UEFA Europa League Final 2016
The first European final in 9 years for Liverpool FC, a forgettable one in many ways. However I do believe there are some positives to take from the final. Liverpool’s last strong season in the Premier League came with no European football and the league took primary focus. Without European football, the clubs calendar will be far less demanding (perhaps an average of 40-45 games). Considering Liverpool have played the highest amount of fixtures out of any English team this season, this is a hugely significant point. I am not convinced this Liverpool team is ready for the Champions League. I also believe that yesterday’s game would have provided invaluable experience for the squad, as well as providing Jurgen Klopp with an insight into the mentalities of his players. When the dust has settled, it is important that the fans recognise these points and understand that a transitional period is notorious for highs and lows. Liverpool fans must believe and give the manager the necessary time to turn Liverpool back into European heavyweights.
The match started with the expected tactical organisation you would expect from two technical sides. It took Liverpool 20-25 minutes to find their rhythm and settle. Daniel Sturridge’s wonderfully taken goal on 35 minutes opened up the doors of the previously well organised Sevilla defence and presented Liverpool with many opportunities.
It is significant that no further goal was scored in this period. Especially when Sevilla equalised through Kevin Gameiro just 17 seconds into the second half. I believe this goal was the key moment in the game. Liverpool were shocked to concede so soon after the break, the players looked rattled and no real composure or control was gained after this moment. Jorge Andujar Moreno scored a brace, his first a precise stand out strike which nestled into the corner. Some have labelled the second half a collapse from Liverpool’s perspective. I agree that Liverpool did not get going into any gear or show any purpose in the half and to lose 3-0 in any half of football is concerning.
It is easier to blame the manager in any defeat and I speculate that one or two personnel decisions were questionable. I think Joe Allen could have entered the game at 1-1. The midfield was near non-existent for that 25 minute spell which resulted in 3 goals. However, I don’t think the players generally embraced the occasion. In fact I think some players let Klopp down last night. Alberto Moreno had a poor performance but I don’t think it is fair to single out any individual. Daniel Sturridge, Roberto Firmino and Philippe Coutinho were quiet throughout. Sevilla FC looked as if they wanted it more, Liverpool were lacklustre, lacked intensity and played at a slow tempo. Sevilla deserved to win the trophy and it is a shame that the earlier hard work In the competition has not resulted in a trophy.