Liverpool beat AC Milan 3-2 on Wednesday evening in the UEFA Champions League. Here are five things we learned from the game.
Jurgen Klopp immediately took a chance here by leaving out two key players. Virgil van Dijk dropped out for Joe Gomez and, more surprisingly, Sadio Mane sat on the bench while Divock Origi started.
Now, the first change makes some sense. Van Dijk has played every minute since his return and resting him seems smart. Especially when you have someone as talented as Gomez ready to step in.
Origi for Mane? That’s a surprise to say the least. The Belgian hasn’t even made matchday squads this season and yet he started a Champions League game.
Klopp was clearly willing to show off his squad depth – even if it’s debatable to call it that at times.
Liverpool started on fire and Milan couldn’t cope. They were magnificent over the first 20 minutes and could have been three or four goals up. They certainly should have been 2-0 up, only for Mohamed Salah to miss a penalty.
But the final 25 first-half minutes were pretty poor. The last five were disastrous as Liverpool conceded twice. It seemed quite obvious that they took their foot off the pedal and paid a price.
It’s okay to do that, of course. It’s not okay to do it when you fail to control the ball once the game slows down. Liverpool just didn’t keep the midfield solid.
The second half was far more encouraging. Liverpool limited Milan to essentially nothing going forward, scored an early goal and then did enough to win the game 3-2.
It’s a relief, honestly. Jurgen Klopp took the team into half-time and settled things. It suggests we don’t have to read too much into that poor display to end the first period. Whatever caused it, Liverpool fixed it fast.
Origi was a surprise choice but he played well. His pressing was fantastic, particularly early on, and he offered a constant out-ball.
Perhaps he truly can offer Liverpool an option this season. Origi is essentially the only natural centre-forward in the squad, so there’s a role for him if he wants it.
More performances like this and we’ll see the Belgian reasonably often this season.
Group of death
This game was against the fourth seed at home. On paper, this is the easiest fixture Liverpool will face in this group.
It was anything but easy. Liverpool had to keep up the intensity to beat Milan 3-2 and it proves there will be no simple, routine games in this group.
The Reds will have to fight for every point to progress. That’ll likely mean the best available XI every time.