aside from Kostas Tsimikas going off injured for Greece.

Thankfully, the Reds manager will be encouraged by the sight of several of his squad having a hugely satisfying few days on a personal and collective level.

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We look at the five Liverpool players who could consider themselves the biggest winners at Anfield from the recent international action, with the quintet listed in no particular order:

Mo Salah

Egypt got their Africa Cup of Nations qualifying campaign back on track with a quickfire double of wins over Malawi, and the Reds’ number 11 was unsurprisingly to the fore.

In their home clash last Friday, he scored his team’s first goal and set up the second as they triumphed 2-0. Salah then repeated the trick on Tuesday as the Pharaohs eased to a 4-0 win, setting up Tarek Hamed’s early opener and netting the Egyptian’s third of the game after just 20 minutes.

Two games, two goals, two assists – if Mo can mirror that return rate across Liverpool’s final 12 games of the season, there’s every chance we’ll be back in the Champions League again next term.

Ibrahima Konate

France were back in action for the first time since their defeat in the epic World Cup final three months ago, and they didn’t need long to shake off the agony of that result in Doha.

Konate came up against his Liverpool centre-back partner Virgil van Dijk last Friday and it was the younger man who had the better night as Les Bleus thumped Netherlands 4-0, with our number five winning a team-high seven duels, along with completing 88% of his passes and 100% of his dribbles (Sofascore).

He helped Didier Deschamps’ side to another clean sheet on Monday as they edged past Republic of Ireland 1-0 in Dublin. Yet again he was solid both in an out of possession, winning five of his six duels and completing 93% of his passes (Sofascore) as he stifled reported Reds target Evan Ferguson.

France already look like they have their long-term successor to Raphael Varane after the Manchester United defender’s international retirement.

Andy Robertson

Another Liverpool defender who helped his country to victory in their first two Euro 2024 qualifiers, with one of those being a significant scalp.

The Scotland captain set up Scott McTominay’s stoppage time goal in their 3-0 win over Cyprus on Saturday, also recording two shots of his own (Sofascore) as Steve Clarke’s side cruised to victory in Glasgow.

Even better was to come three days later as the 29-year-old inspired his country to a famous 2-0 triumph over Spain. Robertson again supplied McTominay with a goal, this time grabbing his assist in the first seven minutes, while also playing two key passes (Sofascore) as the Tartan Army caused an upset.

He’s now provided assists in each of his last three games for his country, all while coolly dismissing Rodri’s derogatory remarks about the Scots’ style of play.

Naby Keita

Amid a hugely frustrating season at Liverpool for the midfielder, who’s featured for only 487 minutes and failed to score (Transfermarkt), the international break provided a welcome change of scenery.

The 28-year-old’s last start for his club came in the goalless draw at Crystal Palace just over a month ago, when he was hauled off at half-time, but he was in from the first whistle for both of Guinea’s AFCON qualifiers against Ethiopia.

His country won those two matches, with the second game on Monday also a personal triumph for Keita as he made a statement to Klopp by giving his side an early lead while also setting up a goal for Ilaix Moriba in a 3-2 victory.

He still seems likely to depart Anfield once his contract expires in the summer, but hopefully he can build on a rewarding international window to see out his up-and-down Liverpool career on a high.

Curtis Jones

Similar to Keita, the 22-year-old made light of a club season with sporadic involvement by finding the net on the international stage.

Having not started a Premier League game since October (WhoScored), the Reds midfielder had to be content with a place on the bench in England under-21s’ clash against France, but he made the most of his time on the pitch after being introduced in the 66th minute.

He set up Noni Madueke’s goal to make it 2-0 and the Chelsea man soon returned the favour, crossing to supply Jones with the chance to score with a deft backheeled finish as Lee Carsley’s side ran out 4-0 winners.

The Liverpool ace duly earned a place in the starting XI against Croatia’s under-21s three days later, although he didn’t add to his goal tally in the Young Lions’ 1-2 defeat.

Nonetheless, he’ll take confidence from his cameo outing against the French, perhaps sending a message to Klopp that he could yet have a wildcard role to play in the Reds’ run-in to the season.

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