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Jurgen Klopp got big call wrong at Villarreal but Liverpool boss superbly responded – David Maddock


Well, Jurgen Klopp did warn his side would suffer. What he didn’t say was that they would make their entire fanbase suffer too.

Echoing the thunderstorms that raged around this tiny little industrial town that stands out like a sore in the middle of the beautiful Spanish eastern peninsula, another blew through this outdated, yet seething old stadium.

And it did because of what seemed a rare mistake from Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp. As calls go, they don’t get bigger than leaving your captain on the bench for a European semi final in a seething bear pit of a stadium.

It seems almost unimaginable to say this after a season of inspired management and immaculate decision-making, but Klopp definitely got that call spectacularly wrong here in El Madrigal.




He knew a tight ground produces a noise, and intimidating atmosphere beyond its size, where leadership is required…and that was missing in the absence of Jordan Henderson.

For an hour, the shock was seismic, early trepidation on the faces of the Liverpool players, turned to real fear after that early Villarreal goal which so stunned them. When it went in – far too easily – they were rudderless.

Yet Klopp is perhaps Liverpool’s greatest leader of all, and as his side trudged in at half time, their two goal lead from the first leg gone, he stood up, and produced his moment of inspiration.

There was a tactical shuffle, bringing the pace and incision of Luis Diaz on the left in the place of the ineffective Jota, and bringing their play higher up the pitch, in the faces of the Villarreal players.

That is leadership. Mistakes were made, but they were corrected in a brilliant tactical masterclass from Klopp.

After that terse first hour, after watching his side almost fall out of the Champions League with their quadruple dream shattered, they found a way. Again.




And this is the magic of this team, and of Klopp himself. They have the heart, the spirit and the the unmoving belief that they can overcome everything.

They suffered alright, and we all suffered along with them. But they found a way. The team that looked so rudderless became Liverpool once more, their passion, their desire beating. As never before.

It means they march to Paris for the final, it means their quadruple dream goes on until at least the FA Cup final.

And it means we can’t ever write them off, not after one of the greatest shows of defiance in even this famous old club’s remarkable history.





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